Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. — Martin Luther King Jr.
Since we’re now approaching 300 comments on the previous Ron Paul-related post, it may be good to get some fresh, front-page thread for those who would like to continue that discussion.
I’ll turn to Tim Wise to push the conversation forward a bit: “Of Broken Clocks, Presidential Candidates, and the Confusion of Certain White Liberals.”
If a man believes there is a straight line of unbroken tyranny betwixt the torture and indefinite detention of suspected terrorists on the one hand, and anti-discrimination laws that seek to extend to all persons equal opportunity, on the other, that man is a lunatic. Worse than a lunatic, that man is a person of such extraordinarily obtuse philosophical and moral discernment as to call into real question whether he should even be allowed to go through life absent the protective and custodial assistance of a straightjacket, let alone hold office. That one might believe in unicorns would still allow one to profess a level of sagacity and synaptic activity in one’s brain several measures beyond that of the man who thinks liberty is equally imperiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as by the CIA.
That any liberal, progressive or leftist could waste so much as a kind word about someone as this is mind-boggling. There are not many litmus tests for being a progressive in good standing in this country, but one would think, if there were, that surely to God, civil rights would be one of them. It is one thing to disagree about the proper level of taxation, either on the wealthy or corporations: honest people can disagree about that, and for reasons that would still permit one to claim the mantle of liberalism or progressivism; so too with defense spending, drug policy, trade, education reform, energy policy, and any number of other things. But the notion that one can be a progressive, even merely liberal, while praising someone who believes that companies should be allowed to post “No Blacks Need Apply” signs if they wish, and that only the market should determine whether that kind of bigotry will stand, is so stupefying that it should render even the most cynical of us utterly bereft of words. It is, or should be, a deal-breaker among decent people.
And since earlier I compared Paul’s opposition to imperialism and torture to similar stances from liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich, I should note Robert Farley’s argument on that point: “Ron Paul Ain’t Good on Foreign Policy.”
This comparison rests on a basic falsehood, which is that the foreign policy of Ron Paul resembles that of [Sen. Bernie] Sanders or Kucinich in any meaningful way. Kucinich, for example, is an avid supporter of the United Nations, as well a host of other international institutions. He also supports robust foreign aid, and a variety of other positions that suggest a commitment to using US social and economic leverage in a non-violent way to improve international outcomes.
Bernie Sanders has a very similar record. Kucinich and Sanders are both firmly on the left side of the liberal internationalist consensus, while Paul rejects that consensus altogether. This means that they incidentally share a few positions, just as Kucinich and Sanders incidentally share a few positions with Jim Demint, but it doesn’t mean that they’re saying the same thing about foreign policy, or that progressives ought to think of them in the same way.