Thursday, November 22, 2007

More on Paul's Interview w/ Alex Jones

I just wasted about 3 hours of my life listening to the streamed re-broadcast of the Alex Jones show tonight containing the interview with Ron Paul. The interview itself was what I would call fairly uneventful, and to Paul's credit, he managed to invoke the names of Gandhi and MLK as idols of his. He also did a good job poo-poo-ing a question suggesting that the SCOTUS judges should be impeached if they rule the 2nd Amendment to be a collective right.

But- that is not the type of stuff I was hoping for. When Paul was introduced, Jones made a big deal of the fact that Paul has been tight with Jones for 13 years- a very long time, and re-emphasizing that this is not an isolated incident. This long history and relationship gives rise to the inference that Paul has in fact chosen to actively court the support of not only Jones but also- and more importantly- Jones' audience.

This was the first time I've ever listened to Jones. It was the most mind-numbingly bad three hours of radio I've ever heard. It seemed the phrase "New World Order" was uttered about once every twenty seconds. Heard only slightly less were the words "Secret Society" and "Freemasons." At every break, Jones ran a commercial for his DVD, complete with numerous references to the "Bilderbergers" and of course the ever-present "New World Order." But the worst of all was the interview Jones had just before Paul came on. Towards the end of that interview (and thus the last part of the show before the Paul interview), the host and the interviewee (an author of apparently some repute in conspiracy theory circles) engaged in a discussion about the Jewish conspiracy to take over the world; Jones and the interviewee also discussed the existence of a homosexual conspiracy. In other words, the interview (which from the sound of it was quite ordinary for this show) was intended to stoke fear and prejudice against Jews and homosexuals.

This is not to say Paul is himself an anti-Semite or a racist or a homophobe- I have a hard time believing that someone who named their son after an atheist of Jewish descent is anti-Semitic. Nor is it to say that he necessarily endorses the views Jones expressed in this interview. But his insistence on continuing his professional relationship with Jones - knowing that Jones is effectively encouraging a race war- suggests extremely poor judgment at a minimum.

The thing is, though, that Jones gave Paul several chances to have his "Sista Souljah" moment. Paul had an opportunity to say, in essence, "Yes, these people support me, but I do not personally believe in what they stand for, and I reject their positions entirely. If they still wish to support me, then that is fine. But they should know that it is they who are jumping on my bandwagon- not the other way around." To the extent Paul heard the prior interview (I have no way of knowing if he actually did so don't read too much into this), Paul even had the opportunity to open the interview with an attack on the blatant anti-Semitism and homophobia in that prior discussion.

But he didn't. Instead, he let Jones prattle on unchallenged about the New World Order.

Hearing the interview did nothing to soothe my spirits from earlier this evening. Again, I must reiterate: I want to see Ron Paul do really, really well. But this won't happen if he chooses to appeal to a lunatic fringe that represents a very dangerous anti-Semitic, homophobic worldview. If Ron Paul does badly while developing a public reputation as being aligned with the Alex Jones' of the world, libertarianism as an influential philosophy will go down with him.

On the other hand, if he manages to do really, really well (which means appealing to a wide audience rather than a narrow band of conspiracy nuts), then the cause of liberty will strike a blow that hasn't been seen in ages. Hell, even if he doesn't do really, really well, he can still be a terrific vehicle for the cause of liberty- BUT only if he doesn't create the public perception that the cause of liberty means that the Alex Jones' of the world get to rule.

How hard would it be for Ron Paul to just once vocally denounce some of the stuff on Alex Jones' show? Unlike others, I'm not even asking that he return the donations of people like Jones and the Stormfront crowd- I even agree with the campaign's argument for why doing so would be wrong. But I am asking that he not go out of his way to seek support from these groups. At some point, someone as economics-minded as him needs to see the opportunity cost of pursuing such groups at the expense of other, broader groups who really do "get" the freedom philosophy.