Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Don't believe the hypeWhy does Ron Paul hate public education?

A lot of people have been getting excited about Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) lately after his performances in the recent Republican primary debates, his appearance on The Daily Show and Bill Maher's glowing endorsement of him on his show, Real Time. Clearly, he has done a very good job of positioning himself as a new kind of "maverick" republican, willing to push back against the prevailing rightward tilt of the party. But is any of this posturing real?

I've noticed a number of reporters and bloggers out there who have rightfully raised questions about Paul's stances on issues of race. As an example, via C&L I found this post by Dave Neiwert at Orcinus that examines it rather closely. To wit (emphases mine; some hyperlinks added):

What I can tell you -- what all of us need to know before we run out and sign on for a summer of Ron Paul Love Feasts -- is that Paul has some long-standing ties to early-90s Patriot groups -- and some ugly attitudes on race and equality -- that should give us all long and serious pause. Diarist phenry at Daily Kos lays out the particulars here and here.

According to phenry, Paul's newsletter, The Ron Paul Political Report (renamed The Ron Paul Survival Report in 1993, in a bid to pander to the militia audience that was peaking that year) was a Patriot movement must-read, full of helpful advice on tax protest, gold-backed currency, urban race war and other pet legal and social theories of the extremist right. While content is very hard to come by now (Paul has scrubbed much of what was on the Web, and refuses to release the newsletter to the media), phenry dug up a few choice samples, including:

* A 1992 screed on African-American "racial terrorism" in Los Angeles, in which Paul insists that "our country is being destroyed by a group of actual and potential terrorists -- and they can be identified by the color of their skin."

* Another 1992 article, this one asserting that "complex embezzling" is "100% white and Asian;" and noting that young black male muggers are "unbelievably fleet-footed."

* A Houston Chronicle citation from 1996, in which he asserts that Barbara Jordan was a "fraud." Paul wrote: "Everything from her imitation British accent, to her supposed expertise in law, to her distinguished career in public service, is made up. If there were ever a modern case of the empress without clothes, this is it. She is the archetypical half-educated victimologist, yet her race and sex protect her from criticism."

In the second post, phenry outlines Paul's connections to various white supremacists groups. In 1996, Paul was one of only two candidates endorsed by Christian Identity leader Larry Pratt (who had previously worked with David Duke, and resigned from Pat Buchanan's team when his Identity role became public). Paul refused to repudiate the endorsement; and Pratt has stepped forward again with a quasi-endorsement of Paul's current campaign.

Without question, these revelations about Paul's racial views and associations with radical racists are very disturbing and worthy of discussion. A big thank you goes out to people like phenry and Dave Neiwart who have done the work to uncover this information. But I've been surprised that the criticism of him has so far been limited this.

Racism is a big issue, obviously, but it's also a very polarizing one. GOP candidates get accused of racism virtually all the time, often rightfully so. But such an accusation, though cautionary for right-thinking people, will actually function as a badge of honor for others. Sadly, it is not yet something that Americans have finally settled as an issue and, because of that, I think it is a mistake for those of on "the left" to get so caught up in that issue alone. Yes, it should be exposed and pursued, but not exclusively, especially if there's something else about the guy that a vast majority of Americans will find almost equally unacceptable, if not more.

What if it turned out that Ron Paul was diametrically opposed to a policy -- a way of life, really -- that poll after poll reveals is strongly supported by the overwhelming majority Americans? What if, in addition to his repugnant views on a polarizing issue like race, he can also be shown to be in support of radical ideas that are anathema to long-standing American traditions and values? That would be worth pursuing too, would it not? Could such a thing aslo have an effect on the honeymoon he's currently enjoying?

More after the jump

Well, poll after poll does, in fact, show that when it comes to the issue of public education Americans can't get enough of it. By numbers upwards of 60 - 65% Americans have consistently indicated their desire for federal funding of public education to be increased, not decreased. Roughly the same numbers are even willing to pay more taxes, not fewer, in order to publicly fund education and believe public school teachers are payed too little, not too much.

At the same time Americans have registered ambivalence, if not outright rejection of charter schools and private school vouchers as viable alternatives to public education.

For a more comprehensive and current look at public attitudes towards public education please check the 38th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. PDK keeps an archive of their poll results from each year so be sure to check any year to confirm the persistence and consistency with which Americans register these sentiments.

So, where does Ron Paul stand in the face of overwhelming public support for public education?

Well, let's put it this way. The Alliance for the Separation of School & State (the poetically appropriate acronym being ASSS) is an organization founded on the principle that government should have no involvment whatsoever in educating our nation's children. They have a very interesting web site, I must say. In it they make it abundantly clear that they do not favor the mere reform of public education nor merely settling for alternatives to it. No, no, silly-billy. They want to end all government involvement in education. That's K-12, community colleges, universities, GED's -- the whole thing. They don't want No Child Left Behind. The want no child's behind left in a public school. In the section entitled The Case for Separation they make this point clear and I strongly recommend checking it out, if for no other reason, to become more familiar with the rhetoric of these extremists. It's important to be able to recognize it when it's regurgitated by public officials.

In addition, if the preceding was not already clear enough, you also have this:
"I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."
The preceding is a direct quote of a proclamation crafted by the Alliance and set up on their site as an online petition of sorts. Now, here's the kicker. Guess who signed it?

Why, everyone's favorite GOP "maverick", Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), of course.

Now you may ask, "But how will be ordinary families pay for their children's education if government isn't involved to provide a public resource? "

Well the good folks at ASSS have an answer. They'll just deal with it!

"Most people are more able to pay for education than they think."

"Parents would also find creative ways to help fund their children's schooling."

"Keep in mind that many thousands of parents of very modest means now find the resources to send their children to private schools..."

Put simply, Ron Paul wants public education in America abolished.

That's right... ABOLISHED!

How does this radical idea comport with traditional American values or the overwhelming will of the American public? How many of us owe our current standard of living, our earning power and our college educations to the benefits we derived from public education? How many of us were raised in households that could not have afforded private school at all, let alone a decent one? Do public schools play a positive role in your community?

I believe the answers to these questions are self evident. Someone needs to call Ron Paul publicly on his hostility to public education. Make him either recant or explain endorsement of this petition. But, whatevery one does, do not go trusting this man just because he talks a good game on reality TV shows diguised as political debates. TV is not real.

Ron Paul is every bit as radical as the rest of the Republican field.