November 1, 2007
Is Ron Paul Pandering to the Paranoid?By Rick Moran
What is it about the candidacy of Ron Paul that has attracted the paranoid fringe of American politics?
Clearly, there are Ron Paul supporters who are rational and grounded, not given to spouting conspiracies or blaming "neocons" for everything bad that happens in the world (neocons being a blind for anti-Semitism). For all we know, they may be the majority of his supporters.
But just as clearly, there is a dark underbelly to the Paul campaign -- a ruthless, mob of internet ruffians who seek to intimidate those who would dare criticize them, the Paul candidacy, or most especially, one of their pet conspiracy theories about 9/11, the "New World Order" (an amorphous term that generally means the imposition of a one world government), or something as mundane and silly as planting a computer chip in every new born in America.
The question isn't whether Ron Paul believes in any of these conspiracy theories, although he has said on at least two occasions that he believes the investigation into 9/11 must be reopened to explore "unanswered questions" about the tragedy. It is his apparent pandering to this lunatic fringe that must be explored and reasons for it demanded from the campaign.
I say "apparent" pandering because there is the possibility that Paul is completely clueless that his anti-government rants (a subjective word but apt if you listen to his speeches or watch him in the debates) full of dark hints of conspiracy and wrongdoing by the highest officials in the land, actually ring a Pavlovian bell for the paranoid conspiracy freaks causing them to flock to his banner.
Speak to a crowd of conspiracists and mention the "military-industrial complex" and visions of sinister men meeting at Bretton Woods and the Council on Foreign Relations are immediately conjured up. And the inclusion of banks as a beneficiary of government "welfare" may be true, but is a curious choice nonetheless. Banks get nowhere near the federal dollars that defense contractors get. Why include them?
But almost every anti-Semite worth his salt knows in his heart what the mention of banks in the same breath as the military-industrial complex conspiracy means: Jewish control of the financial destiny of this country.
It is clear that Paul himself is no anti-Semite. But is he pandering to the fringe by speaking like this? When he talks about "neocons" -- which for some in this country is a codeword for the Jewish conspiracy and Jewish power in Washington -- is he aware of the effect on his more bigoted supporters?
In fact, Paul's rants against "neocons" have been so vicious and full of deceitful half truths that National Review columnist Michael Ledeen thought of suing Paul for libel:
It once again begs the question; are Paul's speeches against neocons designed to attract that segment of the population that believes neoconservatives have an agenda created in Jerusalem and are nothing more than tools of Israel? Or is he just a crank who is oblivious to the impact his words have on the fringes of American politics?
I am not one who believes that everyone who criticizes neoconservatives is an anti-Semite. But in Ron Paul's case, he has attracted the support of white supremacists largely because they believe that his attacks on neocons validate their view (warning: link goes to hate site) that the neoconservatives are agents of Israel and part of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy to destroy America and the white race.
At the risk of repeating myself, I do not believe the majority of Ron Paul supporters are haters. But reading my emails over the last 72 hours following my AT postings about some of the supporters of Ron Paul's candidacy, as well as my experiences on my own personal blog and the experiences I've read about from numerous bloggers, writers, pundits, and media outlets, I have no doubt that the haters, the paranoid conspiracists, and even some anti-globalist anarchists are among the most committed and most visible of his campaign volunteers.
The blog RedState recently felt it necessary to ban the "Paulbots" as they're called because of their personal attacks on commenters as well as their continuous spouting of outlandish conspiracy theories:
For those not familiar with Paulbot tactics, their attacks usually appear well-coordinated with similar arguments used by most emailers. Hence, the euphemism "Paulbots" since it is almost like an attack by spam bots.
They have driven online polls sponsored by bloggers out of existence thanks to their gaming the system. Apparently, some kind of sophisticated email campaign is at work, because no sooner would a poll on a blog go up than the Paulbots would swarm to the site and vote for their man. Following the Fox News debate in Orlando, Paulbots inundated the online poll measuring the winner of the debate and Paul got 34% of that vote. Unfortunately for Paul, the focus group disagreed:
The focus group was chosen by pollster Frank Lunz and done according to accepted scientific methods. Tell that to the Paulbots and they'll talk about a conspiracy to deny their candidate his debate "victory:"
Constant attention is paid to Technorati and other blog search engines so that the most minute negative mention of Paul will bring several commenters rushing to his defense. Some are indeed polite and accommodating. Most are not. Personal attacks are common as are charges that the blogger is part of a conspiracy against the candidate.
Most bloggers are sick of the attacks. And the fact that the Paulbots seem come out of nowhere is disconcerting. Most of us who blog know who our commenters are and are familiar with their positions. The Paul supporters are what are known as "Drive bys" -- commenters who drop by specifically to comment on one topic only and have no desire to read anything else or visit the site again. It is obvious from many of their comments that they don't even bother to read what is written about their candidate.
This was brought home last summer when Digg, the hugely popular social networking site, banned Ron Paul articles from being promoted to the front page of the website because of an organized "Digg" campaign to favorite any post mentioning Paul, thus moving the article to prominence. Such gaming of the system was explained here:
(Note the comments in this post from the blog on which I found the link to the above story for a good example of Paulbots in action.)
The link above goes to a site that lists 12 separate email groups that urge Ron Paul supporters to game Digg. Here's an example:
No doubt there are Technorati email lists as well as others begun by Paul supporters. And then there's this curious notion of below-the-radar email lists illuminated in this piece by The Nation that points to far right network that is fairly nebulous but effective. The spread of stories and rumors mimics uncannily the speed of response to postings by Ron Paul supporters. A legitimate question could be asked about whether or not this email network is also part of the Paul unofficial communications apparatus.
Finally, there is this email campaign we reported on earlier where Ron Paul spam from several different countries from around the world ends up in thousands and thousands of mailboxes.
No doubt Paul adherents will point to this networking with pride and boast how organized they are. And they would be correct. But with Ron Paul a blip in all the polls, garnering less than 2% from likely Republican voters nationally according to the latest Fox Poll, one wonders how they can make their grandiose claims of winning online polls and having legions of supporters. Are Republican primary voters lying to pollsters? If not, Paul supporters must accept the fact that their candidate is a fringe candidate and has zero impact on the race for the nomination.
And if he is a fringe candidate, it is almost certainly partially a result of his curious relationship with perhaps the strangest radio host in the country.
Alex Jones has been positing conspiracies for more than a decade. Prior to 9/11, most of those conspiracy theories involved secret societies who had gotten control of the government and were plotting to rob us of our freedoms and sovereignty, folding us into a one world government run by rich, powerful men.
It's "The New World Order" on steroids and there are literally dozens of conspiracies associated with it. For example, a perusal of Jones' website reveals the following:
Ron Paul has appeared on the Alex Jones show several times. He has accepted money from Jones and even appears in Jones new film "Endgame." What's it about?
Needless to say, Paul's appearance in such a film calls into question his judgment, if not his sanity. And being interviewed on The Alex Jones Show several times raises the serious question I asked at the beginning of this piece.
Is Paul pandering to the conspiracy nuts in America, knowing their enthusiastic support for him will assist his campaign? Or is he unaware that by appealing to the basest emotions brought to the surface by his dark hints involving dark forces carrying out a campaign to take away our freedoms, he is giving the paranoid, the fearful, and the ignorant haters a standard to rally around?
He is a foolish man if he believes he can control these forces. In the end, they can only destroy him.
Rick Moran is associate editor of American Thinker and proprietor of the website Rightwing Nuthouse.