Friday, January 11, 2008

The Newsletter Story Gets Worse

Matt Welch at Reason Hit & Run does some honest and redeeming work in digging up some past comments that Ron Paul has made about the newsletters. What Welch has dug up effectively destroys any defense (however implausible) that Paul had against the letters. Reason stuck its neck out for Paul by putting him on the cover this month with a puff piece, and the initial reaction to the newsletter story by some of them was a bit too equivocating. This new post from Welch shows that Reason is now serious about doing what is necessary to redeem libertarianism from Paul's deep flaws, even if that means discovering and divulging some very hard truths.

As damning as the newsletters were, and as depressing as Paul's response to the story has been, learning how he responded when similar allegations came up in 1996 is worse. Paul currently denies writing the newsletters and denies agreeing with their content; he also (implausibly) denies knowing who wrote the passages at issue. Yet the Welch piece shows that almost identical allegations came up during Paul's 1996 congressional campaign. At the time, Paul took full ownership of the statements at issue, and even defended them. The most damning passage comes from a 1996 Dallas Morning News article:

Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican congressional candidate from Texas, wrote in his political newsletter in 1992 that 95 percent of the black men in Washington, D.C., are "semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
According to a Dallas Morning News review of documents circulating among Texas Democrats, Dr. Paul wrote in a 1992 issue of the Ron Paul Political Report: "If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be."

In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness
of black men.
"If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them," Dr. Paul said.
He also said the comment about black men in the nation's capital was made while writing about a 1992 study produced by the National Center on Incarceration and Alternatives, a criminal justice think tank based in Virginia.
Citing statistics from the study, Dr. Paul then concluded in his column: "Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
"These aren't my figures," Dr. Paul said Tuesday. "That is the assumption you can gather from" the report.

Paul's current defense is that he doesn't know who wrote the articles, never supported the statements in the articles, and that he has taken moral responsibility for the newsletter for over a decade. Welch's piece shows this is not true; worse, it shows that he at one time publicly and personally defended some of the worst statements. Disgusting.

The comments to the piece show that most libertarians (now derisively called "cosmotarians" by the Rockwell Brigades) are asking some very hard questions about the relationship between the mainstream libertarian movement and the Rockwell Brigades. A number are advocating a clean split with Rockwell, the Mises Institute (which we all agree has done some important work despite its deep-seated problems), and the rest of the paleo-libertarians/paleo-conservatives. Count me as one of them.