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Ron Paul’s Ugly Past

GOP candidate has appealing features, unappealing history of race- and Jew-baiting

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Ron Paul last month.(Steve Pope/Getty Images)

Ron Paul, a longtime Republican from Congress, announced his third presidential run today. In 2008, he fell way short, and given that many of his essential messages—about fiscal discipline, chiefly—have if anything been co-opted by the Republican mainstream since then, it is even less likely that he will win the GOP nomination this time. Still, his announcement means it is time to remember that the folksy doctor who has some comparatively wonderful answers to some questions (he doesn’t really care if people marry whomever they want to), he has a history of allowing really crappy, racist, and even anti-Semitic things published under his aegis, and has surrounded himself with people who tap into a certan American undercurrent that advocates not just military isolationism but a more generalized fear of the Other, whether blacks, gays, or Jews, the last usually in the form of paranoid musings on Israel.

Tablet Magazine contributor James Kirchick broke this story in early 2008, in a New Republic article that still bears reading. In the early ‘90s, Paul’s newsletters—the equivalent of blogs back in that ancient historical time—routinely had kind words for the Ku Klux Klan and harsh ones for blacks, particularly urban blacks who were going to foment “The Coming Race War” (an article about the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, D.C., was called, “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo”); gays (fear of AIDS); and, of course, Jews, both implicitly (tirades against “the industrial-banking-political elite”) and explicitly, with Israel as the correlative (one newsletter questioned whether the Mossad was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing).

Libertarian journalists Dave Weigel and Julian Sanchez followed up on this exposé by reporting that most of these newsletters, which were generally unbylined, were written by Lew Rockwell, a former Paul chief-of-staff who went on to found the Ludwig von Mises Institute, whose modus operandi at the time, they say, was “an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist ‘paleoconservatives.’” Paul, meantime, consistently situated himself close to that organization.

Noting that Paul’s 2008 campaign was thankfully bereft of such a strategy, Wiegel and Sanchez argue, “Ron Paul may not be a racist, but he became complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists—and taking ‘moral responsibility’ for that now means more than just uttering the phrase. It means openly grappling with his own past—acknowledging who said what, and why.” To date, he hasn’t really done so.

So—and trust me, what I am about to describe will happen—when you are watching a GOP presidential debate, and you see the nice doctor call for closing the gaping budget deficit; argue for pulling back on America’s overseas commitments (this is the main reason that AIPAC and its like are against him, but it is a legitimate position to take, and here he is not motivated by, say, anti-Jewish animus); remind you that he voted against the Patriot Act all the way back in 2001 (a badge of honor no one can minimize or take away from him); and essentially call for legalizing it (rock on!), please remember that this xenophobic, neo-Southern Strategy B.S. is in his past, and that he has yet to honestly reckon with it. Have a good afternoon.

Ron Paul Announces Third Presidential Run [CBS News]
Related: Angry White Man [TNR]
Who Wrote Ron Paul’s Newsletters? [Reason]

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Thanks for the reminder, this is important stuff. I’ve always wondered why Paul seems so incapable of dealing with this black mark publicly. It would certainly make him seem like less of a crank if he stopped pretending it didn’t happen.

One angle you’re missing here: there is another contender for the GOP nod who holds many of Paul’s same, admirable positions, without being a closet racist or friend to uncloseted racists: Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. His attitude toward Israel, and foreign/military aid generally, is also more nuanced. Worth checking out if you don’t know much about him.

Barry says:

Is this a joke?

We have a president who spent 20 years in the pews of the satanic Rev. Wright. Hussein happily pal’ed around with terrorists like Bill Ayers and Khalidi. The L.A. Times still hasn’t released the tape where Khalidi talks about his friendship of Obama.

And you’re worried about who Ron Paul surrounded himself with?

When Rev. Wright apologizes for his enthusiastic embrace of Khadhafy, when Khalidi pays reparations to those his colleagues butchered, when Bill Ayers apologizes to his victims – then we can have a discussion about whom Ron Paul surrounded himself with.

Ron Paul didn’t pal around with terrorists.

Pete says:

This is a well written, unbiased piece of journalism. The previous statement is a joke. Just like this article. Tablet, you have to be kidding me. Political discourse and opposing opinions are fine, but this article is offensive for a variety of reasons. Why would you want to offend your readers (with an article that offers absolutely nothing valuable) Tablet? Why?

Dan says:

Even weakly implying that Ron Paul might be anti-semitic is ridiculous. I wonder how much the Marc Tracy actually knows about the guy. Considering the Ron Paul is a big follower of Mises and Rothbard, both jews. His current economic advisor is Peter Schiff, who you guessed it, also a jew.

Matthew B says:

Im a Jew, I live in Ron Pauls district and I have worked on his campaign. The truth is that he allowed someone, years ago, to write his newsletters. This was a mistake. Ron Paul has delivered babies of all colors. He is not a racist. He does not pander to Racist. He does not tolerate racism.

Mises and Rothbard followers tend to oppose aid to Israel. Ron Paul may not succeed personally, but his ideas are gaining traction. I would like to believe that Netanyahu is capable of getting ahead of the curve on this one, but I doubt it. Still, the fact remains that he needs to start delivering on his more-than-a-decade-old promise to wean Israel from American foreign aid.

Peter W. says:

There is far, far, far more evidence of poor judgment in associating with Israel’s enemies in Obama’s case than in Paul’s case. Paul’s opposes aid to Israel because he opposes aid to ALL foreign countries. Period. And yes, Paul did make a mistake in letting someone else write Paul’s newsletters; but that pales in comparison to, among many of Obama’s anti-Jewish sins, sitting in the pew in front of a raving Jew hater for 20 years.

Matt Z says:

Ah, come on Barry, we all know you are just angling for comment of the week on Tablet. The game is up, buddy.

But, just in case you forgot to take your medication this morning and are actually serious, let me interrupt and say that Ayers and Khalidi are NOT terrorists. Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground as a student, but now he is a peace activist, and basically just a late middle aged man with an earring who wishes we was still cool. If you ever meet him in person, and I have, it is blatantly obvious this man is not a terrorist. Calling Khalidi a terrorist is even more absurd. Granted, the man is personally an arrogant prick, but he is also at the top of his field and brilliant when talking about Middle East strategy. He is an academic above all else, and I don’t think I should have to remind you how threatening a war on academics and intellectualism is for Jews.
Which brings me to the far more important part; President Obama barely knows either of these men. Terrorist-by-casual-association is a dangerous, McCarthy-esque game to play. By your definition, that makes me a terrorist. Actually, that also makes my wife a terrorist. We’ve both met Ayers and Khalidi. And while we are cavalierly pointing fingers, that actually makes my wife’s entire college graduating class terrorists, as both Ayers and Khalidi gave lectures and seminars to her class. Wow, who would have thought there were so many terrorist sleeper cells in bucolic New England? According to Sarah Palin and her Tea Party ilk, that means that at least 200 people just realized they buddied up with terrorists, and are by default terrorists themselves, and should probably turn themselves into Homeland Security.
It is a joke. But a serious, dangerous joke. Hysterical finger pointing never ends well.

Larry says:

I find some of the right wing comments appalling. Seriously folks you need to stop listening to the nut cases on Fox News. There is not enough space here to list the ties and connections of our President to the Jewish community. He owes a lot of his success to members of the Chicago Jewish community. Most of the other stuff quoted are lies or exaggerations. Look to what he is doing not what others say he is doing. I don’t believe that Ron Paul is a racist or bigoted. I do think he is naive in terms of his policy and some of the people that have been around him in the past. I hope he will show himself to be a wiser man in this campaign.

That Lew Rockwell and other fellow travelers wrote Ron Paul’s newsletters for him seems reasonable until one considers that the anti-Semitic and racist tirades were not a couple of isolated incidents but rather continuous over many years.

Futhermore, these were put out in Ron Paul’s name for many years.

Anita says:


Are you trying to drive readers away?! Do you want to be branded lame-stream media’. Then don’t insult my intelligence.

Is the writer of this smear piece saying that anyone like Paul who lays out the facts on the the Federal Reserve run by a banking cartel is anti-semitic?

Come on Tablet editorial staff, fact check, do your research–find out about the meeting on Jekyll Island in 1912 that lead to the Federal Reserve Act for a start.


Bill Pearlman says:

Sure, Obama barely knew Khalidi. Which is why he was at his going away dinner and made remarks that are still not public. And the fact that he and Ayers lecture at colleges just means that colleges will have anybody on campus that hates Israel and America

Barry says:

Matt Z:

Hussein the “former” Muslim* paid over a billion dollars marketing his empty-suit campaign for President. How much did he pay you to defend him?

* “Fight the Smears” notwithstanding, its undisputed that Hussein worshipped Mohammed for the first 30 years of his life: until he converted to the weird Islamic/Nazi/Satanic/Christian synchretic cult of the vile Rev. Wright

Old Rockin' Dave says:

Okay, Barry, tuchus afn tisch. You say, “its (sic) undisputed that Hussein worshipped Mohammed for the first 30 years of his life”. Find one believable person who actually saw Obama kneel toward Mecca and pray even once, let alone five times in a day. Show us someone with first-person knowledge that Obama has ever been Muslim – a close friend, a college roommate, a political staffer, an ex-girlfriend, his alleged imam, anyone at all who was in a position to know. Go on, quote the quotes, link the links.
Oh, and Muslims DON’T worship Muhammad. They worship Allah.

Barry says:

Old Rockin’ Dave:

Haven’t you read Bill Ayer’s book about Obama’s history? Google: prettiest sound obama.

Barry Soetoro was registered as a Muslim during his upbringing in Indonesia.

Heck, the biggest selling point of electing Obama was that electing a former Muslim would appease the bloodthirsty Muslonazis. Weren’t you paying attention to the campaign?

The follow-up book, Audacity of Hope, describes Obama’s Journey from Islam to the syncretic cult of the former-Muslim Rev. Wright; and then full circle back to his current agnosticism.

Its not even slightly controversial that Obama was a devout Muslim when he was raised in Indonesia.

As for the ridiculous statement that American Muslims “DON’T worship Mohammed” – you know and I know that’s just plain stupid.

Mohammed’s pagan father was named Abd’ullah – “slave of the Moon god”. There was a icon of Allah, the moon god, in the Ka’aba. The Ka’abah was the world’s greatest landmark of religious tolerance in the center of Mecca, until Mohammed destroyed it. He left what we have today – the icon of the Moon God – Allah.

For Taqiyya purposes, sometimes Mohammedans will translate Allah as “God”. But let’s be clear: Imam Rauf, the leading “moderate” Muslim in the United States, threatened Malaysian Christians from using the word Allah because it doesn’t mean “God”.

Let’s be real: draw cartoons which insult the Prophet Mirza Ahmad. Not a peep. Make movies that depict G-d, not a word. Write stories which mock religious values or promote “let’s draw Jesus day”, you’ll win awards.

But try depicting the Islamic god, Mohammed? Ask Molly Norris how that worked out for her.

Simply Put – American Muslims will try to blow up cars in Times Square when you depict Mohammed. Not when you depict God. Because Mohammedans exclusively worship Mohammed. To claim otherwise is Taqiyya.

Arthur says:

The world doesn’t revolve around Jews.

Unfortunately it is being bankrupted and destroyed by them.

We need a Hitler, not a Paul.

robert m. simon says:

Why is there no concern for the appalling level of anti-white and anti-Christian bigotry in this culture?Paul may have been negligent in allowing others to imply assent for the sentiments expressed in his newsletters,but if Obama with his shameful record of associations can become President,so can Paul….

Bruce says:

Ron Paul does not support military aid to Israel if that is what passes for being anti-Jewish. He also opposes military aid to Israel’s Arab enemies. Since more money is provided by the US to Israel’s Arab enemies, following Marc Tracy’s simple logic, Ron Paul must be even more of an enemy of Arabs’ than Jews. Since Ron Paul wants to cut Arab military funding more than Jewish military funding and Marc tracy opposes Ron Paul, we now have evidence that Marc tracy is an Arab sympathizer or plant. No, I take that back, plants seem more intelligent.

Old Rockin' Dave says:

First of all, Barry, let me repeat, Muhammad is not the Muslim God; Allah is, and they count Muhammad as his prophet. You can’t even get such a simple fact straight, yet you expect us to believe you. What Muhammad’s father’s name was is completely irrelevant to what Muslims believe. The central prayer of Islam translates as “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” Ask any Muslim. What SOME Muslims in Malaysia say about using the name “Allah” is likewise irrelevant because it is far out of the mainstream of Islam.
Second, Obama attended two schools in Indonesia, a Catholic one and an Indonesian PUBLIC school. What he was listed as is irrelevant. He was six years old, and it is likely his stepfather was indulging in some wishful thinking if this is even true at all.
Third, Bill Ayers didn’t write Obama’s book. He said he did as a joke, the way Alan Simpson “admitted” to being an extraterrestrial.
Fourth, your grasp of the doctrine of “taqqiya’ is equally feeble. It refers to Muslims being allowed to conceal their religion in situations where revealing it would put them at serious risk. Jews are also allowed to conceal their religion to save their lives, and to break any of the other laws in similar circumstances. Or did you not know that?
You are one of those people who can’t accept anything that contradicts your pre-conceived beliefs. You have no right to your own facts. You do have a right to your own opinions. It’s just too bad that you think everyone else has a right to your opinions too.
Lastly, none of this has anything to do with the fact that nasty anti-Semitic trash went out over Ron Paul’s name for a long time and if he didn’t know about it as he claims then he should have.
For all you fans of Ron Paul, I recommend this link: And remember, he named his son after his idol, who fell all over herself in her diaries with her admiration for a sexual psychopath.

George Washington says:

Mr. Ron Paul for 2012 Republican Nom and President.

-Strengthen our USD
-Balance the Budget
-No Mandated Healthcare
-Creates MANY JOBS
-New Crop Industries
-Free Market
-Very Pro Life
-No Bailout
-No Patriot Act
-Stays out of foreign DOMESTIC AFFAIRS, but contract/trade with all
-No Unjustified War with no objectives
-Brings our Troops Home after over 10 YEARS OF FIGHTING!!!!

Please, let’s bring America’s Troops home. They deserve it. We could have fought 2 WWII in this time.

Leave the Middle East, and all other Nations that are agreed to be sovereign, ALONE with regard to DOMESTIC AFFAIRS.

American Lives are NOT toys.

Bring our Troops Home
Mr. Ron Paul 2012

Tracy R. Twyman says:

I have been looking for years for the actual quotes in these allegedly racist articles that supposedly happened to be printed in newsletters that Ron Paul’s articles happened to be reprinted in. Instead of quoting, these attack articles merely describe the alleged quotes. They attackers even admit that they are projecting their own presumptions onto the articles by interpreting any talk against “the industrial-banking-political elite” as being an attack on Jews. Then they go on to admit that most of these articles did not actually have a byline attached to them (so they were NOT attributed to Ron Paul), and then make the accusation that it was actually Lew Rockwell who wrote them, as part of an alleged “strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment.” I’m sure that would be news to Lew, whose philosophy is the complete opposite of classism and racism. Are you saying that Lysander Spooner, FA Hayek, Murray Rothbard, and Ludwig von Mises were racists too? It’s such an obvious lie. It’s like saying it’s racist not to vote for Obama. Stop repeating it.

Do you really think you are in a position to criticise goy in such a way? You call yourself a jew; do you even know what is stated in the TALMUD? Do you know of the racism and ethic superiority the talmuds espouse?

Ron paul does not beleive in group rights;therefore, he is not a racist. Why do you fail to understand simply political libertarian philosophy?


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Ron Paul’s Ugly Past

GOP candidate has appealing features, unappealing history of race- and Jew-baiting

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