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: