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“Parents Own The Children”: Libertarians Have A History Of Horrifying Views On Parenting

In a recent CNBC interview, Senator Rand Paul tempered some of his recent remarks about the alleged horrors of vaccination by claiming that he only opposes vaccine mandates because they infringe upon parents’ freedom. When confronted with the question of whether or not discouraging vaccination is a threat to children’s health, Paul launched into a meandering consideration of public health and liberty that concluded with the assertion that “the state doesn’t own your children, parents own the children.”

Paul’s bizarre rendering of the parent-child relationship as unilateral ownership is not the most unhinged thing a well-regarded libertarian has ever said about children. In fact, libertarians exhibit a historical inability to adequately explain how parents should relate to their children, why parents are obligated (if at all) to care for their children, and whether or not moral nations should require that parents feed, clothe, and shelter their children within a libertarian frame.

Consider Lew Rockwell, former congressional chief of staff for Rand’s father, Ron. Rockwell, who may or may not have had a hand in composing the now infamously racist and homophobic slew of newsletters sent out to Ron Paul fans between the late ’70s and early ’90s, is a professed fan of child labor. Complaining of laws that prevent, among other things, second-graders from operating forklifts, Rockwell opines that “we are still saddled with anti-work laws that stunt young people’s lives.” Like Rand Paul on vaccine mandates, Rockwell sees child labor laws as government overreach. “In a free and decent society, decisions about these matters are for parents, not bureaucrats,” Rockwell writes, referring to whether or not schoolchildren should be breadwinners. The type of society Rockwell envisions here hardly seems “decent,” but it would certainly be “free” in the way Paul imagines, and in that sense it is perfectly libertarian.

Rockwell’s mentor, Murray Rothbard, one of the twentieth century’s more famous libertarians, was similarly fond of kids in the workplace. Rothbard imagined that laws against child labor were passed in order to artificially inflate the wages of adults, who viewed children as competition capable of underbidding them. “Supposedly ‘humanitarian’ child labor laws,” Rothbard remarks in his book The Ethics of Liberty, “have systematically forcibly prevented children from entering the labor force, thereby privileging their adult competitors.” While the real impetus behind child labor laws was child welfare, it is telling that Rothbard tended to look upon kids with a suspicious eye, and his ethics bear out this cold approach. Later in The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard, in keeping with the libertarian exaltation of personal freedom, argues that “no man can therefore have a ‘right’ to compel someone to do a positive act”that is, because all people are free, by his account, your rights cannot impose positive actions on others. This means, Rothbard goes on, that a parent “may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.” He concludes that “the law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.” To do so, for Rothbard, would be pure government overreach.

Such dark fantasies are not restricted to the weird world of libertarian academia. Williamson “Bill” Evers, formerly a libertarian candidate for congress and advisor to the McCain 2008 campaign, also argues that there should be no laws preventing a parent from, say, starving an infant to death. In an article published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Evers concludes, “We have considered the hypothesis that there should be an enforced legal duty of parents to support their minor children. Having found the various reasons advanced in support of this duty inadequate, we can only conclude that no such duty exists … one has to regard the notion of a legal duty of parents to support their children as without merit.” Evers allows that parents might be morally obligated to do something for their children, but also that morals should not be legally enforced. Therefore, vaccination, labor, and finally whether or not to give one’s children the necessities of life ultimately comes down, for these classic libertarian thinkers, to the free will of the parents.

Libertarianism rests on the whimsical notion that all people are isolated, entirely free agents with no claims on others except those that they can negotiate through consensual contracts. The very existence of children flatly disproves this; any moral intuition indicates that children come into the world with claims on their parents at the very least, and their entire societies considered broadly. To avoid a hellish death spiral of infectious disease and neglect, we would all do well to reject Paul and his cohort on the subject of child rearing.

 

By: Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, The New Republic, February 4, 2015

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Libertarians, Public Health, Rand Paul | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Darker Side”: Ron Paul’s Nutty Think Tank Presents A Problem For His Son

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has established himself as one of the Republican Party’s most influential members, and a legitimate early contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016. But the biggest hurdle to Paul’s ascension as a national leader may be the man whose vast political network enabled his improbable rise in the first place: his father, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.

The elder Paul attracted legions of diehard supporters with his longshot 2012 bid, cementing his role as the public face of the GOP’s libertarian wing — a mantle that was neatly transferred to his son after the latter’s highly publicized filibuster over the Obama administration’s drone strike policy.

But his campaign also shed light on the darker aspects of Paul’s past, such as his series of racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic newsletters, and his close association with white supremacists and neo-Confederates, among other unsavory characters.

Now Paul’s disturbing connections, which he vehemently denied during the 2012 campaign, are on display for all to see at his new think tank, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

As James Kirchick reports in The Daily Beast, the institute’s board is stocked with all manner of 9/11 truthers, supporters of authoritarian regimes, anti-Semites, neo-Confederates, and more. Among others, Paul’s associates now include:

—Lew Rockwell, a member of the right-wing fringe whom Paul explicitely disavowed during his presidential campaign, and who recently compared law enforcement after the Boston Marathon bombing to Nazi stormtroopers.

—John Laughland, who denies that the Bosnian genocide ever took place, and maintains that former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was convicted by a “kangaroo court.”

—Eric Margolis, who denies any conclusive proof linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11th attacks, and instead suggests that they may have been “a plot by America’s far right or by Israel or a giant cover-up.”

—Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer who has described American Jews as a “fifth column” intent on sabatoging American foreign policy to benefit Israel.

—Walter Block, who believes that the Confederacy should have won the Civil War, and believes that America’s current foreign policy can be blamed on “the monster Lincoln.”

Those five names barely scratch the surface of the unsettling information that Kirchick has uncovered in his must-read article.

Although Ron Paul never had a realistic chance of winning the presidency, he still recognized that he had no choice but to disavow his connection with this rogues’ gallery of lunatics to legitimize his candidacy. But now, while his son has a very serious chance to compete for the Republican nomination in his own right, the senior Paul is drawing these disturbing figures closer than ever.

This presents a very serious problem for Rand Paul, who has presented himself as the man who can reverse the Republican Party’s dismal performance with minority voters, particularly African-Americans. Given his own troubling statements about the Civil Rights Act, the Kentucky senator would have already had trouble convincing voters that “the Republican Party has always been the party of civil rights.” With his father openly partnering with neo-Confederates, that mission — along with Paul’s equally critical task of hanging on to the moderate and independent voters who have inflated his poll numbers — may be totally impossible.

Starting with his surprising decision to endorse Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign before his father had ended his own, Rand Paul has taken great pains to present himself as more mainstream than his father, and consequently as a more realistic presidential candidate. But as long as his father persists with his fringe right-wing activity — or unless Rand Paul does the unthinkable, and publicly disavows his father — Rand may never come any closer to the presidency than Ron.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, April 26, 2013

April 27, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Rand Paul | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What To Make Of Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletter

With übertenther Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) emerging as the latest frontrunner in the Iowa GOP primary, Ta-Nehisi Coates chronicles many of the most offensive highlights from a series of racist newsletters Paul published in the late 1980s and early 1990s:

Needlin’: Paul’s December 1989 newsletter claims that roving bands of African-Americans are trying to give white people HIV. According to the newsletter, “at least 39 white women have been stuck with used hypodermic needles-perhaps infected with AIDS-by gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14. . . . Who can doubt that if the situation had been reversed, if white girls had done this to black women, we would have been subjected to months-long nation-wide propaganda campaign on the evils of white America? The double standard strikes again.”

Fantasies of Anti-White Bias: The same newsletter imagined a fantasy world where anti-white racist dominates DC’s culture. “To be white in Washington, however, is to experience a culture that is anti-white and proud of it. Radio stations urge listeners not to shop in white (or Asian) owned stores. Ministers lead anti-white and anti-Asian boycotts. Professors teach that whites are committing genocide against blacks and invented crack and AIDS as part of The Plan.”

Instructions on Murdering Black Youth: A 1992 newsletter provided fairly detailed instructions on the best way to shoot and kill an African-American and get away with it. “If you live in a major city, you’ve probably already heard about the newest threat to your life and limb, and your family: carjacking. It is the hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos. . . . An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example). I frankly don’t know what to make of such advice, but even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.”

Beware the “Malicious Gay”: African-Americans are not the only target of the newsletters’ ire. Ron Paul’s publications also feature unusually bad medical advice punctuated with anti-gay fantasies. “Those who don’t commit sodomy, who don’t get a blood transfusion, and who don’t swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay, as was Kimberly Bergalis.”

In a partial defense of Paul, David Weigel offers a perfectly plausible explanation of how these bigoted rants against science and reality came to appear under the name of a medical doctor who now argues that the War on Drugs should end because it is inherently racist. As Weigel explains in a piece he co-authored with Julian Sanchez, the likely author of Paul’s racist rants wasn’t Ron Paul, it was a repulsive libertarian activist named Lew Rockwell.

Rockwell, who now runs a far right think tank that publishes articles with titles like “How to Eliminate Social Security and Medicare,” believed in the 1980s and 1990s that libertarians had become a “party of the stoned” that needed to be “de-loused.” His solution, according to Weigel and Sanchez, was to try to expand the libertarian tent to include overt racists who could be attracted to libertarians’ opposition to “State-enforced integration.” It was likely Rockwell, and not the libertarian Congressman Ron Paul, who drafted the racist rants published in Paul’s name.

This explanation for Paul’s behavior hardly excuses it, however. The simplest conclusion that can be drawn when someone publishes a racist rant in their own name is that they truly believe that one race is superior to another. Weigel and Sanchez’ reporting, however, leads to only two possible explanations. Either Paul is so oblivious to what was being done in his name that this obliviousness alone disqualifies him for a job like the presidency — or he knew very well that horrific arguments were being published his name and he lent his name to a cynical racist strategy anyway.

By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, December 21, 2011

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Story Behind Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters

The documents, which include harsh, prejudice attacks against the black community, are evidence of a libertarian movement trying to find an audience.

So as Ron Paul is on track to win the Iowa caucuses, he is getting a new dose of press scrutiny.

And the press is focusing on the newsletters that went out under his name in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They were called the Ron Paul’s Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.

There is no doubt that the newsletters contained utterly racist statements.

Some choice quotes:

“Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

“We are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”

After the Los Angeles riots, one article in a newsletter claimed, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”

One referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as “the world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” and who “seduced underage girls and boys.”

Another referred to Barbara Jordan, a civil rights activist and congresswoman as “Barbara Morondon,” the “archetypical half-educated victimologist.”

Other newslettersother referred had strange conspiracy theories about homosexuals, the CIA, and AIDS.

In 1996 when the Texas Monthly investigated the newsletters, Paul took responsibility for them and said that certain things were taken out of context. (It’s hard to imagine a context that would make the above quotes defensible.)

When the newsletter controversy came up again during the 2008 campaign, Paul explained that he didn’t actually write the newsletters but because they carried his name he was morally responsible for their content. Further, he didn’t know exactly who wrote the offensive things and they didn’t represent his views.

But it is still a serious issue. Jamie Kirchick reported in The New Republic that Paul made nearly one million dollars in just one year from publishing the newsletters. Could Paul really not understand the working of such a profitable operation? Reporters at the libertarian-leaning Reason magazine wrote that the author was likely longtime Paul-friend and combative polemicist Lew Rockwell.

Even though many of the newsletters are written in a first person, conversational style, many observers don’t believe that Ron Paul actually wrote them.

There aren’t any videos on YouTube with Paul speaking in incendiary terms about minorities. The newsletters don’t “sound” like Ron Paul — he doesn’t do wordplay like “Morondon” or use prefixes like “semi-criminal” or “half-educated” in his speech or his recent writings. Further, most newsletter and direct-mail operations in politics employ ghostwriters.

So why were Ron Paul or his ghostwriters engaged in racism and conspiracy theories? And why did Ron Paul allow this?

The first answer is simply that marginal causes attract marginal people.

The Gold Standard and non-interventionism have long been pushed to the fringe of our politics, and ambitious people tend to dive into the mainstream. That means that some of the ‘talent’ that marginalized ideas attract will be odd and unstable.

There are two strategies for dealing with this problem. You purge your movement of cranks to preserve credibility and risk alienating a chunk of supporters. Or you let everyone in your movement fly their freak flag and live with the consequences. Ron Paul, being a libertarian, has always done the latter.

The second answer to this question: These newsletters were published before a decade of war that has exhausted many Americans, before the financial crisis, and before the Tea Party.

All three made Ron Paul’s ideas seem more relevant to our politics. They made anti-government libertarianism seem (to some) like a sensible corrective.

But in the 1990s and 1980s, anti-government sentiment was much less mainstream. It seemed contained to the racist right-wing, people who supported militia movements, who obsessed over political correctness, who were suspicious of free-trade deals like NAFTA.

At that time a libertarian theorist, Murray Rothbard argued that libertarians ought to engage in “Outreach to the Rednecks” in order to insert their libertarian theories into the middle of the nation’s political passions.

Rothbard had tremendous influence on Lew Rockwell, and the whole slice of the libertarian movement that adored Ron Paul.

But Rothbard and Rockwell never stuck with their alliances with angry white men on the far right. They have been willing to shift alliances from left to right and back again. Before this “outreach” to racists, Rothbard aligned himself with anti-Vietnam war protestors in the 1960s. In the 2000s, after the “outreach” had failed, Rockwell complained bitterly about “Red-State fascists” who supported George Bush and his war. So much for the “Rednecks.” The anti-government theories stay the same, the political strategy shifts in odd and extreme directions.

As crazy as it sounds, Ron Paul’s newsletter writers may not have been sincerely racist at all. They actually thought appearing to be racist was a good political strategy in the 1990s. After that strategy yielded almost nothing — it was abandoned by Paul’s admirers.

You can attribute their “redneck strategy” to the most malignant kind of cynicism or to a political desperation that made them insane. Neither is particularly flattering. Phil Klein of the Washington Examiner is correct when he writes:

Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have both attacked each other for what was written in their respective books. If either of those books had included a number of overtly racist statements, their candidacies would be over before they started.

This is undoubtedly true. The media seems to simply accept that Ron Paul has some oddities in his past and in his inner circle. They take his grandfatherly demeanor at face-value. In part this is because they believe he is not a serious candidate.

Winning the Iowa caucuses would change all that instantly. Undoubtedly the movement that Paul inspired has moved far beyond the race-baiting it engaged in two decades ago. Young people from college campuses aren’t lining up to hear him speak because of what appeared in those newsletter about the 1992 L.A. riots. Rand Paul tried his hardest to place Paul-style libertarianism into the context of the Tea Party. And he will likely carry on the movement without this 1990s baggage.

But the questions remain. If Ron Paul is so libertarian that he won’t even police people who use his name, if his movement is filled with incompetents and opportunists, then what kind of a president would he make? Would he even check in to see if his ideas are being implemented? Who would he appoint to Cabinet positions?

These are all legitimate questions. And the media is going to start asking them now. If there isn’t already a “ceiling” on Ron Paul’s support, widespread knowledge of the newsletters could build one quickly.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Atlantic, December 21, 2011. This article originally appeared at Business Insider, an Atlanticpartner site

December 22, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, Right Wing | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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