Collectivism, Racism, and Ron Paul
The National Review has posted a number of newsletters bearing Ron Paul’s name that contain disgusting, racist ideas. It’s been pointed out by a number of people that the timing of the release of these documents was purposefully before the major primary races. It has also been pointed out that Paul should have known about the content of these newsletters.
There are many valid arguments on both sides of the scandal — and yes, it is a scandal. The bottom line is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion on all matters, including this one. Personally, I think the comments and themes of those newsletters are incredibly disgusting. I think almost everyone agrees with this.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a card carrying libertarian (most of the time). I’m truly excited that libertarian ideas are more mainstream than ever, because Ron Paul has brought them to a national audience. This latest revelation, which originally was revealed about 15 years ago, can only hurt the libertarian cause.
Ron Paul is right about a few things when it comes to racism, though. It is not possible for a libertarian to be a racist. Racists see people as groups: black, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and so on. Libertarianism transcends that thought. Libertarian principle asserts that all people are individuals, regardless of any collection to which they may belong. It is the greatest message of civil rights and liberties for all people.
There are inherent problems with this idea of libertarianism. If everyone has an individual right to free speech, you will, undoubtedly, come across speech that you find offensive. The very nature of free speech protects the ideas of the bigot, no matter how much society perceives them to be unwholesome. If we defined free speech as “speech that is accepted by society,” we are fundamentally limiting the right of free speech. There is no way around that.
With bigotry, it is incredibly obvious why it is so sickeningly wrong. It is easy to argue that a person is a person, and that all are equal. It is easy to denounce bigotry and show valid reasons racist speech should be ignored. People that spout forth racist words should, indeed, be shunned by the enlightened. But limiting speech to societal acceptance is a dangerous idea.
One need look no further than the Ron Paul Campaign itself. Ron Paul is putting forward ideas and concepts that are not the normal, acceptable republican (or democrat) concepts. People latch on to his ideas for many reasons. Maybe they want the government out of their personal lives (as I do). Perhaps, they think the economy is falling into disarray. Maybe, they don’t want to pay taxes. Maybe, they want to spout their racist hate. For whatever reason, a group of people have all come to support a man for Presidential office.
The societal response has been:
Name calling: paulites, paulistinians, paultards — the list goes on for a long time
Slander: kooks, nutjobs, whackos
Ignorance: media blackouts, lack of press
If you have done any of the above, you are just as prejudiced as the person you are alleging to be racist. It is collectivist thought to demean any group of people for one or more traits. Ron Paul, not believing in collectivism, denounces that behavior as well. But, he does not, and will not, prevent you from expressing your ideas. Your first amendment rights give you the ability to call people “paultards.” I’d assert that a “paultard” would take as much offense to that as some racial slur you could throw at any minority.
I condemn the vile hatred contained in those newsletters. It is a black eye on the face of Ron Paul — and more importantly, libertarianism. At the same time, I know those are not the ideas of this man. I fault him for letting this happen, but I cannot let that deter me from the message.
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