Jun 15, 2007

Open Letter to Thomas L. Knapp: Please....

Thomas, give me a break.

You cannot possibly believe that Ron Paul is a racist and this 15 year old newsletter is truly representative of his views.

I accept his explanation and I also accept his statement that he accepts responsibility for the newsletter since it bore his name. Absolutely nothing he has ever said before or after that newsletter was published is racist in even the slightest way.

You may not remember me from back in the libertyforum or free republic days before then, but I was one of Harry Browne's staunchest supporters. I was at the antiwar Convention in 1999 and covered Harry and Patrick Buchanan. To my chagrin, I missed Ron Paul's speech.

Your tack here is much like Jacob Hornberger's was with Harry. And frankly, I think that Jacob was stirring the pot to get himself attention which is why I accused you of the same. If you are not now trying to take advantage of the overwhelming growth of interest in Ron Paul's candidacy on the net, then you are extremely sloppy.

If you had researched the allegations against Paul you'd know that there is nothing more there than an unfortunate blemish that reflects upon Paul's judgment years ago but not upon his character.

And while we're on the subject of strange things you're saying lately; for you to claim that libertarian ideals depend on a party apparatus is absurd. You wrote this on the 14th:

1) If one believes that the Republican Party cannot be reformed into a libertarian party, and that on the other hand the Libertarian Party is the only vehicle through which it is even remotely likely that libertarian ideals may -- sooner or later -- be translated into public policy, then Paul's campaign is worthy of denunciation by virtue of the fact that it will inevitably cause some people who are looking for a libertarian political party to mistake the GOP for that kind, or potentially that kind, of political party, at the expense of the LP.

The message of liberty needs no party. Furthermore, what's worse? That people might mistake the GOP as being libertarian, or that the message of liberty will be left solely in the hands of the LP and all of about 500 thousand people who will hear it?

Really now Thomas. The reason that Ron Paul is garnering so much support is because there isn't anyone on the planet who would mistake the current GOP as being even remotely libertarian, unless of course you consider dispensing "democracy" at gunpoint and bankrupting the nation, libertarian. His refreshing viewpoints and life-long, consistent dedication to libertarian principles are what makes him attractive to voters. He has no baggage. He has not wavered from his principles, he has served his community and his country and at 71, is still showing boyish enthusiasm for the message of liberty.

How many times have you denounced the "you're either with us or agin us" mentality only to now espouse it (albeit couched in flowery terms)?

Whether or not a libertarian runs under the Republican or Libertarian party banner is irrelevant. Though, it is absolutely true that under the Republican banner, there is no time or energy wasted on ballot access.

The Libertarian party has not in 30 years learned how to win elections. In the last 30 years Ron Paul has actually won 10 elections to Congress. I' will grant you that this is due partly because he hasn't had to waste a thin dime on ballot access.

You must have been just as disappointed as I when quite a few libertarians came out in favor of voting for Bush in 2000 because they were afraid of Gore and had no faith in their own party.

Or how about when so-called libertarians started coming out in favor of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Well this attack from you is about as disappointing to me. To see such a valued libertarian thinker as yourself resort to a low-grade, petty, smear of a man who deserves more respectful consideration, is extremely disappointing.

Not that you care, but I would recommend to Steve Kubby and other big-ell libertarians that it is time to go "all in" and support the one libertarian who actually has a chance to win the election - and has a track record of winning elections.

No offense to any Libertarian hopeful. I have always supported Libertarians. But this is one case where I go with Ron Paul rather than the LP. And I would never take personal shots at LP candidates even if they decide to keep running. What a waste! Why anyone would want to attack people who spread the message of liberty is beyond me.

I'll leave you with this. Back in 2001, Ron Paul personally worked with myself and others (I happened to be in his district at the time) to introduce legislation which would re-introduce Letters of Marque and Reprisal to go after Bin Laden.

Within 3 days of our request he was introducing it on the house floor. That is exactly the sort of thing which elicits such loyalty to him by his constituents. He "gets it" and he does the right thing.

Don't sell yourself short by resorting to a ridiculous smear campaign. It may elicit a lot of traffic for your blog. But I imagine in the long run it will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of those who, prior to this outburst, trusted your devotion to liberty.

Perhaps I shouldn't speak for others. Speaking strictly for myself, it is very disappointing.

Peace.

17 comments:

Kn@ppster said...

Rick,

Thanks for the letter. I'm going to give it the extended answer it deserves.

You write:

"You cannot possibly believe that Ron Paul is a racist and this 15 year old newsletter is truly representative of his views."

The newsletter went out under Paul's name to Paul's supporters. If it didn't represent his views, why did that happen?

"I accept his explanation"

His "explanation" included no retraction of content, just a statement that a ghost writer phrased things differently than he would have.

"Absolutely nothing he has ever said before or after that newsletter was published is racist in even the slightest way."

That remains to be seen.

"Your tack here is much like Jacob Hornberger's was with Harry. And frankly, I think that Jacob was stirring the pot to get himself attention which is why I accused you of the same."

Were Hornberger's accusations true or false? In my opinion, some of them were false, or at least not provable. On the other hand, some of them have since been irrefutably proven to have been correct. I have yet to make any allegations of fact regarding Ron Paul that I have not also thoroughly documented the facticity of. What we disagree on is the meaning/import of the known facts.

"If you are not now trying to take advantage of the overwhelming growth of interest in Ron Paul's candidacy on the net, then you are extremely sloppy."

Bollocks. I have a strong record of treating Paul exceptionally positively over the years, both at my "day job" and on my blog. If it was about working Paul for web hits, I could as easily have done that with a positive as a negative take on his campaign (and, indeed, you'll find positive articles on his campaign on my blog and in comments on other blogs).

"And while we're on the subject of strange things you're saying lately; for you to claim that libertarian ideals depend on a party apparatus is absurd."

It would be, if I had made any such claim. Re-read your quote. I did not say that libertarian party ideals depend on a party apparatus. I said that translation of libertarian ideals into public policy via the electoral system depends on a party apparatus, and that in my judgement the GOP is not a plausible apparatus for said translation. That's an arguable point, but at least argue with the point I made rather than some other point.

"Really now Thomas. The reason that Ron Paul is garnering so much support"

Let's be realistic here. Scientific polling based on random sampling of likely GOP primary voters has him pretty solidly in 10th place.

There are variables that might change that outcome, but they aren't predictable variables, and they are variables which are pretty much either unaffected by, or negatively affected by, the perception that he's a libertarian (contra your assertion that "His refreshing viewpoints and life-long, consistent dedication to libertarian principles are what makes him attractive to voters"), i.e. the possibility that large numbers of statist, but anti-war, Democrat voters might cross over to vote for him in GOP primaries.

"Whether or not a libertarian runs under the Republican or Libertarian party banner is irrelevant."

I disagree. I've explained some of the reasons why I disagree. We can discuss that more if you like. But ... we're ranging pretty far from your main bitch with me, which is the fact that you think I'm treating Paul unfairly as an individual.

"Not that you care, but I would recommend to Steve Kubby and other big-ell libertarians that it is time to go 'all in' and support the one libertarian who actually has a chance to win the election - and has a track record of winning elections."

I know of no libertarian with a chance to win the election.

"Don't sell yourself short by resorting to a ridiculous smear campaign. It may elicit a lot of traffic for your blog. But I imagine in the long run it will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of those who, prior to this outburst, trusted your devotion to liberty."

As I said elsewhere, if this was about traffic for my blog, there are much easier ways to get it.

And as for my devotion to liberty, I'm the first person I require myself to satisfy on that count. I can't expect anyone else to trust me if I don't call it the way I actually see it, so that's exactly what I'm going to continue to do.

I've got a pretty good record of admitting error when I come to believe that I've actually been in error. If that turns out to be the case here, you'll see a full retraction and as much as I can do to undo any damage done. Until and unless that proves to be the case, I've got to go with what I believe to be the truth.

Thanks again for all your work for liberty, and for taking the time to discuss this matter in depth.

Regards,
Tom Knapp

Rick Fisk said...

"The newsletter went out under Paul's name to Paul's supporters. If it didn't represent his views, why did that happen?"

You are playing the sophist here. If you don't accept his explanation, you must believe therefore that this was the single moment in his life that he has expressed racist beliefs and that he has for over 60 years been able to hide those beliefs from the public.

Thomas, you do not have good motives here.

This statement proves it:

"That remains to be seen."

Never once besides this incident has Ron Paul expressed anything remotely racist in nature.

The entire body of his work repudiates racism. On the other hand, it has been pointed out to you already that he most certainly did denounce the racism in that article.

He also would like to have Walter Williams as his running mate. Gosh, you're right...what a racist to relegate Williams to the back of the bus like that.

Thanks for the response but based on its substance I have to conclude that you are not thinking clearly.

That you would prefer the smear when the only person it might be perceived to help is your LP candidate, suggests that your reason, if not your motive, is suspect.

Rick Fisk said...

By the way, Thomas, Texas Monthly had this to say in 2001:

"What made the statements in the publication even more puzzling was that, in four terms as a U. S. congressman and one presidential race, Paul had never uttered anything remotely like this."

Kn@ppster said...

Rick,

You write:

"If you don't accept his explanation, you must believe therefore that this was the single moment in his life that he has expressed racist beliefs and that he has for over 60 years been able to hide those beliefs from the public."

I hope you understand that the above makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

If I accepted his explanation, I'd likely assume that this was an isolated, one-time instance that didn't reflect his views.

It was the fact that his explanation didn't repudiate the content, but merely asserted that the ghost writer hadn't worded things as Paul would have preferred, that led me down this road ...

... and what I found further down it was that no, it was not an isolated single instance, but rather one among several instances that were documented long prior to Paul's presidential run -- and that those instances fit into a larger pattern of unsavory associations never repudiated and indeed vigorously maintained.

Do you want me to bring coals to Newcastle and trot out those other instances, one at a time?

I'd rather not do so, for the simple reason that I'm trying to balance the necessity of exposing a tumor on the libertarian movement against the ugliness that a fully public excision of that tumor would necessarily entail.

It took me a long time to become convinced of the existence of this tumor -- if you consult the archives of the Yahoo group "libertarianrepublicans" you can find any number of instances of me attempting to defend, or make excuses for, Ron Paul and some movement figures he associates with, on related issues.

Having finally reached the unavoidable conclusion that yes, the tumor exists, I've so far been content to conduct a biopsy and display one small piece of the malignant tissue for the purpose of establishing the truth of the tumor's existence.

Now that I've done so, the choice you seem to be offering the movement is to either ignore the cancer, or else to set up shop in a storefront window on a busy street and then excise it one tiny piece at a time, flagrantly displaying each piece to the passersby as we go.

I for one decline those alternatives. Having established the tumor's existence. I'd prefer that the movement get its surgery done somewhere other than on the carnival midway.

Regards,
Tom

Rick Fisk said...

"Do you want me to bring coals to Newcastle and trot out those other instances, one at a time?"

Absolutely. Given your reluctance to do so, I am quite positive you are lying and bluffing.

Thane Eichenauer said...

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I'll put in my recommendation not to attribute to malice that would could well be either an overdramatic nature or just plain falacious reasoning on Mr. Knapp's part.

As for the alleged tumor, I say if you have truth to offer Mr. Knapp, bring it on.

If the 1992 Ron Paul Political Report "LOS ANGELES RACIAL TERRORISM" article is any kind of example of what you haven't brought to the table then I imagine anything else you are holding back is nothing to worry about.

Kn@ppster said...

Rick,

You write:

"Absolutely. Given your reluctance to do so, I am quite positive you are lying and bluffing."

And I am quickly becoming almost equally positive of your dishonesty. Presumably you know how to use Google ... so you either already know of other instances in which Paul has made racist statements, or could know in 30 seconds if you wanted to, and are simply choosing to avoid knowing so that you can evade admitting.

C'mon, you can do it. You can find instance Paul talking about them there "fleet-footed young black men," opining that while normally we don't try minors as adults, black teens should be an exception, and bringing out the other side of his "95% of black males in DC are criminals" idea, that they're just BRUTE criminals, because only whites and Asians have the brains to conduct "complex embezzling."

Like the ravenous beast mentioned in Douglas Adams' "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" -- the one that believes that if you can't see it, it can't see you -- you seem to believe that if you refuse to take notice of the facts, nobody else will either. In that, you are much mistaken.

Kn@ppster said...

Thane,

Thank you, at least, for the attribution of acting in good faith. I suppose here is as good a place as any to address that matter.

First of all, it's not about promoting my favored presidential candidate, Steve Kubby. If it was about that, I'd be doing exactly the opposite of what I'm doing now. I'd be talking up Ron Paul as loudly as possible. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure out why -- Paul and Kubby disagree on some key issues. To the extent that LPers leave the LP to support Paul in the GOP, the LP they've left will become proportionally more favorably disposed to Kubby's positions.

I'm doing what I'm doing not because I think it will help Kubby, and for that matter not even because I dislike Ron Paul. I still think he's the best thing since sliced bread in terms of his voting record on the House floor and in terms of most of his public advocacy, and I have consistently promoted that image of him (as witness more than 200 articles by or about Paul over at Rational Review, probably 98% of them positively portraying him).

For a long time I wrote off the affinity of people and organizations like David Duke, the Council of Conservative Citizens, American Free Press, etc. for Paul, preferring to believe that they were parasitically and opportunistically attaching themselves to someone who did not share their beliefs.

As long as that affinity seemed to run in only one direction, I could continue to write it off.

Now I've seen evidence that that affinity is a two-way street, and it would be dishonest of me to avoid adding one and one together to get two.

I'm still glad that Paul is in Congress. I'm still glad that he's poking the neocons in the eye on foreign policy. And yes, I still like the guy.

But he is bad news for the libertarian movement. He is a bridge between the libertarian movement/the Libertarian Party and unsavory ideas and organizations. Some bridges should be burned.

Rick Fisk said...

Thomas, you claimed that you had several instances that you could trot out. I have googled and the only instance ever reported of Ron Paul's "racism" is this one newsletter for which he's already taken responsibility.

If you really had more than this instance, you could easily present them.

You do not have anything. You're bluffing. You keep claiming that you are willing to apologize when you're wrong but have yet to demonstrate that this is the case.

I can't prove a negative. You made a claim and refuse to make good on that claim.

Your choice. Perhaps you shouldn't have bluffed since you knew when you made it you were incapable of following through.

Rick Fisk said...

Thomas, your insistence on promoting guilt by association is further evidence that your alleged libertarian bent is window dressing. If Kubby was smart he'd disavow you as a spokesperson for his campaign.

Thane Eichenauer said...

I am going to reiterate my recommendation that both "Demidog"/rick fisk and Thomas Knapp do their best to assume good faith on the part of the other.

If nobody is willing to consider the possibility that the other might be making an assertion in good faith then you all should just sign off from further discussion as there can be no truth found in a debate where all parties accuse the other of intentionally lying.

Please debate the issue.

Mr. Knapp, you should be able to document specific references and as a blogger you should be capable of hyperlinking.

Returning now to the original topic.

Thomas,

As I didn't make any inference to veiled motivations for making your Ron Paul allegation I will skip your second and third paragraphs as they are intended for an audience other than myself.

As for the rest.. David Duke, members of the Council of Conservative Citizens and subscribers, employees and priciplals of the American Free Press might vote for Ron Paul and Ron Paul might then get elected as a result.

Why would Ron Paul being elected President be a bad thing?

Drat, drat and double-drat! That is the problem with political contests. People you might find personally distasteful might vote for you or your favorite (or in this case your not so favorite) candidate. People and groups you believe have objectionable motivations might find limited government to be to their personal advantage.

There are people out there who discourage people from smoking marijuana (Mormons) but if they support Steve Kubby's political campaign because they don't want to imprison marijuana users should I start imputing hidden motivations towards Mr. Kubby? (BTW, the answer here is no.)

There are a rainbow of people and groups out there you or I choose not to voluntarily associate with for minor or not so minor reasons. So long as we (you, Steve Kubby, me and Ron Paul) advocate a reduction in the overall level of violence (taxes and incarceration) you need to allow for the fact that there are people who may well not be your extra favorite kind of people who might vote for a candidate for their reasons and not for your reasons.

Respect and tolerance for free will and differing ideals is a good thing. You don't have to like every single one of Ron Paul's supporters. You should however tolerate the fact and, in my opinion, not allege that their beliefs are Ron Paul's beliefs without more evidence than this 15 year old newsletter reference you have provided so far. Is that the best you can come up with?

I may be one of those people, who for reasons of my own might (or might not) vote for Ron Paul (and I may even continue contributing to Steve Kubby, Libertarian for President 2008 as well - ain't that a paradox?).

Ron Paul may holds political positions you and Steve Kubby disagree with. I don't think that inferences of hidden motivations by Ron Paul are provable or disprovable, certainly not if they rest on a 15 year old article (which is the only specific concrete reference you have identified so far).

Neither you nor I can know with omniscient certainty the reasons why I or David Duke want less government, neither is it of particular concern so long as all parties advocate a smaller government through word and deed.

Further more, so long as there is 75% less government, explain to me why I should care.

I understand why racially biased people would want Ron Paul or Steve Kubby as president and there isn't one thing I can do to change their motivations for voting for a smaller government candidate that I am not already doing. If certain objectionable people vote for a smaller government candidate that is a problem inherent to political systems.

Lastly, have a good day Thomas. I hope that come Sunday you will discover a more worthy goal to pursue than repeating this allegation that Ron Paul is a racist (or was a racist) [or might have had a racist motivation or belief at one time] {or is a racist because this, that or the other racially biased group might vote for Ron Paul or even -gasp!- contribute to his political campaign for President}.

I say that Ron Paul is not a racist based on the overwhelming body of his words and deeds.

P.S. I like Mormons and all things being equal if I didn't enjoy beer I might be one.

Anonymous said...

"Scientific polling based on random sampling of likely GOP primary voters has him pretty solidly in 10th place."

Not exactly. Ron Paul is starting to poll pretty consistently at 2-3%, while the true fringe candidates like Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, Duncan Hunter, and Sam Brownback rarely top 1%. Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee sometimes poll ahead of Ron Paul, but not always.

In the money race, Ron Paul was sixth (not tenth) in the first quarter, despite a late start. He is likely to come in fourth or fifth in the second quarter.

If you look at Internet buzz, grass-roots enthusiasm, and media appearances, it's pretty easy to conclude that Ron Paul is already in the top half of the field, and moving up.

Kn@ppster said...

Thane,

You write:

"Ron Paul may holds political positions you and Steve Kubby disagree with."

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that I agree with Steve Kubby on everything. That's not the case.

Rick,

I resigned as Kubby's manager some time ago. I don't speak for him or his campaign either generally or on this specific matter. If you're interested in Kubby's opinion of Paul, I believe you'll find that he treated Paul quite respectfully earlier this week in a debate with Wayne Allyn Root on The Liberated Space.

As far as my "bluff" goes, fine. Here are two quotes NOT from the same article, as reported by the Houston Chronicle in 1996:

"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."

"We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such."

Rick Fisk said...

Thomas. The Huston Chronicle article to which you refer is quoting from the same newsletter which you have already quoted.

If you take a look at the wikipedia page for Ron Paul, you'll see that there is a single newsletter which got Ron in trouble. The usenet archive you liked was a text version of that newsletter in its entirety.

All references to Ron being a racist that you will find, will be to that same newsletter. I have seen some claim his refusal to vote for a congressional honor for the 1964 civil rights act - because he believed rather than help race relations it harmed them further - makes him a racist. I don't personally think there's merit to that.

Dr. Paul is not a racist. One set of statements in a single newsletter does not a racist make.

Thane Eichenauer said...

Thomas, both of these references you point to go back to 1992 to the same Ron Paul political newsletter. If you want points for two items, go ahead, but this second reference is in my opinion part and parcel with your first reference.

I still remain puzzled at how you can take the same bits of flotsam from 1992, mix in some claims of guilt by association via David Duke, the Council of Concerned Citizens and the anti-Israel government folks at American Free Press and think that comprises a ticking time bomb or to use your overdramatic imagery, a viper nestled at the breast of the libertarian movement.

All of these newsletter items were in the mainstream Texas news in 1996 and apparently the vast majority of people found it as unnotable as I do. The liberal blogosphere has come across and made the exact same claims that you have made, just weeks and months ago.

Nothing in your post or followup commentary reaches critical mass, it just doesn't.

There are quite a few reactionary liberals and a few libertarians out there that share your belief that these three minor items (1992 article/David Duke/CCC 'endorsement'/Chris Simcox appearance) comprise a set of stop sticks that will sideline the Ron Paul tractor-trailer but I and not a few others just don't think so.

Kn@ppster said...

Thane,

You write:

"There are quite a few reactionary liberals and a few libertarians out there that share your belief that these three minor items (1992 article/David Duke/CCC 'endorsement'/Chris Simcox appearance) comprise a set of stop sticks that will sideline the Ron Paul tractor-trailer but I and not a few others just don't think so."

In order for anyone to "share my belief" on that, I'd have to believe it myself. I don't. Quite the contrary in fact. I predict that said tractor-trailer -- both real and metaphorical -- will keep right on trucking ...

... and that as a result, Libertarians will be forced in coming years to invest additional time, money and effort trying to convince people that we're not a bunch of goddamn neo-Nazis.

Funny how as the list keeps growing, the description of it keeps changing. It's now gone from "one isolated incident" to "three minor items" ... and you're not even acknowledging the reality of some of them you mention.

For example, it's not the Council of Concerned Citizens, it's the Council of Conservative Citizens, a descendant organization of the segregationist "White Citizens Council." And it's not just a matter of them endorsing Paul -- something he'd have no control over -- it's a matter of him choosing to associate himself with them by appearing on one of their associated radio programs (Political Cesspool), in the guest index of which he is listed immediately after klansman Brent Nelson and immediately before "White Power" band Prussian Blue.

We can keep this up as long as you like. Do you want to go for "10 minor coincidences?" Or maybe "100 random anomalies?"

For several years, I defended Paul from accusations of racism and racist associations on the premise that he did not actively curry such associations, but rather was a victim of their parasitic desire to make themselves look more "mainstream" by invoking his name.

But, at some point, one has to face reality, regardless of how ugly that reality is. The 1992 newsletter revelation forced me to take a closer look, and that look revealed that I had been wrong, and that he had in fact knowingly and voluntarily associated himself with, and curried the favor of, those individuals and organizations.

I'm not going to be emphasizing this issue. I said my piece in one blog entry, and may be discussing it on one email group that's very internal to the LP and the libertarian movement. But neither am I going to be bullied into ignoring the facts just because some libertarians find the facts inconvenient.

Godwhacker said...

Ron Paul is not a racist. The most racist thing going on in American today is "the war on drugs", which disproportionally targets black Americans and destroys black families. It puts parents in prison, children in foster care, and single parents on welfare. Paul is the only candidate, save Kucinich and Gravel, who wants to stop that form of racism.

As President, Ron Paul will be the best friend African Americans could ever have.