Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A response to Ron Paul supporters

In a comment responding to two recent posts about anti-Semitic material on Ron Paul's websites (read here and here), I've heard from someone called Dan Hansen. He writes:

Adam,

You went looking for anti-semites on open political forums and (surprise) you found them.

You could do the same using any common search engine. You can find plenty of anti-semitic rants using google, yahoo, it does not matter.

But you didn't. You went to C4L (i.e. Campaign for Liberty, the official Ron Paul campaign website) and other sites affiliated with Ron Paul. After finding anti-semitic rants and forums on those sites you then disparage the small government, pro-liberty, anti-interventionist wing of the Republican party.

I say disparage. "Oldguy" speaks of nuts. "Beth" speaks of Paultards (and more nuts). Another fellow speaks of a cult. (NOTE: Dan refers here to reader comments to the post.)

I don't know if this means much to you but you are engaging in a rhetorical fallacy given the rather over-the-top name of "Affirming the Consequent". The attempt to smear politicians using guilt-by-association with unattractive supporters is old. I discuss it a bit in a (too) longish blog of my own - see http://web.me.com/dhansen/Site/Blog/Entries/2009/7/5_Poor_Logic_in_Politics_(I).html

Ron Paul is no anti-semite. Several core economists of the movement were and are Jewish (Rothbard, von Mises, Block). And you will find plenty of people in the community that find the message of individual freedom and small government to be very compelling.

"Oldguy" basically asks - "Why does Ron Paul attract these types?". The answer is simple - they find something attractive in the message. For example, they may like the anti-Fed message.

Regardless, Paul's reason for disliking the Fed is based solely on reasons deriving from his views on monetary policy and his political philosophy.

Why do your anti-semites dislike the Fed? You've been spending some quality time reading (and cutting and pasting) their comments. I think you can figure it out. It doesn't have much to do monetary policy, does it?

So they may support him - but for their own reasons that generally have nothing to do with the movement as a whole.

Presuming that you are trying to have a serious discussion of the small government wing of the Republican party then you do Dr. Paul and yourself a disservice by engaging in this sort of poor logic. It turns your article into a simple ad hominem hit piece.

Now, if that's actually your intent then I've wasted my time. Hopefully not. Hopefully you'll take a look at what the political movement is all and see if there is some common ground that we can work together towards. Say, getting the Fed transparency bill passed.

Dan:

Contrary to what you write, I did not "disparage the small government, pro-liberty, anti-interventionist wing of the Republican party". In fact, I never mentioned those issues at all. I looked at two Ron Paul websites, neither one of them "open political forums" as you assert. Both are moderated by administrators who can approve or disapprove content as they decide to. Those who run the two Ron Paul websites which I looked at have the ability to delete material they deem inappropriate. What I found there was extremely troubling.

As you must be aware as a Campaign for Liberty blogger yourself, registering to post at the blog requires providing your name, address, phone number, and a working email address. (Read here.) The Ron Paul Forums registration is a bit more basic, but does require revealing a working email address. (Read here.) Those who abuse the forum can be readily identified and their accounts suspended. Website administrators also have the power to delete individual blog posts and comments on both websites.

The Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty bloggers I wrote about have, for the most part, been writing for the website for years, some with hundreds or even thousands of contributions, much of it of a similar ilk to that which I wrote about. The Ron Paul Forums website is set up for briefer comments with a more conversational tone. The troublesome material I found there was similarly put there by long-time "senior member" users, and was frequently supported by other Ron Paul in the subsequent give and take. Those who run both the blog and forum have had more than an ample opportunity to deal with this matter appropriately.

Your comment that it is very easy to find the sort of anti-Semitic hate speech and conspiracy theory I found on the Ron Paul website elsewhere on the internet is undoubtedly true. Have you asked yourself what sort of website publishes that sort of stuff? It is very largely published by extremist groups and individuals. When a mainstream politician (to the extent Ron Paul is that) publishes this stuff, it is very obviously noteworthy. At the very least, it calls into question just how mainstream he is.

The obvious question (the one you're avoiding) is: why does the Ron Paul campaign provide a forum for hate speech? Your argument that these are completely open forums without any limitations on content is demonstrably false. While the websites include hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pages of hate speech and conspiracy theory, you would be hard pressed to find that volume of material advocating positions in opposition to Ron Paul -- for example, supporting President Obama. I'm not advocating that the Ron Paul campaign should have to publish such material, only demonstrating that they do limit what is said on their websites. They choose to allow the sort of hate speech I found -- massive amounts of it. Moreover, when compared to some real political issues I searched for comparison's sake, I found much more concern with terms such as "Illuminati" and "Rothschild". How do you explain this focus?

Why do you think the campaign attracts those who believe in these conspiracy theories? Your argument implies that any blog or internet forum would attract a similar pool of racist conspiracy nuts, but I don't believe that to be true. These people are not trolls or agents provocateur, writing offensive material to hurt Ron Paul. They are Ron Paul supporters with very troubling beliefs.

Your argument that the candidate cannot be judged by his supporters is partially true, but has limits. It was raised during the Republican primaries after I found that one of the people on Ron Paul's slate of delegate candidates in Tennessee was a neo-Nazi and Klan leader named Will Williams (aka "White Will"). This guy also served as the county organizer for the Paul campaign in his home county and organized several internet meetups on his behalf. Williams actually used his position in the Paul campaign to attempt to spread his racist beliefs. Ron Paul supporters claimed that Paul had no power over who ran as a delegate on his behalf. Sadly for that argument, the law in Tennessee requires presidential candidates to sign a statement approving of these delegates, so Ron Paul did have a say. Now you claim that Ron Paul has no say over what he publishes on the internet. That argument is also false. If he wants to stop this, he can.

When Ron Paul was found to have published for many years a newsletter with racist content, he first defended that material, then denied any knowledge it in spite of the fact that the columns were signed by him, published in the "Ron Paul Newsletter" and even referred to details of his personal life. (Read here and here and here.) That was taking plausible deniability into the realm of the implausible. Do you believe that the same elves who wrote the parts of his columns he now disavows also administer his websites? Would you argue that, just as a candidate can't be held responsible for his supporters, he can't be held responsible for columns written, signed and/or published by him, or for the material published on his websites? Why do you want to hold your candidate to this absurdly low standard?

If a candidate maintains websites with the massive quantity of offensive content of the two in question, this really does say something about who he is and what his candidacy means. Ron Paul supporters need to confront these issues head on and stop using the sort of obfuscations you resort to, Dan.

Political leaders have some very basic responsibilities, one of which is not to promote hate and conspiracy theory. Ron Paul has failed this very basic test.


A Note About the "Rothbard Defense"

One last thing: let me address the "Rothbard Defense". That's what I call Ron Paul's usual response to charges of anti-Semitism. Paul says (as you did) that his mentor Murray Rothbard was Jewish and that, therefor, Paul can't be anti-Semitic. The logical fallacy of this defense should be very apparent to a logical fallacy debunker like you, Dan. To those naive enough to take this defense at face value, and to those with no knowledge of Rothbard's views, this defense may be convincing; however, Murray Rothbard was an advocate of extreme and very troubling views concerning Jews and other minorities. He started young, as a supporter of Strom Thurmond's run for president on a segregationist platform in 1948. (Read here.) Later in his career, Rothbard advocated that the Libertarians work with the racist far-right including David Duke, leader of the Klan and American neo-Nazis, and wrote approvingly of Duke's runs for offfice in Louisiana. (Read here and here.) Rothbard was a strong long-time proponent of the views of Harry Elmer Barnes, the original Holocaust denier and Pearl Harbor conspiracy theorist. (I also discovered, in one of his Barnes columns, that Rothbard approvingly quotes the fascist author F. J. P. Veale's Advance to Barbarism, a book written in opposition to the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Read here.) Rothbard published columns claiming that FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to be bombed because he and the "interventionists" in his administration wanted the U.S. to be forced to enter the war. Rothbard saw this as part of a Roosevelt plan to expand the federal government. He was also a supporter of Charles Lindbergh's isolationism. (Read here.) And here's a Rothbard obit by the anti-Semitic author Mark Weber.

The fact that Rothbard was of Jewish background hardly makes Ron Paul's friendship with him evidence of friendship with Jews. There's every evidence that Rothbard was no friend of the Jews himself. The fact that Ron Paul has to resort to citing his association with Rothbard to prove his friendship with the Jewish people really says a lot, doesn't it?

[NOTE: For those who want to read it, the Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty webpage of Dan Hansen, author of the comment this post replied to, is available here. It features a cartoon comparing Republican Senator Lindsay Graham to Mao. I thank Dan for his comment and hope he continues reading and commenting here.]

UPDATE: While this was being written, I received a comment from a person calling himself "Join the Ron Paul Revolution". JTRPR writes that he opposes food having kosher certification because this is a tax on gentiles. He also writes that I am lumping together legitimate criticism of Israel with bigotry to disparage Israel's critics. The fact that JTRPR has taken an anti-Semitic position himself really makes my point, doesn't it? It's not me who is lumping anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements together; it is he and the other Ron Paul supporters I quoted in the posts. (Read here and here.)

9 comments:

Dan said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments. At first I was touched that you had put so much effort into the reply. Taking a look at the list of your past posts tempered my enthusiasm - e.g., "Why doesn't RP come out as a truther?", "the Jew-hater", "stupid bigot tricks", etc. So this is what you do - you find people or movements that you believe are anti-semitic and "expose" them. And you've decided that RP is an anti-semite. I suspect that if I were to simply quote RP's own recent statements against racism that would not convince you.

You're convinced that you're leading a crusade against a closet anti-semite. There's not much I can do about that. I'll make an attempt to answer the obvious question, as you call it. It's a bit difficult for me since I'm not actually a spokesman for anything or anyone but myself. I'm certainly not a spokesman for C4L.

So you ask, "why doesn't C4L censor or ban anti-semites or anti-semitic comments on the forums?"

But before I give what I presume is the answer I've two quick comments.

On a personal note, you wrote "For those who want to read it, the Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty webpage of Dan Hansen, author of the comment this post replied to, is available here. It features a cartoon comparing Republican Senator Lindsay Graham to Mao." The way you wrote that last bit makes it sound kind of creepy about the cartoon; as if making fun of Lindsay Graham for his constant support of ever-increasing big government was somehow a bad thing. Lindsay is a big proponent of big government and he was in the thick of the bank bailouts. Perhaps the satire is a bit thick but I still think the cartoon is funny.

Second, Rothbard may have been a self-hater; frankly, I don't know much about the man. I doubt that fits the profile of the average member who is interested in the politics of small government and free markets.

Because at the end of the day that is what C4L is really all about. I know you've gone fishing for anti-semites but I encourage you and others while at the site to actually look at the Statement of Principles - http://www.campaignforliberty.com/about.php .

Now for the answer.

Again, I don't speak for the C4L site. But I would guess that the reason that this "Satanic" posting has not been removed or censored is that no one has complained to the staff about it. Looking at the "Content standards" page it is clear that C4L want users to "represent the campaign with dignity". Quoting directly:

"The Campaign For Liberty strives to become a leading grassroots lobby at the national, state, and local level. The social networking tools that we provide are just that—tools....

Clearly, it is important that our members and guest users represent the campaign with dignity....

1. Obscene language is not allowed... Sensitive topics concerning race are not off-limits but should be handled delicately."

etc, etc....

I suspect that if you sent an e-mail to http://www.campaignforliberty.com/help.php detailing the complaint about the satanic references you could get some action. C4L is interested in growing the movement and not in alienating people.

Adam Holland said...

Dan:

Thanks for your comment.

1) You quote with disdain my post referring to the racist radio host James Edwards as a "Jew hater". That post did not deal with Ron Paul. As it happens, Edwards did support Paul for president and hosted numerous pro-Paul guests (such as Walter Block), but the post you cited did not concern this. Why do you object to my using that phrase? Do you object to my writing about anti-Semitism?

2) You also say that I have accused Ron Paul of anti-Semitism, whereas all I've said is that his official websites contain hundred of pages of anti-Semitic material. Maybe you can tell me his motivation for allowing this. You should feel free to quote Paul's statements opposing bigotry. That might be a more effective argument for you to make than demanding that I do so. I'm not aware that fighting bigotry has been one of his big issues, but you seem to know of his record on the subject. Why not share it here?

3) Why do you resort to inventing false quotes? Several of the direct quotes you attribute to me do not appear in this post or anywhere else on the blog. What's up with that?

4) I cited the cartoon you posted comparing Republican Senator Lindsay Graham to Chairman Mao because it reflects your politics, not to make you seem "creepy", as you say. There's nothing wrong with my pointing out how conservative you are, is there? Do you think that being so conservative makes you seem "creepy"?

5) In your earlier comment, you brought up the "Rothbard Defense" to show that Ron Paul has had Jewish friends. I replied to that by showing that Murray Rothbard had a troubling record of supporting bigots of various types including Strom Thurmond, Harry Elmer Barnes, and David Duke. That doesn't mean that everyone associated with Ron Paul agrees on these issues, and I didn't say that it does. Ron Paul has supporters who are much less bigoted than his mentor seems to have been.

6) I don't refer to the Ron Paul website as "Satanic", that's a term you use to mock my concern. Frankly, Dan, that is ridiculous. The writings at issue promote bigotry and insane conspiracy theories. By characterizing this material with the term "Satanic" in quotes, you demonstrate that you don't really believe this to be a problem. Why not?

7) If the administrators of the Ron Paul Campaign for Liberty blog and the Ron Paul Forums haven't already discovered that, over several years, their websites have published hundreds of pages of lunatic conspiracy theories, why on earth do you think a single e-mail from me will make a difference? If you want to do something about it, why don't you? You're a member of the group with blogging privileges. Why don't you take the appropriate action? Post something on the website objecting to the promotion of bigotry by your fellow Ron Paul supporters. That would do more for your cause than writing me to deny that this is important. (By the way, as you indicated, the websites don't seem to contain obscene material. I guess they are able to police that sort of thing.)

8) You don't seem to want to address most of the issues I raised in this post, so let me cut to the chase. Why do you believe Ron Paul's websites contain hundreds of pages of material on Illuminati-Rothschild type conspiracy theories? Do you believe that is a reasonable thing for a congressman and presidential candidate to allow?

Dan said...

Adam,

I don't quote you with disdain nor do I object to you writing about anti-semitism. It's a bit of an odd accusation; you write about what is important to you. I think I understand where this blog is coming from now - when I glanced at the past list of your topics for this month it became clear that you are using it as a forum to attack those you believe to be anti-semitic. A simple point though it did seem to upset you. You think Ron Paul is an anti-semite. I don't think you need to dance around the issue in your replies; if that's what you feel then say it.

I have attempted to answer your charges and/or questions in so far as one can in 4000 character blocks. I've discussed your continuing usage of "asserting the consequent". You use the technique
with frequency - it is the core rhetorical argument you make.

So I got it. You did a search for "talmud" on the C4L site and you got thee (3) hits. One of which was this "Satanic" posting. "Illuminati" turns around sixty pages in a direct search on the C4L site. The same term turns up nine million hits on google.

Of the one to two hundred thousand people who have joined C4L you've found anti-semites. Since you went looking for them in the first place that is not so surprising. There are anti-semites who like RP - and from that you conclude...what? The most serious anti-semite I know is a Democrat, a serious Christian, and a socialist. From that you conclude... what?

If you go to a JCC and look for people who irrationally hate Arabs you can find them. You don't condemn the community because of that. That would be foolish. Similarly a reasonable person doesn't condemn C4L.

Anti-semitism disgusts me. If you need to hear that directly, fine. RP's view is that "racism is an ugly form of collectivism" - see http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul68.html

I am not worried about anti-semites in the movement because the movement is not about anti-semitism.

It is about small government. It is about a smaller global military presence. It is about guaranteeing personal freedom and a free market in the economy.

Oldguy said...

>It is about small government. It is about a smaller global military presence. It is about guaranteeing personal freedom and a free market in the economy.<
But the point is, is it about those things for everyone?
Or is it about those things for a select few?
The inference from the postings on that forum is that the "Joooooos" are behind all our problems, That the solution is to do something about the "Joooooos!!" and only then will we be able to have small government, smaller global military, personal freedom and a free market in the economy.

Don't you understand that Dan, that there are postings on that board that basically say we can't have freedom because of the "Joooos!!!" because they are the ones keeping it from us.

Where's the freedom in that?

Dsylexic said...

oldman,
really, read dan's post once again.and now re-read it if your senility didnt allow grasping the essence the first time.

your inference is enligtening.a bunch of jew haters posting at cfl want to blame the jews for everything.
and therefore ron paul must be an anti semite.with such logic,you should take a couple of nobel prizes right off the swedes' hands.
btw arabs are also semites -so should we call all jews anti semites since most of them hate their vengeful neighbors?

your sense of history is warped even though you are 50+

Anonymous said...

isnt zionism , separate from semiteism? Zionism is not a "race" , is it? i don't care , but this whole ad hominem ,"racsit" Crap is a weak arguemen , devoid of factual reciprocation. whatever , divide and conquer, we will all be slaves of these tyrants and this personality cult. enjoy the bondage and slavery, you've all bought into. keep it up.....wow.

iceddown said...

anti-zionism is not anti-semetism, its not a race, zionism is a well hidden supremisist belief of a divide and conquer mentality. mind you the campaign for liberty has fascist undertones that disturb me just as much as Obama's personality cult , or a neo-nazi skinhead movement, but i guess , pick your poison, people , the old system obviously is not working.

iceddown said...

ok, this is moderated like that of which the O.p. complains about? how fitting.lmao.

elyakatz said...

BS"D

Adam,

Thanks for covering this. I am concerned about the obvious tolerance of antisemitism at Liberty Forest and other Ron Paul support sites. The man ran for president, got a lot of coverage, and his ideas are attracting 20 somethings who are disaffected with the current two-party system. If Ron Paul doesn't take responsibility for the content at sites which use his name, I am very worried those same sites will continue to be used as seedbeds, turning previously normal, healthy people into antisemitic, conspiracy theory lunatics.

I copied and saved most, if not all of the threads I participated in during my six month membership at Liberty Forest. They are revealing, to say the least.

Ellie Katz
Glezele Vayne

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