November 25, 2020

A Ron Paul Supporter No More

ron-paul-iowa.jpgUPDATE II:Reporters at Reason Mag say evidence indicates that Lew Rockwell edited the newsletters.

UPDATE: My friend Travis Prinzi writes about the newsletter controversy.

I don’t normally do politics in this space. I gave that up several years ago and I’m not going back. But I’ve had a Ron Paul For President icon on the sidebar for several weeks, and I want to explain why I am no longer a Ron Paul supporter. There will be no comments or response to email.

Not that anyone will care, but my support for Ron Paul was a mistake.

In case you don’t know, I work at a school that probably is one the most racially diverse Christian schools anywhere. More than half our school is non-white or non-American. We may be in the middle of Appalachia, but we look like the world.

Every day, I teach in my Bible class Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, atheistic Chinese communists, Ethiopian Orthodox and all varieties of American Christianity. I preach to a sea of color when I preach, and we have as much competition between students of Liberian and Korean backgrounds as we do between Kentuckians and Buckeyes or Volunteers.

For the last two months, I’ve had a Ron Paul for President sign on my classroom door, and bumper stickers on both my cars. Several staff have asked me about Dr. Paul, and I’ve made no secret of my support for him.

Now please note: I am the campus minister here. The main preacher. The Assistant to the President. I’m respected and people depend on me to know what I am talking about. The other day, five people asked me if Obama was Muslim. They came to me for a reason. I take that reason seriously. I’ve been here for 16 years working on that reputation.

I am a registered Republican, but my personal views are more of a Libertarian variety. Not completely, but certainly enough that I always consider voting Libertarian, despite some disagreements. I’ve said this to my family and my friends for years. I’ve never been able to actual find a candidate to support with my vote or money.

So I have been excited about Ron Paul’s candidacy. Not that I thought he could win. I never considered that possibility. I did believe, however, that those of us who have been burned by phony conservatives and culture-war hucksters (ahem) in the GOP would have the opportunity, through our money and votes, to show our presence and make our protest. I was looking forward to voting for Dr. Paul in the primary and even as a third-party candidate in the general election.

Then, last week, the media revealed that, under Dr. Paul’s name, a series of anonymously written libertarian newsletters from the 1990’s were filled with racist, anti-semitic, hateful rhetoric. I read very few quotes, but what I read was ugly and completely at odds with what I believe and what I knew of Dr. Paul.

Racial issues and racial respect are huge parts of my life because of my ministry setting. My own life history has been deeply effected by my beliefs on racial justice. My own integrity requires me to make a “zero tolerance” stand on racism. I don’t talk with racists. I don’t put up with them in class. I don’t listen to it in casual conversation. I get up and leave. To me, my witness to racial justice is one one cloth with my commitment to Jesus as Lord.

The newsletter articles were not written by Dr. Paul. That much is clear. But…….

1) To not know who the offensive articles were written by is unconscionable and ridiculous. In fact, to claim to be unaware of such materials origination in a newsletter with Paul’s name boldly named across the banner is inexcusable.

2) To know who- or to be able to discover who- wrote these articles and to not take immediate steps away from such a person is cynical and inadequate.

3) The use of one’s name is a major matter in political life and leadership. If I misuse the name of my boss or my school, I should be fired and held accountable. For either of them to say “that’s him, not me/us” would be bizarre. I would expect to be held up specifically as an example of what my boss or my school did NOT endorse. Anything less than making me personally responsible and taking responsibility for my abuse using their names would be completely wrong.

4) To continue to associate with the persons who wrote ANY of the articles- which I suspect may be the case- is simply unacceptable. To know who wrote them and refuse to say…..well, that would be beyond words.

5) Saying “I do not believe these things” or “I do not endorse these views” or “My constituents re-elect me based on my explanation that I do not believe these things” or “this is old news” simply isn’t enough. I find Dr. Paul’s response to be sadly insensitive to the damage done by people using his name as their journalistic banner. If this is what passes for libertarian idealism, then its no surpise no one is paying attention.

Those of us who have put our reputations forward by endorsing and contributing to Dr. Paul deserve the fullest possible investigation and the fullest possible explanation. It will now be my job to tell all those who associate me with Dr. Paul that I was wrong to endorse someone who knew these newsletters existed, but who felt he had done all that was necessary to publicly distance himself from them. Clearly, that was not enough.

Dr. Paul: Find the writers. Name the writers. Personally repudiate them and personally distance yourself from them and ALL they are associated with. You aren’t a racist, but that’s not the issue. The issue is how far we distance ourselves from those who are.

I ask the forgiveness of my readers for the endorsement of Dr. Paul that was on this website for several weeks. I cannot, in any way, support someone who is this out of touch with what is done with his name and the reputations of those who endorse him.