Ron Paul has elaborated on his views in his books, in speeches, and in interviews. During the debates, however, when he has a national audience, he doesn’t always present his views has persuasively as he could. In my last article, I suggested ways in which Ron Paul could respond to challenges regarding his views on foreign policy and national security. In this article, I speak to criticisms concerning his position on drugs and the charge of “racism” that has recently been brought against him once more.
Let’s start with Paul’s position on drugs. Congressman Paul should approach his objectors along the following lines:
“My critics, especially my Republican critics, spare no occasion to misconstrue my positions on many issues; yet they are particularly careless with the truth when they address my position on (recreational) drugs. Contrary to what has been said, I do not favor the legalization of drugs. What I favor is an end to the federal government’s so-called “war” on drugs.
“To put it more bluntly, I believe that while drug usage, like every other self-destructive habit, is bad, I believe just as strongly that the federal government’s criminalization of drug usage is vastly worse. Drug usage is harmful, yes, but, like the usage of alcohol, tobacco, and any number of other products, its harm is primarily self-directed. And like these other activities, the harm is always self-induced. In stark contrast, the criminalization of drug usage by the federal government is harmful alright, but it is a harm that is imposed upon all Americans. In criminalizing drug usage, the federal government strikes a blow at nothing more or less than our very liberty.
“This may strike some of us as a stretch. But to the skeptics among us, I pose this simple challenge: would our liberty increase or decrease in the event that the federal government declared ‘a war,’ say, on obesity, and then proceeded to mandate a diet for only ‘the obese’ among us to follow? Even if you were not numbered among ‘the obese,’ and even if you acknowledged that obesity is a bad thing, the answer to this question, I am sure, strikes you as obvious.
“When the federal government imposes laws upon all of the states, and when these laws forbid the purchase of potentially self-destructive products, liberty has been denied, for it is at once unconstitutional and immoral for the federal government to act thus. When the state governments forbid drug usage, they do not act unconstitutionally; they do, though, act against the spirit of liberty, for liberty consists in nothing if not the freedom of the individual to make choices for himself and to accept the consequences of doing so.
“If I favor “the legalization” of drug usage because I oppose the federal government’s criminalization of it, then all of us who believe that lying, gambling, alcohol consumption, tobacco usage, and marital infidelity should not be criminalized are just as guilty of favoring these activities.”
Now that Congressman Paul is surging in the polls, some establishment Republicans have taken to resurrecting the time worn charge of “racism” against him. This allegation is based on some racially incendiary remarks that were printed in some of Paul’s newsletters decades ago. Paul has repeatedly insisted that he was unaware of the comments, and he has just as frequently rejected what had been written. Still, because the proverbial dirt on Paul is scarce, his critics can’t resist playing, as Congressman Allen West recently characterized it, “the last card in the deck:” the race card. Radio talk show host Michael Medved has even gone so far as to insinuate a link of some sort between Ron Paul and Nazism!
Medved’s charge is simultaneously laughable and disgusting. Hence, it doesn’t even dignify a response of any kind. But to the charge of “racism,” it would be nice to hear Dr. Paul reply something like this:
“Interracial animosity has been responsible for much ugliness throughout our history and that of the world. The ease and frequency with which rival partisans, ever ready to score cheap political points, hurl charges of ‘racism’ at one another divests the word of meaning and, in the process, threaten to marginalize the very real evils to which racial animus has far too often given rise.
“Still, it is hard to see how, of all of the candidates in this race—and, for that matter, all of the politicians in WashingtonD.C.—I should be on the receiving end of this allegation. If ever equality had a champion, I am it. Yet it is the only morally defensible form of equality for which I fight: equality before the law. There can be no liberty unless there is equality before the law. It is liberty and equality for all Americans that I advocate. There is nothing—not a single thing—in my quite extensive record in Congress that so much as remotely suggests otherwise. If there was, my critics would have long ago seized upon it. That they have not reveals just how flimsy is their case.
“Not only, however, have I steadfastly refused to lend support to any measure that would result in treating Americans of some races differently than those belonging to other racial groups. I have just as ardently fought to insure parity of treatment of Americans of all races.
“The so-called ‘War on Drugs,’ for example, has had a devastating impact on black communities throughout the country. Crime, violence, and higher rates of incarceration for blacks are among the poisons produced by this prohibitively costly enterprise. Yet I alone among the candidates of this race demand an end to it.
“My commitment to racial equality and liberty for all can also be seen in the way of my conflict with the other candidates over foreign policy. They are committed to an imperial foreign policy that during the last decade has been justified in terms of ‘the War on Terror.’ The overwhelming majority of those who have been deleteriously impacted by it are people of color, namely Muslims and others of Middle Eastern descent. I, on the other hand, oppose this imperialism. As president, I will see to it that we do unto others as we ourselves would be done by.
“It is indeed a peculiar sort of white ‘racist’ who advocates domestic and foreign policies that would improve the plight of untold millions of non-whites. And it is more than a bit ironic that those whose policies have proven to be, quite literally in many instances, destructive of the same number of non-whites should be the ones calling me a ‘racist’!”
Ron Paul’s ideas are worth a hearing. When addressing a national audience, he should see to it that they, not the straw men of his opponents, are heard.
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
originally published at The New American