There had been concern about Ron Paul’s ideological past among the more suspicious liberal netnerds for some time. Inbetween terms in Congress, he published a newsletter which mostly circulated amongst violent far-right white supremacist militia types. The only copy of that which had been made available to the public — one of the subscribers had posted it on Usenet years back — was conspicuously racist. But hey, it’s just a usenet posting, and maybe it was a hoax or maybe, as Ron Paul’s own people said, it was not actually written by Paul, but by somebody else who was writing for him at that time. A fluke. Somebody was at the wheel who shouldn’t have been and made Paul look bad in that one instance.
Well it ain’t a fluke. A reporter from the New Republic finally tracked down a large cache of Ron Paul Newsletters, and they were all in that vein. Blatantly racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, supportive of violent uprisings against the government, nostalgic for the Confederacy and agitating for a new secession. Year after year after year. If, as RP still claims, he never saw this stuff and doesn’t agree at all with it, it is strange indeed that for years and years he allowed it to be distributed under his name. Strange indeed.
Will this sink his popularity with libertarian computer nerds?
I don’t believe it will for a minute. If you read the news sites frequented by libertarian computer nerds, you’ll find that a lot of them are quietly bigoted themselves. You know how last year James Watson got drunk and started babbling racist pseudoscience to reporters? They ate that right up. Loved it. The violent stuff? They’re cool with that. They’re cast in the mold of Eric S. Raymond, gun nerd and twitchy threat-maker extraordinaire. The homophobia? I don’t know that they’re specifically homophobic but they’re often rampantly sexist (another matter which affect the selection of articles on their news sites) — they tend to be obsessed with the “discrimination” suffered by straight white males, and resentful of the Political Correctness which makes it impolite to express open bigotry.
In short, I don’t think that this will cost Ron Paul much of his audience at all. I don’t think most of them will find this side of him objectionable. In fact, the only revelation about Ron Paul that has consistently shocked many of them is that he is a creationist, and they’re largely atheists and seethe with contempt for any religious person except Ron Paul, most especially creationists. Racist, anti-Semite, homophobe? Whatever, just keep it quiet. Creationist? Eew, that makes them squeamish! But only a little squeamish.
Tthe evidence dug up by TNR is damning. There is no way he could consistently allow that stuff to be published in his name over a decade or more, whether or not he wrote it himself, unless he approved of it. That is just unbelieveable. Ron Paul has a history of approving of blatant racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and right-wing militia violence. That is undeniable.
Will the Ron Paul nerds care?
No. I predict they will not care one bit. He will remain their hero — and perhaps become a bit more of a hero, for daring to say what you can’t say (except quiety. to your Aryan militia friends).
UPDATE: Michael thinks that my pessimism about libertarian nerds is unwarranted; possibly my opinions have been skewed by hanging around reddit too much, where the worst of the worst rule. That’s cool. It’s great when pessimistic predictions turn out to be wrong.