Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ron Paul

One of the reasons that I think so little of Ron Paul was that I was one of those supporters from his 1988 campaign who received his newsletters--and found some of what was in them disturbing.  I do not find his explanation--that he did not actually read these newsletters sent out under his name--particularly impressive.  Either he was just making money without bothering to see what these newsletter said (a greedy and morally objectionable action), or he really did believe what the newsletters said, and his thinking has "evolved" since then.  Neither is a strong argument for making him the Republican nominee.

But that was then; this is now.  The December 25, 2011 New York Times has an article about Paul's history of support by groups that range from conspiracy theorist (such as the John Birch Society) to really objectionable, such as Stormfront, a neo-Nazi group.  But while Ron Paul can't control who supports him, his response to that support suggests that Ron Paul does not see neo-Nazis as quite as objectionable as I see them:
The white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been warmly welcomed. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views.
But he did not disavow their support. “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” said Mr. Paul, who is now running strong in Iowa for the Republican nomination.
There is not even a pragmatic argument for refusing to condemn white supremacists--we are not talking about a significant fraction of American voters, even in the Deep South.  For every white supremacist that might sit out the election if Ron Paul condemned their views, there would likely be a dozen voters who are charmed by Ron Paul's blunt speaking and in love with his foreign policy approach who would be more inclined to vote for him.  My guess is that Ron Paul is not as hostile to those offensive ideas as he pretends.

Let me emphasize that this is not a criticism of libertarian ideas.  I can respect but disagree with non-interventionism.  (And mostly, what I disagree with is the rigid black and white idea of it--the U.S. has a long history of making things worse by sticking our nose into the problems of other countries.)  It is a criticism of racist craziness that is not intrinsically libertarian.

UPDATE: What is really disturbing is how the "hatred of the blowback from foreign intervention" seems to have taken over the brains of some many of Ron Paul's followers.  My favorite example is this comment on an article over at PJ Media where one person asked:

Stupid Paulistinians, why do terrorists kill Russian school children when Russia supports Arabs against Israel?
Stupid Paulistinians, what did Spain do to deserve being invaded by the Ummayads?
 And the response?

The Soviets in Afghanistan in the 80′s
The Spanish Inquisition
It’s called blowback.
 Actually, the Chechnyan terrorists are not because of Afghanistan, but because there is an ongoing effort by Islamists to separate Chechnya from Russia.  I am not at all happy with how Russian security forces have operated in trying to put down that war, but it is not because of Afghanistan.

The other answer: "The Spanish Inquisition"--just shows the ignorance.  The Ummayyads invade Spain in the 700s.  The Spanish Inquisition starts in the 1400s.  This isn't just blowback; it's time travel blowback.  And to quote Monty Python:

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition--and not seven hundred years early.


  1. Actually, Chechnyan involvement in terrorism is blowback - against the incredibly brutal Russian reconquest of Chechnya in 1999-2000.

    Chechnya gained de facto independence in 1996. Russian supremacists such as Putin never accepted this. In 1999, nearly 300 Russians were killed by apartment bombings blamed on Chechen terrorists, but there is considerable evidence that the bombings were staged by Russian security forces.

    With the bombings as an excuse, the Russian army invaded Chechnya. The invasion resulted in huge civilian casualties from indiscriminate bombing and shelling by Russian forces, and from the personal brutality of Russian troops, poorly disciplined, often drunk, and venomously prejudiced against Chechens. (Many incidents of murder, rape, looting, and extortion by Russian troops have been documented.)

    However, no one seemed to care except some jihadist Moslems.

    Chechen responses included the Moscow theater takeover in 2002. 139 hostages died - but only one was killed by the Chechens. The rest were killed by the knockout gas used by Russian security forces. Foreigners who were present (including some surviving hostages) say that the Chechens wanted to release non-Russian hostages, but Russian security forces would not let them. Also, the Russians would not tell anyone what gas they used, even embassy doctors who came to treat gassed hostages from their countries.

    The blowback from Chechnya has hit the U.S. Many Chechen exiles were drawn into the trans-national jihadist movement, and some ended up fighting the U.S. in Iraq. Marine officer Nathaniel Fick encountered fair-skinned, red-bearded Chechen fighters in Fallujah.

    Incidentally, while the 'false flag' claim about the apartment bombings may resemble Truther fantasies about 9/11, there's a big difference. Several prominent people who pushed the 'false flag' story have been murdered, including Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko (killed with polonium), journalist Anna Politovskaya, and Duma Member Sergei Yushenkov.

    I don't excuse all the things Chechens have done. But it's pretty clear they have been very badly treated, and that all they really want is for Russia to leave them alone.

  2. I am aware of Russian atrocities in Chechnya, but as I said, it isn't because of Soviet actions in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but the war in Chechnya. The Russians have certainly done just about everything possible wrong to aggravate the war. The U.S. has at times expressed concern about Russian actions on this (including after the theater hostage taking), but I can see why Chechnyan crimes (such as what happened at Beslan) makes the Russians uninclined to listen.

  3. Well... If you divide U.S. politics into socialist, theoconservative, paleoconservative, and libertarian factions, it makes some tactical sense for the two weakest factions (paleoconservative and libertarian) to form a temporary alliance.

    On the other hand, you can make a plausible case that a theoconservative--libertarian alliance is more natural.