At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture


The Republican Media, Ron Paul, and I

posted by Jack Kerwick

I recently submitted what I took to be a spirited defense of Ron Paul to a well regarded right-leaning publication—that is to say, a publication that is widely esteemed by more than a few establishment neoconservative Republican pundits.  It was rejected. 

In what follows, I relay both the essentials of my argument as well as my latest experience with its editors.  I welcome any feedback from readers—including feedback that is critical: if I am wrong, please call me out on it.  I only ask that you supply reasons for your assessment.

The Argumentative Strategy

Identify distortions; State Paul’s positions; Identify contradictions in his critics

In my article—“Setting the Record Straight on Ron Paul”—I pursue a simple, three prong strategy.  Courtesy of his Republican detractors, the political horizon is replete with gross distortions of Dr. Paul’s positions.  I expose these distortions for what they are.  Next, I reiterate what Paul has actually said on the issues.  Finally, I show that by their own standards, Paul’s enemies contradict themselves.

The Strategy in Action

Paul on Domestic Policy

For example, Paul’s Republican rivals inexhaustibly tell us that the Texas Congressman wants to “legalize” drugs, prostitution, and so-called “same sex marriage.”  As anyone who has actually listened to Paul knows all too well, this is not his position.  Rather, it is an end to the federal government’s intervention on behalf of these issues that he seeks.  Paul, that is, believes it is unconstitutional for the federal government to either criminalize or legalize any of these activities.  I observe that by the standards that his critics judge him, they convict themselves.   Familiarity with elementary logic reveals in no time just how inescapable is this verdict. 

Paul insists that the federal government has no constitutional authority to speak to the issues of drugs, prostitution, and “same sex marriage.”  He believes that these are issues best left to the states to determine.  Because of this, his rivals claim that he favors their legalization.  But when it comes to, say, the hot button issue of abortion, these same Republicans—virtually all of them—are just as ready to invoke federalism as is Paul.  It is the states, not the federal government, that has constitutional authority to address abortion, they claim.  By their own reasoning, though, there is no way to circumvent the conclusion that they, then, must favor the legalization of abortion

Such Republicans, I note, are either incapable of adhering to this most fundamental logical demand of consistency or else they are unwilling to do so.  Thus, they are either intellectually or morally confused.  Perhaps they are both.

Foreign Policy and Islamic Terrorism

Ron Paul’s vision of terrorism generally and the 9/11 attacks specifically is another issue that I address by way of this same argumentative strategy. 

Paul’s nemeses repeatedly claim that he “blames” America for the Islamic violence that has been perpetrated against Americans.  This is their distortion of Paul’s position.  In reality, Paul has “blamed” no one, short of the terrorists themselves.  After all, he did vote in favor of military action against the Taliban in the days following the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Least of all can he be said to have ever “blamed” America

“Blame” is a concept located within the universe of moral discourse.  Along with its complement term, “praise,” “blame” belongs to the language of justification.  Paul, in sharp contrast, is concerned with supplying an explanation when he addresses the topic of Islamic terrorism and 9/11.  In other words, he seeks to justify nothing. 

The distinction between explanatory and justificatory modes of discourse is another species of elementary logic.  Again, that Paul’s enemies do not recognize what every college freshmen enrolled in an introductory logic course is expected to recognize renders it impossible to avoid the conclusion that they are either cognitively or morally impoverished—or perhaps a little (or a lot) of both.

However, I continued, let’s just say that Paul is looking to assign blame when he speaks of Islamic terrorism.  According to Paul, the actions that invite Islamic violence are not those of America; they are the actions of the federal government.  Surely Republicans, of all people, can understand that to “blame” the federal government for this or that is most certainly not equivalent to blaming America.  Think about it: it is Republicans, both politicians and pundits, who tirelessly rail against the federal government.  It was Ronald Reagan—a man who counts for no small amount of importance among Republicans—who famously said that (the federal) government is not “the solution” to our problems; all too often it is the problem itself.  Does this mean that Reagan was essentially saying that America is the problem?

If Paul is guilty of bashing “America” because of his observation—one shared by, among other sources, The 9/11 Commission and the Central Intelligence Agency, including the CIA’s Michael Scheuer, who presided over its Osama bin Laden unit for 22 years—that our federal government’s foreign policy provoked this “blowback” phenomenon, then every Republican who criticizes the federal government for anything and everything is equally guilty of bashing America.

Paulophobic Republicans, once more, are inconsistent.  But because of the glaring nature of this inconsistency, it is hard to imagine that they aren’t being dishonest.

Foreign Policy and Foreign Aid

Finally, I looked at the topic of foreign aid andIsrael. 

Paul’s opponents state that he is no friend of Israel.  Why?  Paul, you see, wants to eliminate all foreign aid—which obviously includes foreign aid toIsrael.

Paul opposes foreign aid for the same reason that he opposes all redistributive schemes: it is a redistributive scheme.  But among the various forms of government welfare that prevail in our country, foreign aid is arguably the most egregious, for it requires that the United States government compel its own citizens—the vast majority of whom are not affluent—to part with their resources so as to subsidize the wealthy office holders of the governments of other countries. 

Yet he objects to foreign aid on another ground: the subsidization of other governments makes those governments forever dependent upon those governments that subsidize them. That is, the sovereignty of a nation is compromised inasmuch as it is beholden to another. 

Now, there may be cogent reasons for why Paul may be mistaken as to what being a good ally of Israel(or any other nation) entails.   But it is only ill faith that can account for why his Republican objectors would charge him with being “anti-Israel,” for Paul’s view is that a true champion of Israel(or any other nation) is one who seeks her independence.  By calling for an end to foreign aid, it is exactly this for which he calls.

When we consider that it is Republicans who charge Democrats with “racism” for allegedly desiring to keep blacks dependent upon Big Government, one would think that Republicans more so than anyone else would sympathize would Paul on this topic.  Yet again, Paul’s Republican enemies contradict themselves: if Paul is “anti-Israel” or “anti-Semitic” because of his desire to liberate Israel from its dependence upon Big Government, then it is Republicans, not Democrats, who are “racist” because of their desire to liberate blacks from their dependence upon Big Government.   If, on the other hand, such Republicans insist that respect for persons requires that we affirm their autonomy or independence, then insofar as they want to keepIsrael dependent upon the American government, it is his Republican detractors, not Paul himself, who are the real “anti-Semites.” 

The Editor’s Remarks and My Response

These are the arguments that I made in my article. The editor of this reputable publication rejected it as a “non-starter.”  In an unusually long email, he claimed to be “shocked” and “stunned” that I would accuse his publication of furthering distortions and lies concerning Paul.  He then pointed out that while he has published anti-Paul pieces, he has also published critical pieces of all of the Republican presidential contenders.

Although he spent most of his time defending his publication against my charges, he managed to criticize my piece for its lack of “objectivity” and its “emotionalism.”  Because I didn’t “cite” a single source, what I submitted was merely my “opinion” of what Ron Paul has said—nothing more. 

The editor’s comments call for several responses.

First, it is worth noting that not once did he question either the substance or the logic of my arguments.  Nor could he, for, in my humble judgment, the substance was true and the logic impeccable. 

Second, it is true that I did not cite any sources.  Yet it is equally true that most articles written in this venue, including no inconsiderable number of anti-Paul essays that had been published at this specific publication, are typically devoid of citations.  Besides, those of Paul’s positions to which I spoke are public knowledge: everyone knows what he says about the federal government and its role vis-à-vis drugs, prostitution, and marriage, and everyone knows what he thinks about foreign aid.  We are also all too familiar with his opponents’ criticisms.

Third, this publication has, to its credit, published a couple of defenses of Paul.  And yes, it has indeed published articles taking some of the other candidates to task.  But, first of all, for every one pro-Paul piece there have been numerous critiques.  This in and by itself is fair enough.  What is most unfair, though, is the nature of these critiques.  In fact, they can’t really be said to be critiques at all.  They are, rather, the standard diet of character attacks that we have come to expect from the Republican-dominated media: Paul is “insane,” “nutzo,” and “mad.”  He is a “conspiracy monger” and an “anti-Semite” who “blames the Jews” for Islamic attacks against theUnited States.  Paul is a “racist,” a “bigot,” and a “crackpot,” someone who is little better than “an apologist for the KKK!”  No other candidate comes close to suffering this same abuse. 

Fourth, the editor determines that my defense of Paul isn’t “worthy” of his publication because it is not “objective.”  At the same time, he permits the foregoing trash to make it to print.

Finally, there appears to be some confusion as to the meaning of “objectivity.”  This is pardonable, for fewer words have been as mired in ambiguity as this one.  If by “objective” we mean non-partisan and/or dispassionate, then I confess that my argument on Paul’s behalf was resolutely non-objective.  At the same time, no argument fits this description of objectivity.  If, though, an objective analysis is one that is supported by reasons that are at once true and that answer to the universal requirement of logical consistency, then my defense was most certainly objective. 

Conclusion and a Call for Feedback

At least this is the case as far as I can tell.  Any readers who think that perhaps I have overreacted, as the editor accuses me of doing, or who have any other thoughts about this little episode, please, let me know.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American



  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    Let me tell you something “Russell Kirk,” I have said this before and I will say it again: Logophobia is not tolerated on this blog. There were hardly no comments that I didn’t approve of initially. That has all changed, because once I allow some really stupid, insulting remarks, it is like opening a floodgate. All it takes is one moron to bring the rest out from under the woodwork.

    I will be clear: outside of myself, no one–NO ONE–will read anything that you have written here. Even I stop reading once I stumble upon baseless insults: “racism,” “bigotry,” “fascism,” etc. If these are the words you feel compelled to resort to, this can only be because you are a logophobe.

    Seek treatment for your logophobia and then come and talk to me.

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    Joe, I am sick and tired of people like yourself spoiling the well of discourse by mud slinging. It is people who do not know how to argue, to reason, who resort to the slimy, worthless tactics of people like yourself and “Ben Zion.” You MAN UP. Learn how to reason like a man. All I ask is that people who interact with me do so without resorting to baseless name calling. If you are either incapable or unwilling to do so, then however many comments you post, I will NOT approve of them. Not any more. Get it? I don’t mind criticism. It is mindless, idiotic attacks that I cannot–and will not–tolerate.

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    Your assessment of libertarianism is woefully inaccurate. In fact, it is a cartoonish caricature.

    I do not consider myself a libertarian, and I am certainly no Randian. But this is straw man if there ever was one. If libertarianism is an intellectually impoverished position–and it may, ultimately, be just that–than you should be able to demonstrate as much. You shouldn’t feel compelled to do nothing but hurl insults at libertarianism.

    Were you listening to Mark Levin Bill? Is that how you came up with this?

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    That’s not my point George. You have to know this.

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    “Ben Zion”: you accuse ME of not having “guts?” You don’t even have the courage to state your real name. Wow. Your virtues just keep piling up.

    Because of your incivility, Mr. No Name, I will now take this other trashy post of yours and put it right where it belongs.

    If and when you muster either the ability or the will to post something of substance, and if and when you muster either the ability or will to articulate your thoughts with respect and civility, I will post them. But until then–I won’t hold my breath–you will be ranting to yourself.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Billy Anschutz

    Libertarianism is a fraud.

    It is synonymous with lawlessness.

    At least the 19th century anarchists recognized the reality of society- unlike Maggie Thatcher.

    Libertarianism is a fancy word for relentless narcissism and overweening selfishness.

    It is also unconstitutional: after all, the Constitution starts out with “We, the People…” not “I, and a group of elite, like-minded self-centered individuals dedicated exclusively to maximizing individual self-interest….” !!

    John Galt is a self-righteous, adolescent whiner.

    And then, there is his “creator,” the patron saint of Libertarianism, Ayn Rand. She was as phony as her name, having been born in Russia as Alice Rosenbaum.

    Rand was a Christianity-hating, abortion-loving whore: she had an ongoing affair with a married protege.

    Not to mention being a bad writer, to boot!

    Furthermore, as noted by one pundit, “Ron Paul has never once attacked Mitt Romney in any of the 20 Republican debates. Paul has routinely attacked the other candidates though – prompting the Santorum campaign to accuse Paul and Romney of working together. So does that mean that the Libertarian rebel has actually sold out to the Moderate Republican establishment? “

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment george

    “His largest donations, by employer, stem from the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. He receives twice as much in the way of contributions from those in our armed forces than all of the other candidates combined.”
    HILARIOUS! Your idea of boosting Paul’s candidacy is noting that he is supported by people who are not good enough to get jobs in the PRIVATE sector, and so wind up stuck with working for the government. LOL!

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    You know something, Ben, I don’t get to my blog everyday. This was the original reason why you haven’t seen your earlier lie-based comment posted. But after I just read it, I decided that it deserves to be deleted You have nothing whatsoever substantive to say. You just resort to name calling. That is not worthy of this blog. I allowed to go on in the past, you haven’t listened, and so I will not let it go on again.

    But I am doing you a favor “Ben Zion.” I refuse to showcase your idiocy and anti-Christian bigotry to readers of this blog.

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    How do you think that this bit of information, even assuming that it is true, in the least discredits Dr. Paul? This donor is still using his own money to support Paul. Paul wants to affect dramatic cuts in military spending too. Does this mean that he is hypocritical in accepting donations from activie military personnel? His largest donations, by employer, stem from the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. He receives twice as much in the way of contributions from those in our armed forces than all of the other candidates–including Obama–combined.

    Your argument, “Russell,” makes no sense.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Russell Kirk, Jr.

    Ron Paul Wants to Abolish the CIA; His Largest Donor Builds Toys for It

    By Mark Ames

    If there’s one thing that distinguishes Ron Paul from the rest of the GOP field, it’s his principled stand against American empire and his ardent defense of individual liberties. Paul’s opposition to wars, bloated defense budgets and government espionage of US citizens has made him a hero among some young conservatives. His seemingly rock-solid principles and radicalism has even drawn some on the left; unlike even left-wing Democrats, Paul has said he wants to abolish both the CIA and the FBI to protect individual “liberty.”
    So it should come as a shock and disappointment to his followers that Ron Paul’s single largest donor—his Sheldon Adelson, as it were—founded a controversial defense contractor, Palantir Technologies, that profits from government espionage work for the CIA, FBI and other agencies, and which last year was caught organizing an illegal spy ring targeting American political opponents of the US Chamber of Commerce, including journalists, progressive activists and union leaders. (Palantir takes its name from the mystic stones used by characters in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to spy one another.)
    According to recently filed FEC disclosure documents, Ron Paul’s Super PAC has received nearly all of its money from a single source, billionaire Peter Thiel. So far, Thiel has contributed $2.6 million to Ron Paul’s Super PAC, Endorse Liberty, providing 76 percent of the Super PAC’s total intake.
    Thiel, a self-described libertarian and opponent of democracy who made his fortune as the founder of PayPal, launched Palantir in 2004 to profit from what the Wall Street Journal described as “the government spy-services marketplace.” The CIA’s venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, was brought in to back up Thiel as one of Palantir’s first outside investors. Today, Palantir’s valuation is reported to be in the billions.
    A recent Businessweek profile explained how Palantir makes its money—and why Ron Paul’s followers should be bothered:
    Depending where you fall on the spectrum between civil liberties absolutism and homeland security lockdown, Palantir’s technology is either creepy or heroic. Judging by the company’s growth, opinion in Washington and elsewhere has veered toward the latter. Palantir has built a customer list that includes the U.S. Defense Dept., CIA, FBI, Army, Marines, Air Force, the police departments of New York and Los Angeles, and a growing number of financial institutions trying to detect bank fraud. These deals have turned the company into one of the quietest success stories in Silicon Valley—it’s on track to hit $250 million in sales this year—and a candidate for an initial public offering. Palantir has been used to find suspects in a case involving the murder of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, and to uncover bombing networks in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “It’s like plugging into the Matrix,” says a Special Forces member stationed in Afghanistan who requested anonymity out of security concerns. “The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.’ ”
    It gets worse: the technologies and know-how acquired over years of spying on suspected foreign terrorists and threats were turned to private, political use against US citizens. In what became known last year as the “Chamber-Gate” scandal, Palantir was outed by Anonymous as the lead outfit in a private espionage consortium with security technology companies HBGary and Berico; the groups spent months “creating electronic dossiers on political opponents of the Chamber through illicit means.”
    According to ThinkProgress, Palantir “may have used techniques and technologies developed under military contracts in their pro-Chamber campaign.”
    Ron Paul came out vocally supporting WikiLeaks and Assange, positions that made Paul popular among young libertarians and progressives. Just weeks before PayPal announced it had cut off funding for Wikileaks, Thiel’s stake in PayPal was reportedly worth $1.7 billion (he sold the company to eBay in 2002).
    Thiel has funded a number of far-right-wing causes over the years: He was an early investor in conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe’s career, funding a video called “Taxpayer’s Clearing House,” which shows O’Keefe duping working-class minorities into believing they’d won a sweepstakes, only to stick them with a tax bill for the bailouts. O’Keefe, of course, later was al charged with entering a federal building under false pretenses in an attempt to wiretap the offices of US Senator Mary Landrieu. Thiel was a member of the right-wing Federalist Society while at Stanford Law School, and he co-authored an anti–affirmative action book, The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus—a book that belittles “imaginary oppressors” of minorities, blames homophobia on homosexuals and attacks domestic partnerships. Thiel himself is gay.
    In a recent article published in the libertarian Cato Unbound, Thiel came out against democracy and majority rule, and blamed women’s suffrage for ending “freedom”:
    The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.
    Thiel also funds a libertarian project headed by Milton Friedman’s grandson, Patri Friedman, called the “Seasteading Institute,” which designs offshore “libertarian utopias.” Patri Friedman also denounced democracy as “ill-suited for a libertarian state.”
    If Ron Paul is serious about his principled defense of Americans’ individual liberties and his opposition to war-profiteering and government espionage against its own citizens, then why does his main Super PAC rely so heavily on one of the worst violators of Paul’s core principles?
    What exactly is Ron Paul talking about when he warns his followers that America is becoming a “fascist system”? In his recent speech, Paul defined this “fascist system” as “a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen.” Can Paul really oppose such “fascism” while his campaign is bankrolled by one of the chief protagonists and beneficiaries of the very system Ron Paul claims to oppose?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ben Zion

    why is my truth-based comment from yesterday not posted?

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    Thanks Alan. But it was not WND.

  • http://www.jackkerwick.com Jack Kerwick

    Thank you for your support Dwayne. It is much, much appreciated.

  • http://iran.ogs7.com Gordon Dye

    If you want to challenge the main stream media concerning their coverage of Dr. Paul, you can do so irrefutably by promoting the referenced web site (iran.ogs7.com). I say it is irrefutable because all references are provided and it quotes the highest authorities in the U.S. and U.N. relating to military strategy and intelligence. The site completely vindicates Dr. Paul’s foreign policy concerning Iran.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment David Lonier

    Typical of the “controlled” media. They’ll do anything to discredit freedom, common sense, moral responsibility and truth, for these undermine the deception upon which they depend for their power. I just heard that Fox News has severed relations with Judge Andrew Napolitano. Figuers, as he speaks highly of Dr. Paul, freedom and the limits of government. Your article, as does Ron Paul & the judge, exposes the fraud and corruption and therefore is not acceptable to the lap dog MSM.

  • http://www.MillerCountyPatriots.com Dwayne Hall

    The editor got a phone call from “the powers that be” and thats what he needed to do to appease them. Its not a reflection on your work. Please continue to publish and try to publish your honest opinions. The revolution is alive and well.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Alan Russo

    Your article was logical and fairly represented the positions of Dr. Paul. I would include, regarding the question of Israel, that giving abundant aid to their enemies hurts Israel as well. If this publication happens to be WND, there is probably no reasoning with them, and they are not worthy of your article. Publications such as these, dominated by neocons, will, hopefully, as the truth is dispatched to the people through other powerful and truth-seeking internet media, one day bring about their own demise.

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