Ron Paul’s philosophy: A libertarian can’t be a racist
Crossposted at the Michigan Messenger
[COMMENTARY] In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul responded to charges of being a racist because of his association with a racist newsletter. Since this incident and other allegations, including a Michigan Messenger report that Paul’s campaign was receiving support from neo-Nazis and white supremacists, his campaign has tried to distance itself from racist accusations.
However, Paul, a self-described libertarian, says that his philosophy precludes his being a racist. Indeed, Paul appears to have unusual support for a Republican, or even for some Democrats, among black voters. In the interview Paul told Blitzer,”I am getting the most number of black votes and black supporters because I attack the two wars that blacks are suffering from: the war overseas and the war on drugs.”
In fact a Ramussen poll from October 2007 had Paul receiving 31 percent and 33 percent of the black vote in a general election against Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, respectively. It is unclear if or how this support has changed, but it is unusually high for a Republican to poll that well among blacks. President Bush won just 11 percent of the black vote in 2004.
Paul’s opposition to the war in Iraq is widely known, but his position regarding the war on drugs less so. In the interview Paul told Blitzer:
“And what about the war on drugs? What other candidate will stand up in front of the camera and say, ‘I would pardon all blacks, all whites, everybody who is convicted for non-violent drug acts and drug crimes.’ This is where the real discrimination is…. Real discrimination is in the judicial system. Fourteen percent of inner city blacks commit drug crimes and 67 percent of blacks are in prison. That is discrimination that is the judicial code I am attacking and that is not racism.”
Paul’s position on pardoning anyone convicted of nonviolent drug crimes is truly groundbreaking and goes further than any presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican.
The war on drugs has crippled the African-American community, as a December 2007 report by the Justice Policy Institute found: “African-Americans are 10 times more likely to be imprisoned for a drug offense, despite the fact that whites and African-Americans use and sell drugs at comparable rates.”
The ripple effects of these laws impact the black community because families are torn apart, and those who are incarcerated have difficulty obtaining gainful employment when released.
However, in the same interview, Paul — a conservative congressman from Texas who advocates cutting the size of government — went on to say that “libertarians are incapable of being racist because racism is a collectivist idea, you see people in groups. A civil libertarian like myself sees people as important individuals.”
Paul may not be a racist, but to claim that one’s political philosophy makes you immune to racism is fallacious. Paul’s argument is tantamount to a white person saying, “I can’t be racist because I have black friends.”
When talking about the war on drugs, Paul cited the figure of 67 percent of blacks in prison, but the only way he was able to know that is because the data was sorted by racial groups. Seeing people as part of groups, however, is not in itself a slippery slope toward racism or any other -ism that breeds distrust and hate.