Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who enjoys a passionate following among his libertarian followers, is again running for President. Paul’s message of limited government and individual freedoms has attracted a diverse and loyal base of both liberals and Republicans -- while the mainstream of both Republicans and Democrats dismiss him as an unelectable underdog (or worse).
For example, during the recent Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Paul was hammered for his views that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were precipitated solely by the presence of U.S. military bases in Muslim countries (a position held by many, but rarely articulated by mainstream American politicians).
However, some liberals who are otherwise thrilled by Paul (especially his vociferous opposition to foreign military intervention), might be disturbed by his long association with anti-black racism and anti-Semitism.
Paul has repeatedly denied that he is a racist (as have his devoted supporters), but they cannot deny the record of comments he has made (or which have been attributed to him) on race over the past few decades.
During an appearance on Chris Matthews’ ‘Hardball’ TV program on MSNBC a few years ago, Paul defended earlier comments his son Rand made regarding the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which he asserted his father’s Libertarian views would have led him to oppose the law).
Ron Paul told Matthews he would have voted against the Act in Congress, and added I wouldn't vote against getting rid of the Jim Crow laws.
He explained that didn’t necessarily oppose the intent of the Act (to eliminate institutionalized discrimination against blacks), but rather because it imposed on the personal rights of private business owners.
In 2004, during the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, Paul spoke against the law, stating that it violated the Constitution and curbed individual freedoms.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society,” he said.
According to various reports, years ago, Paul was affiliated with newsletters that were obsessed with racial subjects.
Paul had published a plethora of newsletters over his political career with names including Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report, among many others.
In June 1992, in the wake of the ‘Rodney King riots’ in Los Angeles that killed dozens and caused $1-billion of property damage, the Ron Paul Political Report wrote: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began,”
The editorial suggested that the looting and rioting was an inevitable consequence of the federal government providing blacks with “civil rights quotas, mandated hiring preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black mayors, black curricula in schools, black TV shows, black TV anchors, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda.”
Paul’s screed also attacked the media for espousing the belief that “America’s number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks.”
A few years before, in December 1989, Paul’s Investment Letter spelled out a doomsday scenario for the future, warning that “racial violence will fill our cities” because “mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white ‘haves.’”
Two months later, another Paul newsletter predicted “The Coming Race War.”
In the following year an article advised readers: “If you live in a major city, and can leave, do so. If not, but you can have a rural retreat, for investment and refuge, buy it.”
In June 1991, following incidents of racial clashes in Washington, DC, a Paul newsletter featured an article titled: “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.”
“This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990s,” the newsletter gloomily warned.
In October 1992, in a segment on urban crime, Paul’s newsletter declared: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming.”
Following a basketball game in Chicago in which the Bulls won the NBA championship in 1992, Paul’s publication sneered that: “blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot.”
The newsletter also assailed white liberals for wanting “to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare. Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems.”
Another newsletter claimed that “opinion polls consistently show only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions,” and “if you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”
Paul’s publication also attacked the distinguished black congresswoman for Texas Barbara Jordan as “the archetypical half-educated victimologist” whose “race and sex protect her from criticism.”
Another newsletter declared: The criminals who terrorize our cities -- in riots and on every non-riot day -- are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to 'fight the power,' to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible.
In 1991, a Paul-controlled newsletter praised ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
“Duke lost the [Senate] election [in Louisiana], but he scared the blazes out of the Establishment,” it stated.
Paul also has expressed hostility toward the Jews.
According to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice, Paul refused to return a campaign contribution in 2008 from white supremacist and notorious anti-Semite Don Black.
Paul has reportedly called Israel “evil” and has alleged that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, might have blown up the World Trade Center in 1993.
In 1987, an edition of Paul's Investment Letter described Israel as an aggressive, national socialist state.
However, it isn’t clear if Paul himself wrote any of these inflammatory segments (the newsletters apparently lacked by-lines). Paul himself has reportedly said many of these passages were taken out of context.
When confronted by CNN, Paul insisted that he was not the author of the racialist pieces and that he had no idea who did.
Moreover, he denied having any racial bias.
When you bring this question up, you're really saying, 'You're a racist' or 'Are you a racist?' And the answer is, 'No, I'm not a racist,' he said.
He added that he repudiated “everything that is written along those lines.”
Paul also told CNN: People [who] know me, nobody is going to believe this. That's just not my language. It's not my life. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, they're [my] heroes.
Paul has also claimed that he sympathizes with blacks who have been victimized by draconian drug laws. He once told a reporter: I am the anti-racist because I am the only candidate -- Republican or Democrat -- who would protect the [minorities] against these vicious drug laws. Libertarians are incapable of being a racist, because racism is a collectivist idea.
However, David Gergen, a CNN senior political analyst, didn’t buy Paul’s denials.
These stories may be very old in Ron Paul's life, but they're very new to the American public and they deserve to be totally ventilated, he said I must say I don't think there's an excuse in politics to have something go out under your name and say, 'Oh by the way, I didn't write that.'
Paul remains a unique and singular character in U.S. politics. His adherence to libertarian values, and opposition to foreign military intervention and drug laws have won him the admiration and support among many liberals, especially among the youth.
His espousal of limited government and attacks on certain government agencies, including the Federal Reserve, has gained him support among some conservatives.
However, the mainstream Republican Party largely rejects Paul and regards him as a crackpot.
Without broad support, Paul is unlikely to ever gain enough clout to win the Presidency.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.