Race And Ron Paul

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 22 2011 @ 1:16pm

A slightly different perspective:

Why not Paul, when, in many instances, Paul’s voting record and political leanings have been more progressive and in-line with Black America’s than Barack Obama’s …? Why not Paul, when he’s been one of the most vocal opponents of America’s continued support for the War on Drugs, an issue that many say is destroying black America. “The War on Drugs is a total failure,” Paul told time magazine. “It’s created a monster of a problem for us.” And while many an African American activist and political theorist have highlighted the problems with the U.S. military spending and the War on Drugs, most politicians have been flat out afraid to be labeled soft of defense and drugs.

A reader adds:

Let’s see: does a candidate who does any of the following seem like a racist or bigot to you? 1) Be the only one in a Republican debate to oppose racial profiling 2) Frame his opposition to the death penalty and end of the war on drugs in terms of discrimination by the law and law enforcement 3) Implore citizens of Christian America to put themselves in the perspective of Muslims in the Middle East when thinking of our foreign policy?

But all these current stands are aparently irrelevant when compared with racist newsletters written by someone else two decades ago which Paul now condemns. Conor makes related points in a must-read of intellectual honesty:

What I want Paul detractors to confront is that he alone, among viable candidates, favors reforming certain atrocious policies, including policies that explicitly target ethnic and religious minorities. And that, appalling as it is, every candidate in 2012 who has polled above 10 percent is complicit in some heinous policy or action or association. Paul's association with racist newsletters is a serious moral failing, and even so, it doesn't save us from making a fraught moral judgment about whether or not to support his candidacy, even if we're judging by the single metric of protecting racial or ethnic minority groups, because when it comes to America's most racist or racially fraught policies, Paul is arguably on the right side of all of them.

His opponents are often on the wrong side, at least if you're someone who thinks that it's wrong to lock people up without due process or kill them in drone strikes or destabilize their countries by forcing a war on drug cartels even as American consumers ensure the strength of those cartels.

In supporting Ron Paul, I am backing one of the few candidates in the GOP field not to have exploited racial code words, homophobia, illegal immigration, or generalizations about Muslims that come easily to the mind of, say, Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain, who actually said he wouldn't appoint a Muslim to his cabinet! I am backing one of the few GOP candidates not to have endorsed torture and to have opposed the Iraq war. To pick Paul out as the core bigot in this crowd, and to regard anyone who backs him as tainted by bigotry … seems to me to be perverse.

[The first version of this post muddled a reader email and a blog-post. Apologies.]