Ron Paul, the libertarian former Texas congressman whose hard-line views are widely admired on the radical right but who claims to reject racism, has started a new organization stacked with a hodgepodge of far-right extremists.
As The Daily Beast reported yesterday, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity is ostensibly designed to promote a discourse about U.S. foreign policy. But its advisory board is stacked with what writer James Kirchik characterized as “a bevy of conspiracy theorists, cranks, and apologists for some of the worst regimes on the planet.”
And just who are the far-right luminaries helping guide Paul’s new endeavor?
One is Lew Rockwell, Paul’s former congressional chief of staff who now heads the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an Auburn, Ala., think tank with deep ties to the neo-Confederate movement. There’s Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News and journalist Eric Margolis, both 9/11 “truthers” who suspect that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks may have been orchestrated by the government.
And alongside them sits Butler Shaffer, a Southwestern Law School professor who similarly once asked: “In light of the lies, forgeries, cover-ups, and other deceptions leading to a ‘war’ in Iraq, how can any intellectually honest person categorically deny the possibility of the involvement of American political interest in 9/11?”
But that’s not the worst of it, according to The Daily Beast.
“Also on Paul’s board are prominent former government officials who claim that American Jews constitute a ‘fifth column’ aimed at subverting American foreign policy in the interests of Israel,” Kirchick reported. One of those is Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer who has accused a long list of individuals and organizations of “being intent on involving 300 million Americans in other people’s religious wars,” The Daily Beast said.
Still another board member is Walter Bloch, a fellow at the Mises institute who The Daily Beast said “believes the wrong side won the ‘war against Southern secession’ and blames most of America’s current problems on ‘the monster Lincoln.’”
Yesterday’s article wasn’t the first to note the affinity many extremists have for Paul. An article in The New York Times in 2011, when Paul was running for president, noted that while white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists had allied behind Paul’s campaign, he had not disavowed their support. Paul told the newspaper: “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say –– it has nothing to do with me endorsing what they say.”
The controversy surrounding Paul’s new organization is reminiscent of past revelations. Paul has been accused of authoring a series of newsletters, written under his name, that Kirchik says “reveal decades worth of obsession and conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews and gays.” When Kirchik first detailed those newsletters in 2008, Paul claimed that he had not written them and he had no idea who had. Kirchik says in his latest article that the newsletters, which ostensibly gave supporters “political news and investment advice,” “netted his family over $1 million per year.”
The November 1990 issue of the Paul’s “Political Report,” for example, praised neo-Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke. A month later, an issue described the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a “world-class adulterer” who “replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.” Also that year, as the Rev. Al Sharpton led efforts to rename New York City after King, Paul’s newsletter suggested possible alternatives including “Welfaria” and “Zooville.”
The vitriol ostensibly coming from Paul also targeted the LGBT community. A 1994 issue of the “Ron Paul Survival Report” asserted that people “who don’t get a blood transfusion, and who don’t swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay.”
The stated mission of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity is to provide “the tools and the education to chart a new course with the understanding that only through a peaceful foreign policy can we hope for a prosperous tomorrow.” But with the revelation of who its principals really are, one can only wonder what that means.