"the end of Ron Paul?"

On the heels of this expose from The New Republic, "Angry White Man: The Bigoted Past of Ron Paul," Dan Savage quickly predicted "The End of Ron Paul." As much as I'm inclined to side with an underdog who is excluded from debates by Fox "News," (see here and here) this is a different situation entirely; Ron Paul appears to deserve his marginalization (and not just because he's scientifically illiterate).

The connection between Ron Paul and all manner of bigots has been known for some time (David Neiwert wrote about "The Dark Side of the Ron Paul Phenomenon" last November), but TNR's article was garnering sufficient attention to prompt a denial from Ron Paul himself (see the impromptu interview with Reason magazine here and his own press release here):

This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

Such a statement might usually put such matters to rest, but Paul's disavowals ring somewhat hollow. If statements like the following (from the TNR expose) had been published under a masthead with my name on it, the person responsible would have been immediately fired and the statements themselves publicly denunciated:

* On the end of apartheid in South Africa: a "destruction of civilization" that was "the most tragic [to] ever occur on that continent, at least below the Sahara" and predicted a "South African Holocaust" at the election of Nelson Mandela

* On Martin Luther King Jr: "We can thank [Reagan] for our annual Hate Whitey Day."

* On gays and lesbians: "Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities." and "Homosexuals, if admitted [to the military], should be put in a special category and not allowed in close physical contact with heterosexuals."

* On the militia movement: "one of the most encouraging developments in America"

What was the reason for Paul's delay in publicly repudiating these remarks? If Paul's constituents never questioned these statements with him at the time they were published--which I find hard to believe, given his newsletter's 100,000-copy circulation--then that is a damning criticism of his base.

Ryan (The Elephant in the Room) Sager concurs:

It doesn't matter one bit if Ron Paul wrote any of this. It went out under his name, it reflects the views of many of his supporters, and he's at the very least tacitly endorsed all of it for years by not denouncing it. Ron Paul doesn't get to be judged by a lower standard because he's a fringe candidate anymore. If Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, or anyone else had stuff like this under his name, it would be a career ender. That it's not for Ron Paul shows exactly what his supporters are all about.

Ron Chusid follows this line of thought at Liberal Values:

The problem with the Paul movement is that it has become a cult. Far too many of the cultists not only are willingly blind to their leader's faults but have also begun to internalize his beliefs as they justify his writings and actions. If libertarianism is to have any credibility, libertarians must realize that Ron Paul's views are not really about freedom except for providing the framework to defend the freedom to discriminate and oppress.

Reason's cover story on Paul (here, with an editor's note here) makes one oblique reference to his support from the far-right fringe of the conservative movement:

There's one strain of the Paul movement, though, that often alienates his other supporters and potential supporters. Ranging from John Birchers to 9/11 Truthers, they're the type whose distrust of government is enmeshed in elaborate, complicated, and implausible conspiracy theories.

Their support for conspiracy theories involving the "industrial-banking-political elite" (code for "Jewish bankers" and ZOG?) has attracted all manner of tinfoil-hat-wearing, black-helicopter-imagining whackjobs to his side. There's a reason that nicknames for his supporters have devolved from "Paulistas" to the more-inflammatory "Paultards."

The real question is: will his support from bigots evaporate when they learn that he has (reluctantly, it appears) repudiated their racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia?

One can only hope.


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