Friday, December 30, 2011

Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

12/30/11

The blogosphere and MSM are spending an inordinate amount of time on the two-decade old scandal of Ron Paul’s eponymous newsletters. “Is Ron Paul a RACIST?” they indignantly inquire.
Short answer: No. No one who knows him--not a patient, not a fellow Congressman, not a constituent; neither political friends or enemies--is willing to make this claim for the camera. But, we’re nonetheless told, it’s important to look at the man’s record.
I agree. Let’s ASSUME he’s a racist. What follows? If you were black, whom would you rather vote for: a racist who nonetheless supports policies and programs that in fact benefit you, or a candidate who champions black equality but nonetheless supports programs that in fact harm you?
Let’s ASSUME Ron Paul is a racist; not, of course, a string-‘em-up lynch mob racist. But someone who makes broad and false generalizations about you and your character based on the color of your skin; who crosses the street at night to avoid you if he sees you approaching; who prefers not to deal with you as a customer, client, employee, or fellow club member. 
Such people should be shunned. But should they not be elected to high office? That would seem to depend on the policies they support. 
Ron Paul has strongly and almost alone called for ending the drug war. What has the drug war done to black America? According to scholar John McWhorter, writing for the Cato Institute (”How the War on Drugs Is Destroying Black America” , Cato’s Letter [Washington, DC: The Cato Institute, Winter, 2011, p. 1]
"The main obstacle to getting black America past the illusion that racism is still a defining factor in America is the strained relationship between young black men and police forces. The massive number of black men in prison stands as an ongoing and graphically resonant rebuke to all calls to “get past racism,” exhibit initiative, or stress optimism. And the primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."
The Drug Policy Alliance noted in March of this year:
"Mass arrests and incarceration of people of color – largely due to drug law violations – have hobbled families and communities by stigmatizing and removing substantial numbers of men and women. In the late 1990s, nearly one in three African-American men aged 20-29 were under criminal justice supervision,  while more than two out of five had been incarcerated – substantially more than had been incarcerated a decade earlier and orders of magnitudes higher than that for the general population. Today, 1 in 15 African-American children and 1 in 42 Latino children have a parent in prison, compared to 1 in 111 white children. In some areas, a large majority of African-American men – 55 percent in Chicago, for example– are labeled felons for life, and, as a result, may be prevented from voting and accessing public housing, student loans and other public assistance." [5 footnoted references in this quotation removed]
Even though Barack Obama is on record in his own autobiography as having used drugs when he was younger, he has done nothing to limit the harm to the black community, or Americans in general, from the drug war that he prosecutes as strongly as his predecessor George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Ron Paul, a physician on record as never having used illicit drugs and as counseling patients and political supporters not to use drugs, favors ending this blight on the black community. 
Black Americans make on average lower incomes than white Americans. Therefore the current recession--which Obama has been singularly unable to ameliorate--harms blacks to a greater degree; black unemployment is higher, and persistently so, than white unemployment. This is especially true of teenagers seeking their first step up the economic ladder to success. Economists across the political spectrum see increasing regulations on hiring, concerns about the as yet incalculable costs of Obamacare, and a high minimum wage as contributing to the black youth unemployment rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics black unemployment is almost twice that of the white youth unemployment rate--39.6% to 21.4%--under President Obama, who allowed the last increase in the minimum wage to go into effect in July, 2009, at the height of our recession. Obama supports expansive government regulations, increasing minimum wages, and Obamacare. Ron Paul opposes all these things. Therefore objectively blacks are economically better off under Paul’s economic policies than Obama’s nostrums.
The continued and persistent gap in black educational success in government K-12 schools is a moral blight on our nation. Ron Paul calls for major change in this area--ending No Child Left Behind, closing the Federal Department of Education, offering tax credits for education--while Obama wants to double down with more spending. Yet the government at all levels in the USA has doubled spending in inflation-adjusted per-capita education dollars over a generation, with NO change in reading, math, science or other basic skills. This, more than anything else, harms black America, and only Ron Paul wants fundamental change for the better:.
Blacks make up a disproportionate number of active service forces in the military. Since its an all-volunteer force, there is nothing wrong with that per se. But with 23% of active duty Army personnel being African-American, compared with 12.6% of the population as a whole, it follows that Blacks are disproportionately at risk when US politicians decide to go to war. Obama claimed he would end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when he came into office in 2008. It’s taken him an entire first term to end the Iraq war, and only then because Iraqi Prime Minister Malaki refused Obama’s preference to keep American troops deployed in his country. Meanwhile, Obama is anticipating many more years of American troops in Afghanistan. Ron Paul, on the other hand, wants to end foreign wars and bring the troops home, arguing it is both safer and less costly to American blood and treasure...arguing, in effect, that we shouldn’t be willing to trade black blood for black gold.
I could go on, but here’s the hypothetical: ASSUME Ron Paul IS a racist. In that case he’s a racist with economic, civil liberties, educational, and foreign policy positions that happen in fact to benefit black Americans. Meanwhile, President Obama, whom we stipulate is NOT a racist, favors policies that in fact harm American blacks on many dimensions. 
If you were black, whom would you vote for?

7 comments:

  1. As an African-American, I will answer your question. I would "c) none of the above." The problem conservatives face generally when courting minority voters is your continued tolerance for racism. Even assuming Ron Paul himself is not a racist, he allowed racist articles to be printed in his newsletter, and continues to associate with their author. Both evidence a dangerous lack of judgment on the part of Dr. Paul.

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  2. Thanks for reading my blog and answering my question, though I should note for the record that I am not nor have I ever been a conservative.

    BTW, your position with regard to Ron Paul, is completely understandable, but it is not monolithic among blacks. See, for example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA2ehvB-_Ac
    What Some Blacks Think About Ron Paul

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  3. I'm Black, voted for Obama last time around. My vote is for Pual this time, without question and the dude is getting portryaed as racist because they are scared of him.

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