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Responding to criticisms directed towards controversial comments often appearing in his 90's newsletters, GOP presidential candidate, Ron Paul (R-TX) is quoted by today's NY Times as responding thusly...
Mr. Paul, who is a physician, had said his political persuasion as a libertarian precluded him from harboring such biased views because “I don’t see people in collective groups.”
According to the Times piece, which drew heavily on The Weekly Standard's attempt to prevent Paul from becoming the GOP presidential nominee.....the good Doctor's newsletters of the 90's, which bore his name, contained statements like these....
A 1992 passage from the Ron Paul Political Report about the Los Angeles riots read, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.” A passage in another newsletter asserted that people with AIDS should not be allowed to eat in restaurants because “AIDS can be transmitted by saliva”; in 1990 one of his publications criticized Ronald Reagan for having gone along with the creation of the federal holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which it called “Hate Whitey Day.”
To be sure, Paul has denounced these controversial statements which appeared in his own newsletters during the 90's with the caveat that "he did not vet every article that was published in his newsletters."
Fair enough. I've never thought Ron Paul to be a wild-eyed bigot...at least not purposely. However, I do have a beef with Dr. Paul over his libertarianism.
Ron Paul is a proud libertarian. Paul has been the maverick politician for libertarianism....a political theory which embraces a small and very limited government viewpoint. As someone said last night on the teevee....'Ron Paul was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool.' In Ron Paul's libertarian land, as he said in the NY Times piece....the good Doctor claims he cannot be a racist or a bigot or one prone to favoring one "group" over another because....well...."I don't see people in collective groups."
Therein lies the problem for me with much of libertarianism. I wonder if the Founders saw people in collective groups when they refused to offer voting rights to women and institutionalized slavery of blacks back in the salad days of America. I wonder.
I wonder if after the Civil War during the hundred more years in which blacks were considered to be second class citizens without the full dignity offered by those lofty "all men are created equal" and "inalienable rights" phrases.....I wonder if American leaders saw black Americans as a "collective group" then. What do you think?
Although I respect Ron Paul and agree with a few of his viewpoints....I wonder if the phrase, "I don't see people in collective groups" isn't simply a libertarian cop-out to avoid, or prevent, any government responsibility in correcting, or preventing, racism, bigotry or other social injustices. After all, Ron's son, Rand, has expressed his "I don't see people in collective groups" insights by explaining how white lunch counter owners in the 50's and 60's who refused service to blacks,...all blacks, single or collective,....should still be able to exercise that freedom. The freedom, in this case, to see blacks as a collective people worthy of white discriminatory treatment. In other words, the freedom to divide America up into "collective groups."
This is an area where I disagree with my libertarian friends. Make no mistake....I am not suggesting in any way that libertarians are bigoted or racist. I do not believe that to be the case at all. What I do think, however, is that libertarians tend to only see what is convenient for them to see in their ongoing process of defending their primary political pillar....small and limited federal government.
It is impossible for a nation to confront the reality of poverty, aging, intolerance, or any other social problem or injustice without first recognizing "people in collective groups", i.e., the poor, the elderly, the victimized. So, while libertarians claim to not see "people in collective groups" in order to maintain their small, non-interventionist, federal government doctrine.....they are, at the same time, averting their eyes from the very social problems which threaten the stability of the country.
If there is no "collective group" that we can identify being in poverty, how, or why, would the federal government address the problem of poverty? Let churches do the job? If collective groups of Americans are never considered, or seen as collective groups, as Dr. Paul suggests, then how does a country deal with such things as Muslim and gay bashing....or is it the case as Paul the Younger suggests....that the "market" will sort these things out with it's, you know, divine hand?
All this and more is why I consider much of libertarianism as fantasy political thinking. I do not for one minute believe that Ron Paul doesn't recognize...."see"....people as in collective groups. Of course he recognizes the distinctions among citizens of the U.S. We all do. But as a libertarian believer in as small and as limited a federal government as possible, the Doc pretends that these clear lines of distinctions do not exist, or at least that he doesn't see them....so that no appeal to federal government can be made to correct any social injustices.