We Shall Overcome

The governor of Iowa says that if Ron Paul wins the GOP caucus, the best thing to do is to “ignore him” – and, if you go here, you can see the “mainstream” media agrees. Rich Lowry over at the National Review proclaims that if the only anti-interventionist candidate gets the votes of Iowa Republicans, “no one should take them seriously again.” The neocon solution to their Ron Paul Problem: exile the voters to Gehenna! “Ron Paul’s ascent won’t last,” sneers Ramesh Ponnuru, “or help his cause.” This was doubtless written before the Christian Science Monitor mourned, in a headline: “What if Ron Paul wins Iowa – and New Hampshire too?

On both the neoconservative “right” and the Obama-ite “left,” the spittle is flying: the gate-keepers of the politically permissible are practically frothing at the mouth, letting fly an outburst of political Tourette’s Syndrome, with epithets like “geezer,” “crank,” “crazy old uncle,” and “pestilential little locust.” There are several themes to these hit-pieces, and they can be broken down accordingly:

The “Ron-Paul-can’t-win-because-he’s-an-‘isolationist’” argument – This is the central meme being floated in the MSM about the Paul campaign, and it suffuses a large proportion of the press coverage. It is a pillar of the “red state/blue state” dichotomy that is supposed to define the American political landscape – and, just coincidentally, of course, happens to encompass the marketing strategy of cable giants Fox and MSNBC.

The problem with this argument, however, is that it’s being disproved every day by the polls, which show Paul steadily gaining strength not only in Iowa but nationally. If Paul takes Iowa, expect a meme-shift along the lines of “those-Midwestern hicks are known for their isolationism.”

The “Ron Paul-can’t-win-the-nomination” argument – This, of course, is meant to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the Christian Science Monitor headline cited above indicates, however, his rising poll numbers in Iowa are lifting him to first-tier status in New Hampshire and beyond. For the same reason governments can’t pick winners in industry, the self-appointed guardians of the politically possible can’t pick winners in elections. They can try to predict the political future, and sometimes they may even be right – but how many remember when these same professional prognosticators were telling us Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate was “inevitable”?

Especially in these troubled times, when the political winds are whipping from unexpected directions, the predictability of the GOP nominating process is highly problematic, and any definitive statements about how it will turn out are not to be trusted.

The “Ron-Paul-is-a-racist-loon-and-conspiracy-theorist” argument – This is the last resort of the Republican Establishment, as represented by the punkish Lowry and the oleaginous Ponnuru, one the editor of National Review and the other an associate editor of that bastion of neoconservative orthodoxy.

Roger Ailes and his wrecking crew hope to cash in on the “research” of one Jamie Kirchick, at the time a government employee who worked for the misnamed “Radio Free Europe,” whose piece in the New Republic last presidential election cycle cited a number of newsletters put out under Paul’s name that are supposedly “racist.” If you read the actual newsletters, however, rather than the media’s interpretation of their content, what you quickly realize is that there is nothing necessarily “racist” about any of it, as I showed here: four sentences out of thousands might be considered offensive.

In any case, Paul clearly did not write these newsletters, and – if I know him, and I do – in all likelihood didn’t even read them. He’s said so not once but several times over the years, and that should be the end of it – but not for bottom-feeders like Lowry, and his ilk, who thrive on dirt. After all, these are the same people who appointed Jonah Goldberg editor of their online edition when his only claim to fame was being the son of the woman who first discovered the semen stains on Monica Lewinsky’s dress. That’s where these people are coming from.

The same scumbags who put out the Willie Horton ad, and who have gloried in describing President Obama’s “Kenyan anti-colonialist mentality,” are now launching an “anti-racist” campaign against Doctor Paul – the one Republican candidate who not only calls for ending a “drug war” that targets blacks but who also stood up against the Muslim-hating gay-bashing crazies on the stage at those Republican debates. This is the ultimate proof that we have indeed slipped into another dimension – Bizarro World, where up is down, right is left, and a gentle and good-natured Doctor who has stood up for the underdog all his life is a “racist.”

To add another twist to this tortured tale: here we have the Republican Establishment taking its cues from the Obama administration and its apologists, who never hesitate to hurl phony charges of “racism” at its opponents when backed into a corner.

As my mentor, the late Murray N. Rothbard, used to say to me at moments such as these: Are we to be spared nothing?!

The onslaught of pure hate unleashed on Paul, coming from both sides of the political spectrum, is rooted in his foreign policy views, which challenge the assumptions on which the entire structure of the “left-right” paradigm is built, That mindset has served the War Party well: the “right” gets to pretend it’s against “Big Government,” whilst voting for massive military appropriations that ensure a steady flow of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of the military-industrial complex. This is the most lucrative form of “crony capitalism” in America today, but you won’t hear any of the other candidates – including Obama – breathe one word about it. Only Paul calls for cutting loose the Empire and reducing our military budget to match the military’s new mission under a Paul administration: defending this country, and not the Empire.

While a few sectarian leftists go after Paul for his domestic views – and the newsletter non-“scandal” is designed to keep them from crossing over and voting for Paul in the open primaries – the really venomous hatred for the good Doctor is coming from the neoconservative right. Lowry starts off his piece with the vitriol in high gear:

“Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is in a bid to make history in Iowa. Can he become the first marginal, conspiracy-minded congressman with an embarrassing catalog of racist material published under his name to win the caucuses?”

This from the editor of a magazine whose founder, William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote an editorial attacking the 1964 Civil Rights bill – not because, like Paul, he thought it would involve a massive violation of property rights, but because he believed blacks were “unready” for the franchise and wouldn’t use it with sufficient wisdom – a trait one assumes he attributed to the high-melanin content of their skin. “The central question that emerges,” averred Buckley, “is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”

Although National Review has never repudiated that official editorial position, presumably Senor Lowry has ascertained that black voters are now sufficiently “advanced” to cast their ballots – although we haven’t heard anything from National Review about the coordinated and systematic attempts by Republicans to drive down black voter turnout by passing laws requiring forms of identification at the polls many black voters don’t have [.pdf].

As for Paul’s alleged “conspiracy-mindedness,” Lowry doesn’t go into specifics, but does he bother reading his own magazine, where the “climate conspiracy” is taken to task for hiding the “truth” about global warming?

What really gets Lowry’s goat, however, is what I find so charming about the man:

“He tends to bring any conversation back to the malignancy of U.S. foreign policy. In the final debate in Iowa, he rambled on about how worries about the Iranian nuclear program are ‘war propaganda,’ but if the Iranians get the bomb that they’re not developing, that’s entirely understandable, since we’re “promoting their desire to have it.” Jeane Kirkpatrick famously condemned the ‘Blame America First’ Democrats; would that she had lived long enough to condemn the ‘Blame America First’ libertarians.”

Kirkpatrick started out her political life as a socialist: she joined the Young Peoples’ Socialist League (the “Yipsels”) as a student when it was the youth group of the International Socialist League led by the American Trotskyist Max Shachtman. Shachtman’s politics were social democracy at home and a militant anti-Communism abroad: he wound up arguing in favor of the Vietnam war from a leftist “anti-Stalinist” position. His young disciple followed his path all the way to the end, defending South American “death squads” and lobbying the Reagan administration in favor of Argentina during the Malvinas war.

Shachtman and his crowd of “Trotsky-cons” – this was actually the title of an article in Lowry’s magazine extolling the founder of the Red Army! – figured out long ago what Lowry will never understand: that Big Government and perpetual war go hand-in-hand. Citing Kirkpatrick as an ostensibly “conservative” authority keeps Lowry in with the neocon crowd, several of them (including neocon “godfather” the late Irving Kristol, father of Bill) graduates of the Leon Trotsky school of “free market” economics. The question is: why should authentic conservatives – you know, the sort for who find the very idea of a “Trotsky-con” oxymoronic – do anything but dismiss these arguments out of hand?

Aside from the juvenile name-calling, Lowry’s attack on Paul is nearly content-free. He writes:

“In the debate, Paul went on to warn against a push ‘to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims,’ as if a country that has resorted to force of arms to save Muslims from starvation (Somalia), from ethnic cleansing (Bosnia, Kosovo), and from brutal dictators (Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya) is bristling with an undifferentiated hostility toward all Muslims. This isn’t an expression of an anti-interventionism so much as a smear. It goes beyond opposition to American foreign policy to a poisonous view of America itself.”

Paul’s warning about going to war against the world’s Muslims was uttered in the context of the debates, in the course of which Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and most oleaginously Newt Gingrich bloviated about the alleged threat of Muslims establishing a “global Caliphate” – a nutty conspiracy theory that has been given miles of newsprint in Lowry’s own worthless rag.

As for Paul’s allegedly “poisonous view of America itself” – this is a clumsy lie. Clumsy because the very essence of Paul’s philosophy is the distinction between a nation and its government – with the latter invariably opposing and destroying the real interests and values of the former.

That Lowry neither knows nor cares about the real libertarian position on anything is readily apparent, and he continues blithely on his way:

“Paul never knows when to stop. He lets his suspicion of centralized power slip into paranoia worthy of a second-rate Hollywood thriller about government malevolence. In January 2010, he declared: ‘There’s been a coup, have you heard? It’s the CIA coup. The CIA runs everything, they run the military.’”

There are, of course, no internet links in Lowry’s piece – which ought to raise suspicions in any reader, nowadays, who expects to be able to examine the vital context of citations. A suspicion rises to the level of a certainty when we go out and Google Paul’s remarks for ourselves and find out he was talking about the increasing integration of the CIA and the Pentagon, prefiguring the upcoming appointment of David Petraeus as CIA chief – a move widely heralded as the merger of the CIA’s intelligence-gathering function with the Pentagon’s purely military mission. Why shouldn’t he comment on what is an important shift in our strategic military doctrine? The problem with Lowry’s critique is that he never knows when to stop, imputing a sinister motive to what is simply commentary on the course of American foreign policy.

Things get comical when Lowry points to Paul’s “latest appearance on the radio show of the conspiracy-mongering host Alex Jones” – a site recently favored by that conspiracy-monger Matt Drudge – “where he opined that the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil was ‘another propaganda stunt.’” How dare Paul question the bona fides of a supposed “plot” involving an alcoholic used car salesman with a memory problem and his alleged “accomplices” in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards – along with nearly every other intelligence analyst and Iran expert? At this point in his tirade, Lowry is merely filling space with sentences that are convincing no one – but the point is not to convince, only to hurl so many mudballs in Paul’s direction on the chance that one of them will stick.

The smear campaign against Paul will surely increase in intensity as the only anti-interventionist candidate on the ballot gathers behind him a growing army of activists and voters sick and tired of the War Party’s rigged elections. Rigged not by ballot stuffing, although there is enough of that going on, but by a mainstream media that rules antiwar candidates out of order and out of the running before even a single vote has been cast. That’s why the smear campaign is bound to fail: because the people are on to it, they’re on to the machinations of the War Party and their cronies in government and the “business” community. A recent Pew poll showed that the majority of Americans are in favor of what the elites disdain as “isolationism” – and I have a feeling Lowry and his elitist comrades on both the right and the left are in for a bit of a shock, as Ron not only takes Iowa but moves aggressively into New Hampshire. Not as just as the “Anti-Romney” but as the anti-neocon candidate, a clear alternative to the free-spending war-mongering Big Government conservatism that has driven America to the edge of the abyss.

They think they can just ignore him. They believe their lies will destroy him. They will stop at nothing to sabotage the populist movement he has created almost single-handedly. But no matter. We will defeat the War Party, which is hated by ordinary Americans: we will beat and humiliate the regnant elites who think they can dictate the boundaries of the political discourse. Let the media loosen its cannons on their target and do their best to slime a near saintly man, whose gentleness and sincerity is a visible presence on that debate stage – and a stark contrast to the sleazy shifty-eyed Gingrich, the thousand-mile stare of Bachmann, and the palpable insincerity of the robotic Romney. The more the mainstream media attacks Paul, the more the Republican electorate – as well as Americans of all political stripes – will rally to his cause.

We shall overcome.


I have to add this fascinating detail about Jamie Kirchick, whose article in the New Republic gave birth to the newsletter “scandal.” Kirchick is a militant interventionist who today works for the extremist Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Among his other works of note is an article that first appeared in the Advocate, a gay magazine, in which he advocated the creation of a “gay brigade” within the US military that would somehow “prove” that homosexuals aren’t “effeminate” and could carry on the fight for “freedom” around the world. What a porno shoot that would make – the Village People meets the Bush Doctrine!

Kirchick’s fake outrage at Paul’s alleged “racism” seems odd for someone who faithfully echoed the same bigoted belligerence that led TNR publisher Peretz to compare Palestinians to animals. We never heard a peep from Jamie about that, but then again Peretz was his meal ticket.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].