Whenever Congressman Ron Paul shuffles off this mortal coil, he'll have no dearth of hagiographers. Indeed, he already has plenty, like the makers of the documentary For Liberty, who have produced a slavish, worshipful portrait of the man and the movement that will be screened at Tempe's Harkins Valley Art this evening in what's being billed as a red carpet premiere.
Actually, the documentary is more a feel-good, back-patting account of the movement, particularly the grass roots Ronulans, whose obsession with Paul and his quixotic 2008 candidacy for the GOP presidential nod is either impressive or somewhat insane depending on where you stand. Indeed, for the Ronulans, Paul is practically the reincarnation of George Washington, Daniel Boone, and Thomas Paine wrapped into one shriveled, gray-mopped package.
So if Paul walks on water, why did he end with only a handful of delegates? Well, hell, even the Son of God got crucified, right? This time, instead of the Romans, it was the evil media and the boneheaded Republican Party driving the nails.
Many of Paul's supporters bemoan the fact that he did not continue on, perhaps even as a third-party contender, in the style of Ross Perot, John Anderson, or George Wallace. At the end of the documentary, Ronulans recount their disappointment, their tears, and even their getting drunk when Paul threw in the towel. Frankly, I'm surprised there were no suicides.
Arizona libertarian Ernie Hancock had a relatively honest assessment of the Ronulan cause, even if it is tinged with a bit of conspiracy.
"The idea that we were under some illusion," says Hancock in the doc, "that he could get elected or a fantasy that they were going to allow him to be president was not even it. We understood he was the vehicle by which we could express our dissent, give a finger to the man, all the way up to the end as far as we could take this."
You have to give Paul credit for being a thorn in the side of pro-war Republicans. His opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his espousal of the blowback theory of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and his refusal to be cowed by the jingoist chest-thumping of Rudy Giuliani and others, was absolutely admirable, even though I think the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not equal in their misguidedness. Personally, I believe you can make a fair case for going into Afghanistan after 9/11, if only to topple the Taliban and disrupt Al-Qaeda. Whether or not we should still be there is another question.
But what you definitely do not get in this uncritical two hours is any information on the controversies concerning Paul's views on race, his flirtation with the "9/11 truth" conspiratards, or the simple fact that so many white supremacists supported him.
One need only consult the white nationalist site Stormfront.org and do a search for Paul's name to find the depth of his support amongst this swill. Paul even accepted a $500 campaign contribution from former Klansman, convicted felon and Stormfront founder Don Black, which Paul refused to give back once it was exposed. He also posed for photos with Black and his son.
Paul's views on race, his homophobia, and his conspiratorial mindset were carefully documented in a lengthy 2008 New Republic piece by James Kirchick titled "Angry White Man," which recounted the racist filth spewed by Paul (or his functionaries) in his various newsletters.
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