It wasn't so long ago (June '06) that popular leftward blogger Daily Kos was courting libertarians. I took note of it, and thought then that it was merely a cynical ploy to grab a small constituency, but one sizeable enough to swing an election.
Consider the cynicism well justified. The onslaught of Ron Paul bashing by the top left blogs is begetting a slurry of ugly comments from the True Blue Left. From a recent Kos post calling Paul a racist:
If he has "moral responsibility" for his comments, then why not apologize or retract those statements? Why not express outrage that his good name was misappropriated with scurrilously racist sentiments and demand an honest admission and retraction in his newsletter?
Why? Because he agreed with the sentiments. That's why. And it's precisely writings like those, and his refusal to disavow them, that have made him a favorite of the Stormfront/Neo Nazi crowd.
Of course, Paul's supporters will take this post, along with any other criticism of their demigod, as evidence that he is "feared" or other such nonsense. Hardly. When he cracks single digits in the polls in any state we can start worrying. Until then, he doesn't even reach "Ross Perot-like nut" status. I worry about McCain. I worry about Huckabee. I used to worry about Giuliani. But Paul? Nah. He is what he is -- fringe.
But it's also clear that some of his supporters would benefit from a full airing and education about what Paul stands for and has stood for in his years in the public limelight. If people still want to support him despite his bigotry, then that actually says more about his supporters than about Ron Paul himself.
Let's break this down. What are the racist comments? Kos has highlighted some:
Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action.... Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the "criminal justice system," I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.
If similar in-depth studies were conducted in other major cities, who doubts that similar results would be produced? We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers. (emphasis as in original Kos post.)
I have to say, I don't like Paul's generalizations in that first paragraph. 95%? That's nonsense. Paul's off-base here, and should apologize for his generalizations. I wish he would do that right away.
As for the second paragraph, I do have my own experiences. I have been mugged exactly twice, both times by black men. I have had my house burglarlized exactly once, by a black man. I caught him tearing the aluminum off the house. Given my experience, I still don't generalize all or most black males as criminals or semi-criminals. Generalizing the whole on the basis of the subset is incorrect and absurd. But, would it be rational for me to conclude that should I be mugged, the likelihood is higher that a white man will mug me? Am I a racist is, based on my own experience, if I conclude the likelihood is greater that a black man might? Moreover, factually speaking, do "black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and bulglaries all out of proportion to their numbers"? If so, why would an apology be warranted? For the crime of saying something that is a source of sensitivity to the racial group in question? It isn't the same as racism, that's for sure.
I would like Paul to revisit his statements with regard to race, use some care to examine them, and to apologize for and retract the ones that are bunk. (I suspect, though, that the ones that are not bunk, and are actual fact, and that might not be retracted, would still be a source of complaint and "ah ha, gotcha!" by Kos and so many others on the left.)
So, is this any kind of dilemma for me? Not especially. I've never found a perfect candidate, one that I agreed with on everything- besides myself. If I had to eliminate all candidates from the possibility of my support or vote on the basis of a single objection, I could never vote in good conscience. I kind of think that this is what Kos is after- creating cognitive dissonance in the minds of Paul backers, such that they just stay away from the process until after the 2008 election. For me, the kind of law policy Paul would actually put forth is what is important, and I'm betting that even if he is the most venomous closeted racist the world has ever known, he still wouldn't be advancing racist policy. So, is Kos' work what we call a red herring?
At any rate, I find it very interesting that Kos chose to discuss the angle of moral responsibility for the comments made available on a publication with his name on it. Kos must believe that is what is right and correct. Very well. Let's look at some of the comments that follow Kos' latest anti-Paul article:
"Libertarianism (or his style, anyway) is effectively racist itself. I mean, the guy wants to do away with the FDA, I can't imagine HUD, civil rights departments or similar are going to fare much better."
"Poisoning pooties and children is a rational business decision to the libertarians"
"Ron Paul fanboys are better known as Paultards."
Kos' apostles do exactly what Kos criticizes of Ron Paul: generalizing libertarians in the extreme and in the negative. Then there's the word, 'Paultards'. Well now that's intelligent. I guess from this we can infer that Kos believes it's okay to use a derivative of "retard" as a pejoritive, because he permits the use of it as such on his site. Kos could argue that Paul is running for president, and thus open to such scrutiny. It's also a way of saying that few Kos readers could qualify themselves. I see the word "Paultard" all over the comments on the Kos site, but no rebuke from other users, and certainly not from the man himself. The same is true at Wonkette and a host of other left sites.
Looks like Kos is the man in the glass house, but without any mirror. If Kos believes his own words, he should be striking about a third of the comments. Exorcist, heal thyself! Alas.
And if Paul was the sort of non-threat Kos makes him out to be, would he even be worth a post on his site? Right. Perhaps this was just Kos' announcement that henceforth, Daily Kos is merely an exercise in the trivial, unimportant, and miniscule. Yeah- saw through you on that, big guy.
But, reading the comments was truly depressing. It showed me what the left thinks of me, in essense. Libertarianism isn't perfect. Nothing is. But I am just astounded at the impression the left has of liberty. Astonished. Disappointed.
I guess the courtship is over.