Ta-Nehisi Coates takes Ron Paul to the woodshed over his position on the abolition of slavery.  It’s a thing of beauty

For those who don’t know, Ron Paul was not OK with freeing the slaves through the Civil War.  It represented an illegitimate theft of private property from the southern plantation owners (property the rest of us casually refer to as “people”).

Here is Ron Paul speaking with Tim Russert and blaming the Civil War on Lincoln.

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. “According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.”

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic.

MR. RUSSERT: We’d still have slavery.

REP. PAUL: Oh come on, Tim. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I’m advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years? I mean, the hatred and all that existed. So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn’t sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

Ta-Nehisi Coates points out the gaping flaw in Dr. Paul’s logic (the same Dr. Paul who thinks the gold standard is just ducky, he shouldn’t have to share a toilet with gay supporters and that the Federal Reserve should be abolished):

When Ron Paul claims that Lincoln “shouldn’t have gone to war,” he is deploying a convenient and erroneous frame which necessarily holds that the inciting aggression was not in raising an Army, seizing federal property and arms, urging revolution among ones neighbors, and then firing on a federal fort, but in democratically electing a president with whom slave-holders disagreed.

Throughout the War, Lincoln attempted to bring about a peaceful and magnanimous end. He pitched compensated emancipation, and was rebuffed, not by the Confederates, but by slave states still loyal to the Union. When Union armies brought states back under federal control he urged easy paths to regaining citizenship.

The racist states-rights advocates have been advancing the same, tired argument since 1865.

Some things never change.

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38 Responses to To the Ron Paul Apologists: Racism is Never OK

  1. mal says:

    James Kirchick did his homework [at the Wisconsin State Historical Society] when he broke this story in 2008, and deserves credit for first exposing Paul for what he is.

    Racist, anti-Semitic newsletters that alternatively Paul did not read but rather just published [and then defended, and then disavowed and then defended again] tell much about Paul.

    Now, as you report, “Ron Paul was not OK with freeing the slaves through the Civil War. It represented an illegitimate theft of private property from the southern plantation owners (property the rest of us casually refer to as “people”).

    Hey, I like Paul’s anti-intervention stands, but I deplore his retrograde bigtory worse.

    Thanks as usual for you fine and serious work. Paul’s view of humanity ought to be contantly challenged.

    • Mal,

      This notion that Ron Paul thinks slavery was just fine and that his idea of paying for the freedom of slaves proves it is nonsense. You guys don’t do the left any favors when you stretch things like this.

      The payment idea was to avoid war, not because to free slaves without payment constituted a theft of legitimate property. That’s a Phil Scarr fantasy.

      If you two are going to pillory the guy at least get it right.

  2. Phil,

    I’ll repeat what I wrote yesterday. I much prefer Ron Pauls foreign policy views over Obama and certainly over Bush. If, in your view, this makes me a Ron Paul apologist, then write up my confession and I’ll sign it.

  3. Locke says:

    I’m most certainly not an Ron Paul apologist. The guy is probably 50% spot-on and 50% bat-stuff crazy. He’s unelectable as President, so I don’t know whether his supporters or those who go to great lengths to rail against him are more puzzling to me.

    That said:

    Ron Paul was not OK with freeing the slaves through the Civil War. It represented an illegitimate theft of private property

    I think that was very disingenuous characterization of his position on this. Now granted, I haven’t read his stuff extensively on this (see first paragraph) so maybe he’s said that elsewhere, but at least on the quotes and links here, it’s a major distortion.

    Seems to me, his focus is squarely on the death toll of the Civil War and making a case for the inevitability of the end of slavery in America. That at least deserves honest debate rather than calling him a racist who wanted slavery to never end.

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Try to follow the logic. What do you think RP meant when he said

      No, he shouldn’t have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic.

      You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years?

      Does that not make the point you object to?

      So how is

      Ron Paul was not OK with freeing the slaves through the Civil War. It represented an illegitimate theft of private property

      not an accurate characterization of Dr. Paul’s position? Lincoln fought the Civil War because he didn’t want to pay for the slaves. That’s his point. It was a theft of property. People held in bondage were property and Ron Paul is OK with that.

      • Phil,

        I’m a little confused. Where did Ron Paul say freeing slaves is an illegitimate theft of private property. I’m not trying to start something. I just don’t see where he said that.

        And I don’t agree with him about Lincoln’s reasons for going to war, but I can agree with his alternative solution to the horror of slavery, if it was a viable option.

        This might be a rare Blogging Blue moment, but I agree with Locke on this one.

        • Phil Scarr says:

          As soon as he said we should pay for their freedom. He is saying that the ownership of other human beings is legitimate. I’m surprised that that logic is so hard to follow.

          • Phil,

            You’re not employing logic on this one. You’re a fellow Blogging Bluer and I hate to squabble with my fellow contributors in public, but Ron Paul doesn’t deserve that kind of vilification. His suggestion that we could have paid for the slaves freedom and avoided the Civil War is a profoundly reasonable and humane suggestion, and for you to twist it into what you have is beneath you.

            • Phil Scarr says:

              To pay for the slaves implies that the ownership of people is legitimate and in order to “free” them you have to pay their owners for them.

              That, my friend, is the inhumane position.

              Ron Paul deserves all the opprobrium I can pile on him and then some.

  4. Jan Tessier says:

    Steve, let me explain this to you in the simplest terms:

    If Ron Paul holds hateful, racist, homophobic views toward Americans and American history, then his foreign policies SUCK. Got that? You cannot claim the man has a leg up on foreign policy when he has demonstrated HATE in his own country. He’s NOT going to like people outside of our country, either.

    Got that?

    • Phil,

      Then is paying a ransom for a hostage morally wrong? Is it better to use force no matter who gets killed? Use your head, man.

      Jan,

      Saying something SUCKS in large caps is an unconvincing argument. Maybe you should use more complex terms to explain things?

      • Jan Tessier says:

        Typical. Give someone a point to chew on and they ignore the point. Never mind, Steve. I’ll offer points to people who aren’t so dishonest and mindfully ignorant.

      • Phil Scarr says:

        Steve, hostages are not slaves, that’s why we have two different words for them.

        Although one might try to make the case, as John Lithgow did in Cliffhanger,

        Kill a few people, they call you a murderer. Kill a million and you’re a conqueror.

        Hold one person hostage and you’re a kidnapper, hold a million and you’re a slaveowner?

        But I would argue that one person kidnapping one person is qualitatively different than 10,000 people holding 1,000,000 in slavery. Beyond that, holding all their offspring in slavery too. And to have the act of enslavement written into the Constitution that defines your nation, it becomes an institutional crime. Paying the slaveholders for that crime is abhorrent. So no, it’s not the same thing to me.

        Again, Steve, I think you’re mistaking a similarity of circumstance with a similarity of idea.

        • ” Hostages are not slaves, that’s why we have two different words for them”.

          No. Slaves are hostages made to work. That’s why we have two different words for them. Both are held captive against their will, which is their common feature.

          Nothing wrong with paying a ransom to free hostages or slaves.

          • Phil Scarr says:

            You defense of a racist is reaching epic levels of justification.

            I’m not pushing anymore on this because I fear what you will justify next simply because Ron Paul says he’ll keep the troops home.

            • Phil,

              I wish there was a democrat or even another republican with the guts to say it out loud, but the only person in the 2012 presidential race who’s talking sense on foreign policy happens to be Ron Paul. It’s just an uncomfortable fact. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. There you have it.

              So I don’t appreciate the vague smear of me in your comment. If your “hostage vs. slave” nonsense doesn’t hold up to scrutiny it’s not my fault.

              Maybe you should spend less time denouncing Ron Paul and more time challenging mainstream democrats to adopt his foreign policy views? That way we wouldn’t have to rely on him to be our anti-war champion.

              • Phil Scarr says:

                As long as progressives delude themselves into thinking Ron Paul is something other than he is, or chose to wear anti-war blinders to the exclusion of all other issue, I will continue posting fact-based information on who Ron Paul really is.

                And your equivalence argument was certainly not successful, in my mind. at least. Institutional slavery, codified in law, is qualitatively different from the illegal practice of kidnapping. Spinning it any other way is disingenuous in the extreme.

                • Phil,

                  The idea that paying for the freedom of slaves to avoid a civil war somehow legitimizes ownership of people is one of the silliest and most numbnutted bits of pseudo logic imaginable.

                  I have no doubt that your fixation on Ron Paul will continue, and that your determination to remove the anti-war blinders of deluded progressives will culminate in a utopian society where we will all unequivocally hate Ron Paul.

                  Having said that, when can I expect an apology for your unwarranted and despicable smear of me?

                  • Phil Scarr says:

                    The idea that paying for the freedom of slaves to avoid a civil war somehow legitimizes ownership of people is one of the silliest and most numbnutted bits of pseudo logic imaginable.

                    By paying to free the slaves, it acknowledges the right of people to own people. They were not “hostages” in the sense of a victim of kidnapping, they were legal chattel, the property of the slaveowners.

                    Article 9: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

                    and

                    Article IV Section 2: No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

                    Slavery was enshrined in our most sacred of legal documents. That is not in any way, shape or form the same as taking hostages. Therefore, paying for the manumission of slaves is, in no way, shape or form, the same as paying to release illegally taken hostages.

                    How is that “pseudo logic?” The only pseudo logic I see in this thread is your assertion that slavery is the same as kidnapping.

                    Having said that, when can I expect an apology for your unwarranted and despicable smear of me?

                    I haven’t smeared you, Steve. I have attacked your support of Ron Paul. If you take that personally, that’s not my problem. It’s yours.

                    • Phil,

                      Do you think the tens of thousands of slaves held in captivity pre-civil war would have objected to being released through payment to slaveowners from the federal government on the wildly abstract intellectual grounds that such payment constituted the legitimizing of slavery?

                      How about the 600,000 dead in the Civil War, and their famililes, and even the Abolitionists. Do you think they would have refused the idea of payment and insisted on a bloody war instead?

                      Do you think the hundreds of thousands of African and Hispanic Americans incarcerated in our prisons, and their families, are more interested in Ron Pauls denunciation of the drug war, or the racist writings in his newsletter?

                      Do you think the people of color all over the world who’ve been brutalized by American supported dictators, and American led occupations, are more interested in Ron Pauls foreign policy views or the racist writings in his newsletter?

                      Who is actually a greater champion of people of color in concrete, on the ground, real life terms: Phil Scarr or Ron Paul?

                  • Phil Scarr says:

                    I think the best solution, Steve, is for you to do one or both of the following:

                    1. Ignore my anti-Ron Paul posts
                    2. Post your own pro-Ron Paul posts

                    Be affirmatively passionate in your advocacy of Dr. Paul’s foreign policy but don’t be surprised when people push back.

                  • Zach W says:

                    Guys, let’s not make this personal. You have a right to your opinions, and whether you agree with each other or not you shouldn’t be making this (or taking this) personal.

      • Zach W says:

        I don’t think it’s a smart idea to pay a ransom for a hostage under any circumstances, because that simply empowers hostage takers to take more hostages.

        As for Ron Paul’s foreign policy, his is an isolationist foreign policy, and I think it’s incredibly dangerous to promote a policy that isolates our country from the rest of the world. Like it or not, the world is interconnected, and isolating ourselves won’t make things all better.

        • Locke says:

          I don’t think it’s a smart idea to pay a ransom for a hostage under any circumstances, because that simply empowers hostage takers to take more hostages.

          In terms of policy, there’s certainly a good argument to made. But by the same means, in real terms there are no absolutes. Were you or I in such a situation, if we were convinced that paying a X would get our loved one back, we’d do it in a second because emboldening future actions wouldn’t mean anything to us.

          Specific to the idea of buying a slaves freedom as a means to combat slavery – an argument can be made that it would actually increase the demand and make things worse.

          I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t know whether it would have actually worked or not. The thought of paying some sum of money to buy the freedom of enslaved people and saving over half a million lives in the process is at least an interesting idea. And it doesn’t require one condone slavery or make some on a racist to suggest it.

        • Zach,

          How many military bases around the world does Canada maintain? How about Russia? France? Brazil? Norway? China? They remain interconnected with the rest of the world without stationing troops everywhere.

          Closing our 700 plus bases in 130 countries around the world won’t make us isolated, it will make us popular.

          I wouldn’t vote for Ron Paul in a presidential election. I disagree with him on a number of fronts. But I don’t think he deserves repeated vilification when he’s the only person on the national stage who’ll say some of the things everyone in this country needs to hear. The Dems wouldn’t let Dennis Kucinich into the debates, and God help you if you mention Ralph Nader’s name at a Dem Party meeting.

          So Ron Paul is the only man left standing who can make at least some sense on our foreign policy, which is one of the most important issues facing us all. He’s right when he told a booing republican debate crowd that it was our foreign policy that caused the 9-11 attacks. That took a lot of courage. He told the same crowd that the idea that muslims everywhere want to kill us is ridiculous, and they booed him again. And he’s right about how much our military costs us, a trillion dollars a year.

          The republicans are attacking him because they don’t want people to hear his anti-imperialist message, and the Left helps out by attacking him for the writings in his newsletter.

          Jesus Christ

          • Phil Scarr says:

            But I don’t think he deserves repeated vilification when he’s the only person on the national stage who’ll say some of the things everyone in this country needs to hear.

            I do think he needs vilification heaped upon his narrow, racist shoulders. And I will continue to do so as long as he presents himself as a national candidate.

            If he wants to crawl back under that South Texas rock of his and go back to representing his narrow minded constituents, I’ll have no more about him.

            Do I think he represents a positive direction on foreign policy? To a point, yes. Withdraw our troops from bases that have no real strategic (or tactical) importance to our national interests. Do I think we should never intervene anywhere for any reason? No, I disagree with that point and that is his policy, BTW. He would not have intervened in Rwanda, for instance.

            “I don’t think it’s part of our Constitution that we should go around the world trying to solve every problem. And I think that it’s very difficult to help people who really need it. Even in Libya today, the chances of really helping the people is unknown.

            But too often when you take money or even food and give it to these factions when they are fighting and at war, they become weapons of war. One faction will get it and use it against the other. And very rarely does it help the people.

            So I don’t think it’s constitutional. I don’t think it accomplishes what it’s supposed to. And that the Founders were, I think, rather shrewd in giving us advice. Stay out of entangling alliances, stay out of the internal affairs of other nations.”

            And he voted against intervention in Kosovo and actually joined a coalition of congressmen who sued Clinton in 1999 over the intervention.

            So I reiterate, be careful what you wish for, Steve. You might just get it.

    • Phil Scarr says:

      Jan: That’s your argument, not mine. Ron Paul is a racist homophobe. His foreign policy is naive in the way Neville Chamberlin’s foreign policy was nieve, but I appreciate Steve’s commitment to peace and justice, even though I think he’s over-privileging Ron Paul’s foreign policy statements and under-privileging his hateful racism.

      I don’t share Steves apparent complete commitment to “peace at any price.” I believe there are times when a more interventionist foreign policy is required for both our national interest and for humanitarian interests. I agree with him, though, that since 2001 we have pursued an aggressive, perhaps imperial, foreign policy that is incompatible with our democratic ideals.

      So Steve and I may disagree on whether or not Ron Paul represents the “peace candidate,” but I never question Steve’s deeply held beliefs.

      • Phil,

        I don’t hold a committment to peace at any price. I would have supported intervention in Rwanda, for example, by the UN, but Dem president Bill Clinton was too busy sanctioning and bombing Iraq, apparently to soften them up for Bush II in 2003.

        You say you support intervention when it’s compatible with our national interests. Slippery slope, maybe? What does this mean?

        Out for the day. Look forward to more of this debate.

        • Zach W says:

          I think it’s safe to say you guys aren’t going to come to any sort of agreement on this issue/

          Steve, you’re absolutely right that it’s a slippery slope, but from what I know of Ron Paul’s foreign policy beliefs, if he were president we wouldn’t have intervened in Rwanda, nor would we intervene anywhere in the world unless we were directly attacked.

      • Jan Tessier says:

        You lost me, Phil. I don’t know what you’re talking about, or why you’re saying to me what I have already stated. I don’t know to what argument of mine you are referring.

        If you want to continue arguing with Steve, please feel free. I don’t respect his beliefs or opinions because he is a “believer”. I don’t deal in “beliefs”. I like facts. When someone’s “beliefs” cause them to refuse to accept facts, I’m done dealing with them.

        I don’t care how smart Ron Paul might be, or if he opposes the wars of the Bush administration—I reject him because he is a racist and a homophobe and he has ideas about the world that are scary, not based in reality.

        Steve can have Ron Paul. I prefer honesty, integrity, decency, and compassion.

  5. I sat on the steering committee of three national anti-war coalitions during the last five years and watched and listened endlessly to the kind of debate you’ll see in the video below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bufGrCCV04

    The primary goal of the anti-war movement seemed to be inclusiveness. It was essential that we had steering committees with a requisite number of women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.

    We debated these things endlessly as the movement grew weaker, and weaker, and as tens and tens of thousands of innocent people died violently some 6000 or so miles away. It was ridiculous, in a truly heartbreaking way.

    Here’s my premise. It doesn’t matter who’s on the steering committee, and it doesn’t matter if the movement reflects diversity. What matters is that people are dying while we bicker about stuff we can talk about later. I have a hunch that the Iraqi’s, the Afghans, and our troops and their families would agree.

    So to not recognize the value of someone like Ron Paul denouncing war in republican/conservative circles, at conferences, and in the GOP presidential debates, is Just. Plain. Stupid. And callous. And maybe even lethal.

  6. charles ranalli says:

    “racism” is a meaningless label which traitors invariably try to pin upon patriots who expose their treachery. it is the proverbial tempest-in-a-teapot and it carries significance only for said traitors and their dupes.
    charles ranalli
    albuquerque

  7. Charles,

    That’s too much for a Tea Party bumper sticker. Can you slim that message down a little?

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