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.
A lot of times they think subsidies and welfare goes to poor people. Now there's some welfare that goes to poor people, but sometimes I think they're crumbs. The real big welfare in the system that we have goes to the military-industrial complex and the big banks, that's where it goes. [applause]
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:
On July 10, Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas, delivered a tirade against his version of neoconservatism. He called it "Neo-Conned!" and he posted it on his website and had it distributed as best he could. A considerable part of it is devoted to his version of my writings, and is so inaccurate, so distorted, and so nasty, as to make me wish once again that this country had a decent libel law so that I could at least get some money from him and give him a healthy dose of the public humiliation he deserves.
A final point: Paul's accusations are not simply political disagreements, and his language is not merely critical. He is trying to demonize an entire group of people. He says we are not only wrong, but morally evil and an active danger to American society and the peace of the world. His attack, like those coming from the likes of Pat Buchanan and extremists on the other end of the political spectrum (look at David Frum's recent encounter with some of my leftist attackers), are incitements to personal violence.
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:
Effective immediately, new users may not shill for Ron Paul in any way shape, form or fashion. Not in comments, not in diaries, nada. If your account is less than 6 months old, you can talk about something else, you can participate in the other threads and be your zany libertarian self all you want, but you cannot pimp Ron Paul. Those with accounts more than six months old may proceed as normal.
Now, I could offer a long-winded explanation for why this new policy is being instituted, but I'm guessing that most of you can probably guess. Unless you lack the self-awareness to understand just how annoying, time-consuming, and bandwidth-wasting responding to the same idiotic arguments from a bunch of liberals pretending to be Republicans can be.
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:
After the debate 34% of Fox News viewers said that Ron Paul won the debate with 27% saying that Mike Huckabee won the debate. That was in stark contrast to the Fox News focus group who when asked if Ron Paul won nobody raised their hands.
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:
When I say "Ron Paul supporters," I mean that these people ONLY digg stories about Ron Paul, and many of them don't read the actual content of submissions. My "history" post had Ron Paul's name in the title (Digg Dirt: From the Digg Army to Ron Paul) but had only the minutest mention of him in the article -- I referenced how a push from Digg may have resulted in him getting on the Daily show. The piece itself had NOTHING to do with Ron Paul!
So why the Diggs? Who are these people? The "Ron Paul Army" has a very strong and unified presence on Digg, but no one calls them out on it - at least not on the individual level. Ron Paulers are organized and networked. They are "friends" on Digg. Their mission: Digg every story with even a slight mention of Ron Paul in order to keep his name in the public eye. How can I say that? RyanUnderdown.com has done a pretty good job of cataloging memos related to the planned Digg manipulation. Check them out 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:
I previously explained about Digg.com and how their recent addition of non-technology topics (e.g. Politics, Business & Finance) has opened an opportunity for pro-market/pro-liberty articles to get an airing at this very popular news site.
Stories are "promoted" to the Digg.com front page by "digging" (voting) for a story. To coordinate efforts to promote free market and libertarian articles I have started a list of libertarian diggers. As I write this I already have 45 people on it. We have once again this morning been successful in promoting an article. In this case, today's Mises.org Daily Article on inflation and the Fed. Head over to Digg and join the heated discussion about the article, (you will need to set up a free account).
If you want to join our merry band of libertarian diggers, here are the details...
E-mail me and send me your Digg Username (you login to Digg with this). I will add you to my list of Friends which is serving as our list of libertarian diggers.
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:
Hurricane Katrina: Katrina served as a testing ground and precedent setting case for the coming Police State, with forced gun confiscations and deliberate withholding of aid by FEMA.
The Tsunami: Was the high death toll a result of incompetence, greed, deliberate weather warfare, a combination of all three or none?
Bohemian Grove: From Nixon to Clinton, Arnold to George W, all have been initiated into and are regular visitors to the Satanic hideout known as Bohemian Grove.
Bilderberg: Hundreds of high powered world figures, politicians to film directors meet every year to direct world events and formulate plans for the takeover.
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?
Estulin explains that the Bilderberg Group control the world by means of a process called systemic methodology, where they carve up the globe into numerous different pieces and then place their designated frontmen in charge of the major institutions that govern each part of the world.
By this method, Bilderberg were able to merge the nations of Europe into the EU under the guise of trade deals, and the same process is now unfolding with Canada, the U.S. and Mexico being conglomerated to form the North American Union - but not without committed resistance on behalf of the American people.
That resistance is being countered by the beefing of a brutal police state nationwide and the increasing use of U.S. troops in domestic law enforcement. Endgame exposes how the elite are trying to overcome opposition to their agenda by instituting the framework of martial law with executive orders that are designed to combat "domestic insurrection," as President George Bush officially announces a fiat dictatorship.
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.