Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky may be gaining measurable traction among young, liberal voters for his clear admonition of the “militarization of local police precincts” in Ferguson, Missouri, and around the nation, but International Business Times has surfaced a video of him at a 2010 rally that tells a different story: one that tempers his scathing criticism of growing, public armies with his fervent support of private ones.
“There’s a fellow in the White House who says you’re clinging to your religion and your guns,” began the junior Republican senator at an Open Carry rally in Frankfort, Ohio, in March 2010. “How many of you are clinging to your religion and your guns?”
The charged crowd cheered vociferously. In the spirit of the event, they had brought their guns to celebrate their Second Amendment rights, and were quite proud to let everyone know.
Among those attending the 2010 Open Carry rally at which Paul was a keynote speaker were the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters, a militia whose mission statement promises their countrymen that they are ready to “serve [their] country by being prepared to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Though Paul wrote in Time that "there is never an excuse for rioting or looting" (in spite of being a member of the Tea Party, which is named for perhaps the seminal act of property destruction as protest against government), on the “Words to Live by” section of the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters’ website, the OVFF posted “The Defender’s Creed,” a meme amongst the message boards that militias use to communicate with one another, which alarmingly states, “I believe that self-defense is a moral imperative, and that illegitimate force and illegal violence must be met with righteous indignation and superior violence. ... Be it with firearm or blade, empty hand or blunt object, I will hit my enemies hard, fast and true.”
But Paul, a 2016 presidential hopeful, feels safe amongst those who promise to be the jury that determines illegitimate force and the judges that sentence transgressors to superior violence.
“I’m not armed today," he boasted. "But I feel pretty safe. I feel like I’ve got a private security detail out there.”
“Yeah, you do!” a man in the crowd yelled just before Paul continued his speech: “Had we had one armed pilot, we might not have had 9/11. Had we had one armed teacher or student at Virginia Tech, we might not have had a massacre.”
But “Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police,” the senator’s Time magazine op-ed on the police riots in Ferguson that went viral Thursday afternoon, paints a strikingly different portrait of the candidate, one distrustful of militarized force as a tool for good. In it, he identifies “the rising militarization of law enforcement” as one of the biggest problems facing the nation.
“Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies -- where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement,” Paul argued.
One wonders what Paul would have to say if it had been a private militia -- and not public law enforcement -- that clashed with protestors in Ferguson.
Watch the video of Paul at the 2010 Open Carry rally here: