Steven Rodriguez: Thank You Ron Paul, Now Step Aside So We Can Support Individual Liberty For *All*

Posted by Steven Rodriguez at Outright Libertarian blog on February 17


This past weekend, I attended the 8th annual International Students For Liberty Conference in Washington, DC. I have always felt that Students For Liberty does a great job positioning itself at the ideological center of the libertarian/classical liberal movement. They have routinely featured left-libertarian, conservative-libertarian, as well as anarchist writers and speakers in their materials and speaking engagements. The big-tent approach has obviously worked well for SFL, as they have reached the status as the world’s leading libertarian student organization in only eight years. However, bitter disagreement was still prevalent amongst members of the conference, none more exemplified than by one particular controversy involving former Congressman, Dr. Ron Paul.

During the Saturday evening panel and question-and-answer period featuring Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Nick Gillespie, A young lady asked Paul about his infamous newsletters from the 1980s, which featured blatantly racist and homophobic statements written under his name. The audience reacted with a mix of boos and cheers. In some ways, the question was essentially beating a long dead horse; Anyone who has been involved in libertarian activism at some point during the past decade has likely heard of these newsletters and known of Paul’s current position on them. Setting aside the particulars of decency in confronting Paul about his newsletters, the truth is that they still to this day represent an awful blight on the face of our cause for individual rights and equality under the law.

Neither of the Pauls are particularly friends of the LGBT community. Both routinely use the doctrine of “state’s rights” as a shield to deflect tough questions instead of standing up proudly for liberty for ALL. This matters to the Outright Watchdog committee, particularly because Ron Paul’s legacy is still very influential within The Libertarian Party, among paleo-libertarians and “Constitutional Conservatives” alike. This is not to say that Ron Paul’s legacy has done nothing at all except set our movement backwards. For many millennial libertarians, including myself, Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns were our introduction to the movement. But with the libertarian renaissance in full swing, it might be time for a new face of libertarianism, if one at all.

As Outright Libertarians, we know that the true vision of a free society is one that is clearly in conflict with racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. Whether you are a left-libertarian, right-libertarian, or anarchist, we can all agree with that statement.


IPR note: This video is not from Steven Rodriguez’s article, I’ve just been looking for a reason to post it at IPR.

UPDATE: For anyone who is not already familiar with the Ron Paul/ISFLC 2015 issue referred to in the article above here are some links for background reading:

Knappster: A Personal Note on ISFLC 2015

David Weigel: Edward Snowden and Ron Paul Kick Off Libertarian Student Conference With a Little Kerfuffle About Russia

David Weigel: Bow Ties and Slam Poetry: This Is Libertarianism in 2015

VDare: Libertarians Morphing into Leftist “Social Justice Warriors” At International Students for Liberty Conference

28 thoughts on “Steven Rodriguez: Thank You Ron Paul, Now Step Aside So We Can Support Individual Liberty For *All*

  1. Chuck Moulton

    What was Ron Paul’s response to the question?

    I don’t understand why anyone would write an article that centers around a question asked to someone and doesn’t mention his answer. It’s dishonest, stupid, and wastes the reader’s time. It would be like if I wrote a post about how someone asked me “What’s your favorite color?” then spent the entire rest of the piece talking about fruit or baseball or computer programming.

  2. paulie Post author

    I think it’s a misreading of the article to think it’s all about asking what Ron Paul’s answers were. And the author may have assumed the readers already know. That may not be an accurate assumption, if so, so I’ll add a few links to further background reading to the IPR version.

  3. paulie Post author

    The short version was that Ron Paul said that he can’t just disavow everything he wrote way back when. There was a mix of booing and cheering. I’ll go find some links and add them to the article.

  4. Andy

    Wow, what an idiotic article. Somebody tell this uninformed person to watch the Ben Swann videos on YouTube about the ridiculous, and exaggerated Ron Paul newsletter controversy.

    These were like 8 or 9 issues out of something like 249 newsletter issues, and the “offending” comments were written by a guy named James B. Powell, who was given free reign to say what he wanted.

    It is astounding the number of overly sensitive crybaby “libertarians” that are out there who are apparently too lazy to do any research on their own, or engage in rational thought, as opposed to behaving like emotion driven fools. I expect such idiocy from typical Democrats and Republicans, but I expect a little more out of people who claim to be libertarians.

  5. paulie Post author

    These were like 8 or 9 issues out of something like 249 newsletter issues, and the “offending” comments were written by a guy named James B. Powell, who was given free reign to say what he wanted.

    It was a lot more than 8 or 9 issues and many people were involved with writing the truly disgusting filth. Ron Paul was very well aware of it at the time. Ben Swann’s research on this one needed to be a lot better.

    It is astounding the number of overly sensitive crybaby “libertarians” that are out there who are apparently too lazy to do any research on their own, or engage in rational thought, as opposed to behaving like emotion driven fools.

    You mean the ones who are unable to acknowledge that Ron Paul was ever involved with anything bad? I know it causes cognitive dissonance to acknowledge he does not actually walk on water, but he had his good and bad points like everyone else.

  6. paulie Post author

    I think it’s a misreading of the article to think it’s all about asking what Ron Paul’s answers were. And the author may have assumed the readers already know. That may not be an accurate assumption, if so, so I’ll add a few links to further background reading to the IPR version.

    Done.

  7. paulie Post author

    “For me to disavow everything I ever wrote in a newsletter, I mean, that’s foolishness”
    -Ron Paul, 2015

  8. langa

    I am continually amazed and saddened by the priorities of certain libertarians. For example, consider the case of Chris Kyle, who was recently discussed on another thread here. This is a guy who voluntarily abandoned his family to go literally to the other side of the globe. Why? So he could murder, in cold blood, dozens of people that had never done anything to him.

    This is about as despicable a course of action as I can conceive of, and one which clearly violates the NAP. Yet I am told by virtually everyone here (with the exception of Jill) that we should not only avoid calling for this guy and others like him to be prosecuted, but we should even refrain from criticizing their actions. In fact, we should treat them with empathy, and portray them as innocent victims! Yet these same forgiving people, who are so eager to give a free pass to cold-blooded murder, insist that making a few rude remarks twenty years ago constitutes an unforgivable sin, for which an otherwise heroic libertarian deserves to be repeatedly excoriated, and possibly even drummed out of the libertarian movement entirely.

    This sort of attitude, not to mention the smug, condescending self-righteousness with which it is typically expressed, is literally enough to make one want to vomit!

  9. Joshua Katz

    L – I am saddened by libertarians who won’t stand against Kyle. A nation that considers him a hero for having the largest number of murders is an uncivilized nation.

    The Kyle statement that makes me the angriest was when he said something about not having time to pick and choose when people are trying to kill you. It would seem more appropriate for the people he was killing to say something like that, don’t you think?

    I disagree, though, about the otherwise heroic libertarian. I campaigned for him, twice, but I do not think his positions on marriage equality, immigration, and a few other topics are particularly heroic. Better than most? Absolutely. I reserve heroic for a higher degree of consistency, though.

  10. Andy

    Once again, Ben Swann already did an investigation into the newsletter controversy a few years ago. He found out that the “offending” comments were written by a guy named James B. Powell (who I think works for the Wall Street Journal or Forbes Magazine or some other big publication now). There were people in the media who knew this all along, yet they purposely covered it up because they wanted to smear Ron Paul.

    Interestingly enough, I have encountered multiple black people around the country who have told me that they like Ron Paul (I signed several of them up to be on the Libertarian Party’s announcement list), and they were aware of the newsletter controversy, and they thought that it was being blown out of proportion and was being used to unfairly smear Ron Paul.

  11. Andy

    Joshua, I have already exposed this here multiple times, so I am assuming you must have missed it. Are you aware of the fact that Ron Paul voted to INCREASE Visas for foreign workers? Ron Paul also voted against the border fence, and he voted against putting military troops on the border. This is why the hardcore anti-immigration zealots never supported Ron Paul. They supported the likes of Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Virgil Goode.

    Oh, and I looked up Rand Paul’s voting record yesterday. Rand did vote for a border fence, but Rand also voted IN FAVOR of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

  12. paulie Post author

    Once again, repeating yourself does not make it more accurate. Ben Swann’s investigation was insufficient, and his explanation doesn’t even make any sense. There is absolutely no need to put offending in quotes there, because it absolutely was and is offending, and in a lot more than eight issues. Powell was far from the only person who wrote them, as many people know. And Ron Paul would not take all the hits he did to protect Powell (think about it). He took the hit because Rockwell, Rothbard and to some extent he himself were all involved, along with members of his family.

    Has it been used by some to smear Ron Paul? Yes. Does he have some of the blame for it? Yes. He also was not born of a virgin, doesn’t walk on water, doesn’t turn water into wine and has never come back from the dead (except in figurative political terms).

  13. Andy

    I would say that Ron Paul’s actions are most definitely in the category of being heroic. Anyone who would get up on a stage in a room full of mainstream Republicans and stand up to warmongers like Rudy Giuliani on the issue of foreign policy, in spite of people booing him, is a hero in my opinion, and this is just one example.

  14. paulie Post author

    I am continually amazed and saddened by the priorities of certain libertarians. For example, consider the case of Chris Kyle, who was recently discussed on another thread here. This is a guy who voluntarily abandoned his family to go literally to the other side of the globe. Why? So he could murder, in cold blood, dozens of people that had never done anything to him.

    This is about as despicable a course of action as I can conceive of, and one which clearly violates the NAP. Yet I am told by virtually everyone here (with the exception of Jill) that we should not only avoid calling for this guy and others like him to be prosecuted, but we should even refrain from criticizing their actions.

    That’s actually not at all what people were saying. More that people who fell for government propaganda and joined the military are the pawns and victims, not equally culpable as politicians and bureaucratic decisionmakers in the actions of the war machine.

    Notice that Ron Paul is not exactly out there condemning rank and file military members and calling them war criminals or asking that they be prosecuted?

    insist that making a few rude remarks twenty years ago constitutes an unforgivable sin

    No part of that is correct. It wasn’t few, it went on for many years and made the Paul family a lot of money, it went to a large mailing list (big chunks of it bought from racist organizations, other big chunks from libertarian and conservative ones), and it’s not an unforgivable sin – just something to look at it in a larger context.

  15. Andy

    Jesus Fucking Christ, who gives a flying fuck about some newsletter from over 20 years ago? This is a non-issue. Get over it. Nobody was hurt, and no legislation was put forth to violate anyone’s rights because of it. So some overly sensitive people had their feelings hurt. Well big fucking deal. Go grab some tissue paper and get over it.

  16. paulie Post author

    L – I am saddened by libertarians who won’t stand against Kyle. A nation that considers him a hero for having the largest number of murders is an uncivilized nation.

    True as far as it goes, but he is referring to a discussion in which I and others did not agree with him that not only Kyle but all rank and file military members and anyone who has aided the war machine in any way should be held as war criminals and that this is the public position (L)ibertarians should take.

    The Kyle statement that makes me the angriest was when he said something about not having time to pick and choose when people are trying to kill you. It would seem more appropriate for the people he was killing to say something like that, don’t you think?

    Both are correct from their own individual perspectives. When you are in that situation you don’t have time to analyze everything fully, it’s kill or be killed, or quite possibly both. Kyle was on the side of the aggressors, though.

    I disagree, though, about the otherwise heroic libertarian. I campaigned for him, twice, but I do not think his positions on marriage equality, immigration, and a few other topics are particularly heroic. Better than most? Absolutely. I reserve heroic for a higher degree of consistency, though.

    Exactly.

  17. paulie Post author

    I have already exposed this here multiple times, so I am assuming you must have missed it. Are you aware of the fact that Ron Paul voted to INCREASE Visas for foreign workers? Ron Paul also voted against the border fence, and he voted against putting military troops on the border. This is why the hardcore anti-immigration zealots never supported Ron Paul. They supported the likes of Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Virgil Goode.

    I don’t know if Joshua missed it, but I didn’t. I am aware of the nuances of Ron Paul’s positions. It’s not the same thing as being a heroically consistent libertarian to be less rabid than the most rabid anti-freedom zealots of the Republican leadership on social freedom issues.

    Oh, and I looked up Rand Paul’s voting record yesterday. Rand did vote for a border fence, but Rand also voted IN FAVOR of a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

    It’s not exactly news that Rand Paul is a political chameleon with an opportunistic streak and a thirst for power that rivals the thirst of a dying man beneath the unforgiving sun of the Sahara.

  18. langa

    I disagree, though, about the otherwise heroic libertarian. I campaigned for him, twice, but I do not think his positions on marriage equality, immigration, and a few other topics are particularly heroic. Better than most? Absolutely. I reserve heroic for a higher degree of consistency, though.

    Ron Paul is certainly not perfect, but he’s miles ahead of any politician that has been elected to any federal office in my lifetime. If you’re looking for perfection, good luck. I’ve never found anyone who agrees with me on everything, and I don’t ever expect to do so.

  19. paulie Post author

    There are certainly people who take Ron Paul idolatry to insane heights and lengths. On the other hand, there’s a lot of good things about Ron Paul and I would not by any means take those away. Even Steven Rodriguez acknowledges them in this article. He just says it is not the be all and end all of libertarianism, and I agree.

  20. langa

    No part of that is correct. It wasn’t few, it went on for many years and made the Paul family a lot of money, it went to a large mailing list…

    Even if he put out a thousand newsletters, and each one contained a thousand racist statements, that still wouldn’t be as bad as even a single murder, let alone the scores of murders committed by Chris Kyle and his ilk, who you are so reluctant to criticize.

    Yet you have no problem repeatedly raking Ron Paul over the coals, over and over and over.

    …and it’s not an unforgivable sin…

    Then why do people keep bringing it up, over and over and over and over and over?

  21. langa

    …he is referring to a discussion in which I and others did not agree with him that not only Kyle but all rank and file military members and anyone who has aided the war machine in any way should be held as war criminals and that this is the public position (L)ibertarians should take.

    This is a preposterous distortion of what I said. First, I never said anything about “all rank and file military members” at all. I specifically said people who had voluntarily joined the military and killed someone while fighting on foreign soil. Second, I did not say they should be charged as war criminals. Rather, I said that their actions should be publicly condemned as murder. And based on the reaction I received, you would have thought I was suggesting torturing orphans!

    I would invite anyone who hasn’t, to read the article. It claimed to be a nuanced discussion, but it was actually a transparent attempt to excuse Kyle’s actions. The authors threw in a few abstract references to libertarian principles, but the substance of the article consisted of a series of apologies and justifications for Kyle and his fellow assassins. Then, read the comments, and ask yourself if the LP (which used to call itself the “party of principle”, but has apparently changed it to the “party of popularity”) should really be whitewashing these crimes.

    Here’s the link: https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/02/libertarian-vets-weigh-in-on-chris-kyle-iraq-war/

  22. langa

    Back on the topic of Ron Paul, and people like Rodriguez who want him to “step aside” so the “real” libertarians can show him the error of his ways, I made the following comment on another thread, in response to a similar hit piece on Ron Paul. Just substitute “Rodriguez” for “Carson” and it applies just as well here:

    I find the continued attacks on Ron Paul (including dredging up, for the billionth time, the old “Newslettergate” garbage) to be particularly ridiculous. Whatever your opinion of Ron Paul, I can’t ever recall him attacking anyone for their positions on cultural issues. Indeed, I think one of the main reasons he has been so successful is his willingness to look past cultural baggage, and work with members of all the little libertarian factions, rather than trying to pit them against each other. He is a unifier, not a divider. But Carson won’t tolerate that. He intends to force Paul to “pick a side” in the idiotic culture war, and if he won’t, then Carson will pick for him.

    My own personal opinion is simple: Fuck the culture war, and if you care more about it than about opposing war and opposing the state, then frankly, fuck you, too. Just like every other war I’m aware of, the culture war is an utter waste of time, and the people on both sides are largely full of shit. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re a consistent and principled opponent of the welfare state, the warfare state and the police state, then I welcome you to the libertarian movement, and I couldn’t give less of a shit whether we agree or disagree on cultural issues.

    Finally, let me repeat one more time that I am NOT criticizing Carson because he is on the “wrong” side of the culture war. As far as I’m concerned, there is no “right” side. Hell, I’m quite sure that if I somehow ended up at a dinner party with the likes of Gary North or Hans Hoppe, I would probably dislike their company just as much as Carson would. The difference is that I am unwilling to shun someone like Ron Paul, who, more than anyone in my lifetime, is responsible for whatever growth that libertarianism has experienced, simply because I don’t agree with his choice of friends, or his personal opinions that have absolutely nothing to do with his politics.

    In other words, I am unwilling to let personal disagreements get in the way of building a big enough coalition to actually move the country in a libertarian direction. I find it highly ironic that many people (including here on IPR) are constantly arguing that we need to tone down our actual positions, and ally ourselves with those who are willing to tolerate the use of aggression, all in the name of building a broad-based coalition. But apparently, this mindset extends only to those who disagree with our substantive positions. Those who have deviant personal opinions (about subjects almost wholly disconnected from libertarianism) must be shunned at all costs.

  23. langa

    Jesus Fucking Christ, who gives a flying fuck about some newsletter from over 20 years ago? This is a non-issue. Get over it. Nobody was hurt, and no legislation was put forth to violate anyone’s rights because of it. So some overly sensitive people had their feelings hurt. Well big fucking deal. Go grab some tissue paper and get over it.

    Exactly!

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    The Paul cultists loved to make the issue about “whether or not Ron Paul is a racist,” because that question could be dragged around the block 50 times without getting any closer to an answer.

    The more relevant questions were:

    1) Why did Ron Paul lie about the newsletters?

    2) Since Ron Paul lied about the newsletters, shouldn’t we be worried about the possibility that he’s lied about other stuff, too?

    3) If the version of his story in which an unnamed ghost writer wrote the stuff and he didn’t even notice it, even though it was knocking down six figures a year for him and building a fundraising list that would eventually provide seed money for his presidential campaign, is true shouldn’t we be worried that if elected president he’ll just sign off on anything his advisers hand him without bothering to have a look at it, as he apparently did with those newsletter articles?

    Note my use of the past tense. It’s time for libertarians to stop pantsing Paul in public. All that does is call attention to him and slow down his ongoing fade into obscurity.

  25. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie,

    Yes, it does. That’s something Ron Paul could have done something about when the matter came up. Instead of continuously changing his story, he could have just said “look — it was a boneheaded idea, a mistake, we decided to play with fire and now it’s burning me, and I apologize.” That probably wouldn’t have ended the slagging he took over it, but it would have had the virtue of being true. And it might have defused things a little.

    We’ll probably always have the equivalent of the “paleo strategy” bouncing around to fight, just because racial animosity is such a tempting and potentially lucrative thing for marginal movements to tap. But we don’t have to defend the assholes who bring it into the movement, especially when they’re too stubborn to just make a five-second apology for doing so.

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