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That Ron Paul article in The New Republic

There is a lot of buzz lately concerning an article in The New Republic by James Kirchick about bigoted remarks that have appeared over the years in Ron Paul's newsletters. Having read the article, it looks pretty bad, but not as bad as I was led to believe. A lot of the remarks are genuinely offensive (you don't have to be at all liberal to find the allegations of Martin Luther King's bisexuality appalling and bizarre), and lots of others are merely politically incorrect. For instance when it was said that MLK is the man who "replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration", there is an acknowledgment that forced segregation is bad and a larger point that any kind of government coercion is bad. You can reject the implied moral equivalence, but that doesn't mean it's a racist argument.

The response from Paul's campaign is less than satisfying. His campaign manager speaks of different levels of approval, and says that some of the remarks Paul was completely unaware of. Kirchick writes that this as an attempt to portray Paul as " a naive, absentee overseer" which he rejects, and that the comments went on too long for Paul not to be aware of it. He doesn't try to make the case that Paul wrote all the offensive remarks (no one on either side seems to think he did) , but says that that is "beside the point" since he lent his name to them. He makes a good point. On the other hand, I find several entries in the comments section about a ghostwriter Paul had fired, but is not mentioned at all in the article.

There have been some interesting responses to the article. The mainstream GOP site Modern Conservative saw it as vindication for it's opposition to Paul. Ron Paul has responded on his website and in an interview with Reason magazine. In spite of the allegations of homophobia in Kirchick's article, Gays & Lesbians for Ron Paul has come to his defense and reveals an email in which Kirchick says "I don't think Ron Paul's a homophobe; I'm just cynical".

My biggest problem with the article is that Kirchick seems to want to use Ron Paul as a starting point to smear a much larger group of people he disagrees with. He writes "To understand Paul's philosophy, the best place to start is probably the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Auburn, Alabama", an organization whose "philosophy derives largely from the work of the late Murray Rothbard". It's interesting that a man who is alleged to be an anti-semite has ties to an organization that was named after a jew and gets its political philosophy from another jew.
Kirchick makes sinister-sounding remarks about the Von Mises institute's "attachment to the confederacy". He cites the work of its members Thomas Di Lorenzo and Thomas E. Woods. He talks about DiLorenzo's anti-Lincoln book, "The Real Lincoln" and it's assertion that the civil war was unnecessary. it gives the impression the DiLorenzo is pro-slavery, which he absolutely is not. I have read the book.
Lorenzo makes arguments that slavery could have ended without a war (for instance, by compensated manumission). He also debunks the popular but completely wrong belief that the Emancipation Proclamation freed any slaves. (That alone makes reading the book worthwhile.) But Thomas DiLorenzo doesn't need any defense from me. He has already done an admirable job of defending himself.

There's things I like about Ron Paul, and things I don't. I like his concern for smaller government. I like some of his foreign policy, but I think he carries his isolationism too far. Considering that I didn't want to go to war with Kosovo OR Iraq, that's quite a statement coming from me.
I wish he was a little friendlier towards Israel, but I guess I can't expect that from the congressman from Palestine. :) I'll admit that Kirchick has uncovered some things that make me uncomfortable defending him, but Kirchick himself seems to have an anti-libertarian agenda.
For now I will have to say a pox on both their houses.