…some of his followers exhibit some disturbing tendencies.
Recently I was talking to someone about the way Paul supporters persist in thrusting themselves to the top of the heap in a certain on-line straw polls, making him seem to be the people’s choice when he’s in last place in most conventional polls. Reference was made to something I hadn’t read then, but now have: Ryan Sager ‘s story In The New York Sun which focusses mainly on some dubious comments on race that appeared in a news letter he used to publish. The Paul alibi: the words were written by an aide who was since fired and do not reflect Paul’s views. (and I guess he must have kept them hidden from Paul until springing them in the newsletter).
Giving him the benefit of the doubt on this leaves the anti semitic question. Sager cites one quote also apparently from the news letter
I found Andrew Sullivan’s judicious discussion of the question–which reprints Ron Paul’s views on the malign influence of the Israeli embassy in Washington–worth reprinting (old fashioned term for cutting and pasting not linking):
Here it is:
Ryan Sager, Ron Paul And Anti-Semitism
22 May 2007 09:38 pm
I should begin by saying that I have great respect for
Ryan Sager. He’s an energetic, careful, enterprising
young reporter and I admire his work a lot. That’s why
I was dismayed to read his off-the-cuff assertion that
Ron Paul was anti-Semitic based on an old, probably
ghost-written and pretty anodyne statement of disdain
for the Israel lobby in Washington. Paul made the
statement in the context of lambasting all such
lobbies. And it’s perfectly consonant with his general
isolationist views. Still, we all make quick judgments
in online journalism and Ryan has made an honorable
effort to review the issue and report some more. His
latest piece exonerates Paul to my mind. And I might
add I have and have always had no truck with
anti-Semitism of any kind. Longtime readers know very
well my admiration for the Jewish state and my
revulsion at anti-Semitic smears. Here’s Ryan’s post.
In the first paragraph, he writes:
Over at Reason’s Hit & Run blog, David Weigel got Ron
Paul to comment on the quote I took note of a little
while ago that “By far the most powerful lobby in
Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government.”
I said that I considered this statement anti-Semitic
on its face; I still do.
But at the end of the piece, Ryan writes:
At the end of the day, do I still believe Ron Paul is
“an anti-Semite” as I said in my initial post? I think
that was an overly harsh assessment, and I apologize
for it. Nonetheless, I have emailed his campaign
spokesman to ask if he stands by the main quotation in
question here: “By far the most powerful lobby in
Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government.”
…[Sager continues] I think it’s perfectly possible for a
politician to believe it is the Israeli lobby for
foreign policy reasons, without being anti-Semitic. No
doubt some anti-Semites are among that camp. But it
doesn’t follow that everyone in that camp is therefore
Now I think it’s true that “it’s perfectly possible for a politician to believe the Israeli lobby is the worst” of a “bad sort” for foreign policy reasons. And I’d give Ron Paul the benefit of the doubt in believing that’s the reason–pure foreign policy considerations–if that’s what he believed.
But I think a lot depends on the reasons you think the Israeli lobby is a particularly “bad sort”, the worst in fact. if the reasons betray a double standard where Israel’s right to exist and to seek to protect itself from genocidal opponents is somehow something sinister and Israel is held to impossibly self destructive standards where lobbying is somehow equivalent to Protocols of the Elders of Zion insidious secret control–that another thing.
It’s often a real but subtle matter distinguishing non anti-semitic anti-Israel sentiment and the anti-semitic kind, and to my mind I think Ron Paul is a likable eccentric, not a hater. Yet he 9and many of his followers) have credulous views that verge on black helicopter conspiracy tendencies about the New World Order, Giant Secret Trilateral Commission, New World Order, Skull and Bones, secret ruling council of Globalists, a world view that has a template in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and often an anti-semitic dog whistle appeal.
Listen for instance, to the spittle-flecked venom of some of the the Ron Paul supporters’ commenters on the Ryan Sager’s essay.
And now let’s look at some of the of the titles of the comments:
Dump The Israeli Parasites [158 words]
Sick of neo-con artists. [20 words]
Criticism of Israel does NOT = Anti-semitism [29 words
Anyone against giving $Billions to Israel hates jews? Ridiculous! [159 words]
Paul is right Jews have too much power in America [49 words]
Now let’s look at the langauge and tone of one of them, the “dump the Israeli parasites” commenter;
Dump The Israeli Parasites
Reader comment on : Ron Paul’s Race Problem
Submitted May 22, 2007 19:35
Paul wrote that lobbying groups who seek special favors are evil, and that “by far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government.”
That pretty much sums up the biggest problem in Washington — there couldn’t be a better reason to vote for Ron Paul as President in 2008. The Israeli lobby, the IRS and the Federal Reserve should be purged from America ASAP. And as for being anti-semetic — HA — that’s a laugh. Jews are not a race; they belong to a political agenda that masquerades as religion.
It’s time to take back our country from the criminals and join in America’s defense with Ron Paul.
So yes, it’s true that not all criticism of Israel is anti-semitic (or “semetic” as the illiterate writer of the “parasite ” post has it). But on the other hand some are. (another tip-off of those who are actually anti-semitic is that they are compulsively drawn to make the tiresomely obvious point about Semites referring to all people in the region, as if this were something immensely clever no one remarked on. As if then, what has come to be called> anti-semitism, however imprecisely, can’t be real because there’s a problem with the wording. Something they disprove with their own sad midget minded display of self-satisfaction, as if they’re fooling anyone.
It’s also true that other candidates have anti-Israel and anti-semitic followers who post comments that reflect varying degrees of venom and the candidates shouldn’t be held responsible.
But it can’t be denied that a number of Ron Paul’s followers have heard a dog whistle. Maybe it’s just rabid dogs, that hear that whistle, ones already infected with the disease, so to speak, of anti-semitism. One can’t blame Ron Paul for the dog whistle. (I think of squeaky miniature breeds, whistling to themselves.) But one is tempted to ask, “Who let the dogs out?”