Monday, May 9, 2011

Unanswered questions; Why Ron Paul's racist newsletters still matter

I've just read an article that's brought back into focus an issue that I'd put out of my mind since the last presidential campaign: Ron Paul's troubling history of publishing racist columns. (Read here: Why Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters Matter | News One) The article outlines the content of columns written and/or published by Ron Paul in newsletters called Ron Paul's Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Survival Report, all of which listed Paul as editor and publisher. The columns in question are absolutely amazing: unashamedly racist, homophobic and paranoid. For your consideration, here are some excerpts from the writings of Dr. Ron Paul.

"Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressmen [sic]. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day."

(jpg of source document here)

That column went on to suggest, in response to a proposal that a city be named in King's honor, that the city be called either "Welfaria", "Zooville", "Rapetown", "Dirtburg", or "Lazyopolis".

In another shocking column entitled "Blast 'Em?", Dr. Paul warns in dire terms of the dangers of black on white crime. Dr. Paul suggests that white people arm themselves with illegal, unresgistered guns, and goes on to relay the advice of a police officer that, if a gun were to be used to shoot a "youth", that the shooting be concealed and the weapon thrown away.

"(Carjacking) is the hip-hop thing to do among urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos. The youth simply walk up to a car they like, pull a gun, tell the family to get out, steal their jewelry and wallets, and take the car to wreck. Such actions have ballooned in the recent months.

"In the old days, average people could avoid such youth by staying out of bad neighborhoods. Empowered by media, police, and political complicity, however, the youth now roam everywhere looking for cars to steal and people to rob.

"What can you do? More and more Americans are carrying a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example).

"I frankly don't know what to make of such advice, but even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming."

(Jpg of source document here)

You may remember that Ron Paul also published columns that stated that

"Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action."


"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."


"(W)e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers."


"We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such."

Those statements were first revealed in a Houston Chronicle article published in May, 1996. (Read here.) According to the Chronicle, Paul's congressional campaign responded to questions about these statements by saying that they were consistent with anti-crime statements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The Ron Paul campaign issued another statement, published in the Austin American-Statesman, that compared his newsletters to Tolstoy. (Read here.)

"Dr. Paul is being quoted out of context. It's like picking up War and Peace and reading the fourth paragraph on Page 481 and thinking you can understand what's going on."

Paul's defenses of these and many other outrageous columns have raised more questions than they have answered. His initial reaction to this issue, when it was raised by an adversary in the 1996 congressional election, was to admit to having written the columns and to defend their content as insignificant. As Matt Welch pointed out in a column for Reason (read here), statements made at that time by both Paul and his campaign staff accepted responsibility for publishing the columns and failed in any way to indicate that he hadn't written them or even read them.  In fact, according to a contemporaneous report in the Dallas Morning News (emphasis added):

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation.

However, in 2008, Paul claimed that the columns, which he had said that he had written, which were written in the first person and which included references to his family life and other personal touches, had been ghost-written by someone of whose identity he was somehow uncertain. He claimed that it was completely plausible that he would allow people he did not know to author such columns for him, and that he would go on to publish them without prior review to his supporters in newsletters bearing his name in their titles. Such defenses by Dr. Paul insult those who legitimately want information about this troubling side of his record. Paul's answers to these legitimate question do not treat with appropriate gravity a very serious matter. They are not only inconsistent, they are self-contradictory. They are not only implausible, they are impossible.

Why do these newletters continue to matter? In publishing these newsletters, and in his handling of the resulting controversy, Dr. Paul has shown himself to be either a racist, an amnesiac, a liar, or grossly irresponsible. None of those are attributes one should look for in a prospective president.

Ron Paul's current candidacy for president once again raises the questions that he has failed to adequately address since they first came up in 1996. Who wrote the racist material that was published by him under his name in his newsletters? If the columns were ghosted, did he review them prior to publication? If not, why not? Why has he failed to take responsibility for and fully investigate the facts underlying this troubling publication of extreme racist propaganda into the political mainstream? If Ron Paul fails to answer these questions, fully investigate the matter and issue a complete and frank report of his findings, he will have failed to put the matter behind him. He can't just say that it's "old news" and leave it at that. That will only convince his true believers.

In conclusion, here's video of Ron Paul on CNN in 2008, renouncing the contents of his newletters and claiming that he can't possibly be racist because he "does not view people in collective groups". He also argues falsely and in offensive terms which immediately belie this absurd defense that the issue of the newsletters was being raised for a particular political purpose concerning a collective group. (At 2:40 of the below-embedded video.)

"(It is) part knock down Ron Paul because he's gaining grounds with the blacks. I'm getting more support right now, and more votes from the blacks because they understand what I'm talking about and they trust me."

In spite of the fact that the issue had come up in 1996, and that his campaign had at time defended them, Paul states in this interview that, prior to 2008, he was unfamiliar with any of the racist material from his newsletter. As I stated above, his defenses have raised more questions than they've answered.

[The full contents of the Ron Paul newsletters was uncovered in 2008 by the very persistent and clever research of Jamie Kirchick, then of the New Republic. (His great article on this is available behind a paywall here.) Julian Sanchez and David Weigel wrote in Reason in 2008 that they were of the opinion that longtime Ron Paul chief advisor Lew Rockwell was likely the author and almost certainly the real editor of the offensive columns. (Read here.) A fairly comprehensive compendium of links to coverage of the newletters controversy is available here.]


blackstallion said...

This is a joke! Ron Paul whould have never have written that shit. Anyone who has ever read anything he has written would obviously know that. Eeeven IF he felt that way and wrote about it he would have written it different. The vocabulary wasn't anything like it would have been.


Adam Holland said...

How do you explain his shifting stories about the columns? In 1996, he defends them as reasonable in context. In 2008, he claims to be hearing about them for the first time, and says they were written for him by people whose names he does not know. If someone had published racist columns under my name, I damn sure would find out who had done so and I'd sue them. The fact that, 15 years after these columns first came to light, Ron Paul hasn't investigated this at all looks very, very fishy. He must have a good idea who's responsible for these columns. How do you explain his covering that up?

Anonymous said...

Whether *he* wrote them and why his stories changed are different issues. I think anyone who reads *his* writings... or listens to him speak would be able to clearly tell that it was a ghostwriter.

As for his shifting story... it's rather sad that he's backed himself into a corner but I suspect he doesn't want to place blame on any particular individual. Likely Lew. It'd probably also paint the Mises Institute poorly which many respect even if only because they provide so much content for free.

The strategy of some in their circle was to appeal to different minority political groups in an attempt to spread their positions. Their collaboration with the paranoid, racist or psuedo racist militia types in the 80's and 90's was a very poor choice of associates and it seems that Paul is unable to just apologize for doing so.

Adam Holland said...

You may be right, but Paul has demonstrated a very troubling lack of character by not addressing this issue frankly and competently, by offering contradictory and seemingly false stories. Do you find it plausible that he knew nothing of this while it was occurring, and didn't approve of it at least tacitly? I also wonder about his current claim that he considers Dr. King a hero. Paul's voting record runs against the civil rights laws King fought for, and he voted against MLK Day at every opportunity. Paul's civil rights record in general is on the far-right fringe, as are his associations. His 2008 claim (on CNN) that this was all a conspiracy to stop him from getting black supporters revealed a paranoid streak that I also find troubling.

Anonymous said...

I can't find the newsletters. Those links only took me to other stories. I wouldn't even necessarily call that racist, just prejudice. I'm sure they didn't write anything bad about a black man taking up the white man's jobs. When he talks about MLK, I take that as not agreeing with his political views and not wanting to create a national holiday he views creates anger against his race. I mean, it's really not even that racist. Too often we tend to confuse prejudice with racism and they are entirely different. For some reason a person can't use the word "blacks" without being a racist?

Adam Holland said...

Are you sure you read the quotes? The bigotry of them is hard to miss, to say the least. (I'm trying to be polite.)

With respect to the original docs, I'm not sure if they're available online. If I can find them, I'll post them. Do you suspect that the media has invented this as part of some conspiracy? That would put you in agreement with a significant portion of Ron Paul supporters. As I wrote in the post, Paul himself claimed that the whole issue resulted as part of a conspiracy to stop him from getting black votes. That really was a stretch, don't you think?

John said...

Those with any integrity provide some proof before making claims of this sort. I could do exactly as you did for any politician regarding any topic.

Unknown said...

So it comes down to this in my opinion: what will you believe - a story about newsletters with a lot of controversy? He did, he did not, a ghostwriter, not a ghostwriter. Or do you wish to believe the content of all off Pauls books and interviews in which he speaks up for the black community and states that they are catching the short end of the stick. We know he wrote his books and gave the interviews. Just an example:

Adam Holland said...

He says that the answer to improving the lives of people of color, or at least part of it, is for the federal government to get out of the business of protecting their civil rights. That is a prescription that must not be filled.

If you like Ron Paul enough not to want to pursue answers to the very real questions that remain outstanding concerning his publication of outrageous racist columns over more than a decade, then fine; don't pursue those answers. I still have legitimate questions about this issue and I want to get some answers. Is that too much to ask? He is running for president, after all.

Anonymous said...

Adam Holland thinks Obama is doing a great job.

Adam Holland said...

John: I did my best to present the facts that are currently on the public record concerning this issue. You are right that there are more facts about it that I didn't present. That's because those facts are being concealed by Ron Paul. If you'd like him to reveal them, then you should support my asking him to do so.

With respect to your claim that you can make a similar case against any candidate, I have no idea what you mean. My article presented links to a wide range of reliable sources on the subject. including contemporaneous news reports. This isn't something that I pulled out of thin air. If you can make similar charges against "any politician", I'd like to see you demonstrate how right here. Give it your best shot.

Anonymous said...

You are obviously one of those shallow people who sees everything in terms of race. Ron Paul sees people as individuals - you should try that sometime and maybe read a book by Ron Paul and learn something useful.

Anonymous said...

We all know that if we saw a video of Ron Paul then we'd know it's really from him. Of course, not a single one exists! Where the concrete evidence exists (videos that are clearly Ron Paul because you see his face), not a shred of it points to Ron Paul being racist. He consistently speaks against racism in every video. Sorry Adam; I don't buy it. It's all heresay and the content we know for sure is from Ron Paul (videos) all contradicts what you're trying to portray.

tim said...

What a lame smear job. Ron Paul is only guilty of not checking what his ghostwriter said - big deal. Ron Paul eswchews all collectivism, including the inane concept of racism. If he mistakenly said he wrote this or if he even lied, I don't care because I have never heard of any other instance where he lied. He has a heart of gold and you insult his black supporters when you attack him over these very old issues. Many blacks support Paul, blacks who are, believe me, much brighter than you.

Ron Paul is gaining popularity at an astonishing rate because he has more substance to him than anyone else likely to run for president. I encourage everyone to do as I did, read up on Dr. Paul - he's what America has been yearning for.

Anonymous said...

You're a conspiracy theorist passing around conspiracy theories, you crazy insane conspiracy theorist cook. RON PAUL 2012

Anonymous said...

How far are we allowed to go back into Obama's past without being called a racist???
Can I at least find out why he has a CT Social Security #? Maybe I am racist for asking that.

Chuck Timmons said...

Why don't you ask Tavis Smiley? He invited him to the All-American Presidential Forums on PBS during the 2008 elections. Why aren't you mentioning the "Other" candidates that simply failed to show up?

Adam Holland said...

The point of this article, which all but one of these comments seems to miss, is not what I say about this subject, but what Ron Paul refuses to say about it. He must answer the unanswered questions about his publishing so many outrageously racist columns for so many years. So far, his explanations for this have fallen short. Do you people really believe that he has no idea who wrote or edited these columns and has no way to find out? Frankly, that strains credulity, as even his most ardent supporters must admit.

If Ron Paul is unwilling to answer the unanswered questions about how his name and newsletter were used for so many years to advocate racism in sometimes violent terms, the reasonable response would be to ask why. Do you Ron Paul supporters have any answers to that question?

Anonymous said...

Ok. Can you say liar! That man is clearly lying. If there is documented proof that he defended these statements is 96 and then in 08 someone else wrote them. What a bunch of BS! He just wants to win. I am with Adam Holland on this one. If you wanna believe the man smell like roses than go ahead. But remember roses are covered in manure to grow. So your really smelling S#*t. That man wants to be president. Yes, he thinks Obama is doing a good job. A good job of making sure no other person of color is elected into the presidency. Than man don't give a ish about black people or their needs. We aren't actually people to him just a past time joke to sit around with the good ole boys and laugh about. That man is lying his ass off, but what do you expect he is a politican.

Adam Holland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Holland said...

A technical note: It's come to my attention that Google Blogger has experienced a major disruption of its service over the past 48 hours. At least 10 comments to this post have been deleted, as have a couple of other blog posts in their entirety. I'm not certain if Google will restore them. The continuity of the comments string appears to be irreparable, but commenters are encouraged to resubmit their comments if they are currently missing.


Anonymous said...

Ron Paul should not be afraid or ashamed of his writings. He spoke the truth and his feelings are shared by a majority of the American people. He stands by his words he gains the respect and votes of all the voters who are sickened by cowardly politicians.

Anonymous said...

Just because a newspaper claimed that he wrote them does not mean he told the newspaper he wrote them. Newspapers are notorious for getting their facts wrong as part of their smear campaigns. And I agree with blackstallion- Ron Paul simply does not talk like that. But the line about 95% being considered "criminal" is more a condemnation of the "justice" system than the people it wrongly puts in prison, for acts like drug possession. KEEP IN MIND Ron Paul wants to RELEASE those people from prison, whereas no other politician, white or black, is working to help them.

Adam Holland said...

Newspapers do get things wrong, but in this instance three newspapers that I know of quoted Ron Paul and his senior staff taking responsibility for the newsletters and defending them as insignificant, consistent with statements by civil rights leaders, or otherwise defensible in context. That they initially owned them is undeniable. (The story was initially reported in May, 1996 in the Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and Austin American Statesman. It was later discussed in the New Republic and Reason, among many others.)

Your defense of Ron Paul's '95% of D.C. blacks are criminals' was comical for two reasons. First, what you write exactly contradicts the argument of the newsletter quote. The point of the quote was that the D.C. criminal justice system was so inefficient that only a small portion of black criminals were in prison. He wasn't arguing against putting so many black people in prison. On the contrary, he was arguing that more belong in prison. Think about it.

Secondly, you initially argued that Ron Paul didn't hold these offensive beliefs. How can you go from that to arguing that these are his beliefs and that they're not offensive?

That you are unable to see the inconsistencies in Ron Paul's statements about the newsletters controversy is understandable considering that you can't see the inconsistencies in your own.

The Michele said...

There is a big difference between Ron Paul's behaviors regarding this matter and, as an example, Obama's behaviors regarding the revelation that Tom Daschle had not paid the proper income taxes. Daschle withdrew his name from consideration for HHS Secretary but Obama also publicly took responsibility for the error in the vetting process because it happened on his watch. When one is in a supervisory or managerial position they are ultimately held responsible for what their subordinates do because that's what they are paid to do. What Adam is pointing out is that rather than having the integrity to "man up," Ron Paul is trying to weasel his way out of the conflict. And regardless of his positions on any matters, that reveals Ron Paul is not "fit to command."

Anonymous said...

If you look at this entire article, it also talks about an article about "needlin" which the author claims to not have been able to find any evidence of. If the author had taken about 5 minutes to actually look, they would have found it.

This clearly states the evidence needed to back up the claim, and not a way to make people fear people of different races.

As far as I'm concerned, someone who can't even take five minutes to back up what they are saying, deserves no merit in anything else they have to say.

Also, Ron Paul believes that drugs should be legalized and that non-violent drug offenders should be released from prison because he thinks that it keeps more minorities in prison than needed and HE believes that is racist.
Please explain how such an obvious anti-racist ideal could belong to someone who wrote those articles.

Adam Holland said...

Your argument is bit confused. Pardon me for saying so, but I'd really like to understand what you think. Are you arguing that the articles that Ron Paul published over the course of decades -- the ones insulting Martin Luther King, calling blacks criminals and advocating shooting them -- aren't racist, or are you just saying that I don't have the right to say that they are? How do you defend Ron Paul's covering up the identity of the people who wrote and edited them? He says he was just to busy to know and has no way to find out. Do you accept that blatant lie as the truth? Why do you hold Ron Paul to such a low standard?

Anonymous said...

You do seem quite confused. I had not touched on anything you've just responded to at random.

It is not known for a fact that Ron Paul wrote these, and based on his current stances, it actually seems highly unlikely. As far as not identifying his ghost writers, no one except he and the writers really knows the extent of his knowledge on the matter, and I do not trust any politician, so I will continue to hold Ron Paul to the standards which I hold every other politician, which is yes, rather low: but equal.

I am also pointing out, that the article you are citing, is written with extreme bias and little attempt at backing up the authors own thoughts. Saying they could find no evidence on the "epidemic" I looked for 5minutes, and easily found what the article (assumed to be from Ron Paul) was talking about.
I actually care about honest journalism and therefore the rest of the article means nothing to me, because in the first paragraph the author shows themselves to be biased and a flat out bad journalist.

As far as your question of "or are you just saying that I don't have the right to say that they are? " this came out of left field as I made no attack on your personal definition of racism, but simply asked how someone who believes that drug laws are racist could be completely defined as one himself.

Anonymous said...

So let say that someone doesn’t want to have Obama and his socialist medicine, his “stimulus” packages again, but is reluctant to vote for a neocon and a carbon copy of Bush (more wars, huge deficits, more bailouts). This person shouldn’t vote for Ron Paul because he may have some prejudices if you are right? The guy doesn’t propose to back segregation with federal laws; the federal government would shrink dramatically. Of course, if most of the whites decide to back a KKK activist in Tennessee and the blacks don’t even try to vote, you could get the Jim Crow laws in a few states again, but there are two big “IF” behind this.


Anonymous said...

It is disturbing to me that so many people will ignore big questions such as these just for a few simple catchy ideas that a politician seems to have. What Adam is saying is that Ron Paul should fully resolve this issue. If he was not involved then he should go to the farthest degree to find out who in fact did it. I also agree that if he had newsletters being published in his name and had no idea what was in them that is incompetence to an extreme degree, especially when you consider the inflammatory content involved. Ron Paul has some appealing ideas, but he is absolutely wrong about collectivism. There is a balance needed between collectivism and individualism unless we want to become a selfish and uncaring society where every man is only out for himself, which has never worked anywhere. Humans need other humans. It has been that way since the start of the human race. Ron Paul demonstrates his lack of care for others by allowing these inflammatory statements to go unchecked. Just because right now Ron Paul the politician is being friendly to black voters doesn't mean that it somehow absolves him of these statements. Whether or not the newsletters were Ron Paul and his counterparts pandering to a set of voters or if his now "reaching out to black voters" is pandering we just don't know, and I for one am not willing to vote for a person with that kind of question hanging over him. I do not wish to see the country fall back into rampant racism and discrimination. And for all of you who think these comments are not racist, you need to take a hard look at yourself. Here is the definition of racism if you need some help...

Snoocherdoodle said...

Seriously, you think TN is racist NOW? I live here, we're not. This isn't the sixties and people my age have spent huge amounts of time educating the older folk. So don't drag TN into your racist BS. We don't accept that anymore. No more race cards, dude. And Ron Paul? Awesome guy and yes, I'm voting for him. Actions speak louder than ghostwritten words, don't you think?

nikcrit said...

holland and others may or may not effectively tar-and-feather paul with the almighty racism charge.
But here is what germane to the matter: is what he says or implies about correlations between race and crime true or untrue? Yes, we know it's wrong to make absolute judgments; that there are many exceptions to the stereotypes, etc. But: are blacks greatly overrepresented among those proven to have committed crimes? or is that merely a 'racist' perception.
Get real; there is no virtue in dreaming one's way through a crisis.

tomas rivera said...

great article. dont let the coinfowarriors bother you!

Anonymous said...

Adam I am resurrecting your post. Many people in Texas know Ron Paul just as they know about Rick Perry.
I remember when this came out as I have Libertarians in my circle of influence and they had to take a step back when he and his ally's defended those statements.

It was red meat for his constituents and helped him survive the '96 GOP boot given by the electorate.

Keep fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this post.

Here it is, December of 2011 ... once again, this issue has surfaced and once again, Dr. Paul seems incapable of giving a straight answer.

And while reading the quotes is shocking, seeing the actual newsletters makes it extremely hard to accept Paul's various contradictory explanations.

Major h/t to for posting scans of more than 50 of the newsletters:


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