Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sizing Up Ron Paul Again

Previously, I've posted that Ron Paul's views on anti-imperialism and protection of Fourth Amendment freedoms are worthy of support, while his absurd, negative assessment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his former associations with racist writings done in his name are worthy of condemnation. I argued, in essence, that we can compartmentalize his views so as not to reject what's worthwhile. Whether or not Ron Paul authored the racist bleats and blurps in the newsletter that bore his name, his lax oversight of that newsletter over a period of years shows he is unworthy of being chief executive. Moreover, it shows he acquiesced to the views expressed there. He's tried to publicly distance himself from the newsletter debacle, and many claim Lew Rockwell actually wrote the stuff. But after watching the video below, I am more convinced that Ron Paul either wrote some of it or at least gave a tacit blessing to Rockwell's editorial direction.

Here is video of Congressman Paul in 2003, standing in front of a large Confederate Flag, addressing the Southern Historical Conference in Texas, offering up the typical revisionist history of the Civil War from the Neo-Confederate perspective.* In other words, he argues the old canard--popular in the South to this day--that the war wasn't mainly about slavery but was about competing economic systems and Northern aggression. Note how Congressman Paul says that "Lysander Spooner was a definite abolitionist. He was a Northerner. He was a Yankee...but...."

(via Daily Kos)

To be fair, nowhere does Paul argue that slavery was good and right. But this type of revisionism downplays so strongly the gross inhumanity of the institution of slavery and what it had done to the liberty--I will repeat: LIBERTY!--of the slaves themselves over so many generations, that it becomes indistinguishable from downright Neo-Confederate racism. It is a revisionism that weighs the economic liberty of the slaveowner more than the inalienable rights of the slave. That is unacceptable.

My fellow progressives who support Paul need to seriously reconsider whether his anti-imperialism and anti-war policy statements are actually of a piece with this view that the North was the imperialist "aggressor" against the pro-slavery South. Perhaps we can still compartmentalize, but we need to be conscious of doing that. To paraphrase Emerson, Paul's consistency, which many liberals and progressives praise, is the hobgoblin of his little mind.
*Date and location of this speech not confirmed. Information provided by YouTube uploader.

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