At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Ron Paul and Martin Luther King, Jr.

posted by Jack Kerwick

Much has been said about Ron Paul’s foreign policy.  Some of it has been good.  A lot of it has been not so good.  And there is no one who objects more strongly to his foreign policy than his fellow Republicans.

Paul’s foreign policy is “isolationist,” “naïve;” and “dangerous.”  On foreign policy, Paul is “to the left” of President Obama.  He is an “ultra-radical leftist.”  Because of his insistence that it is the dominant ideology of “interventionism”—what Paul and others characterize as “militarism” and “neo-imperialism”—that accounts for an increase of Islamic hostilities toward theUnited States—Paul, his detractors claim, “blamesAmerica.” 

This is the first thing of which to take note.


Accompanying this phenomenon is another: with Ron Paul’s surging popularity, his enemies have resorted to playing against him what black Florida Congressman Alan West rightfully calls “the last card in the deck”: the race card.  Because of some newsletters that he published a couple of decades ago, Paul has been accused of “racism.”

So Paul is a dangerous isolationist, an American “blamer,” if not a hater, and a “racist.” 

This deserves to be born in mind as we turn our attention, in just a couple of weeks, to another American with whom Paul is not ordinarily linked—at least not in any positive sense.

Every January the public sector grinds to a halt and one solemn event after the other unfolds as Americans remember Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday.  This is relevant to discussions regarding Paul’s foreign policy, for the very same Republican contributors to Fox News, talk radio, National Review, and The Weekly Standard who spare no occasion to blast away at Paul for his views will be equally ready to lavish praise upon Dr. King.


King’s position on foreign policy, you see, was vastly more similar to Paul’s than it is to any other Republican candidate.  In fact, it shares much more in common with Paul’s understanding of foreign policy than it shares with President Obama’s.  The difference between King and Paul, however, is that for however blunt Paul can be, the language in which he characterizes his position isn’t as damning as that the terms in which King cast his position. 

Although Republicans like to speak of King as if he was a neoconservative before there were neoconservatives, the fact of the matter is that if anyone was an “ultra-radical leftist,” it was King.  This is the thesis for which Michael Eric Dyson makes a compelling case in his 1996 book, I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. 


I am no fan of Dyson, a hard leftist himself.  But he is to be commended for this insightful work on a sorely misunderstood historical figure.  To appreciate King’s approach to foreign policy, Dyson situates it within his larger moral vision, a vision, according to Dyson, within which the goal of “racial justice” figures centrally. 

Although we hear little of this on MLK Day, King had come to believe that “the vast majority of white Americans are racists, either consciously or unconsciously.”  How could they not be?  According to King, America“was born in genocide.”  “Racial supremacy” was in America’s DNA from the beginning, a fact that is seen from its treatment of “the original American, the Indian [.]”  King condemned Americaas “perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population.”  Near the end of his life, he concluded that if Americahad any hope of changing, there would have to be “a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values” (emphasis mine).   


America’s “racism” extended to its foreign policy.  The Vietnam War, King declared, was “senseless” and “unjust.”  It is Americans, he continued, who are the “criminals in that war,” forAmericahas “committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world.”  The United States is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”  American foreign policy vis-à-vis the fight against communism generally and the Vietnam War specifically was nothing more or less than “a new form of colonialism.”  Furthermore, even asAmericasubjected non-whites to unjust treatment overseas, it continued its assault upon blacks here: black soldiers, he remarked, were drafted in an “extraordinarily high proportion to the rest of the population.”  Dyson credits King with “showing the lethal links between racism, militarism, and poverty.” 


Interestingly, just as King’s conceptions of domestic and foreign policies are bound together by a single moral thread, so too do Ron Paul’s views on the same co-exist within a unified ethical vision.  Moreover, although King was a leftist while Paul is certainly not, there are similarities between the two.

Importantly, like King, Paul too regards American foreign policy as “imperialistic” and “militaristic,” and the wars in which we are engaged as “unjust” and “immoral.”  He has also suggested, on more than one occasion, that it is animated by a subtle but enduring bigotry against Muslims—virtually all of whom are non-white.  

Like King, Paul posits an inseparable connection between the federal government’s aggression toward non-whites abroad and what he perceives to be its unjust aggression toward non-whites here at home.  The so-called “War on Drugs,” Paul thinks, is “racist” in conception and effect, for not only has its prosecution had the effect of transforming black communities into warzones, blacks are disproportionately incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses. 


At the center of King’s worldview is the goal of racial equality; at the center of Paul’s is liberty for all.  Still, they both note a racial subtext that unitesAmerica’s domestic and foreign policies, a subtext to which they equally object.

Let me be clear: I agree with neither MLK nor Ron Paul on these matters.  Nor would I want to be read as suggesting that the latter is something like a clone of the former.  If I thought this, I would not have invested countless hours into arguing for Paul’s presidential candidacy.

Rather, my point here is simply to show that their radically disparate treatment of King and Paul exposes exactly the sort of intellectual dishonesty and inconsistency that we have come to expect from Republican politicians and their media propagandists.  In treating King reverentially while treating Paul unconscionably, Republicans convict themselves of the most crass sort of cynicism, for when it comes to the issues under discussion, Paul is much closer to King than are they.   

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.


Brief Thoughts on “Racism”

posted by Jack Kerwick

Ron Paul is accused of “racism” for material that was published decades ago in a newsletter that he used to publish.  Rather than argue here whether or not the charge is justified, let us instead consider the concept of “racism” itself. 

If those who endorse the conventional wisdom are certain of nothing else, they are certain of the truth of the following propositions: “Racism” is prevalent and it is the most egregious of transgressions, the most awful of vices.  So horrible is “racism” that it is perhaps the sole offense that our popular culture treats as virtually unpardonable.  Public figures are forgiven for all manner of evil, from marital infidelity to the violation of promises to chronic dishonesty.  But if convicted in the court of public opinion of “racism,” he or she can expect to be driven from “respectable society.” 


Our sense of certitude notwithstanding, popular thought regarding “racism” is in a dilapidated condition.  To put it more bluntly, talk on this topic is confused to the point of being incoherent.

For one, “racism” is almost always ascribed to whites.  This is very strange when it is considered that blacks victimize whites at a rate several times that at which whites victimize blacks. Roughly 90% of all interracial crime is black-on-white.  And since Hispanics are identified as “white” when they are the perpetrators of “hate crimes”—though not when they are victims—interracial crime involves white perpetrators  less than 10% of the time.      

But if “racism” is so easy to spot, and if it is something so terrible that no decent person could fail to be offended by it, then why are the most indignant of “anti-racists” among us invariably silent when it comes to the astronomical rate of black-on-white crime?


This is one paradox that deserves pondering.

There is another problem, though, upon which we would be well served to reflect.

In spite of—or perhaps because of—our incessant talk of all things racial, we are eons away from reaching a consensus as to the nature of “racism.” 


If you are white and you acknowledge that the average IQ among blacks is a standard deviation lower than that found among whites, you are “racist.” (If, though, you are white and acknowledge that the average IQ among Asians is slightly higher than the average IQ among whites, somehow, you are not “racist!”).

If you are white and you believe that this IQ difference found between blacks and whites is due to anything other than “cultural bias” in the IQ testing, you are “racist.”


If you are white and you support “the War on Drugs,” you are “racist.”

If you are white and you observe that according to the government’s own statistical surveys, blacks victimize whites in far greater numbers than whites victimize blacks, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you support the death penalty specifically and strict enforcement of the laws generally, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you enjoy NASCAR driving, or golfing, or hockey, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you believe that O.J. Simpson was guilty of murdering his wife and her lover, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you prefer the suburbs to the cities, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you prefer private schools to public schools for your children, you are “racist.”


If you are white and you use words like “black hole, or expressions like “pure as the driven snow,” you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are a Christian, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are materially well to do, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are conservative, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are a Republican, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are a member of the Tea Party, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are not a leftist, you are “racist.”

If you are white and you are a leftist, you are still “racist.”

If you are white and a police officer or soldier, you are “racist.”

If you are white and Southern, you are “racist.”


If you are white and didn’t’ vote for Barack Obama in 2008, you are “racist.”

If you are white, voted for Obama, but are now critical of him, you are “racist.”

If you are white, you are “racist.”

Whether it is to Adolph Hitler, Bull Connor, or David Duke; neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen, Confederate soldiers, or Republicans; Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or Ron Paul; Trent Lott or the Los Angeles Police; genocidal murderers or white babies—some indignant “anti-racist” or other has applied the term “racism.”

How, any remotely reasonable person must ask, can a word that is applied this indiscriminately to persons and organizations that share nothing in common but the color of their skin possibly have any meaning?   At the very least, such a person can only conclude that if the term ever meant anything, it has long since lost what meaning it had.


There is one final consideration to which we should attend when exploring the concept of “racism.”

During the medieval era, it was not uncommon to regard God as “the Unmoved Mover” and “the Uncaused Cause.”  Today, it would seem, we think of “racism” along similar lines.  “Racism” may not be eternal, like God, but, the “anti-racists” imply, it no more owes its being to antecedent causes than does God Himself.  The (always white) “racist” is treated as the embodiment of raw, undifferentiated irrationality.  And he is thought to be as immoral as he is irrational.

Two things of which to take note here.

The first is that no disposition or activity, whether something to which we decide to give the name “racism” or anything else, partakes of this character: there are reasons, whether justified or not, for everything.


Secondly, whether the reasons for “racism” or any anything else are good or bad is something that can be settled only once those reasons are identified and discussed. 

“Racism” is indeed a matter over which we should dialogue.  Yet if it is greater understanding, not moral exhibitionism, in which we are interested, then our discussion must begin with a tough minded examination of the concept of “racism” itself.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.


Starr Parker and Ron Paul

posted by Jack Kerwick

There are some changes that do not sit well with nationally syndicated columnist Starr Parker.

One of these is a change that she perceives has having taken place among college Republicans over the span of the last 20 years or so.  In her latest article, Parker writes that unlike the youth to whom she regularly spoke during the 1990’s, today’s young Republicans care not nearly as much about Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley as they do “the ‘leave me alone’ candidate”—Ron Paul. 

Parker sees the Paul phenomenon as the offspring of the union of “self-centered materialism” and “moral relativism.”  Even though his young Republican supporters “may be pushing back on government,” they are motivated, Parker contends, by the very same “sense of entitlement” that prevails among “their left wing contemporaries.”  They have “an interest in claiming rights with little interest in corresponding personal responsibilities.”


In following her train of thought (no mean feat), it becomes painfully obvious to anyone genuinely concerned with truth just how wrong headed is Parker’s position.     

The college audiences that she once addressed embraced “individual freedom, respect for constitutional limitations on government, and traditional values [.]”  Seeing “Americaas a ‘shining city on a hill’,” they shared “a sense of [national] purpose.”  In stark contrast, an ever growing number of her “college hosts” today request that she speak not about “values” but, rather, “the economy.” 

Parker may very well be correct that college students have redirected their moral energy from the likes of Reagan and Buckley and toward Ron Paul.  Yet if this is true, it most certainly is not because these same students have lost their zeal for “individual freedom, respect for constitutional limitations on government, and traditional values.”  “Libertarians” like Paul are known for nothing if not their affirmation of both “individual freedom” as well as the “constitutional limitations on government” that make this freedom possible.  Nor can Paul credibly be said to inspire contempt for “traditional values.” 


St. Francis of Assisiis credited with having admonished his followers to spread the Gospel—and to use words “when necessary.”  Paul said something similar during one of the later GOP debates.  When questioned whether he thought that the “character” of a candidate should be treated with importance, he responded in the affirmative.  Yet he was quick to point out that a genuinely virtuous human being—like, say, a real military hero—isn’t one who feels the need to continually talk about his excellences.  Good character is self-revealing; it is disclosed through deeds.  Translated in terms of the popular idiom of our times, character is essentially a matter of “walk,” not “talk.”

With respect to his stances on the key “social issues” of abortion and marriage, we can see that Paul is all walk.


A staunch proponent of life, Paul is an obstetrician who delivered over 4,000 babies during his career.  He never performed a single abortion.  He has repeatedly insisted that life begins at conception and opposes all government-funded abortion services.  That Paul holds marriage and family in high regard is clear: he has been married to the same woman—his high school girlfriend—for about 55 years.  Together they have raised a sizable family.

Paul rejects the idea of a Constitutional amendment explicitly defining marriage as a monogamous, heterosexual union for the same reason that he rejects the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade preventing the individual states from prohibiting abortion: the Constitution, he is convinced, does not authorize the federal government to speak to such matters. 


Similarly, Paul opposes the federal government’s “War on Drugs,” not because he believes that drugs are harmless, but because he sees clearly that individual freedom and the Constitution positively preclude it.    

Paul and his supporters are no less interested in “the social issues” than are Parker or anyone else.  The difference between the Pauls and the Parkers of the world lies in the positions that they take on these issues.  But it isn’t just over substance that they disagree.  Ron Paul and his young supporters who Parker takes to task are both logically and morally more consistent than is she and her ilk.  To put it in Parker’s own terms, it is from his commitment to “individual freedom” and his “respect for constitutional limitations on government” that Paul assumes the issues on the social issues that he does. 


Parker can legitimately quibble with Paul over whether his reading of the Constitution and the requirements of liberty are correct.  However, she has no rational warrant for describing Paul’s vision as a form of “self-centered materialism,” much less “moral relativism.”  Putting aside the ambiguity of these labels, one very simple, and simply decisive, consideration shows just how absurd it is to ascribe them to Paul.

While Paul’s rivals deny the worth of his views, even they do not think to deny the passion, the conviction, and the consistency with which he defends them.  How, we must ask, is Paul’s renunciation of “militarism” and “imperialism” either “materialistic” or “relativistic?”  What about his position that it is unconstitutional and immoral for the federal government to enact paternalistic laws?  Is it “materialism” and “relativism” that lead Paul to argue against “the War on Drugs” on the ground that it is “racist?”

Paul’s positions on the issues may be rationally and morally indefensible. Parker’s analysis of them definitely is.     






The Many Contradictions of the Paulophobe

posted by Jack Kerwick

A while ago, I wrote an article in which I spoke of “Paulophobia.”  Paulophobia, I claimed, is a cognitive disorder.  Like a parasite, it eats away at its victim’s intellect.  Perhaps because of this, it also corrupts his moral character.  To encounter a Paulophobe whose disorder has reached an advanced stage is to come face-to-face with Irrationality incarnate.  At the mere mention of Ron Paul’s name, this sort of Paulophobe practically begins to foam at the mouth.  Everything in which he previously claimed to believe—his ideals, his principles, his values—he abruptly throws to the wind as he frantically searches for every and any aspersion, no matter how incredible, that he can cast against Congressman Paul.  The Paulophobe doesn’t just want to discredit Paul as a presidential candidate.  He wants to discredit him as a human being.  


Unfortunately, once Paulophobia has reached this stage, it is terminal, for it is now impervious to reason.  There is no other conclusion to draw given the following facts.

Those suffering most acutely from Paulophobia are Republicans, self-styled “conservatives” (read: neoconservatives).  Now, Republicans have always claimed to believe in smaller, more limited, decentralized government.  In short, they pride their party on being the party of liberty, the party that is committed to preserving and protecting the United States Constitution. 

Yet when they have the opportunity to nominate the only presidential candidate in their primary race who even they recognize is most committed to “limited government” and the Constitution, they call him a “kook” and “extremist.”  Some Paulophobes like talk radio hosts Michael Medved and Mark Levin go further to imply that he is evil.  Medved continually insinuates that Paul is a “racist” and a “neo-Nazi.”  Levin has explicitly said of Paul that he is “poison.”  Both adamantly deny that Paul is authentic.


Republicans, especially since they have been ejected from power, inexhaustibly complain about “out of control” spending.  Our country is on the precipice of ruin, they note, because of the profound profligacy of the Democrats.  This next election promises to be the most important of our lifetime, for this may be our very last chance to saveAmerica. 

But when one Republican presidential candidate comes along and proposes one trillion dollars in spending cuts within the first year of his term as President, they either pretend that he doesn’t exist or they spare no occasion to marginalize him.  This is like a man lost at sea who, in spite of longing for salvation and knowing that the ship in the distance is his last chance at it, refuses to be rescued.  Moreover, he attempts to chop off the arm of the ship’s captain who reaches out to him.


Republicans, like professional Paulophobe Rush Limbaugh, repeatedly claim their party alone embodies the spirit of the Founding Fathers.  The Founders, mind you, although a philosophically heterogeneous group, never so much as contemplated a federal government that would demand of all Americans that they refrain from using any product, however potentially self-destructive it may be. 

However, when Ron Paul contends that it is unconstitutional and immoral for the federal government to criminalize drug usage, such Paulophobes accuse him of wanting to “legalize” drugs.  Ron Paul, they shout hysterically, is in favor of legalizing heroin and cocaine!   If these Paulophobes were capable of it, just the slightest bit of rudimentary logic would make plain to them the implication of this line of thought.  If Paul can be convicted of wanting to “legalize” drugs because of his opposition to the federal government’s criminalization of them, then inasmuch as the Founders didn’t seek to criminalize drugs, they too can be said to have favored the same.  Far from being a radical, much less a radical “leftist” (as Paulophobe Dick Morris recently described him), Paul’s position on drugs is but another example of his desire to restore the vision of our Founders.


Republicans have often (and quite pathetically, actually) taken to accusing their Democratic rivals of being “racist.”  It is Democrats, they claim, who seek to keep blacks “dependent” upon the government by way of welfare and a massive assortment of race-based preferential treatment policies.  Thus, Democrats are “racist” against blacks.

Because of his belief that we should eliminate foreign aid toIsrael, these same Paulophobic Republicans say of Ron Paul that he is “anti-Semitic.”  Two observations are here in order. 

First of all, Ron Paul does not single out Israel: he wants an end to all foreign aid.  More importantly, though, these Paulophobes fail to recognize that if Democrats are “racist” because of their desire to keep blacks dependent upon the United States government, then inasmuch as these Republicans want to keep Israel dependent upon the United States government, it is they who are “anti-Semitic.”


To put the point another way, if it is the enemies of “racism” who oppose welfare dependency for blacks, then it is the enemies of “anti-Semitism” who should oppose welfare dependency—i.e. “foreign aid”—forIsrael.  This means that it is the Republican Paulophobe who is the real “anti-Semite,” while it is Paul who is “pro-Semitic.”  

In accordance with the 9/11 Commission Report as well as numerous reports that have been supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency, Ron Paul regularly observes that the attacks of September 11, 2001 specifically and Islamic hostilities toward the United States generally are in large measure the function of an interventionist American foreign policy.  That is, the federal government’s actions in the Islamic world are causally related to the terrorism that we are now combating.


For this, Republicans accuse of him of “blamingAmerica.” 

But if Paul can be said to be a member of “the blame America First” crowd because of his stance that the federal government has acted objectionably vis-à-vis the Islamic world, then his accusers who have made their careers railing against the federal government’s objectionable treatment of American citizens must be members of the same crowd.  Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and all self-avowed champions of “limited government” and “individual liberty,” it turns out, are in reality the most vociferous of American Haters, for they are tirelessly criticizing the federal government for something or other.

Republican Paulophobes imply that Ron Paul is a “racist” because of some articles from decades ago that were published in his newsletter.  As was just noted, Republicans accuse Democrats of being “racist” because of their support of welfare entitlements and affirmative action for blacks.  They have also leveled this charge against Democrats when the latter opposed the enterprise of spreading Democracy to the Islamic world, a world, Democrats suggested, that wasn’t yet ready for this ideal.  So, from the Republican’s perspective, a (white) “racist” is one who either promotes policies that deleteriously impact non-whites, or resists those policies that allegedly promise to benefit them.


Sadly for Republicans, by this standard they are among the biggest “racists” of all.  Their “War on Drugs” has devastated the black poor.  As such black thinkers as Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams have long noted, this “war” has transformed black communities throughout the country into virtual combat zones and economic wastelands.  And if their “War on Drugs” has ruined the lives of many blacks, their “War on Terror”—alternately and more euphemistically characterized as “the Freedom Agenda”—has been even worst for Muslims.

But if Republicans are the biggest “racists” by their own standard, then Ron Paul is the biggest “anti-racist” by the same.  Paul wants to end both “wars” and, thus, spare the lives of countless numbers of non-whites.


Republicans say that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is “isolationist,” “naïve,” and “dangerous.”  One Paulophobe, Newt Gingrich, has even gone so far as to suggest that whoever supports it is “indecent.”  At the same time, Republicans have established for themselves a reputation of being pro-military.

Yet if Ron Paul is “isolationist,” “naïve,” and “dangerous” when it comes to foreign policy, then all of those veterans and active duty military personnel who endorse him are “isolationist,” “naïve,” and “dangerous.”  Ron Paul, a veteran of the United States Air Force, receives more contributions from the members of our armed forces than all of the other candidates combined.   He receives ten times the amount that Mitt Romney receives and one hundred times the amount received by Newt Gingrich!


Republicans know that they cannot win the presidential election of 2012 unless their candidate can get the independent vote and that of racial minorities.  But polls show that Ron Paul beats Obama among independents and receives more of the non-white vote than every other Republican candidate. 

Still, Republican Paulophobes can’t even bring themselves to conceive of the possibility that Paul could secure their party’s nomination.  Like the very word “cancer” that those from earlier generations couldn’t bring themselves to utter, just the idea of a nominee Paul strikes terror into their hearts.

The Republican Paulophobe, I hoped to have shown, is a walking contradiction.  There is, though, one final consideration that shouldn’t be lost upon us.


Republican Paulophobes know that should Ron Paul not get his party’s nomination and choose to run on a third party ticket, or should he encourage his devoted following to turn its back on the GOP, then President Obama is insured a second term.  Hence, a little prudence dictates that Republicans refrain from treating him unjustly.

But they insist upon treating Paul to one injustice after the other.

The Paulophobe is impervious to reason.  Maybe, though, another crushing loss, courtesy of Ron Paul and his followers, will cure him of his condition.   

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American 


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