At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

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 

 

Ron Paul, Republicans, and the Race Card

posted by Jack Kerwick

The stuff of establishment Republicans’ worst nightmares is now coming to pass: they can no longer depict Ron Paul as a “fringe” candidate.  Even they have been compelled by events to acknowledge that the Texas Congressman could very well finish first place in theIowa caucus.  

But it isn’t just that Ron Paul may take Iowa.  Throughout these primaries, in spite of receiving less media coverage than all of the other candidates, Paul has succeeded in maintaining, for the most part, a third place showing.  Every “front runner” except for the establishment’s favorite—Mitt Romney—has come and gone.  Paul rates more favorably nationally among Republican voters than Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum. 

Paul, that is, can no longer be ignored.  Republicans have thus taken to smearing him.

And they have availed themselves of the most incendiary of charges to level against him.  Paul, they insinuate, is a “racist.”

Believe it or not, the sole basis of this accusation is a newsletter that Ron Paul published nearly 20 years ago.  The controversial articles in question included derogatory remarks concerning patterns of voting, welfare dependency, and criminality among blacks. 

Those Republicans (and others) who now attack Paul are not his critics.  Critics engage the ideas of their opponents.  Establishment Republicans, in glaring contrast, do not engage Paul at all.  They are his nemeses, not his critics. Their objective is nothing more or less than the assassination of his very character.  That this latest strike against Paul is an exhibition, not of true moral outrage, but of the worst of gutter politics, can be seen by the following considerations.    

First, that Paul’s enemies would construct their entire case against him on the basis of a decades-old newsletter should alone suffice to establish the speciousness of their charges.  Paul has been in public life for many years. He has a voting record in Congress going back even further than the now notorious newsletter articles.  He has authored several books and countless articles, and he has made just as many speeches and given just as many interviews.  The man is the proverbial open book. If his adversaries really, truly believed that he was “the racist” that they imply he is, then surely they should have ample material with which to supplement the newsletter articles. 

Yet outside these newsletters, they can select not a single syllable, much less a single vote that Paul cast while a Congressman, to substantiate their charge.  And you know that if it was there, they would not have spared a second to seize upon it. 

Second, these articles from Ron Paul’s newsletter are not just now coming to light. They have been in the public domain for years.  Conveniently, those who wax indignant over the material contained within them appear to do so only when Paul campaigns for the presidency—that is, only when he poses a threat to “politics as usual.” 

Third, Paul did not author the articles that his enemies are now resurrecting (once again).   He has consistently insisted upon this, and, moreover, no one contends otherwise.

Fourth, admittedly, some of the language in which the newsletter’s racially incorrect positions are framed is unduly crass.  Yet inasmuch as the newsletter itself seeks to illuminate the destructive nature of the mindset that prevails among the black underclass, it speaks to an issue that concerns, and should concern, everyone—Republican and Democrat, left and right.  This is an issue, in other words, that figures as disparate as Thomas Sowell and Cornel West—both black—have addressed for decades.  And insofar as Ron Paul’s newsletter speaks to the self-destructive voting habits of blacks generally, it speaks on behalf of Republicans everywhere who have been making this same point, even if not so bluntly, for a long time.

Fifth, even if we reject as factually inaccurate the ideas articulated in Paul’s newsletter, does this mean that we must reject them as morally reprehensible?  Let us bear in mind that while, as Richard Weaver famously said, ideas have consequences, ideas themselves should be the focus primarily of intellectual, not moral, analysis.  Every idea has the potential to be enlisted in the service of either good or evil. 

After all, it is for the sake of the ideal of human equality that communists impoverished, starved, and slaughtered tens of millions of human beings.  Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, was a slave holder who believed that blacks were innately inferior to whites.  Yet Jefferson, along with his contemporaries who thought similarly on racial issues, personally opposed the unequal treatment to which blacks were subjected and crafted a set of institutional arrangements that promised them a far better life inAmericathan they could ever have hoped to enjoy in any other part of the globe. Abraham Lincoln similarly was a virulent “racist” by our standards.  He steadfastly opposed civil equality for blacks and whites.  But Lincoln personally opposed slavery, and the war that he launched, whatever else can (and has) been said about it, had the effect of abolishing slavery in America.  

What, we must ask, has Ron Paul ever did or said in his many years in public life that can so much as remotely be construed as “racist?”  The answer is not a single thing.  In fact, Ron Paul’s voting record in Congress, as well as his many writings, attest beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is equality’s most impassioned and consistent champion.  None of the other presidential candidates—including President Obama—can credibly lay claim to this distinction.  Paul is equality’s greatest champion because he is liberty’s greatest champion, and he recognizes that where there is no equality before the law there is no liberty.

Finally, Paul declares that he neither knew of these articles at the time that they were published nor does he endorse the positions that they contain.  This is not so hard to believe when it is considered that during the same passage of time that the articles were published, Paul argued against “the War on Drugs” on the grounds that it was “racist.”  Actually, Paul argued—and still argues—that this so-called “war” is “racist” in origin.  Of all places, it is to the left-leaning Huffington Post that we owe thanks for revealing this.  The writer of the column, a Mr. Ryan Grim, even goes so far as to argue that Paul’s analysis is correct.

I agree with neither Ron Paul nor Ryan Grim on this score.  But the point here is that it is a peculiar sort of “racist” who labors for decades defying the zeitgeist vis-à-vis “the War on Drugs” for the sake of insuring that blacks and whites receive parity of treatment.  Furthermore, Ron Paul would have to be schizophrenic if he were to simultaneously sponsor “racist” material while arguing that “the War on Drugs” is immoral because it is “racist.”

There is one other consideration of which we would be well served to take stock.  In spite of Ron Paul’s Republican enemies’ best efforts to convince the rest of us that he is “racist,” non-whites support Paul in greater numbers than they support any other Republican candidate.  This, at any rate, is the finding of a recent CNN/ORC poll—hardly a libertarian or Paul-friendly source.  According to this poll, in a general election race against President Obama, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Mitt Romney would receive 15%, 17%, 18%, and 20% of the non-white vote, respectively.  Ron Paul, though, would take home 25% of this same vote.

It should be clear that Paul’s enemies—his Republican enemies particularly—are grasping at straws to not just discredit the good doctor, but to ruin him.

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American 

 

 

 

 

What Ron Paul Should Say Part II

posted by Jack Kerwick

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 

 

 

 

 

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