January 12, 2008

Ron Paul Responds to Racism Charges on CNN

Ron Paul recently appeared on CNN to address charges of racism. The video is available on YouTube and I recommend that everyone watch it.

I still don't think the response is fully adequate, but there are a number of points that I think are important in terms of a total evaluation of the situation:

  • Paul explicitly and repeatedly repudiates the views expressed in the newsletters.

  • Paul calls Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Ghandi "heroes" of individual liberty for their use of non-violent civil disobedience to oppose abuse of power by government.

  • Paul says the article and its timing were politically motivated. In my opinion, some of the distortions and misleading statements in the New Republic article border on slander, and the timing is indeed suspicious, but that doesn't take away from just how bad some of the newsletter comments were. More discussion on this subject here and here. Paul says that, in particular, the revelation was intended to undermine his considerable support among black voters.

  • Paul, to his credit, identifies a specific form of discrimination and insists that he, unlike any other candidate, will end it. The form of discrimination he refers to is in the enforcement of drug laws, and also the disproportionate impact that the drug war, which is completely out of control, has on the black community, and especially on the urban poor. He promises, specifically, to pardon every non-violent individual, of any race, who is currently imprisoned for drug possession. At one point Paul says that 67% of blacks are imprisoned; I assume he misspoke and intended to say that 67% of prison inmates are black.

  • Paul implies that he served as the "publisher" of the newsletters but had nothing to do with the day-to-day running of the organization - the editor takes care of that. He also implies that there were some personnel shakeups around the time in question and that he was not involved in the hiring process. He does not name the editor.

  • Paul says that many of the articles published in the New Republic he had not even seen prior to publication.

  • Paul provides no explanation for why he was not paying attention, other than that he was busy with his medical practice and traveling to speaking engagements.

  • Paul points out (as Wolf Blitzer agrees) that the better people know him, the more certain they are that he didn't write these articles. From what I can find online this seems to be true. The first two links above are people who think they know who one or more of the ghostwriters were.

  • Finally, Paul recognizes that he hasn't yet addressed this issue on the national stage. His argument that he dealt with the issue with his own constituents and they still elected him isn't going to cut it, because, honestly, most of America won't trust rural Texas to ensure that its congressmen are not racists. He hints at the end that he recognizes a need to go further.

That's about it. I'm still not fully satisfied with his response, but it is better and more complete than his initial press release. It wouldn't take much more at this point to convince me again that Paul is better than any of the other candidates (after all, the bar is set pretty low - I can't really even think who else I would vote for; John McCain, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel would be frontrunners, though Kucinich and Gravel may drop out by the time Washington's primary comes around), but it would take a lot for me to be an enthusiastic supporter again.

Posted by Kenny at January 12, 2008 12:10 PM
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No Racism, Just Sleazy Politics
Excerpt: Reason is a libertarian magazine of long standing. They now have an article up speculating on the origin of the infamous Ron Paul newsletters. I think Reason's explanation makes a lot of sense of the situation. They note that many veterans of the liber...
Weblog: blog.kennypearce.net
Tracked: January 17, 2008 6:58 PM


The 67% comment is more garbled than just getting it backwards. It's that 67% of people imprisoned for drug crimes are black (and I think the other figure was supposed to be 14% of those arrested for it are black). One of the Volokh Conspirators posted on this recently, I believe David Bernstein. He's had a bunch of posts on the general topic, though, and I don't remember which one had the figures that he must have been trying to remember.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at January 20, 2008 9:02 AM

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