Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is Ron Paul an Anti-Semite?

Rep. Ron Paul has been accused so it needs to be cleared up. (Some accusations: from John Podhoretz at Commentary, some guy at the NY Sun, and another random guy at the right-wing Pajamas Media).

Most of the accusers are neo-con wannabes who assume that anyone against the Iraq War (or their desired Iran War) are against Israel and thus anti-Semitic. Note, these wannabes also assume that when someone criticizes any "neo-con" or even uses the term then they are anti-Semitic. For the record, when the neo-cons start keeping Shabbas, then I'll listen to them about what is Jewish.

The two main arguments that he's an anti-Semite are that (1) racist and quasi-Antisemitic comments were made in a newsletter under his name, and (2) he has voted against American aid to Israel.

According to this July 2007 NYTimes story both accusations can be explained away via Paul's inveterate idiosyncrasies:
In the 1996 general election, Paul’s Democratic opponent Lefty Morris held a press conference to air several shocking quotes from a newsletter that Paul published during his decade away from Washington. Passages described the black male population of Washington as “semi-criminal or entirely criminal” and stated that “by far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government.” Morris noted that a Canadian neo-Nazi Web site had listed Paul’s newsletter as a laudably “racialist” publication.

Paul survived these revelations. He later explained that he had not written the passages himself — quite believably, since the style diverges widely from his own. But his response to the accusations was not transparent. When Morris called on him to release the rest of his newsletters, he would not. He remains touchy about it. “Even the fact that you’re asking this question infers, ‘Oh, you’re an anti-Semite,’ ” he told me in June. Actually, it doesn’t. Paul was in Congress when Israel bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant in 1981 and — unlike the United Nations and the Reagan administration — defended its right to do so. He says Saudi Arabia has an influence on Washington equal to Israel’s. His votes against support for Israel follow quite naturally from his opposition to all foreign aid. There is no sign that they reflect any special animus against the Jewish state.
As far as I can tell, Paul is ideologically simplistic but his backing of Israel's right to defend itself is the most important aspect of his practical philosophy. I believe that he didn't say the racist stuff because many people have come forward and 'testified' that he doesn't talk like that. His support for Israel is limited by his even greater support for Libertarian Ayn-Randism.

His biggest problem as it relates to 21st Century Identity Politics is that his libertarianism is quite attractive to fringe groups, wackos, neo-Nazis, and the like. The fact that someone ghost wrote racist comments under his name is proof of this... that Paul attracts, and seems to hire, Klan type wackos who think he holds their views. Note, I don't think he does. But can he be held accountable for being passive about the wackos he attracts?

Well, the GOP has those same Klan wackos as part of their voting bloc (the whole immigrant bashing path demonstrates this). The GOP does more than Paul does in courting those people. Paul seems passive about the wackos; he doesn't pander to them like the GOP has done with the "southern strategy" racism and Tancredo anti-immigration-ism. Now *that* stuff is racist.

I'd say that Paul is too small time to be held accountable for the wackos he attracts but if he starts getting into a national office, he needs to be explicit in his anti-anti-Semitism and anti-racism.

And, note to the Republicans crying "anti-Semite" about Ron Paul: (1) clean your own house, (2) I thought you didn't like identity politics?, (3) you guys say vicious things about Muslims and anyone who makes unsubstantiated blanket statements about an ethnicity should be under suspicion for racism, so your claims of anti-Semitism are disingenuous (a.k.a. you're a bunch of slimeball liars).

{2009 Update: Ron Paul as Che T-Shirt pic from here.}

3 comments:

Sholom said...

The Jewish blogging world's most reviled rabbi has looked into the allegation that Ron Paul hates Jews, but has not yet issued a Halachic ruling on the matter.

Sholom said...

The Jewish blogging world's most reviled rabbi has looked into the allegation that Ron Paul hates Jews, but has not yet issued a Halachic ruling on the matter.

Sholom said...

The Jewish blogging world's most reviled rabbi has looked into the allegation that Ron Paul hates Jews, but has not yet issued a Halachic ruling on the matter.

Funny V-word: ewkbloi