At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

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 

 

 

 

 

What Ron Paul Should Say

posted by Jack Kerwick

Last week, the Republican presidential contenders slugged it out inIowa.  As usual, Ron Paul’s remarks concerning American foreign policy has drawn heat.

Paul is by far the most honest of the candidates.  At the same time, he is also the most unpolished.  In fact, chances are better than not that the former accounts for the latter.

Substantively speaking, Paul’s ideas are more cogent, and certainly more consistent with liberty, than any of those bandied about his rivals.  But stylistically, he is at a disadvantage.  Like or not, we are living in an imagistic age in which, as far as the electability of a candidate is concerned, style means at least as much, and often much more, than substance.

Paul, that is, needs to package his eminently sensible ideas so as to make them more palatable to both the base of his party as well as the rest of the country. 

Fortunately, this is hardly as formidable a task as some may think. In fact, it isn’t particularly formidable at all.

When it comes toIsrael, for example, imagine something like these words springing from the lips of Congressman Paul:

“I am opposed to all foreign aid.  What this means, more precisely, is that I oppose the practice—a practice that our Founding Fathers, those great apostles of liberty, couldn’t have remotely fathomed—of the United States government forcing its citizens to work longer and harder so that it can confiscate their resources—their sweat, their time, and the fruits of their labor—for the purpose of subsidizing a foreign government.  On this score, I am of one mind with millions of my fellow Americans who are equally exhausted over the fact that they are being made to part with their property and that of their families so that the rulers of other lands can live better.   

“For this position, I have been maligned.  You see, in opposing all ‘government welfare,’ I logically oppose foreign aid to Israel, our long-time ally.  But in this respect, as in so many others, I have been treated most unjustly, for far from being an enemy of Israel, I am among her greatest friends.  Unlike my colleagues on stage tonight, I seek Israel’s independence.  I long for her self-reliance.  Israel indeed has ‘a right to exist,’ but this right in turn demands of the rest of the world, including ourselves, that it regard her as the sovereign nation that she is.  But as long asIsrael is materially dependent uponAmerica, her sovereignty is denied.”

On the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, Paul could be just as pointed:

“I am no more comfortable with the idea of a nuclear bomb in the hands of the Iranian regime than is anyone else.  A nuclear bomb is an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction, and it is the most massive of such weapons.  But before we succumb to the temptation—all too common in politics—to engage in hysterics, we should consider a few facts. 

“First, we don’t really know how close the Iranians are to obtaining nuclear energy.  The evidence is sketchy.  Those who insist upon the contrary speak with the same certainty, the same conviction, and the same hysteria with which they spoke a decade ago of Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction.’  Of course, we now know—and some of us argued then—that this stock pile of biological and chemical agents, the primary justification for a war that would last nearly nine years, did not exist.  Hussein, some of us knew, was scarcely ‘the imminent threat’ that he was made out to be.

“Second, most Americans have long ago grown weary over our foreign wars.  This explains in large measure why our party suffered crushing losses in 2006 and 2008.  Today, over two-thirds of the country believes that the war inIraqespecially was not worth the time, the blood, and the treasure that we invested in waging it.  Does the party that for the last few years has insisted that it has amended its ways now want to ratchet up another non-defensive, potentially interminable Middle Eastern war upon the same sort of questionable ground that was the basis for our nearly nine year ‘slog’ in Iraq?

“Third, if, as all my colleagues seem to agree, the idea of a nuclear-armed Iranis unacceptable, then what do they intend to do about it?  Talk of ‘sanctions’ must be seen for the posturing that it is. ‘Sanctions’ do nothing but hurt the most defenseless and vulnerable of the citizens of the country being sanctioned.  Far from harming dictators, the sanctions we impose upon them simply abet the harm they inflict upon their subjects.  Furthermore, sanctions exacerbate what ill will already exists and increases the likelihood that the sanctioned nation will resort to terrorism as a response.  If it is really the diminution of terrorism, and not moral exhibitionism, in which we are interested, this should be a weighty consideration. 

“No, if my fellow candidates are really so concerned about keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranian government—something about which they have been talking for years—then it can be nothing less than war that is on their minds.  As president, and as a former member of the armed services, I do not share their preoccupation.  Before I separate American families once more by sending the sons and daughters of our war wearied nation into but another bloody conflict, I will need a better reason than what we have been presented with thus far—even if my colleagues insist on treating it, as they treated the evidence for Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ as a self-evident proposition.”   

On the issue of national security in general, Paul could make remarks of the following kind:

“It is often said, typically by my fellow partisans, that my position on national defense is ‘weak’ or ‘naïve’ or ‘isolationist.’  Of all of the slurs that have been made against me, none is further from the truth than this one.  If my position is ‘weak’ and ‘isolationist,’ then that of my critics is ‘bellicose’ and ‘imperialist.’ The stone cold fact of the matter is that my view on national defense bears no resemblance at all to the caricature that my critics have created; moreover, it may very well be the case that I am the sole candidate in this race who takes national defense seriously.

“Preemptive wars, those wars we initiate against countries that have never attacked us, have nothing at all to do with defending our nation.  To suggest otherwise is to peddle in Orwellian ‘newspeak,’ it is to divest our language of its meaning—a tactic of choice for dictators everywhere.  Such wars are offensive, most definitely not defensive. 

“This approach to national security faces two insurmountable problems.

“First, it stands in irreconcilable conflict with the spirit of our Founding Fathers, a spirit that was much in keeping with the Christian tradition’s ‘just war’ theory. According to this perspective, it is morally permissible for one government to employ violence against the subjects of another only in order to defend itself, only if it is attacked or an attack is imminent.

“Second, there are various contexts within which going on offense serves its purpose.  Unfortunately for my critics—and the country—the context of American foreign policy is not one of them.  The offensive wars in which they have engaged our country have most certainly not done a thing to keep us safe.  Far from it: they have resulted in the loss of more American lives—the lives of our soldiers—and rendered us a greater object of hatred than ever before.  Also, far from ‘spreading liberty,’ these offensive wars have spread chaos and destruction abroad while contracting our liberty here at home. 

“National defense requires first and foremost that we secure our borders—not the borders of foreign lands.  This, as President, I will do immediately, for our brave men and women who have been needlessly placed in harm’s way to ‘liberate’ others will instead be brought home to protect our liberties here.”

It would also be worth it for Congressman Paul to avail himself of every occasion to remind us that active military personnel contribute to his campaign more so than they contribute to all of the other campaigns combined.  This includes President Obama’s campaign.  If Ron Paul is “weak,” “naïve,” and “isolationist” on the issues of national security and foreign policy, then a substantial number of America’s Finest must be as well.

In my next article, I will envision Congressman Paul’s response to challenges to his domestic policy.       

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American 

 

 

Political Mind Games

posted by Jack Kerwick

During every presidential election season, Republican commentators can be counted upon to do three things.  First, they assure us that this is the most important election in our lifetime.  Second, they continually remind us that “there is no ideal candidate.”  Third, they caution us against being “one issue” voters.

By now, it is high time that Republican voters recognize these claims for the manipulative devices that they are. 

That there is some ingredient of truth in each of them is undeniable.  But whatever truth exists is comingled with a much greater degree of error.

Each presidential election, like every national election, is indeed of great importance; after all, it is upon such elections that the fate of a nation depends.  Yet when every such Election Day is said to be the most important of all time, when each election is depicted as if it is our very last chance to save our country from self-destruction, it becomes difficult to avoid the impression that our commentators have taken a page from Chicken Little’s book.

Yes, there is no perfect candidate.  But this should not be the pretext by which our “conservative” pundits try to convince us—and themselves—to vote for such thoroughly imperfect candidates.  In a primary contest especially, when some candidate are less—far less—imperfect than others, it is particularly disingenuous to argue in favor of the more flawed candidate over the less flawed, for then voters have a choice.

As a general rule, candidates should be judged according to a constellation of considerations, not their position on any one issue.  But, first of all, this is a general rule; it admits of exceptions.  For example, if a candidate believes that “national security” requires us to launch a full scale nuclear war the moment that he is inaugurated, then we should see to it that that candidate is never inaugurated.  His position on this one issue should be treated as a decisive strike against him. 

Secondly, those Republican commentators who chide, say, evangelical Christians for their refusal to endorse a candidate for his unacceptable stance on abortion are hypocritical.  It isn’t that the evangelical Christian is a stubborn “one issue” voter that disturbs these commentators; it is the fact that the evangelical Christian attaches paramount importance to this issue that so incenses them.  When it comes to the issue of “national security,” however, these pundits whistle an entirely different tune: any candidate who isn’t zealous about supporting Israel via American tax dollars and furthering the project to impose Democracy upon the planet they treat as persona non grata.

There are still more ways in which Republican commentators seek to manipulate their audiences.

Right now, the media would have us believe that the GOP’s presidential primary race is a contest between two frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.  This may very well be true, although it is worth noting that as of the time that I write this, Ron Paul has come within a single percentage point of tying Gingrich inIowa.  Paul is in third place in national polls, but at this time, national polling means virtually nothing.  What matters is how each candidate places in the critical caucus states, and Paul is more than holding his own.  At any rate, he is doing significantly better than the “frontrunners” of this race’s past: Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, not to mention Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain.

And he continually leaves Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman in the dust. Importantly, Paul does all of this in spite of the mistreatment to which the media routinely subjects him.

Still, let’s just say that Romney and Gingrich are our two front runners.  As Congresswoman Bachmann astutely brought to our attention in the last debate, the two are for all intents and purposes ideologically indistinguishable from one another.  Her moniker, “Newt Romney,” beautifully captured this truth. 

Although both Romney and Gingrich are equally devoted to an ideology of Big Government, each seeks to show that he is more “conservative” than the other.  Although each has a notorious reputation for “flip flopping” on a plethora of issues, each tries to show that he is less of a flip flopper than the other.  Although both are establishment Republicans, each attempts to prove that it is the other who is the real establishmentarian.

These theatrics are laughable when it is politicians who engage in them.  When, though, it is the members of the media who do so, it is at once irresponsible and pathetic. 

Recently, Mitt Romney said that he believes that Newt Gingrich should return all of the money (at least 1.2 million dollars) that he earned as a “consultant” (read: lobbyist) for the quasi-governmental agency, Freddie Mac.  In response, Gingrich fired back that Romney ought to return the money that he earned shutting down businesses and laying off employees while running Bane Capital. 

Now, it is true that there is no parity between Gingrich and Romney in this respect.  As Charles Krauthammer and other Romney supporters have correctly noted, our free enterprise system—what they insist on calling “capitalism”—consists in some businesses succeeding and failing, and Romney was simply playing the role of “the capitalist” in separating the chaff from the wheat, so to speak.  Gingrich, in stark contrast, was a Big Government lobbyist. 

But for Romney’s apologists to then remark that Gingrich’s criticism of the former is something that only a “socialist” could have articulated, to suggest, that is, that Gingrich’s comment is morally and politically indefensible because of its “socialistic” trappings, is just insincere. 

These same Republicans—Krauthammer, Hugh Hewitt, and Romney himself—are not now nor have they ever been the devoted “capitalists” who they currently make themselves out to be.  Anyone who favors government subsidies, whether for “public education,” ethanol, banks, college and health care costs; anyone who favors requiring Americans to purchase a private good (e.g. medical insurance); anyone who favors a central bank and the printing of a currency unimpeded by any sort of standard, is no champion of the free market.  To put it another way, if we want to call Gingrich a “socialist”—and I have no objection to this at all—then we have no logical option but to call Romney, Krauthammer, Hewitt, and all establishment or conventional Republicans the same. 

Romney, we are now told by the likes of Sean Hannity, Dick Morris, and, of all people, Ann Coulter (!), is really “conservative.”  He just “fooled” (read: deceived) the voters ofMassachusetts while running for office there.  Just two years ago Ann Coulter spoke to a CPAC convention.  She pleaded with her audience to encourage Chris Christie to run for the presidency in 2012.  If not, she said, Romney would be the nominee and we would surely lose to President Obama.  

Now, all of that has suddenly changed as Coulter endorses Romney.

So, Romney really is a “conservative.”  What about Gingrich?  Well, Gingrich is a real “conservative” also.  Yes, he is a serial adulterer, and yes, he endorsed a leftist Republican in a relatively recent special election inNew York, supported health insurance mandates while Speaker of the House, and not long ago appeared in an ad with Nancy Pelosi as the latter sought to promote Cap-and-Trade.  But Gingrich now admits to having been wrong about all of this. 

The guy says that he is sorry.  What more do you want?

Liberty loving Americans have to become truth loving Americans as well.  It is time that we begin to recognize this drivel for what it is.  

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. 

originally published at The New American

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