Philip Weiss on his modestly named MondoWeiss blog again gushes shamelessly for far-right zealot Ron Paul, effusing about his supposed “challenge to progressives.” What challenge would that be? To abandon every progressive principle at the lure of a little populist rhetoric? Gee, a good thing nobody has ever made that mistake before (cough). Weiss’ basic argument is that “Ron Paul’s campaign…might politicize the militant American policy in the Middle East. Americans will get to argue this openly. That is why the Washington Post is slamming Paul—it doesn’t want that to happen. That is why the New York Times has conflated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and white supremacism—to marginalize Ron Paul’s ideas.” As if Ron Paul’s “ideas” (like repealing birthright citizenship and selling the national parks to Exxon) don’t deserve to be marginalized! As if Ron Paul weren’t really in bed with actual white supremacists!
Since so many who fancy themselves “progressives” or on the “left” are falling for this cluelessly evil propaganda, it is worth examining Weiss’ rhetorical ejaculation a little (as distasteful as it is). He spurts:
His candidacy might actually force Romney and Obama into more antiwar positions. If he disappears, that prospect all but vanishes. An attack on Iran might actually be in the balance.
Wrong. In fact, precisely backwards. Mixing up an anti-war position with racism and right-wing populism will merely delegitimize it in the eyes of many Americans who have basically anti-war instincts but concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and saber-rattling. If Ron Paul becomes the face of the anti-war position, then instead of a principled anti-interventionism, they’ll see xenophobic isolationism—and be more likely to cut slack for imperial war moves. The way to oppose the war moves is by building a principled anti-war movement that is vigorously independent of the political class.
Weiss next spurts a spurious analogy to the Egyptian protest movement:
If you care about the antiwar issue, joining with Ron Paul is like seculars joining with the Muslim Brothers to get rid of Mubarak. You needed a broad coalition to push Hosni out. In the end, that coalition did the impossible; it moved Obama. Obama wouldn’t have jumped in if not for Tahrir. He needed political cover, and a popular coalition gave it to him. But what if leftwing secular social-media types had stood around Tahrir Square asking the smart question, Hey what do these folks—Muslim Brothers and Salafis—want to do with the role of women in politics? They would never have gotten rid of Mubarak.
Weiss, will you please shut up already? Even if we are to accept the Egypt analogy (which is a bit of a stretch), there is a big difference between a protest movement and a presidential race. If the isolationists and right-wing Libertarians want to join anti-war marches or campaigns to defend civil rights—sure (as long as progressives are clear on where we disagree with them). But a presidential campaign? Are you kidding? Because (like the proverbial stopped clock that’s right twice a day) Paul talks a good line on foreign military adventures and (some) civil liberties? While his general political program is utterly toxic—laissez-faire capitalist, anti-immigrant, anti-choice, anti-worker? Please, spare us… This also betrays a very poor understanding of what has actually been going on in Egypt. The secular-Islamist alliance in the protest movement that brought down Mubarak fractured precisely when it came to elections! And the Islamists are now being groomed as proxies by the military regime to beat back secular and progressive protesters! Wake up, Weiss!
More from this dangerous airhead:
Similarly, if progressives fasten on the fact that Ron Paul published racism in his newsletters in the 1990s and has never come clean on this—all true—they will lack the political power to take on the antiwar agenda.
What the hell? What does one have to do with the other? A clear and principled anti-racism makes the anti-war position weaker? Huh?
Weiss sinks lower still:
You say promoting Paul is dangerous. Here is my insurance policy. Ron Paul will not win. He can’t.
So it’s OK to betray every political principle because your candidate is a loser? As if there is no danger in legitimizing Paul’s reactionary politics? And we wouldn’t be too sanguine about Paul’s poor chances in this polarized and unpredictable climate. At risk of being Godwin-baited, we will point out that people said exactly the same thing about Hitler in 1932.
Finally, Weiss gets around to a few caveats:
One way Paul is unbearable is his whiteness. His movement seems almost entirely white, and there is the white racism in his past. But these are not skinheads. And the issue is: Can progressives engage these people? Can they learn anything from Paul’s radical economic agenda? And while you are judging that racism, look at the role of Zionism in progressive communities. The casually-racist statements about Arabs that are absolutely routine in my community.
There are so many things wrong with this we hardly know where to begin. Does anti-Arab racism in the Jewish community (presumably what Weiss means, unless he is talking about the idiot pseudo-left poser community) let Texas rednecks off the hook for anti-Black racism? Or does tolerating anti-Black racism among the goyim squander the credibility of progressive Jews in calling out Jewish anti-Arab racism? Do you ever think before you write, Weiss? And what is this “in the past” jive? Paul is in bed with real live white supremacists now! “Not skinheads”? Stormfront is close enough! Hello…? Anybody home…? Finally, we can “engage” confused white working-class types by establishing a principled dialogue that makes clear where we agree (anti-war, pro-civil liberties, no blank check for Israel, etc.) but equally clear on where we disagree (racism, reproductive rights, bogus capitalist solutions to the crisis of capitalism)—certainly not by rallying around the man who is pandering to white supremacists and proffering bogus pseudo-solutions!
Fortunately, some of Weiss’ readers are smarter than he is. One writes in a comment:
“white racism in his past” um… you mean the past week? that would be more accurate. After all, Ron Paul and his supporters are out supporting restrictive elections laws that will disenfranchise millions of voters. Especially people of color. and with Ron Paul, say good-bye to federal enforcement of civil rights laws. or sexual harassment laws. or labor laws. States Rights!!
But this is not a crusade to overthrow a dictator. this is a crusade to elect a right-wing extremist. I am not joining. The message that will be sent to america by voting for the Bircher may not be what you want, Phil.
My last post on Paul. I think my belated New Year’s resolution is to ignore this site. I am sure there are many others who have already made the same decision. But maybe [Stormfront leader] Don Black will recruit new supporters for you Phil.
Meanwhile, more verbal gems continue to emerge from the inexhaustible font of hate which is the Ron Paul oeuvre. The gay-oriented On Top Mag presents a quote from Paul’s 1987 book Freedom Under Siege, in which Weiss’ hero wrote that “The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim – frequently a victim of his own lifestyle – but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care.” (This from the man whose campaign catchword is “Love,” eh?) And nor is this ugliness in “the past.” From On Top:
When Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked about the comments, Paul answered: “I don’t know how you can change science. I mean sexually transmitted diseases are caused by sexual activity. And when it’s promiscuous, it spreads diseases… In a free society people do dumb things, but it isn’t to be placed as a burden on other people, innocent people.”
“Why should they have to pay for the consequences?” Paul said.
A charmingly Hitleresque notion of homosexuals as degenerate useless eaters. Fortunately, once again, not everyone on the left has his head thrust deeply inside his posterior orifice, even if it is starting to seem that way. The Nation—where Robert Scheer recently served up pro-Paul swill—now happily runs a response by Ben Adler entitled “Progressives and Ron Paul.” From Adler:
Scheer argues that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Tell to that African-Americans and people with disabilities who would not be protected from discrimination in workplaces or places of public accommodation in Ron Paul’s America… If liberals can’t agree that opposition to civil rights disqualifies you from the presidency, what can we agree on?
Thank you, Adler. So demoralizing to have to belabor the obvious like this.
See our last post on the Ron Paul pathology.