Steve G.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson Scares Me

In Drug War, History, Immigration, Libertarian, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Minorities, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Republican, Ron Paul, US Government, War on February 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Three days ago, Mr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson posted a piece at The Huffington Post concerning Ron Paul, the man who won the straw poll at the 2010 CPAC thanks largely to the huge number of young people who attended the event.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hutchinson’s post contains a number of errors as well as a number of rather disturbing comments and implications.

Before I address those concerns, however, I wanted, simply as a point of objectivity, list some things on which I disagree with Dr. Paul:

(1) Although Paul does supports gay marriage (as he made clear in interviews with Elliot Schrage and with John Stossel), he unfortunately also supports the so-called Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is both unconstitutional and heterosexist. I do not understand how Paul can rationally defend his support for this legislation, since it creates a federal definition of marriage which the federal government has no authority to create, and since it is, once again, heterosexist.

(2) Ron Paul unfortunately does not support open borders, even though government regulation and planning of human migration is both economically backward and unconstitutional.

(3) Ron Paul supports copyrights and patents, whereas I do not.

(4) Ron Paul does not share my nuanced (and difficult to describe in short passages) view on abortion.

And, finally, (5) Ron Paul is not an anarchist, and as such, is simply not radical enough.

These are all flaws that Ron Paul has, but compared to other politicians, these flaws are so few in number that I’m willing to look past them and throw my support to Ron Paul. He is one of the few politicians in either establishment party for whom I would not feel uncomfortable voting.

With these points dutifully addressed, I believe it is now appropriate to detail the flaws I find with Mr. Hitchinson’s post.

Mr. Hutchinson comments on what he calls Ron Paul’s “controversial off beat quips on race matters,” but fails to give even one quote to illustrate what sort of “quips” Paul allegedly makes.

It is possible that Mr. Hutchinson is referring to the Ron Paul Newsletters from the ’80s and early ’90s, but I believe it has been fairly-well demonstrated that Ron Paul did not author these, and was likely unaware what the specific articles in his newsletters even said. Of course, this isn’t to say we should not hold Paul to task for being an irresponsible editor; we most absolutely should. There is no defence for his irresponsible failure to even read what was being published in his newsletters. But, at the same time, there is not one shred of empirical evidence I have ever come across to indicate that Ron Paul himself is in any way racist or has ever said anything disparaging about other “races.” (I have opted to put the word “races” in quotation marks for, in my opinion, “race” does not actually exist; it is nothing more than a social construct. I regard myself as a member of the human race.) In 2007, I conducted a detailed analysis of the Newsletters. The results of my analysis are available here.

Mr. Hutchinson also references “a 30 second TV spot that ran in New Hampshire during the 2008 campaign,” an ad that was not particularly tasteful, nor particularly individualistic. What Hutchinson fails to mention is that many grassroots Ron Paul supporters disliked the ad and made their discontent known. I should know: I was one of them. Here is what Justin Raimondo, another Ron Paul supporter, had to say of the ad.

I suspect that Paul issued this ad to appeal to those conservatives who viewed him, ignorantly enough, as “soft on terrorism.” I actually approve of Mr. Hutchinson’s critique of the ad itself, but it would have been nice if he had presented a balanced acknowledgement of its negative reception amongst Paulians.

Then, shockingly and disgustingly, Mr. Hutchinson attacks Ron Paul for not being bloodthirsty enough. Ron Paul had correctly asserted that slavery could have been and should have been ended without war. Paul had also correctly asserted that no other country that abolished slavery engaged in civil war to do so. Mr. Hutchinson refers to this as “historical dumbness” but fails to show even a shred of evidence to the contrary of Paul’s claims.

I don’t if Mr. Hutchinson has ever studied in detail the civil war era, but I have studied it to some degree, and what I discovered had caused me to lose all respect for Lincoln. Growing up, I had considered Lincoln a hero. But upon studying the matter, I discovered (1) that the war was not even fought on the grounds of ending slavery, and that the slavery issue was not even brought up until halfway into the war; (2) the slavery issue was only brought up as a means of enticing the South to rejoin the union, and Lincoln made it abundantly clear that he was willing to keep slavery going if it meant the union would be reunited; (3) the abolitionists of the day were not fans of Lincoln, and were the first to point out that his Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free a single slave; (4) Lincoln engaged in a form of enslavement called conscription; (5) Lincoln jailed dissenters for speaking out against war, and even suspended habeas corpus; and (6) Lincoln made openly racist statements about black people that ought to sicken any modern American, liberal or conservative.

I must admit, I find it downright scary that Mr. Hutchinson dismisses Paul’s claim that we can make meaningful change without resorting to war.

Mr. Hutchinson claims that Paul “asserted that blacks are criminally inclined, political dumb bells, and chronic welfare deadbeats.” I would like to see Mr. Hutchinson present one verified quote from Paul on this. Again, while there were indeed disgusting, racist comments that made their way into the Newsletters, there is no evidence that Ron Paul wrote or even read said comments. If any evidence were to arise, I would be the first to denounce Paul; yet empirical evidence remains un-presented.

While there was indeed a few white supremacists who supported Dr. Paul, there is no evidence that a “hobnob” occurred with them. Moreover, the vast majority of Paul supporters were extremely embarrassed when it came to light that there was some racist scumbag who was planning to vote for Paul. This is why so many Ron Paul supporters in 2007 came to Paul’s defence, saying that Paul was not a racist and that the tiny number of white supremacists ought there planning to vote for Paul did not represent the rest of us.

Hutchinson scares me when he criticised Ron Paul for correctly pointing out that “[g]overnment as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combat bigotry.” Does Mr. Hutchinson not know that government is a particularly racist institution? It was an institution called “government” that murdered innocent Jews simply for being Jewish; it was an institution called “government” that sent innocent Asians into dirty camps in California; it was an institution called “government” that instituted Jim Crow laws, which systematically infringed upon the rights of a people simply for looking a little different; it was an institution called “government” that protected and defended the institution of slavery centuries. In fact, the U.S. government is still racist: just look at how the war on drugs is used to attack blacks so much more often than whites, despite the fact that whites use just as much drugs as blacks. Government is racist, government is patriarchal, government is evil. Mr. Hutchinson cites a few tiny examples of a government doing some less-indecent things, as though this somehow undoes or excuses governments around the world for all the horrors they have unleashed upon people. It does not! Moreover, if Paul errs in any way on this matter, it’s in not being even more opposed to statism than he is.

Mr. Hutchinson also writes that “Paul’s views are a corn ball blend of libertarianism, know-nothing Americanism, and ultra conservative laissez faire limited government.” I hold, however, that there is nothing “limited government” about conservatism. Perhaps this is a minor complaint, since so many people do define the term in so many different ways; but, I nevertheless desire to state my position on the matter, and in so doing, to promote the definition I employ for the term.

More importantly, Mr. Hutchinson makes the error of describing Paul’s foreign policy as “neo-isolationist.” In reality, Paul’s foreign policy is far more similar to that of the classical liberal Richard Cobden, as Dr. Thomas Woods has pointed out. Paul has nothing against employing diplomacy and open dialogue with other countries, nor has he anything against trade with other countries; in fact, it is still the popular liberal foreign policy view that open trade between countries diminishes or eliminates the tendencies for war-making between said counties. Paul isn’t supporting the goal of cutting America off from the rest of the world, he simply opposing American imperialism in other countries. I do not know if I should infer from Mr. Hutchinson’s comments whether or not he supports imperialism, war-mongering, and militarism, but if he does, then I should hasten to add that such an aggressive foreign policy scares me.

Finally, Mr. Hutchinson says that Paul’s speech at CPAC contained “a pinch here and there of racial baits,” but again Mr. Hutchinson fails to give even one example.

In conclusion, Hutchinson’s piece is poorly researched and poorly argued. While I believe there are legitimate criticisms one can make about Paul, this article reiterates many of the unfounded ones that have been demonstrated to be false time and time again. While Hutchinson does make a couple good points, these are unfortunately overshadowed by his veiled militarism and other statist viewpoints. Thus, I would hope to see less articles of this nature from The Huffington Post in the future.

—Alexander S. Peak

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  1. “while there were indeed disgusting, racist comments that made their way into the Newsletters, there is no evidence that Ron Paul wrote or even read said comments. If any evidence were to arise, I would be the first to denounce Paul; yet empirical evidence remains un-presented.”

    If the fact that they appeared under his byline in a newsletter that he owned, and then subsequently (in 1996 — he reversed himself in 2007, which means he was lying at one of those points) admitted to his authorship of them and defended them isn’t “empirical evidence” that he wrote them, then what is? Will anything short of video of him as he actually typed them convince you?

  2. Well, Mr. Knapp, video evidence certainly would be convincing. Or just audio, or an article on Paul’s website, or whatever else of this nature.

    I have reasonable doubt concerning your position that Paul lied. But, first, let us make sure we’re on the same page as to what constitutes lying.

    If a man says, “I know Hussein has weapons of mass destruction,” when in reality he merely believes Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, then he is lying—even if it turns out that Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction.

    But, if a man answers ‘yes’ to a question because he believes the question is asking one thing (a “yes” thing) when it is really asking another (a “no” thing), then he is not lying, despite the fact that others will interpret his answer as false. It is not his fault that he misunderstood the nature of the question, assuming he honestly misunderstood.

    Now, I must admit that I do not know (or remember, if it happens that I did once know) what sort of questions were asked of Paul concerning this matter in 1996, nor do I know what sort of answer he provided. But I have no doubt that Paul actually did write many of the (non-racist) articles that appeared in his Newsletters, and it is not inconceivable that Paul did not know of the presense of racist material in his Newsletters at the time he defended whatever it was he thought he was defending. In any event, surly you’d agree that the question of what Paul knew and did not know about his Newsletters is rather ambiguous at best.

    But, perhaps more importantly, it seems that all we need to ask ourselves is this:

    Do we actually believe Ron Paul is racist? No, of course we don’t. We see nothing racist on his congressional website, everyone around him has said that they have never detected any racism in the man, and further, his public comments about M.L.K. (e.g.) are so different from those in the Newsletters that it becomes easy to confidently say Paul didn’t write the latter. I sincerely believe this man to be innocent of such villainies. Don’t you? Don’t you believe, as I do, that this man, in his heart of hearts, truly wants to live in a colour-blind society? I really believe this, and as long as I continue to believe this, I feel I must defend this man against attacks on his character; justice demands this.

    Best regards,
    Alex Peak

  3. Alex,

    You write:

    “In any event, surly you’d agree that the question of what Paul knew and did not know about his Newsletters is rather ambiguous at best.”

    No, I wouldn’t. He owned the newsletter. It had his name on it, with his permission. Articles allegedly by him appeared under his byline in it, with his permission. He signed direct mail letters sent out to solicit subscribers to it. He collected profits from it. And he used that subscriber list as the basis for his congressional comeback fundraising. He owned it and its content in every sense of the word. He wrung every possible benefit out of that fact, and suggesting that the door doesn’t have to be answered when some of non-beneficial consequences of it come knocking is beyond Clintonesque.

    “Do we actually believe Ron Paul is racist? No, of course we don’t.”

    I’m agnostic on the question of whether he’s actually a racist or just sees political benefit in catering to racists by appearing on racist shows like Political Cesspool, making “wink, nudge” racist statements about the “cultural balkanization” caused by too many brown people crossing imaginary lines on the ground, etc.

    I can afford to be agnostic on that question because there is no plausible third answer and because I don’t see that which of the available two answers is true really matters that much.

    In the meantime, you spent seven paragraphs explaining that you didn’t really mean it when you said “If any evidence were to arise, I would be the first to denounce Paul; yet empirical evidence remains un-presented.” If you’re going to defend Paul regardless of the facts, fine — just don’t pretend that there are any facts which could change that position when there aren’t.

  4. Mr. Knapp,

    As I see it, there are two possibilities regarding Paul vis-a-vis the newsletters.

    POSSILIBITY ONE: Ron Paul knew that racist commentary leaked into his newsletters from time to time but did not care. Perhaps he wrote it himself, perhaps it was ghost-written, but either way, he did not object to the content being there.

    POSSIBILITY TWO: Ron Paul assumed that the people to whom he delegated responsibility over the Newsletters were handling things fine, and didn’t even dream that one or more of them would include race-baiting comments. Meanwhile, ghost-writers on his staff had a different mind about things. Thus, Paul profitted from the newsletters and signed solicitation letters all the while sincerely believing that whatever was being written in his name was endorsable.

    As far as I can ascertain, no evidence has been presented by anyone that makes possibility two impossible. So, to clarify, if any evidence were to arise that makes possibility two rationally impossible, I will be the first to denounce Paul.

    You appear to give Paul more charity than I, for if it turns out that possibility one is the correct description of events, then I will not claim to be agnostic on the question of whether Paul is a racist, I will instead openly denounce him as a racist.

    I’d never heard of Political Cesspool before, although the wikipedia page makes it seem like something I would definitely despise. In reading the section on guests, I don’t see Ron Paul mentioned anywhere. I do see Michael Peroutka, Pat Buchanan, and the guy from the Minuteman group—none of whom I like. (I have to admit, I find it odd that wikipedia would mention some obscure third-party candidate and not also mention a Republican congressman. Are you sure you have the right show?)

    I’ve also never heard the term “cultural balkanisation” before, and a quick Google-search did not help me. But the wikipedia article on balkanisation gives me some vague idea. I’m guessing it refers to the grouping of people who share a common language and traditions, or something like that? Assuming I have the definition right, I don’t see why anybody would say it is a bad thing, or a good thing, either. I don’t see why anybody would care. Obviously, I would want to hear Paul’s statement for myself before passing any judgement. Do you have a link to the audio?

    Thanks in advance,
    Alex Peak

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