Oh, look. Apparently I’m a racist. Again.
- How Ron Paul’s libertarianism supports racism (New York Magazine)
Apparently racists love the idea of a minimal state that won’t stop them from hanging “WHITES ONLY” signs above the lunch counter. Of course, racism isn’t profitable in general, and depends upon an activist, violent state to enforce it on colour-blind profit-seekers, but why spoil the narrative? Besides, Chait thinks he’s already covered that base:
[Libertarians] genuinely see racism as a belief system that expresses itself only in the form of coercive government power. In Paul’s world, state-enforced discrimination is the only kind of discrimination. A libertarian by definition opposes discrimination because libertarians oppose the state. He cannot imagine social power exerting itself through any other form.
I cannot imagine social power exerting itself except through the state? What, did someone surgically excise my memories of high school while I was asleep? This isn’t even a straw man of libertarianism: it’s a pile of loose straw with a sign in front of it that says “man (libertarian)”. I’m not inclined to fisk this wriggling mess of dumbworms.
But here’s the neat part: I don’t have to. Andrew Sullivan, of all people, has done it for me.
(Spoiler warning: No.)
Meanwhile, over at Reason, Matt Welch has assembled a trio of articles written by notable progressives praising Ron Paul for his principled stand on, you know, not incinerating Afghan teenagers or assassinating citizens without due process or trial or indefinitely detaining… well, whoever on the exclusive say-so of the executive branch:
Pride of place goes to Glenn Greenwald:
Whatever else one wants to say, it is indisputably true that Ron Paul is the only political figure with any sort of a national platform — certainly the only major presidential candidate in either party — who advocates policy views on issues that liberals and progressives have long flamboyantly claimed are both compelling and crucial. The converse is equally true: the candidate supported by liberals and progressives and for whom most will vote — […]
Ron Paul’s candidacy is a mirror held up in front of the face of America’s Democratic Party and its progressive wing, and the image that is reflected is an ugly one; more to the point, it’s one they do not want to see because it so violently conflicts with their desired self-perception.
(Emphasis in Greenwald’s original.)
And as ever, the Establishment Left has plenty of excuses for why it sticks its fingers in its ears every time Paul opens his mouth in front of a mic. Here’s Kevin Drum:
Bottom line: Ron Paul is not merely a “flawed messenger” for these views. He’s an absolutely toxic, far-right, crackpot messenger for these views. This is, granted, not Mussolini-made-the-trains-run-on-time levels of toxic, but still: if you truly support civil liberties at home and non-interventionism abroad, you should run, not walk, as fast as you can to keep your distance from Ron Paul. He’s not the first or only person opposed to pre-emptive wars, after all, and his occasional denouncements of interventionism are hardly making this a hot topic of conversation among the masses. In fact, to the extent that his foreign policy views aren’t simply being ignored, I’d guess that the only thing he’s accomplishing is to make non-interventionism even more of a fringe view in American politics than it already is. Crackpots don’t make good messengers.
As a self-serving tonic against cognitive dissonance, it’s a masterpiece. Oh, sure, progressives would love to agitate for non-interventionism and civil liberties and all that, they really would. But y’see, they can’t, because that nasty old Ron Paul got there first and poisoned the well. How awful! I guess they’ll just have to crank up the War On Drugs, deport a record number of illegal immigrants, keep on propping up a corrupt Afghan government, and let the Executive murder anyone he can get a star chamber to sign off on instead. They can’t risk associating with a crackpot, after all.
(Sullivan, again, retorts.)
If we have people like Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald standing up against the usual election-season straw-manning and casual ad hominems against libertarianism, maybe we’re getting somewhere.