The Ron Paul newsletter controversy is a textbook liberal smear campaign

Wesley Messamore Wesley Messamore is a graduate of Belmont University's prestigious School of Business with a degree in Entrepreneurship and an intern at Young Americans for Liberty, He is the editor in chief of HumbleLibertarian.com.
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For a different take on the Ron Paul newsletter controversy, click here.

A racist these days is all too often really just a conservative winning an argument with a liberal. It should come as no surprise, then, that the most principled conservative in the GOP race is being assailed and viciously smeared as a racist because of the content of a newsletter written 20 years ago which he credibly denies writing or having any knowledge of, and has repeatedly disavowed as contrary to his own views.

The racist smear is a common and favorite tactic of big-government liberals and their collaborators in the mainstream media. In 2009, with the tea party movement in full swing, members of the mainstream media did everything they could to assail these patriotic conservatives as racists, searching desperately at every tea party event for any wayward protest sign that might have racist content that could be used to assassinate the character of an entire national grassroots movement. The media even went so far as to fabricate a racial confrontation between tea party protesters and Democratic members of Congress, but it was nothing more than a smear and a lie.

The tea party movement didn’t have anything to do with race: it was about fiscal policy, monetary policy, systemic problems with our legislative process, and the proper nature and role of government. Tea party protesters were all about diminishing the size, role, and influence of an out-of-touch, out-of-control, out-of-solutions, and out-of-money federal government. They were right. And just like the tea parties, Dr. Ron Paul’s life, message, and record as a 12-term U.S. congressman have absolutely nothing to do with race.

Ron Paul is not a racist and doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. Throughout a political career that has spanned over four decades, Ron Paul’s message has always been about fiscal policy, monetary policy, and the proper nature and role of government. He has a message that has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the liberty our Founding Fathers fought to preserve, a liberty that he believes is granted to us as individuals made in the image of our Creator, not as members of any race or other collective group. And that message has resonated throughout the nation, which is why he is leading the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire as his campaign continues to steadily gain momentum.

Why should we trust Ron Paul’s unequivocal denial of having written or known anything about these racist rantings?

First, there’s his uncanny record of integrity. Even his harshest critics begrudgingly acknowledge that the Texas congressman (and faithful husband of over 50 years) is one of the most honest, principled, and consistent men in politics today.

No one in the media really thinks Ron Paul is a racist or a liar. In fact, they know he isn’t. They ask him about the racist newsletters over and over again in order to smear him by association. That’s how the textbook, liberal, race-baiting smear works. Whether the “target” (to use Alinsky’s terminology) is really racist or not doesn’t matter. Accomplishing the goal, which is to destroy the target’s character for political reasons, is what matters to the left.

The second reason Ron Paul’s adamant denials of racism are credible is that, as Andrew Sullivan points out, Ron Paul is “not exactly known for self-editing” — and that’s an understatement. Ron Paul has an almost pathological inability to filter anything in his mind on its way out his mouth. It’s not just that he compulsively tells the truth — he compulsively tells the whole truth about whatever he’s thinking; the more passionate he is about it, the more impossible it is for him not to wax indignant about it. If it’s on his mind, he can’t hold it in.

You’ve seen him in the debates. One can easily picture frustrated campaign staffers coaching Ron Paul to stick to a more disciplined message during debates, only to watch nervously as he shares every stray thought he may have on an issue in jumbled fashion, whether it is likely to help him win the primary or not. As Ron Paul’s mind wanders, so wanders his mouth. If Ron Paul were really a racist, why has he never, ever publicly — or even privately to anyone’s account — said anything remotely racist? Surely we would have witnesses to Paul’s racism piling on at this point in the news cycle. Surely there would be at least one video capturing an errant word of racism escaping the kind country doctor’s lips. Surely Ron Paul would have had a macaca moment by now. But we don’t, there isn’t, and he hasn’t. Because Ron Paul isn’t racist.

The third reason we can trust Ron Paul is his frequent and close association with racial minorities. Throughout his career, Ron Paul has employed racial minorities in his office staff, including Hispanics, African Americans, and Jews: most notably Eric Dondero, his chief of staff and travel aide for over a decade. Dondero bitterly parted ways with Paul over foreign policy after 9/11, but despite his general hostility toward Ron Paul, Dondero, who is half Jewish on his mother’s side, recently stated:

I worked for the man for 12 years, pretty consistently. I never heard a racist word expressed towards blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once. And understand, I was his close personal assistant. It’s safe to say that I was with him on the campaign trail more than any other individual.

Noted African-American economist Walter Williams also endorsed Ron Paul for president in 2008, and Paul even suggested Williams as a possible VP pick. There’s also Nelson Linder, the president of the Austin, Texas, chapter of the NAACP and a personal acquaintance of Paul’s for 20 years, who stated in an interview that he had never found Paul to exhibit any racist tendencies, “adding that he had heard Ron Paul speak out about police repression of black communities and mandatory minimum sentences on many occasions.” Moreover, Paul polls better among minority voters in hypothetical matchups against Obama than any other GOP contender.

So why is the media following this story so closely?

Because it can no longer avoid talking about Ron Paul, as it has conspicuously done ever since he announced his candidacy, as it did after he statistically tied for first place at the Ames Iowa Straw Poll in August, as it did during the CBS foreign policy debate during which Ron Paul (a veteran who serves on the House Foreign Relations Committee and gets more donations from active duty military than the other GOP candidates combined) was only given 90 seconds to speak during an entire televised hour of debate … and the examples go on and on.

As Ron Paul surges in the polls and the possibility of a Ron Paul win in Iowa becomes all too real, the mainstream media would look stupid — instead of merely biased — if it continued to ignore him and he actually pulled off a win in Iowa and a strong second-place finish in New Hampshire. But if the media doesn’t smear Ron Paul with these racist newsletters from over 20 years ago that Paul did not write and does not agree with, reporters and pundits will have to talk about the actual issues that Paul’s campaign raises, issues that matter deeply to the American people, issues that Ron Paul has always been on the right side of throughout his 12 terms as a U.S. congressman, both in word and in deed.

Ron Paul’s critics will scoff at the idea that this has been a concerted effort to smear him for political reasons, blindingly obvious though it may be. They have and will continue to justify the media’s actions as perfectly warranted by the story and no different from what any other political candidate in Paul’s shoes could expect. Some will even go so far as to say that Paul’s supporters are the ones who are letting bias affect their judgment. At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

I am a fan of Stanley Crouch’s “flip it” test as applied to bigotry … let us ”flip it,” and ask what we would think of Barack Obama who, under his own name, published such racism directed at whites and HIV. How seriously would we take the “He didn’t actually write it — he just published it” defense? Would we really be so forgiving?

Is Coates trying to be funny? Is he deliberately choosing to ignore Barack Obama’s 20 years as a close friend and active member in the church of Jeremiah Wright, who peddled radical racial demagoguery and nutty theories of his own about HIV? To give just one example, Wright claimed that the U.S. government invented HIV to perpetrate genocide against people of color. Yes, let’s “flip it” for a moment and talk about the media’s treatment of Mr. Obama then! By giving one speech addressing the issue, Barack Obama laid the matter to rest, like waving a wand and making two decades of association with a racist demagogue — along with any questions about Obama’s judgment and his own views on race — magically disappear. He disavowed Wright’s words as “profoundly distorted” and the media took Obama at his word, ultimately letting the issue drop from the headlines. Today Barack Obama is president of the United States. If only Ron Paul received this kind of treatment!

Before concluding, let’s use the “flip it” test for bigotry just one more time — on the late Robert Byrd, the Democratic senator from West Virginia and the longest-serving member of Congress in American history. When he died last year, Byrd was celebrated as a hero of the Democratic Party, a talented statesman, and a favorite son of West Virginia. A casual observer would have hardly been able to tell from the media’s many lauds and accolades that before he became a congressman, Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and held the title of “Exalted Cyclops.” Robert Byrd once wrote in a letter to a segregationist senator from Mississippi:

I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.

He wrote again to a “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan:

The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.

Here isn’t a man who simply neglected to be careful enough in overseeing what others were publishing in his name on a newsletter. This guy literally had a white hood in his closet. Robert Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a vicious racist. He even filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Somehow all of this didn’t stop the media or the electorate from allowing this man to become the most senior member of Congress and one of the most powerful men in Washington. When he died, he was unabashedly celebrated and his sins were swept under the rug, defended, polished, and explained away. The former Klansman was even praised in a statement released by the NAACP. Seriously.

The “flip it” test actually proves just how big of a smear campaign this entire newsletter business has been. If Ron Paul were not the most conservative candidate in a Republican presidential race, things would be different. Just what do Democrats have to do to be held accountable for their racism by the mainstream media? Apparently even joining the Klan isn’t enough to warrant condemnation if you have a “D” next to your name. But heaven help any Republican who isn’t by any stretch of the imagination even remotely racist if his candidacy threatens to shake up the establishment and transfer power from an out-of-control government to the people.

Wes Messamore is the editor in chief of HumbleLibertarian.com.