Ron Paul, Racist?

Ron Paul's newsletters are proof either that he's a racist or a fraud.

Who Is Ron Paul Sign There has long been a buzz about the fact that Ron Paul’s vast network of supporters includes white supremacists and anti-Semites. Paul has disassociated himself from them and he’s shrugged it off as the nature of a bottom-up organization. While I’m by no means a Paul booster, that has struck me as quite reasonable.

Today, though, TNR (the publication which laid much of the groundwork for the “George Allen is a racist” meme that finally ignited into an inferno after the Macaca incident) takes it to a new level with James Kirchick‘s feature “Angry White Man – The bigoted past of Ron Paul.” It sifts through Paul’s newsletters, some dating as far back as 1978, for statements that are racially charged.

As Kirchick freely admits, many of the charges have been made before in local campaigns and most of the newsletters lack bylines, making the author impossible to pin down. But they were all published by Ron Paul and “seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him–and reflected his views.”

Much of the piece is guilt by association.

Kirchick notes Paul’s long association with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a respected libertarian think tank, and points out that other people associated with the organization are Confederate sympathizers and the like. Further,

Paul’s newsletters have themselves repeatedly expressed sympathy for the general concept of secession. In 1992, for instance, the Survival Report argued that “the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society” and that “there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it.”

But, surely, one could philosophically support the right of self-determination without supporting, say, the lynching of people who were born with a different skin color?

The people surrounding the von Mises Institute–including Paul–may describe themselves as libertarians, but they are nothing like the urbane libertarians who staff the Cato Institute or the libertines at Reason magazine. Instead, they represent a strain of right-wing libertarianism that views the Civil War as a catastrophic turning point in American history–the moment when a tyrannical federal government established its supremacy over the states.

One has to love the pitting of urbane Northern libertarians against the reactionary Southern brethren in a tract seeking to establish that someone else is a bigot. Regardless, however, can one not simultaneously think the after effects of the Civil War (or, for that matter, the Great Society) negatively impacted the country while nonetheless being happy that slavery was ended?

Much of the rest of the piece is a mixed bag. Some of the quotes taken from Paul’s newsletters — again, quite possibly not Paul’s own writing but nonetheless put out under his banner — are quite indefensible.

Take, for instance, a special issue of the Ron Paul Political Report, published in June 1992, dedicated to explaining the Los Angeles riots of that year. “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,” read one typical passage. According to the newsletter, the looting was a natural byproduct of government indulging the black community 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.” It also denounced “the media” for believing that “America’s number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks.” To be fair, the newsletter did praise Asian merchants in Los Angeles, but only because they had the gumption to resist political correctness and fight back. Koreans were “the only people to act like real Americans,” it explained, “mainly because they have not yet been assimilated into our rotten liberal culture, which admonishes whites faced by raging blacks to lie back and think of England.”

Quite a bit of this strikes me merely as frank discussion about race relations and a reaction against a racially based politics of distribution. One can lament cultural segregation without believing other races are inferior. Certainly, most American conservatives oppose racial gerrymandering, quotas, hate crime laws, and the like. And the idea that there is an attempt to bring “public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda” has been a reality for quite some time.

Still, the business about welfare checks and whatnot is hard to defend.

As early as December 1989, a section of his Investment Letter, titled “What To Expect for the 1990s,” predicted that “Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities” because “mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white ‘haves.'” Two months later, a newsletter warned of “The Coming Race War,” and, in November 1990, an item 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, an entry on racial disturbances in Washington, DC’s Adams Morgan neighborhood was titled, “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.” “This is only the first skirmish in the race war of the 1990s,” the newsletter predicted. In an October 1992 item about urban crime, the newsletter’s author–presumably Paul–wrote, “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.” That same year, a newsletter described the aftermath of a basketball game in which “blacks poured into the streets of Chicago in celebration. How to celebrate? How else? They broke the windows of stores to loot.” The newsletter inveighed against liberals who “want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare,” adding, “Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems.”

Well, we’ve definitely had some race riots. And one can hardly deny there have been numerous instances of mayhem in inner cities after major sporting events. But talk of “animals” and the general tone here is undeniably racist.

There’s much more in the piece, including something to offend just about any group you could think of.

Daniel Koffler, a self-described former Paul supporter, has a whole list of racist quotes from Paul’s newsletters in easy-to-digest, out-of-context form.

Ron Paul denies that this sort of thing reflects his personal views. Kirchick, again:

When I asked Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign spokesman, about the newsletters, he said that, over the years, Paul had granted “various levels of approval” to what appeared in his publications–ranging from “no approval” to instances where he “actually wrote it himself.” After I read Benton some of the more offensive passages, he said, “A lot of [the newsletters] he did not see. Most of the incendiary stuff, no.” He added that he was surprised to hear about the insults hurled at Martin Luther King, because “Ron thinks Martin Luther King is a hero.”

The urbane Dave Weigel, one of the libertines at Reason magazine, caught up to Paul today and got much the same story.

[UPDATE: Paul has issued a press release:

“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

“In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person’s character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.’

“This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It’s once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”


Even beyond the questionable rhetoric on race, religion, and sexual orientation, we get garden variety kookery.

Paul’s newsletters didn’t just contain bigotry. They also contained paranoia–specifically, the brand of anti-government paranoia that festered among right-wing militia groups during the 1980s and ’90s. Indeed, the newsletters seemed to hint that armed revolution against the federal government would be justified. In January 1995, three months before right-wing militants bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, a newsletter listed “Ten Militia Commandments,” describing “the 1,500 local militias now training to defend liberty” as “one of the most encouraging developments in America.” It warned militia members that they were “possibly under BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] or other totalitarian federal surveillance” and printed bits of advice from the Sons of Liberty, an anti-government militia based in Alabama–among them, “You can’t kill a Hydra by cutting off its head,” “Keep the group size down,” “Keep quiet and you’re harder to find,” “Leave no clues,” “Avoid the phone as much as possible,” and “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

How much Paul believes this nonsense is unclear. My sense of him has long been that he’s a conspiracy theorist and outside the mainstream of intellectual libertarianism.

Andrew Sullivan, who has praised Paul in the past, is quite concerned.

Paul needs to say not only that he did not pen these excrescences, he needs to explain how his name was on them and disown them completely. I’ve supported Paul for what I believe are honorable reasons: his brave resistance to the enforced uniformity of opinion on the Iraq war, his defense of limited constitutional government, his libertarianism, his sincerity. If there is some other agenda lurking beneath all this, we deserve to know. It’s up to Ron Paul now to clearly explain and disown these ugly, vile, despicable tracts from the past.

The Weekly Standard‘s Michael Goldfarb doesn’t expect to see that: “He’s been speaking in code to the dregs of American society this whole time. And he had no intention of alienating his base of support.”

For that matter, the best case scenario would seem to be that Paul has been marketing a “Ron Paul Newsletter” for years that is anything but. Which, by my reckoning, would make him a fraud.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Congress, Race and Politics, US Constitution, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark Turton says:

    What a shameless, pre-meditated smear attempt timed to discredit Dr. Paul as the NH vote takes place.

    Shame on you for perpetuating this misinformation.

  2. Artus Register says:

    Typical slanderous nonsense. It is a shame that renegade ghost writers define a man’s character more than war mongering, civilian-slaughtering and possession of itchy nuclear trigger fingers. Theft, genocide and endless lies seem to be the new badges of normalcy, while Dr. Paul’s campaign of truth, honor and freedom relegate him to the fringe.

  3. anti-smear says:

    One of my responses to another blog about this issue:

    We’re definitely out of the “ignore” and “ridicule” stage….

    …it’s pure “attack” mode now baby!!

    Brace yourselves, (Mr Smith has gone to Washington!!)


  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    Certainly, most American conservatives oppose racial gerrymandering, quotes, hate crime laws, and the like.

    As an American conservative, while I stand against racial gerrymandering (and consider gerrymandering for any purpose including helping or hurting a particular party not a good thing) and hate crime laws (show me some data on the current laws being enforced, but injustice still being done), I must renounce in the strongest terms any attack on “quotes”. There, I used a pair myself. I think quotes are a useful tool of English grammar (I am aware of the English language’s noted behavior to aggressively stalk other languages, lure them into dark alleys then mug them for useful words and spare grammar).

    Now quotas, those would have to pass a very strict test to be approved of, especially federal race based quotas which would be in violation of the plain language of the constitution. But quotes I heartily endorse.

    After careful consideration of your eloquent defense of quotes, I’ve amended the original. – jhj

  5. Tammy says:

    An obvious smear designed to effect the election because the establishment can’t find and REAL dirt on Ron Paul.

  6. mw says:

    For that matter, the best case scenario would seem to be that Paul has been marketing a “Ron Paul Newsletter” for years that is anything but. Which, by my reckoning, would make him a fraud. -jj

    I cannot argue with that. My take: Ron Paul is not a racist. He did not write this stuff. He was asleep at the switch. He has in the past taken responsibility for letting this crap go out under his name, which is still inexcusable. As Sullivan says, he needs to make a stronger statement disowning and condemning it now. He is and was not going to be President regardless of this story. Nor was he going to be nominated. I am supporting him anyway because he has applied a much needed “peace and freedom” libertarian cattle prod up the GOP posterior, and I am happy to send him a little more juice in that effort.

    But it is still amusing to see those who pilloried TNR for failing to vett Scott Beauchamp and Stephen Glass are so uncritically accepting Kirchick’s piece now.

  7. Brenda says:

    Shame on you for trying to find any attempt to smear Ron Paul. NO COINCIDENCE this is being posted on the day of NH primary! What a disgusting piece.

  8. Tannim says:

    Who is Jamie Kirchick? Just a neocon kid with no logic, sense, skill, or brains.

    This is news so old it has mold. It’s also been repeatedly debunked.

  9. H. R. Paine says:

    Establishment political machine reaches back in time more than ten years and revives a long dead and dismissed story for a primary day political snipe job.

    The only question is, will the public be manipulated by a deliberate and unethical smear, or will this backfire as all other attempts to discredit Ron Paul have?

    Paul answers the attack with a shrug:

    “This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It’s once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

    And takes responsibility for his error:

    “When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

    Local Texans agree, citing the fact that Paul chose to practice medicine in a 40% minority area and treated all patients graciously. Long time Jewish associates and minority supporters who have known and met Paul insist that the statements are entirely out of keeping with his character. The New York times, making similar allegations in 2007, were forced to print an apology, admitting there was no evidence linking the statements directly to Paul and that their story constituted irresponsible reporting.

    The real question this story raises is, why, when this information has been readily available for better than a decade—when it has been debated and dismissed because it lacked genuine merit–is it suddenly “breaking news”?

  10. legion says:

    Wow, those attack-paultards move fast, don’t they?

    Here’s something I’ve never seen any of them sanely address: The source documents here are Ron Paul’s Newsletters. Even if he didn’t write, edit, and hand-typeset each issue, it still went out under his name. The only believable way for Paul to distance himself from the opinions expressed, I remind you again, in his newsletters, is to a) come up with a rational excuse for them not being his opinions and b) start suing the bejeezus out of somebody.

    Until that happens, he will continue to carry the stigma of being a racist, conspiracy-plotting fruitcake. Deal with it.

  11. Rick Cain says:

    The article obviously is unsure if itself if it has to use a question as a headline.

    Shame on the article writer for posting political libel such as this, and then hiding behind the question “ron paul, racist?”.

    If you really are sure, why not just put it WITHOUT the question…or are you not brave enough to lie to your reading public.

  12. Alan Kellogg says:

    There is a device a periodical can use when they wish to let the reader know the publisher does not necessarily agree with what the author of a piece has said. Often it simply says, “The views expressed in this story are not the views of this publication.”

    A few things to note. First, the newsletters in question went out under Ron Pauls’ name. The stories and reports included either had no byline, or were credited to Ron Paul. Second, so far as I know the newsletters never carried an opposing view. All material presented strictly followed one of a number of themes. Finally, the pro Ron Paul comments in this thread follow the same pattern as shown in the comment thread for this posting over at Pharyngula. More examples of Paulite cupidity, misrepresentation, denial, and toy poodle behavior can be seen by following the links PZ provides in his post.

    It is said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. Well, so do jerks.

  13. bill says:

    U.S. Debt clock

    each American’s share of our debt $30,264 and growing.

    Someone needs to stop this. If not Ron Paul then who?

  14. If freedom scares you this badly you should go to Cuba. You’ll never be bothered with too much freedom there. But I prefer to live free under the U.S. Constitution. Go Ron Paul!!!

  15. George says:

    I don’t believe it for one second. This is a Neo-con hit piece. We all know it. Hahahahaha….
    Ron Paul is going to win and they are skeered.

  16. scott says:

    Compare Ron with any other candidate for president… they are all 10 times worse for this Country buy totally taking control of your life and everybody else’s but I figured all you care about is yourself

  17. Jim Treacher says:

    Ah… Paullution!

  18. Tano says:

    This is no longer about Ron Paul, who will not be heard from again.

    Its now about the reputation of those who foolishly supported him.

    There is no such thing as “being asleep at the switch” when it comes to having things published under your own name. When you are a poitician. When they are this lunatic and racist. There is no excuse. Period.

  19. dbs says:

    I campaigned for Paul in 88 but reluctantly becasue he already had an antigay record by then. I got his newsletter and stopped getting it because of the far right hate material it published. Kirchick is right on target. And the Mises Institute is deeply involved. One of the main authors of these newsletters, other than Paul, was Lew Rockwell from Mises Institute. Rockwell also has been close to racist groups likes the League of the South and open racists like Sam Francis and the anti-Semite Joseph Sobran. Racists like Jared Taylor were previously published by Rockwell on his site.

    Paul’s newsletter ran these sorts of bigoted comments for years and it is absurd for Paul to claim it happened without his knowledge. One such article refers to “my wife Carol” — which happens to be name of Paul’s wife. They also quote from a letter that went out over Paul’s signature. Many libertarians have stayed away from Paul precisely because he was known to have had these skeletons in his closet. He was challenged on them repeatedly and he allowed the statements to go on and on. That indicates he supported them.

  20. True Conservative says:

    I am black, an immigrant from the West Indies and will be voting for the only conservative running. That would be Ron Paul. The media has no shame, Paul NEVER said these things they’re saying he said.

  21. True Conservative says:

    oh yeah if you vote for the democrats; Amnesty McCain, Switch Romney, IL Duce Giuliani, or Tax Hike Mike, the next president will be a democrat, its really just that simple. Paul is the only one that can pull votes away from the democrats.Lets face it there are still Republicans out there who believe in the rule of law and the constitution and putting America 1st and are anti-global welfarism. There’s enough of them for the above mentioned democrats to alienate and cause the Republicans to lose the white house. That’s just the truth. Don’t let the mainstream media decide for you, you know they are liberal and want you to chose ONLY from the above mentioned democrats. If you can’t see that they are democrats you have some serious reading to do.

  22. Ryland says:

    Will this actually have an effect on his online support? He strong point has been his supporters ability to influence popular online rating systems like .

  23. Susan (Virginia) says:

    Seriously? My best friends who are black are all voting for Ron Paul. They heard about this ridiculous accusation but there is a huge difference between us Ron Paul supporters and others…..WE’VE GOT BRAINS!

  24. Cade says:

    Attack the man because you can’t attack the message. We understand.

    With every other politician you can attack their record, but there is nothing to attack Paul on even with 10 terms in congress. Please tell us where his policies and libertarian message are wrong and we can give you some honest debate. The message he stands on shares no consistency with the racism charge the TNR article claims.

    And since when does secession have anything to do with slavery or racism. A lot of countries seceded from the USSR after it crumbled. Secession has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with people wanting their freedom from oppressive governments.

    Ack. Why even bother. Americans are so dumb. They want a motivational speaker to be president. Elect Tony Robbins.

  25. Jim Treacher says:

    I’m black and all my friends are black, and also we’re all gay! And we’re voting for Ron Paul! Wheeeee!

  26. Matthew says:

    Isn’t it hilarious how Ron Paul’s supporters refuse to make Paul responsible for his actions? Or the actions done under his name which he has had weak excuse after weak excuse for?

    And if he cannot stand up to something done under his name as a candidate, what hope do we have that he will stand up for his mistakes as a President?

    These have NOT been debunked. Previously, there was one newsletter from Usenet available.

    Finally, how do you explain the “my wife Carol” or the references to his coin dealer — both things straight from Ron Paul’s life in these newsletters with potentially racist statement? Someone please explain this to me besides the “the MSM is out to get him” meme.

  27. This “Ron Paul and racism” concern is one of the only issues some of the people in my network have brought up to me. I won’t try to address the concern through many comments. I’ll just provide a web address to the All-American Presidential Forum held last September: “The All-American Presidential Forums on PBS mark the first time that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color has been represented in primetime.”

    Search YouTube for Ron Paul. You’ve got to see him and hear what he has to say and how he says it.

  28. Andrew Simpson says:

    You sound like Luntz. You toss your opinions around like they are facts. What are you afraid of, sir? Why can’t you present facts, or at least present your opinions in a fashion that does not imply foregone conclusion? It is jerks like you who are killing my freedom and that of my children. Remember my voice when the dollar crashes and we’re all screwed. Remember the guy who said, ‘You only have one hope. There is only one man who will stop the runaway spending that is taking away all our savings and retirements, entitled by govt or not.’ Remember me when your bosses put you on the street, and think about what fun it is to be a sheep, and then get in the herd with the rest of the unwashed masses and bow to your tuxedoed masters.



  29. Two things you didn’t bother to talk about.

    1)Kirchick is a Giuliani supporter.

    2)Ron Paul would free the most black men since Lincoln.

    I’ve detailed and sourced both claims here.

    I look forward to your response.

  30. thomas jones says:

    I will vote for Ron Paul, hopefully, something good can come of it. I am, however, deeply disillusioned for the future of this once great nation. Is Ron Paul a ‘racist’? Well, perhaps no more than I am. It’s so strange, people will skirt over this ‘race’ issue and try not to sound ‘offensive’, well a lot of good that’s done for our country’s psychie. It is now to a point where we could very well have a kind of national (civilizational as well) breakdown that we will not be able to come up from under. Illegal immigration and,… yes, the influence of an AWFUL lot of inner city ghetto cultural influence could very well do us in. An increasing number of people are becoming defensive because of these very matters, so much so, that when one is accused of such a thing, a politician being accused of the ‘R’ word, they may secretly cheer. This is the reall legacy that those on the concerned politically correct side of the street have created.