Ron Paul, the Christ of the pod people; photo from his campaign Web site.
What is it about Congressman Ron Paul that draws nearly every Klan member, Hitler-worshipper, tax-resister, John Bircher and 9/11 tin-foil hatter to his camp? I have to say, when Paul talks about the war in Iraq or closing down GITMO, he can make sense. But then you read a little bit of the guy's background and you realize he believes the Civil War was unnecessary and that he regurgitates these staid, old "states' rights" arguments that you thought were buried with the corpses of George Wallace and Strom Thurmond. You find out that he's practically a regular on moon-howler extraordinaire Alex Jones' radio show; that he's said in the past that he agrees with much of what the John Birchers say; and that he's worried about certain wing nut-conspiracy theories such as the paleocon nightmare fantasy of a so-called "North American Union." And you begin to realize that Paul's the crackpot king of conservatism. No wonder gatherings of his supporters seem oddly cult-like when you run across them, like at First Friday in Phoenix or the recent gun show at the fairgrounds. They remind me, vaguely, of the ultra-left supporters of Lyndon LaRouche who were so prevalent in the late '70s and early '80s. Pod people with a fixation on Paul as their messiah figure.
At this point, it's almost a cliche. Whenever I'm taking a peek at some white-supremacist Web site, like Stormfront.org, or some Klan site like the Empire Knights of the KKK, there's either a page, or a banner or a declaration from a member, touting Ron Paul as the savior of America. Former KKK Grand Wizard Don Black, webmaster of white supremacist message board Stormfront.org, has donated $500 to Paul's campaign for President. Even when informed of who Black was, Paul's campaign refused to return the money, saying that Paul planned to use the filthy lucre towards positive ends, so the evil-doer's ill-intent had therefore been trumped. Stormfront.org still offers a link for members who want to donate to Paul, and shows a U.S. map of meet-up groups in support of a Paul candidacy. Also, it's worth noting that one of Black's good friends, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke is constantly trumpeting Paul's cause.
Locally, I spoke to the Grand Kleagle of the PHX KKK, a guy named Joseph Parkton, who has AZkkk.org, the Web page for the AZ Empire Knights of the KKK, registered in his name. Parkton, who may have recently added the title of Grand Dragon to judge from his site, told me why he supports Paul and plans to vote for him.
"He stands for America, you know?" said Parkton. "He wants to do away with the tax systems. He wants to fight against illegal immigration. He has a bunch of very good ideals that we can align ourselves with."
Parkton, who's in his 30s and is employed in private security, tells me that there are a lot of different Klan organizations, but that the chapter he's in charge of is more politically motivated.
"We want to bring our troops back home and secure our borders," he said. "So our troops are not over [in Iraq] and being killed for useless reasons."
In this way, Paul and his supporters remind me of some sort of throwback to the America First Committee that wanted to prevent our involvement in the conflict that became WW II. At some point, the far left and the far right meet, and they meet, in our time, in the person of Ron Paul, which explains the enthusiasm of some lefty college kids for his message as well as the Ronulan loyalty of many 9/11 conspiranuts who believe the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in 2001 were part of an inside job by the Bush administration.
(For more on the connections between the Paulites and the 9/11 Troofers, check this link to posts of interest on the Screw Loose Change blogspot.)
Two-ton turd reicher from Mesa, white supremacist J.T. Ready, has opined on his NewSaxon.org page that, "The Jews are afraid of Ron Paul." Local NSM organizer Scott Hume has expressed support for the Texas congressman. And during the Constitution Week festivities in Gilbert, there was great overlap in those who supported Ron Paul and those manning the booths for the local John Birch Society.
On the other hand, at the recent gun show in Phoenix, the Ron Paul table featured volunteers and organizers who were Jewish and gay. So is it unfair to hold Paul accountable for all the racist nutbars who support him?
Erstwhile AZ gubernatorial candidate Barry Hess is responsible along with fellow libertarian activist Ernie Hancock for those Ron Paul Revolution stencils you see all over. You know, the ones that have LOVE emphasized as part of rEVOLution. Yep, those started here in P-town, and Hess and Hancock take the credit or blame depending on your P.O.V.
Hess explained that he and Paul are the best of pals. He stated that Paul's message resonated with a lot of folks, not just the Sand Land schutzstaffel.
"The unifying theme is `get government out of our lives,'" claimed Hess. "That's why he's getting the support of groups that normally wouldn't support anybody. And that's much to his credit. If you look at a list of all the wacko groups that are supporting him, that's just a very small segment of his support. The main support is from main street."
But then, as much as I like Hess on a personal basis, he's capable of slipping into some of that 9/11 nuttiness himself.
"He (Paul) feels the same way on 9/11 as I do, and I don't know what happened," he explained. "I find it extraordinarily suspicious that there are 19 pictures [of the 9/11 hijackers] on television some 4 hours after an incident -- supposedly these were all the people involved. Then we found out at least 5 of them are still physically alive and have never had anything to do with it."
Ooooh-kay, Barry, step away slowly from the exhaust nozzle. That happens to be one of the most debunked myths propagated by the 9/11 tinfoilers -- supposedly that some of the hijackers were/are still alive -- a canard based on some initial misreporting by the BBC, which the BBC later corrected.
Moving right along, James Kirchick of The New Republic currently has an article out on the subject, titled, "Angry White Man: The bigoted past of Ron Paul," which details all of these racist newsletters written under the Ron Paul imprimatur, if not penned by the great OB-GYN himself. Since the TNR article was published earlier this week, Paul's campaign has issued a statement denying that the good Doctor actually wrote the newsletters in question, and denouncing their content.
But Kirchick writes,
...whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.
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TNR has selections from Paul's newsletters online. They contain trash like this:
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."
Should we care? I mean, the guy's not gonna win the Republican nomination, and he'll be lucky to win a primary. But there's also the ton of money he's raised, and his increasing acceptance by many as some sort of wing-nut Jimmy Stewart riding a white horse into the political arena. Bill Maher's been a long-time fan, though I wonder if he'll change his mind given the TNR report. And Paul was recently on Jay Leno, with Leno coming to his defense on being excluded from a FOX News debate, saying: "You seem like a gentleman. You don't seem like that type. But it seems like you should be kicking somebody's ass right now."
Whenever a marginal moonbat extremist like Paul begins to gain mainstream acceptance, then we at the very least should call him on his less savory connections. I was happy to see that Paul distanced himself from these newsletters, but how can he completely wash his hands of them when they were penned under the banner of his name for decades? I think he should also give Don Black back his $500, and tell these racists openly that their support is not welcome, in any form. Otherwise, he has nothing to complain about when people criticize him for his wing-nut ways.