Ron Paul and Double Standards
Now that Ron Paul has achieved electoral respectability in the Republican primaries, the media is in high dudgeon over his extremism. Paul, according to the procurators of good taste at the New York Times, "long ago disqualified himself for the presidency" by, among other things, "peddling claptrap proposals" such as "cutting a third of the federal budget."
The Times doesn't bother to explain why it feels cutting the federal budget by one-third is radical enough to disqualify a person from the presidency, but increasing it by one-third, as Obama did his first year in office, is "exactly what the country needs." But now Paul has "made things worse" by not adequately repudiating newsletters from the 1970s in which he claimed that "95 percent of Washington's black males were criminals," that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is a "Hate Whitey Day," that the U.S. has a "disappearing white majority," that Mossad was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and that some gay men deliberately spread the AIDS virus.
In getting exercised about the extremist views of presidential candidates, the Times has arrived about three years late. The grand dame of liberal sanctimony showed no such disgust over Barack Obama's failure to repudiate similar kinds of extremism in 2008. In fact, after hate-filled sermons by Obama's longtime pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright became public, Obama took to a nationally televised speech precisely to avoid repudiating the good Reverend, saying that he could "no more disown him [Reverend Wright] than I can my white grandmother." The response of the New York Times was to swoop in and declare the speech "Lincolnesque" and "Obama's Profile in Courage," as if, according to Mark Steyn, "the paranoid racist ravings of Jeremiah Wright are now part of the established cultural discourse in African American life and thus must command our respect."
If it is okay to disqualify Ron Paul as a presidential candidate for being associated with newsletters that described Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday as "Hate Whitey Day," then why wasn't Obama disqualified for associating with a Reverend who exclaimed that "white people's greed runs a world in need?" This particular gem came from a Wright speech that so impressed Obama that the latter borrowed its title for his own autobiography, The Audacity of Hope.
If Paul can be disqualified for newsletters lamenting the country's "disappearing white majority," why wasn't Obama disqualified for joining the Trinity Baptist Church in Chicago, where members must pledge to uphold the "Black Values System," which commits blacks to patronizing only black-owned stores and warns blacks to avoid the white "entrapment of black 'middleclassness'"? If Paul can be disqualified for newsletters suggesting that some gay men with AIDS deliberately spread that disease, than why was Obama not disqualified for telling a reporter that another black preacher, the Reverend James T. Meeks of the Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, was "a close friend and colleague" whom he "looked to for guidance"? Meeks is renowned for his anti-homosexual crusade and for blaming "Hollywood Jews for bringing us Brokeback Mountain[.]"
If Ron Paul can be disqualified for praising Ed and Elaine Brown, a New Hampshire couple who refused to pay federal income taxes and instigated a five-month armed standoff with United States marshals in 2007, then why wasn't Obama disqualified for launching his Illinois State Senate run from the Hyde Park home of longtime associate Bill Ayers, who by his own admission participated in the bombings of New York City Police headquarters in 1970, the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972?
The larger meaning of Ron Paul's campaign has little to do with his appeal to a certain percentage of Republican voters. It has to do with the lasting damage caused by America's ongoing racial double standard -- to wit: sympathetic but race-conscious media elites and large numbers of voters ignored, cloaked, and misrepresented Obama's radicalism. The country is now shackled by a set of policies and narratives (a massive new health care entitlement, unprecedented levels of government dependence, debilitating industrial and environmental regulation, foreign policy apologetics, and "blame the rich" class warfare) from which there is no certain escape. America, in short, would be a lot better off today if we played extremism with a racially even hand.
Seth A. Forman is the author of American Obsession: Race and Conflict in the Age of Obama (Booklocker 2011).