Writes Thomas Edsall:
- Through no fault of his own, Rep. Ron Paul's anti-globalist, anti-government campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has become a magnet in neo-Nazi networks, pulling in activists and supporters from the fringe white nationalist community where anti-Semitism, anti-black and anti-immigrant views are commonplace.
Well, I guess it's not really his fault that Paul has spent the better part of the past two decades hanging out with the fringe "Patriot" right, and that his core positions emanate from a belief system -- revolving around abolishing the IRS and the United Nations and the Federal Reserve and public education and reinstituting the gold standard and thrumming up fears of an insidious "New World Order" takeover -- that is part and parcel of their worldview.
It's just who he is. But of course he attracts their support. He's long been a player on the netherworld between the extremist right and mainstream conservatism, acting as a "transmitter" of extremist beliefs who avoids racist and anti-Semitic talk and repackages for broader consumption their bizarre, conspiratorial worldview as ostensibly normative.
It's important to understand that the conspiracy theories to which Paul subscribes serve very specific purposes for the extremist right. For instance: They believe the IRS should be abolished because the 16th Amendment permitting federal income taxes, like all amendments after the Bill of Rights, was not legitimately passed; real "Patriots" believe only in the "organic" Constitution, after all, which allows them to ignore such annoyances as the 13th and 14th amendments or women's suffrage.
Or then there's the "New World Order," which for the racist and radical represents means the latest permutation in the classic Protocols of the Elders of Zion theory. Abolish the Federal Reserve? That's another blow against the "Jewish bankers" who secretly control America.
Paul himself doesn't necessarily believe these things -- but the theories themselves are so thoroughly rooted in racial and anti-Semitic animus, often playing the role of providing a thoughtful "academic" face to smooth-talking racists like David Duke, that it's hard not to hear Ron Paul holding forth on them now and understand perfectly well where those ideas are coming from, even if it's never acknowledged. Though having seen Paul work the militia circuit in the 1990s certainly gave me a good idea.
It's quite clear who these theories are speaking to, as well. It's odd that a normally sharp-eyed reporter like Edsall can't see that. Evidently, he's fallen for the "libertarian" cover schtick without looking further to see what that really entails.
It's "not Ron Paul's fault" he attracts extremists only if the positions he's staked out, and the beliefs he advocates, aren't his fault either.