James Kirchick's New Republic piece Angry White Man and its later follow-up, uncovered a number of controversial statements on taboo subjects such as urban crime, South Africa, and Martin Luther King from decades-old copies of Ron Paul's newsletter. The language in the newsletters is sometimes crude and hyperbolic. Ron Paul has denied writing the letters or having much knowledge about their contents. Most everyone is willing to accept that—particularly if they know how things are done in Washington. But this is not a sufficient answer for TNR—or, significantly, for Paul's libertarian critics.
As usual the starting point for everyone discussing the newsletter—including Ron Paul himself—is that all the statements contained in it are vile, untrue, and indefensible. Yet a rational, unemotional look at the letter shows that most of the allegedly vile etc. statements are in fact defensible.
This is not to say that these letters are beyond criticism. When dealing with taboo issues, the truth is shocking enough. Whoever wrote these pieces made rational discussion more difficult because their language made it easier to dismiss their content as the product of racist crackpots. And some of the statements—such as repeating the suggestion [PDF] that one should wipe off one's gun after shooting an urban youth—are simply indefensible.
Nonetheless, looking past the rhetoric, there more than a few grains of truth behind the "controversial" assertions Kirchick retails so breathlessly:
Kirchick writes as if this is self-evidently wrong. But of course, as the LA Riots of 1992 showed, this was prophetic.
But liberals have perpetrated a great injustice to blacks by creating the idea that their problems are caused by racism, and are therefore owed something by society and not responsible for their actions. This used to be common knowledge among all conservatives—even neoconservatives—but now stating this simple fact is somehow beyond the pale.
Black conservative commentator Thomas Sowell said it best:
"During the 1960s, the idea spread like wildfire that whatever you were lacking was someone else's fault—society's fault. If you were poor, whether at home or in some Third World country, you were one of the 'dispossessed'—even if you had never possessed anything to dispossess you of.
"The urban ghetto riots that swept across the country during the 1960s were all blamed on society...President Lyndon Johnson …blamed urban violence on social conditions, saying: 'All of us know what those conditions are: ignorance, discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not enough jobs.'
"This sweeping and heady vision made it unnecessary to stoop to anything so mundane as hard facts—which would have included the fact that urban riots struck most often and most violently when and where this collective guilt vision prevailed." [Aftermath of the 1960s?, April 26, 2007]
Walter Williams, another black conservative agrees that black crime,
is mostly the result of predators not having to pay a heavy enough price for their behavior. They benefit from all kinds of asinine excuses, such as poverty, racial discrimination and few employment opportunities. [Liberal Views, Black Victims, August 22, 2007]
But how did the white Establishment react? The supposedly "brutal" L.A. police force was unable and/or unwilling to stop the riots. It wasn't until the fourth day when the Marines and Army came in that order was restored.
In the aftermath of the riots, little was done to punish the rioters. Instead, the age-old protection against double jeopardy was violated to bring trumped up "civil rights" charges against the already-acquitted officers Stacey Koon and Lawrence Powell. The two men were sentenced to 30 months in jail and an attempt was made on Koon's life after they were forced into a halfway house.
Rodney King was awarded $3.8 million by the city and used the money to start a rap label. He has been arrested over twelve times since the speeding incident for which he was originally being arrested, for crimes including intentionally hitting his wife with his car, threatening to kill his daughter and her mother, and repeating his 100 mph PCP induced drive.
One of the most notorious crimes: the attack against white truck driver Reginald Denny. He was dragged out of his truck, him with a claw hammer, and one of four assailants, Damian Williams, threw a slab of concrete against his right temple. He then danced over Denny's near-dead body and waved gang signs to the television cameras. When they were arrested, protesters threatened more riots if the city did not "Free the L.A. Four". None of them served more than four years in jail. Shortly after his release Williams was arrested for murder.
In contrast, the Koreans realized that the government was incapable of protecting the lives and property of its citizens and defended their property with their own firearms. After the riots, instead of wringing their hands, they organized a permanent self defense force.
"Such views on race also inflected the newsletters' commentary on foreign affairs. South Africa's transition to multiracial democracy was portrayed as a 'destruction of civilization' that was 'the most tragic [to] ever occur on that continent, at least below the Sahara'; and, in March 1994, a month before Nelson Mandela was elected president, one item warned of an impending 'South African Holocaust.'"
Has a "South African Holocaust" occurred? Maybe not yet, but there have been some very troubling signs. The crime rate has skyrocketed. South Africa now has the second highest rape and murder rates in the world. Of course, street crime is nowhere close to a Holocaust, but many conflicts classified as genocide by the Main Stream Media, such as Rwanda, involve governments turning a blind eye to racial killings. And since the end of Apartheid over 1,700 white farmers have been murdered in home invasions—an astonishing rate of 313 per 100,000 per year. The new South African government has done little to try to stop these racially-motivated attacks.
The left wing Genocide Watch issued an alert
"Concerning the number of Boer farmers slain since the end of apartheid in South Africa, The threat of destruction of a group must not be ignored because its numbers are small or its members disfavoured because they have acted in discriminatory ways in the past." [Over 1000 Boer Farmers In South Africa Have Been Murdered Since 1991 ]
Last fall, South African Minister of Agriculture Lulu Xingwana said the government would not be happy until "land ownership in the country reflects its demographics in terms of race." While the government has tried to make the process somewhat voluntary, it has consistently threatened forcible land seizures. Xingwana threatened "We will no longer waste time negotiating with people who are not committed to transformation."[Pik Botha condemns affirmative action, By James Myburgh July 16, 2007]
Of course, this has already occurred in Zimbabwe. And the relationship between the South African leadership and Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe makes these statements even more troubling. Current president Thabo Mbeki has yet to denounce Mugabe. His expected successor Jacob Zuma has made some mild criticisms, but has also said:
"The people love him, so how can we condemn him? Many in Africa believe that there is a racist aspect to European and American criticism of Mugabe. Millions of blacks died in Angola, the Republic of Congo and Rwanda. A few whites lost their lives in Zimbabwe, unfortunately, and already the West is bent out of shape." [The monkey on Zuma's shoulder, By James Myburgh, 13 December 2007]
Time will tell whether South Africa will degrade into a genocidal banana republic like Zimbabwe. But it is perfectly reasonable to be concerned.
In an article "X-Rated Martin Luther King" [PDF] it described the man as a "world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours," "seduced underage girls and boys," and "made a pass at" fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy.
I have not heard of any claims that King was involved with minors, but most of these allegations have been substantiated. Ralph Abernathy, who King called his best friend, described the last day of King's life in his autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. According to Abernathy, King was with three women that night, and when the third became angry at seeing King in bed with another woman, King knocked her across the room.
The late African American journalist Carl Rowan discussed conversations he had with congressmen who heard FBI surveillance tapes of King making sexually suggestive comments towards Abernathy. Other FBI agents who monitored King have told many similar stories. We will not know the extent of it until his file is unsealed in 2027. (Why so late?)
The sex lives of everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Bill Clinton are now under a microscope. That merely mentioning these indisputable facts about King is somehow scandalous says a great deal about how much of sacred cow King has become.
King was a "flagrant plagiarist with a phony doctorate." This statement is simply true. When the King Papers were donated to Stanford University in the late 1980s it became clear that "instances of textual appropriation can be seen in his earliest extant writings as well as his dissertation. The pattern is also noticeable in his speeches and sermons throughout his career," as King Papers editor Clayborne Carson put it. Large portions of King's dissertation were plagiarized from fellow Boston University student Jack Boozer, among other sources.
The ways in which this information was suppressed, why Boston University did not revoke his PhD, and the outlandish and sometimes comical justifications for his plagiarism are a story in and of itself—told by Theodore Pappas in Plagiarism and the Culture War: The Writings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Other Prominent Americans.
Which brings us to "We can thank [Reagan] for our annual Hate Whitey Day."
Describing Martin Luther King Day as "Hate Whitey Day" is a bit extreme, but there is no doubt the holiday is not just about celebrating King's supposedly colorblind dream. Every single Martin Luther King day, we are subjected to calls to "Redeem the Dream" and take care of King's "unfinished business." The King Holiday has been the rallying point for various left wing causes from reparations for slavery, socialist economic policies, affirmative action, attacking the Confederate flag etc.
This is not just the Left "hijacking" the holiday. As I demonstrated in my 2002 Lewrockwell.com piece "The Myths of Martin Luther King", King was clearly a man of the Left on virtually every issue from foreign policy to school prayer to economics to affirmative action and reparations for slavery. But rather than criticize King, conservatives pretended he was one of their own and in the process made him untouchable.
What's going on here?
To a large extent, it's a civil war among libertarians. Leftthem—
Reason Magazine columnist Jacob Sullum now accuses Rockwell of having tried to construct an "anti-statist coalition partly by appealing to racial resentments."
"Dynamist" Virginia Postrel who objects to Paul's stands against the war and open borders, said that this just shows that Paul isn't "a tolerant cosmopolitan." and her friends at Reason should have been able to "detect something awry in Paul's populist appeals."
The irony of this all is that the paleolibertarians in recent years have put much less emphasis on their opposition to multiculturalism and mass immigration. Rockwell himself even said in 2007 that he no longer considers himself a paleolibertarian. Indeed, Dave Weigel and Julian Sanchez actually concede in their anti-paleo polemic in Reason that "visitors to LewRockwell.com or Mises.org since 2001 are less likely to feel the need for a shower." How long is it since LRC linked to VDARE.COM?
Ron Paul has responded to this controversy by stating that being a "racist libertarian" is an oxymoron and citing his admiration of Martin Luther King. His supporters are now planning a Martin Luther King Day money bomb.
Needless to say, this is not enough for the left libertarians. Weigel and Sanchez at Reason have demanded that he identify "the author(s) of the race-baiting material and [repudiate] not just the sentiments it represents but the poisonous, self-defeating strategy of building an anti-collectivist movement on group hatred." [Who Wrote Ron Paul's Newsletters? January 16, 2008]
What's basically happening: Johnny-come-latelies to the Ron Paul campaign are trying to turn the "revolution" against the people who were there from the beginning. They want convert it into the same old trite open borders libertarianism pushed by the Cato Institute and Reason.
If there is any silver lining to this manufactured cloud, it is that it gives Ron Paul and his true supporters a perfect opportunity to stand up against the left-wing libertine libertarians—and emphasize that freedom means the freedom to be politically incorrect.
But will they take it?
Marcus Epstein [send him mail] is the founder of the Robert A Taft Club and the executive director of the The American Cause and Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be seen here. The views he expresses are his own.