Ron Paul & The Newsletters: 1996 vs. 2008
When the story about the racist content of some of the newsletters published under his name first became public this week, Ron Paul’s campaign issued this statement:
“The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.
“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”
There are problems with that defense, but it appears that the real issue is even deeper.
Matt Welch, the editor of Reason, has gone back to see what Paul said about the newsletters back in 1996, when they became an issue in his effort to return to the United States Congress, and the news isn’t good. The Paul campaign was singing a very different tune back then, and there wasn’t even the suggestion that Paul wasn’t the one responsible for the content of the newsletters.
Consider this from the Houston Chronicle dated May 23, 1996:
Paul, a Republican obstetrician from Surfside, said Wednesday he opposes racism and that his written commentaries about blacks came in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.”
Paul also wrote that although “we are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.
Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.”
A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has decried the spread of urban crime.
Paul continues to write the newsletter for an undisclosed number of subscribers, the spokesman said.
Or this from the Dallas Morning News dated May 22, 1996:
Dr. Ron Paul, a Republican congressional candidate from Texas, wrote in his political newsletter in 1992 that 95 percent of the black men in Washington, D.C., are “semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
He also wrote that black teenagers can be “unbelievably fleet of foot.” […]
Dr. Paul, who is running in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, defended his writings in an interview Tuesday. He said they were being taken out of context.
“It’s typical political demagoguery,” he said. “If people are interested in my character … come and talk to my neighbors.” […]
According to a Dallas Morning News review of documents circulating among Texas Democrats, Dr. Paul wrote in a 1992 issue of the Ron Paul Political Report: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.”
Dr. Paul, who served in Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said Tuesday that he has produced the newsletter since 1985 and distributes it to an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 subscribers. A phone call to the newsletter’s toll-free number was answered by his campaign staff. […]
Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation. […]
“If someone challenges your character and takes the interpretation of the NAACP as proof of a man’s character, what kind of a world do you live in?” Dr. Paul asked.
In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men.
“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” Dr. Paul said.
Draw your own conclusions, I suppose. But there seems to be some inconsistency between what was said in 1996 and what is being said today.