Ever since Texas Rep. Ron Paul first became a known figure in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, there has been discussion about his alleged ties to white supremacists and conspiracy theorists. For the most part, Paul's supporters have been able to dismiss the allegations and what evidence had emerged to support them. Now, though, literally on the cusp of a New Hampshire primary in which Paul is expected to beat Fred Thompson and perhaps even Rudy Giuliani, the New Republic's James Kirchick is out with extensive documentation of hate-filled and paranoiac writings that -- if not penned by Paul himself -- were published under his name.
Kirchick delved into the archives of monthly newsletters that have gone out -- under different titles, but always in Paul's name -- regularly since 1978. Few of the newsletters, Kirchick reports, contain bylines, but they are often written in a first-person style apparently meant to suggest that Paul himself was the author. "Whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common," Kirchick says. "They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him -- and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays."
Kirchick has uncovered too many examples to deal with comprehensively here (to borrow a blogospheric cliché, we suggest you read the whole thing), but suffice it to say that while writings in the newsletters were contemptuous of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and of the end of apartheid in South Africa, they were receptive to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. "One newsletter," Kirchick writes, "ridiculed black activists who wanted to rename New York City after King, suggesting that 'Welfaria,' 'Zooville,' 'Rapetown,' 'Dirtburg,' and 'Lazyopolis' were better alternatives."
There are other examples. Kirchick quotes from one newsletter, a special issue about the Los Angeles riots: "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began." In other issues, African-Americans are called "animals" and there are warnings of a coming race war.
Paul's campaign has issued a statement responding to the article. It's falling back on its previous defense, that Paul was not the author and that he did not supervise or approve what was written. In the statement, Paul says, "The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.
"In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: 'I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.'
"This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.
"When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name."
Of course, it may well be true that Paul simply had a long and ongoing pattern of ignoring the material that was being published under his name, not to mention the views of the writers producing it. But in that case, we have a bit of advice for him, something we learned back in, oh, second grade: When you're having the other kids do your homework for you, it's always a good idea to check it before handing it in.
Update: After publishing this post, we noticed that TNR has put together a page in which you can view selected excerpts from the actual newsletters in PDF form. That collection is available here.