Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Paul Newsletters and the Problem of the Paleos

Jan 10, 2008 12:42 pm

The Paul Newsletters and the Problem of the Paleos

I’m catching up on some of the reaction around the libertarian blogosphere this morning as a windstorm knocked out my internet connection yesterday (though I did get tons of reading done!). There’s too much good stuff out there to link it all, but I do specifically commend Radley Balko’s piece at Reason’s Hit & Run, especially this bit:

Of course, Paul was never going to win. So the real concern here is what happens to the momentum for the ideas his campaign has revived. The danger is that the ignorance in those newsletters becomes inextricably tethered to the ideas that have drawn people to Paul's campaign, and soils those ideas for years to come. You needn't be a gold bug or buy into conspiracies about Jewish bankers, for example, to see the merit in allowing for private, competing currencies (what PayPal once aspired to become). You needn't believe blacks are animals or savages or genetically inferior to believe that the welfare state's perverse incentives have done immeasurable damage to black families. You needn't be a confederate sympathizer to appreciate the wisdom of federalism. You needn't be an anti-Semite to wonder about the implications of the U.S.'s broad support for Israel.

Some of these ideas have always faced a certain hurdle in the national debate. To argue against welfare, hate crimes laws, and affirmative action, libertarians (and conservatives) always have to clear the racism card first. To argue for ending the drug war or knocking out huge federal agencies, we always have to clear the"'I'm not a kook" card. Today's news, combined with Paul's high profile, I think carries the potential to make all of that a little more difficult.

What has surprised me, I must admit, is the fact that so many fairly prominent libertarian commenters are surprised by all of this. First of all, these newsletters have been brought up before, though perhaps not as many examples, nor as many really offensive ones. But more important, those of us who have been paying attention to the libertarian movement for the last 15 years knew that the paleo element was growing and was associated with all kinds of unsavory views from the ugly segment of the hard right. Did all of these supposed observers of the libertarian scene not pay attention to the appearances that Paul has made at all kinds of fringe events? Did they not pay attention to the links between people associated with Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute (Paul’s intellectual home) and racists, anti-Semites, Holocaust skeptics, homophobes, Confederacy praisers, and conspiracy theorists of all types, all of which have been ably discussed and documented by Right Watch and Tom Palmer, among others? Perhaps the under 35 crowd doesn’t have the longer-run history that those of us in our 40s do.

Those of us who have been paying attention knew of Ron Paul’s first or second-hand association with all of these groups and we knew their odious ideas. We knew that people like Lew Rockwell were long-time associates of Ron Paul’s and thus the recent speculation that his pen is prominent in those nasty newsletters comes as no surprise as well. (And, if true, explains why Ron Paul isn’t naming names, as Rockwell is not just a “former aide” but a current advisor.) In my much commented-upon posts from last month, I tried to raise this warning flag in a more subtle way. My closing comment suggesting that the Paul campaign was not clearly a net benefit to libertarianism was my way of expressing precisely the fear that has now come home to roost and is so nicely captured by Balko: libertarians are going to have to spend more energy than ever explaining why we’re not racists, etc. as we get linked to the nastiness in those newsletters. (Glen Whitman explains how a small sample problem can create this burden for libertarians. I think he’s right, and these newsletters now make more people’s “first contact” with libertarianism the sort that will make us have to climb uphill even more often.)

Is there now any doubt about why Stormfront and KKK folks are supporting the Paul campaign? This is not an"accident" - his name has been used to cultivate their support, as these newsletters demonstrate. This is not guilt by association - it's reaping what was sown 15 years ago and since.

So, as Lenin once asked, what is to be done? I hope this causes libertarians who are rightly horrified by the bad stuff in those newsletters to wake the hell up and realize the ways in which this nastiness has infected parts of the movement over the last 15 years or so. Read what Right Watch and Palmer have documented and decide for yourself if those people and organizations represent the ideas that attracted you to libertarianism and the Paul campaign. And if they do not, then stop giving them the funds and attention to continue promoting ideas that you object to. Each and every libertarian needs to make that decision for him or herself. I hope that the attention brought to these newsletters leads libertarians to do some real internal soul-searching about what kind of movement we want. And I really hope we can find a way to get the new folks brought in by the campaign to realize that there are plenty of alternatives out there to the “paranoid style of libertarianism” (a style that is more anti-federal government than pro-freedom, if you ask me). Those of us who have been around awhile and who reject the ugliness need to help the new folks find their way.

I’ll end with a bit of a personal note. I’ve been a libertarian for over 25 years and a practicing Austrian economist since the late 80s. When the Mises Institute was founded, I was full of hope for what it might do. I participated in some early seminars and it provided me the chance to meet and interact with Murray Rothbard, who remains one of the most important intellectual influences on me, whatever his flaws. But by the early 90s, about the time of those newsletters, I began to see the direction it was taking and broke off any association with them. In my letter (this was pre-email) asking them to remove me from all of their lists, I think I referred to them as something like “a fascist fist in a libertarian glove.” Although that particular phrasing might have been an example of over the top youthful exuberance, nothing that has happened in the 15 years or so since has caused me to change my mind about the underlying point and the damage being done their approach. The decision to not associate with them (echoed by David Bernstein the other day) is a decision that I continue to not only not regret but to have a certain pride about.

To this day, I continue to be frustrated by friends and colleagues, many of whom I respect very deeply, who think I’m being silly or paranoid or obstinate when I raise concerns about the paleo crowd. I’m also frustrated by their willingness to lend their names to organizations with some agendas and associations that seem to run so much against what I know to be their vision of libertarianism. I would ask these friends to look at the material in those newsletters. Look at the research Right Watch has done about the way in which the paleos are linked to some really ugly stuff. And after you look at it, decide whether it isn’t time for those of us who have a different vision of libertarianism to stand up for that vision and disassociate ourselves from the people and organizations whose vision appears to take us down a much darker path.

The shame about the Mises Institute specifically is that it has done some very good things, the top two of which are making available an amazing set of online resources and being a consistent voice against the war. I think those good things have allowed many libertarians and Austrians to overlook the darker side of the paleos. Now that dark side has become rather public dirty laundry that may well sink the Paul campaign more quickly and certainly has the very real danger of setting back the libertarian movement in the process. It makes me all very sad that not enough people seem to have paid attention or taken it seriously, even if I feel a certain sense of “I told you so.”

I really hope the events of the last few days wake libertarians the hell up to the nasty ideas that are being promulgated in our name and motivate those who have a different vision to repudiate them loudly and publicly.

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Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

To "deny" the Holocaust, as we have understood that event for the past half century, demands that we deny that the Germans used homicidal gasssing chambers in an attempt to "exterminate" the Jews of Europe.

To express doubt about this matter is considered to be an act of social and moral "horror." Yet it's an easily resolved issue.

All that is necessary if for someone, somewhere, provide the name of one (one) individual who was killed in a (say) Auschwitz gas chamber --- out of the millions, or as we prefer to put it these days, hundreds of thousands --- as part of a genocidal program intended to "exterminate" the Jews of Europe. The name of one (one) individual, and supply the proof for that one gassed victim. We've had more than half a century to have a go at it. But here we are, empty-handed.

Irony? Taboo? Party before all? What?

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008

See my reply at (#118207)

Give Lou a break.

Bradley Smith - 3/5/2008


Anthony Gregory - 1/25/2008

I think the fact that Saddam didn't use those weapons even when he had nothing to lose and his country was being invaded by the United States demonstrates that, even if they existed, they were no threat to us, at least under his control.

Anthony Gregory - 1/25/2008

Tim, you write, "Another possible position on them would be to support their application to all government institutions and publicly-owned/operated facilities, but for them to be amended to exempt private properties such as restaurants, to which they currently apply."

I don't believe this is much different from Ron Paul's position. He says government facilities should not be segregated.

Anthony Gregory - 1/25/2008

Tim, you attacked David for defending Barnes. He says he didn't defend him. You say, sure he does, and you might even agree with his defense of Barnes. So why did you attack him for it? You're poisoning the well.

Gene Callahan - 1/25/2008

I've expressed various criticism of Rothbard, Rockwell, LVMI, and so on in public on a number of occasions -- I'm no blind partisan of that "wing," and I have many friends in the "other wing," but -- Tim Starr has been insanely obsessed with LRC et al for a number of years, and will make up anything about them that suits his frenzy of the moment. He's not really worth discussing this stuff with, since what he says has little connection to truth or reason.

Gene Callahan - 1/25/2008

"The fact is that there's plenty of evidence that Saddam's WMD were in existence in Iraq until right before the US liberation of Iraq:"

Then evaporated into thin air! I love the quoting of FrontPage as if it were anything but a Moslem-hating propaganda outlet.

Someone here definitely has some race issues, Tim.

Tim Starr - 1/23/2008

If we'd implemented a counter-insurgency strategy 5 years ago, as I was advocating, then we wouldn't have needed a surge. We had plenty enough troops for it back then. The reason we didn't do it back then was to appease critics like yourself who objected to having so many troops in Iraq engaging in nation-building. The more US troops we pulled out, the higher the casualties got.

As for "few" agreeing that Saddam's WMD remained before we liberated Iraq, since when has truth been a popularity contest? The fact is that there's plenty of evidence that Saddam's WMD were in existence in Iraq until right before the US liberation of Iraq:

Tim Starr - 1/23/2008

Hitler-defending Holocaust Deniers like Hoggan are generally unreliable on any topic, including the American Civil War, because Hitler-defending Holocaust Deniers are professional liars for the cause of genocidal tyranny. Gee, a Hitler-defending Holocaust Denier took a dim view of Lincoln? So what? Who cares?

The analogy to Watson fails, because Watson's personal comments about race are not part of his professional work, and his professional work both stands on its own and has been validated by many other experts. Hoggan was a professional historian, albeit a complete crank. To give those unfamiliar with his work an idea of how bad it was, he denied that _any_ Jews were killed by the Nazis on Kristallnacht, when even the SS's own internal report identified dozens of the Jews they killed that night.

Yes, Barnes blamed Britain, not Germany, for starting WWII. That is a defense--an exculpation--of Hitler in itself. However, Barnes didn't stop there. He also personally translated and arranged for the American publication of the works of Paul Rassinier, the godfather of Holocaust Denial in France. Barnes then published glowing reviews of Rassinier's books in "The American Mercury," which was then-controlled by the neo-Nazi Willis Carto.

As for Gordon's claim that he didn't defend Barnes, he most certainly did. If A attacks B, and C then attacks A's attack on B, then C is thus defending A. Lukacs attacked Barnes; Gordon attacked Lukacs for it, thus defending Barnes. Gordon could argue that he was perfectly justified in doing so, and I might even agree with him. But it's silly for Gordon to deny his defense of Barnes.

As for Hoggan's (alleged) rejection of Nazi racial theory disqualifying him as a white supremacist, that's irrelevant. Hitler was a white supremacist, and Holocaust Denial is a white supremacist movement. Hoggan defended Hitler, and denied the Holocaust, and therefore defended the cause of white supremacy. Totalitarians get into trivial faction-fights with each other all the time, either because of minor ideological differences or rationalized by such differences. The fact that Protestants & Catholics disagree with each other about theology doesn't mean they're not Christians, the fact that Trotskyists disagree with stalinists doesn't mean they're not Marxists, and the fact that Hoggan disagreed with some other white supremacist doesn't mean he wasn't a white supremacist.

Finally, the fact that wars have spread liberty at various times and places goes back at least to ancient times, to wars such as the Greco-Persian wars or the Theban invasion of Sparta. Both the French Revolution and its opposition, led by Britain, spread liberty in a number of ways:

France: Feudal landlords had their estates broken up and redistributed to the peasants who were no longer enserfed, but made into freeholders; head taxes and serfdom were also abolished both in France and everywhere Napoleon's armies occupied in Europe.

Britain: Faced with Revolutionary propaganda promising liberty, Britain had to promise liberty to its people as well, then come up with ways of keeping that promise. By 1850, many of the unlibertarian features of Britain before the French Wars had fallen by the wayside, such as impressment, protectionism, anti-combination laws, slavery & the slave trade throughout the Empire, etc. The electoral franchise was extended, the wartime income tax repealed, etc.

Latin America: Spain's occupation by France enabled Spain's colonies in the western hemisphere to win their wars of independence. In addition to achieving national liberation, they were also freed to abolish slavery either gradually or suddenly, thus increasing their internal freedom as well (not to mention sparing them from the fate of Haiti).

Roderick T. Long - 1/23/2008

Agreed (to Gene's comment). If we follow the principle that we should never cite as a useful source on any topic anybody who either held awful views or did awful things, we would have to renounce all citations to any thinkers who advocated and/or practised slavery (thus good-bye to any citings of Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, etc.); all who expressed sympathy for fascism (farewell to Gottlob Frege, the founder of modern logic; farewell also to economists ranging from Keynes to Pareto to Wieser), and so on. That seems a tad strong. It's quite possible (and frequently actual) for someone to be horribly, even wickedly wrong in some area and yet to be deeply insightful in another.

Gene Callahan - 1/20/2008

"So, it's OK to cite Holocaust Deniers, so long as it's not about the Holocaust itself..."

Doh! Of course it's OK to cite Holocaust deniers on some other subject; should everyone stop citing Watson on DNA because they don't like what he said about blacks?

David Gordon - 1/18/2008

1)I've delayed posting a response, because Tim Starr's comments have puzzled me. He obviously thinks that I've done something very wrong by citing Hoggan; but it wasn't clear to me what he thinks is the problem in doing so. I now think I see what he might have in mind. I don't know his philosophical background, but perhaps he holds a Randian view that to cite someone is to sanction him. Even though my reference to Hoggan had nothing to do with the Holocaust, by referring to him I am implying that he is a reasonable person whose views, including his views on the Holocaust, should be taken seriously. I can only say that I don't accept this view of what mentioning someone involves.

2) Barnes was a World War II revisionist who thought that Britain, not Germany, bore primary responsibility for the outbreak of war in September 1939. He encouraged Hoggan to write his war origins book and obtained grants for him to do so. (He didn't, though, help Hoggan in the sense of participating in the writing of the book.) He also encouraged Hoggan and Paul Rassinier to write on the Holocaust. It doesn't follow from this, though, that Barnes was pro-Hitler. He didn't, so far as I know, think Hitler an admirable person or accept Nazism; except for his views on the war, he was a fairly conventional modern liberal politically. I don't then think he was lying when he said that he wasn't a defender of Hitler.

But suppose I'm wrong and that Barnes was a defender of Hitler. Starr's claim that I defended Barnes is still wrong. My review was an attack on Lukacs. One of my points against him was that he misquoted Barnes. He still misquoted him even if Barnes was lying. To call attention to this isn't a defense of Barnes.

Incidentally, in contrast to Barnes, Hoggan was pro-Hitler. He didn't, though, accept Nazi racial theory: he quarreled with Revilo Oliver on just this point. He stopped writing book reviews for American Mercury, in the short time the magazine was under Willis Carto's control, because he refused to review books on race. I don't think it's right, then, to say that his Holocaust denial aimed to promote white supremacy. Further, I don't think it right to call him a "professional liar"; my impression is that he believed what he wrote. To say that someone is a liar is to accuse him of asserting what he knows to be false.

Barnes and Hoggan came to a bitter parting of the ways. Barnes thought that Hoggan hadn't adequately responded to criticisms that the German historian Hermann Graml had made of his book and a result blocked publication of the English edition of the book. Kurt Glaser has a book in German on the controversy.

3) The notion of spreading liberty through war seems to me to belong to the French Revolutionary tradition rather than to libertarianism.

Tim Starr - 1/16/2008

On the meaning of "irrelevant," I refer you to the nearest dictionary.

Yes, most libertarians _are_ inconsistent if they consider MLK a hero while opposing the Civil Rights & Voting Rights Acts he struggled for. At best, by libertarian standards, he is a highly-qualified hero. MLK also supported many other unlibertarian measures, such as minimum wage laws.

Nor is it true that the only possible position on the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts is one of total opposition. Richard Epstein recognizes that they were mixed-bags, but holds that their deregulatory effect outweighed their negatives, and says he would've voted for them at the time. Another possible position on them would be to support their application to all government institutions and publicly-owned/operated facilities, but for them to be amended to exempt private properties such as restaurants, to which they currently apply.

As usual, the strict Paleo position of opposing any & all Federal action on the subject, simply because of its Federal nature, does not follow by logical necessity from libertarian principles. Therefore, claims about what "most libertarians" believe are instances of the fallacy of appeal to popular prejudice--especially in the absence of any polling data.

What about you, Anthony? You've told me personally how you find the Paleos xenophobic. Do you consider anything ever published in any of Ron Paul's newsletters racist or homophobic? Is that the sort of thing you want associated with your preferred Presidential candidate? How should your ideal candidate handle such eruptions? Should he fire those involved? Should he let them be top advisors to his campaign? Should he continue to let them publish his material, and appear at the events they organize? Should he identify them publicly, so the rest of us can decide for ourselves whether we wish to associate with them?

What's the morally relevant difference between Ron Paul's "acceptance of responsibility" for the vile trash he _paid_for_ and _profited_from_ and Janet Reno's acceptance of responsibility for the Davidian massacre?

Anthony Gregory - 1/15/2008

Five years ago, you didn't support the surge. You were saying if there were no WMD in Iraq, you will agree you were wrong to support the war whatsoever. Now you claim they did find WMD — a claim nearly no one will stand by. And a little less than five years ago, you were saying they could have done the war on the cheap, with fewer boots on the ground.

Anthony Gregory - 1/15/2008

What do you mean it's irrelevant? What you're doing is saying most libertarians are inconsistent, since most, as libertarians, oppose the Act and yet most probably still think of MLK as a hero.

Do you consider him a hero? Do you support the Act?

Tim Starr - 1/15/2008

My opinion of the Acts is irrelevant. Saying MLK's your hero, but you oppose those Acts, is like saying that Gandhi's your hero, but you oppose India's independence from Britain.

Tim Starr - 1/15/2008

Neither Holocaust Denial nor Martin's complicity in the attempted cover-up of that criminal conspiracy were as well-understood in 1979 as they are today. My understanding is that the Deniers were purged from Cato shortly after that, when Rothbard left. I trust that Cato would not be having known Holocaust Deniers as speakers today.

Rockwell publishes the work of known anti-Semites, white-supremacists, and Holocaust Deniers to this very day.

Tim Starr - 1/15/2008

1) So, it's OK to cite Holocaust Deniers, so long as it's not about the Holocaust itself, as if they're not professional liars for the cause of white supremacy?

2) Barnes lied when he said he wasn't a defender of Hitler; Barnes helped Hoggan turn his moderately revisionist PhD thesis into the ardently pro-Hitler book "The Enforced War."

3) The USA has been winning the Iraq War ever since Petraeus began to implement the counter-insurgency strategy I've been advocating for at least 5 years. I predicted and supported the Surge more than a year ago. Supporting the liberation of 50 million people from Islamo-fascist tyranny (in Afghanistan & Iraq) is the sort of thing libertarians should be proud of, not ashamed.

David Gordon - 1/14/2008

Also, James J. Martin, one of Mr. Starr's many targets, lectured at the Cato summer program in Eugene, Oregon in

Anthony Gregory - 1/14/2008

Yes, and that's my point exactly. Tim Starr says there's something inconsistent in Ron Paul hailing MLK as a hero and yet opposing the Civil Rights Act. Yet most libertarians worth their salt will admit the Civil Rights Act has bad aspects -- which is Ron Paul's position -- and yet many in the same group still admire MLK. Where's the problem? Does Tim Starr oppose violations of freedom of association? As a libertarian, he must. Is he saying that MLK is no hero? I don't get it. I think Ron has the right attitude — to admire the central thrust of the Civil Rights movement while conceding that there were unlibertarian aspects of its political victories.

John Kunze - 1/14/2008

MLK's primary goal was to promote equality of opportunity and ensure equality before the law regardless of race. He was a great leader who caused millions of people to see these things differently.

We don't have to accept all the details of his methods to view him as a hero.

Mark Brady - 1/14/2008

Tim, I don't know if you're aware but Cato reprinted three of Harry Elmer Barnes' essays together with a preface by James J. Martin under the title Revisionism: A Key to Peace and Other Essays.

Are you suggesting that we should therefore view the Cato Institute less favorably?

Anthony Gregory - 1/14/2008

Well, let me ask you, What do you think of the Act? And what do you think of MLK himself?

I consider MLK a hero, overall, but I don't consider the Civil Rights Act to be an unqualified libertarian success — it involved property rights violations, too. And I disagree with Hillary Clinton's view that LBJ, not MLK, was a more substantial Civil Rights leader because he used the force of law to achieve racial harmony. I don't think the coercive element is the best part of the Civil Rights movement.

Jeff Riggenbach - 1/14/2008

Starr is bent on more than merely a libertarian defense of the Iraq war. He also wants to drag the Holocaust and Holocaust "denial" into every thread on every topic on every discussion list on the Internet. Apparently he has discovered that, in certain circles at least, to label anyone who disagrees with you about anything as a Holocaust "denier" will earn you a reputation as a master of argumentation. It's also helpful if you dismiss as disreputable anyone who has ever referred to anyone Starr regards as a Holocaust "denier" in any spirit other than outraged condemnation - which is the category you (David Gordon) now seem to be in.


David Gordon - 1/14/2008

My citation of Hoggan was to a discussion by him of the New History, a movement in American historiography that has nothing to do with Holocaust denial. I am certainly not myself a Holocaust denier. Harry Elmer Barnes was not an "old friend"; I had several telephone conversations with him when I was in high school. In a review of a book by John Lukacs, I pointed out that Lukacs had misquoted a sentence by Barnes; in doing so, he imputed to Barnes an opinion about Hitler that Barnes rejected.. This is the sum and substance of my "defense" of Barnes. I suggest that Mr. Starr return to his heroic libertarian defense of the Iraq war. I would not want my sins to divert him from this vital task.

Tim Starr - 1/14/2008

The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act ended legally-mandated segregation in America. They were the primary goals of MLK & the Civil Rights movement he led. They were his crowning achievements, by his own standards, regardless of what you or I think of them.

For Ron Paul to say that MLK is one of his heroes, when Paul condemns the Civil Rights & Voting Rights Acts and voted against their extension, is like saying that someone considers Hitler a hero, although they condemn the Holocaust.

Tim Starr - 1/14/2008

Is this the same David Gordon who favorably cites the infamous Holocaust Denier David Hoggan ( and still defends another infamous Holocaust Denier, his old friend Harry Elmer Barnes?

Stephan Kinsella - 1/13/2008

Steve, you wrote, "Yes I do. I don't believe the generalization is true and it's a negative one made about a racial group. That's racist."

Serious question here. You seem to assume this standard for racism is obvious. The way you word it, it seems like you would agree that a generalization made about a racial group is not per se racist. Correct?

You seem even to hold open the possibility that a negative generalization about a racial group is not necessarily racist. E.g., if it happens to be factually true. Am I not correct here? Otherwise, why did you throw in the comment that the generalization is not true in this case, as if this is relevant?

So, it seems you think that being *incorrect* when making a negative generalization about a racial group is what is racist. But how can merely being wrong be racist? What if it's just an honest mistake?

I am quite serious here, and really want to understand your point of view on this. For I agree that there certainly is real racism, but think that it's difficult to precisely define. I think your implied definition here is insufficient, for the reasons noted. It seems to me that you have to add some kind of malice element, something to do with hatred of people for being part of a race, something like that. Some kind of "mens rea" type requirement. No?

But if some kind of element like this is incorporated into the definition, how is the statement you are labeling as "obviously racist" racist? I'm not saying it's not, just want to know exactly why you think it is, if you refine your standard to include some other element to make the standard more appropriate and complete.

David Gordon - 1/13/2008

Is this opponent of bigotry the same John Robbins who wrote in his book Without A Prayer (Trinity Foundation, 1997), the following: "Murray Rothbard, a Jewish atheist, hated Calvinism passionately, and loathed Catholicism. The anarchist Rothbard favored the totalitarian Roman church."(pp.230-31)?

M R - 1/13/2008

Open Letter To Lew Rockwell - January 12, 2008

Dear Lew,

You have now had three opportunities –1996, 2001, and 2008 — to prove that you are a friend of Ron Paul and freedom, and you have failed to do so each time.

This week, for the third time, the puerile, racist, and completely un-Pauline comments that all informed people say you have caused to appear in Ron’s newsletters over the course of several years have become an issue in his campaign. This time the stakes are even higher than before. He is seeking nationwide office, the Republican nomination for President, and his campaign is attracting millions of supporters, not tens of thousands.

Three times you have failed to come forward and admit responsibility for and complicity in the scandals. You have allowed Ron to twist slowly in the wind. Because of your silence, Ron has been forced to issue repeated statements of denial, to answer repeated questions in multiple interviews, and to be embarrassed on national television. Your callous disregard for both Ron and his millions of supporters is unconscionable.

If you were Dr. Paul’s friend, or a friend of freedom, as you pretend to be, by now you would have stepped forward, assumed responsibility for those asinine and harmful comments, resigned from any connection to Ron or his campaign, and relieved Ron of the burden of having to repeatedly deny the charges of racism. But you have not done so, and so the scandal continues to detract from Ron’s message.

You know as well as I do that Ron does not have a racist bone in his body, yet those racist remarks went out under his name, not yours. Pretty clever. But now it’s time to man up, Lew. Admit your role, and exonerate Ron. You should have done it years ago.

John Robbins, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff
Dr. Ron Paul, 1981-1985

Stephan Kinsella - 1/11/2008

Jeff, are you sure? Wouldn't he have to actually think, to think that?

Jeff Riggenbach - 1/11/2008

Yeah, Anthony. That's what he thinks.


Anthony Gregory - 1/11/2008

You think MLK's crowning achievement was a sweeping federal law, parts of which violate freedom of association?

Tim Starr - 1/11/2008

MLK is Paul's hero? Then how come Paul condemns the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which ended segregation and was MLK's crowning achievement? I can't believe anyone is actually falling for this bovine excrement.

Kevin B. O'Reilly - 1/11/2008

I do think that this newly unearthed material is qualitatively and quantitatively worse than what we've seen before. So in that sense it *is* surprising. You mean to tell me you weren't taken aback that Ron Paul would let stuff like this go out under his name over such a long period of time? Come on.

I mean, I don't feel burned in the same way that people who have given money or volunteered for the guy must, but your attitude strikes me as a little uncharitable.

Kevin B. O'Reilly - 1/11/2008

Mr. Horwitz, I'm 30 now and became a libertarian back in 1995. I've never been a paleo, and I thought their views were pretty kooky. But was any of it as bad as the stuff unearthed just recently? No.

Did you know about these newsletters, and what was in them? Why didn't you speak out more loudly, rather than make the more-or-less standard case against Paul because of his views on the Constitution, abortion, immigration, etc? Were you just hoping it wouldn't come out?

Steven Horwitz - 1/10/2008

Yes I do. I don't believe the generalization is true and it's a negative one made about a racial group. That's racist.

Bill Woolsey - 1/10/2008

The newletters were reported on CNN. Paul appeared. The link is on hit and run.

Paul denies being a racist, writing the remarks, calls the drug laws racist and promises to pardon nonviolent drug offenders. Says MLK is his hero. That libertarians reject racism as collectivism.

He claims not to know who wrote anything. The editors would know such things. Says it is 15 years ago, and doesn't care to find out.

He said that he didn't read it all the time and didn't recognize any of these quotations.

In the comments, Dondero/Rittberg names more names. The publishing and editing were all local Texas people. Rittberg/Dondero claims that Paul wrote about 40%, focusing on foreign policy (and anti-Israel stuff.) Rockwell wrote "the rest," but that included work by Mark Thornton and Jeff Tucker. Rittberg/Dondero claims that Rockwell handled the crime and race relations stuff.

All the racist stuff was in only four issues and it stopped?

Jule R. Herbert - 1/10/2008

As to the first quote, I have already posted as follows:

"I understand your point.

"But, in context, the writer goes on to assert that, since the U.S. mail could not be delivered because of the rioting, calm returned, not because the authorites were able to get a handle on matters, but only when those involved realized that they would have to go to the Post Office "to get their handouts... -- and then complained about slow service." Looking at the 1992 calendar, it appears that May 1 fell on a Saturday [Friday in my correction], May 4 on a Monday. King was convicted on April 29 -- according to the account. I gather that electronic deposits were not widespread at the time. Whether this ia a true account, I don't recall, but the writer is writing as a reporting observer.

"I don't care for the tone of the newsletter, and I certainly do question the consistent referral to the color of the various parties under discussion. Nonetheless, on balance, it seems to me not be to objectively racist, in the sense of attributing non-physical inherent characteristics, especially as to intelligence or anti-social behavior, to people on the basis of their color or so-called race.

"A more generous view is that the writer is commenting on what he believes to be a real dystopia created by various features of the modern welfare state as it relates to an urban underclass."

As to the second quote, taking from the haves to give to the have-nots is today considered proper public policy, and, from what I understand, it is a popular view in the underclass community. You find a comment on this racist?

Steven Horwitz - 1/10/2008

If you don't think the line about the LA riots ending when the welfare checks came out is racist, or this one "mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white 'haves,'" then I can understand why you would be confused by the reaction of many.

Steven Horwitz - 1/10/2008

I've said a number of things about the MI crowd over the years in various places. I didn't want to make this about Ron Paul himself, rather the larger paleo element of the movement, so I didn't raise it explicitly in my original posts. And, frankly, the "footsie playing" that many self-described libertarians have done with the ugly right seems so obvious to me when you look at some of their websites and publications, that perhaps I underestimated the need to say things more clearly.

The surprise with which this stuff has been greeted by people like yourself and even folks "in" the movement at Reason has really caught me by surprise. I guess I thought this was all well-known and people were just choosing to:

1. ignore it
2. hold their nose and support places that were otherwise good
3. try to get along with everyone as the movement is too small to splinter

But with Ron Paul bringing so many new people to consciousness of libertarianism, then to have this come out, and then for it to be responded to with surprise, I just thought now was the time to be even more forthright.

Jule R. Herbert - 1/10/2008

I probably should have more sense than to do this, given the Zeitgeist easily sensed, the hangman mentality of the media and the currently assembled mob, and, of course, the CNN bold headline of "Racist Writings," but, once again, let me try to suggest there is less to this whole story than meets the eye:

Concerning race, from what TNR put on its website, there were 4, only 4, Paul newsletters at issue: Oct 1990, Nov 1990, Jan 91, Feb 91. This is 4 issues out of many, all coming in a five month period.

Reviewing these issues, I find a single comment ("The animals are coming.") which meets what I would think is arguably racist -- and that because it is not properly qualified. Assuming that racism were declared to be a crime, what honest jury would convict -- not Paul, but the actual writer -- of violating the prohibition?

What is going on here?

Kevin B. O'Reilly - 1/10/2008

Mr. Horwitz, I'm 30 now and became a libertarian back in 1995. I've never been a paleo, and I thought their views were pretty kooky. But was any of it as bad as the stuff unearthed just recently? No.

Did you know about these newsletters, and what was in them? Why didn't you speak out more loudly, rather than make the more-or-less standard case against Paul because of his views on the Constitution, abortion, immigration, etc? Were you just hoping it wouldn't come out?

Stephen W Carson - 1/10/2008

Thank you, Roderick. I re-read your articles on this. My temperature is slowly going down.

Roderick T. Long - 1/10/2008

What I wrote about this issue three years ago (see here and here) still seems to me to apply.

Steven Horwitz - 1/10/2008


I'm willing to grant Paul the benefit of the doubt for the time being. But it sure would help if the author(s) would step forward and get him off the hook completely. I admire RP's unwillingness to, presumably, out a friend, but he may have to at some point for the sake of his own reputation if not for the benefit of the larger movement.

David T. Beito - 1/10/2008

I agree with you for the post part. I have often criticized the CSA nostalgia of some of Mises types, especially DiLorenzo. I well remember the Rockwell's repulsive apologetics for the Rodney King beating.

Nevertheless over the last year or two, I had been willing to give the Mises types more slack because they have distanced themselves from this sordid past. They have even been praising MLK of late. People can change and, when change occurs, this should be encouraged and recognized. Heck, Tom Palmer forgave Bill Evers.

Having said that, I am getting a bit impatient, however, as Rockwell continues to take a "no comment" attitude on his role in the newsletters. Let's assume that Rockwell was the editor or writer.

If he owned up to any role he played, admited that he was wrong, and contritely said that his views have changed, most people would be forgiving....though he'd still take a big hit.

As it is, assuming he did it, he is leaving Paul out to dry.

Cato, Reason, etc. also dropped the ball on this in great part because they cast antiwar libertarians adrift beginning in 2001. They should have taken the initiative to fight this war....instead the conceded it to LRC. Non-LRC libertarians pretty much had to scramble along to find libertarian allies.

The immediate question here is what do we do now? As I said, I don't believe for a minute that Paul believes now, or believed then, the views expressed in the worst of the articles. If I did, I would completely cut ties with him.