Of Torches and Candlelight Vigils

Candlelight Vigil

I am afraid and I am fearless. I am a humble wordsmith with ideas and a proud activist with a bullhorn. I am, and plan to always be, an American. I am also a pluralist, a social ecumenicist, if you will. This is my country. Believe what you will. Be whoever you want to be. Above all, be responsible for what you put into the world.

Today I am a flame, a mix of angry torches and solemn vigils.

What is in a flame, that in its most modest form, at the end of a narrow wick, we use it to express hope, sentiment and prayer, yet in a swirling column at the end of an oil soaked cloth, it threatens destruction? Fire is a language, an expression of joy and sorrow, and of hate and vile threats.

The saint is in the fire, and so is the Devil. A candle is lit so healing can find us. A torch is lit so we can find our way to that which hides in the dark places. Evil or strangeness is meant to flee when exposed to such abundant light, replaced by what the light brings. Yet when such a flame is brought and the hunted divergent do not cower like Frankenstein’s monster and secret away, one explanation might be that there is no evil there, only people.

Still they come, because they cannot let go of the tale of the bogeyman.

They come at us with their fear, we who believe that America is a living organism that adapts and changes with time, but never loses her founding principles that all are created equal, and endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We offer those rights to all people, including, and especially, to those whom we have shunned, segregated and lorded over.

Slavery is acknowledged to be our Original Sin as a nation, and it is. The nonsensical ideas which enable the notion of cultural superiority – Manifest Destiny; the right to kill, cow and isolate the people from whom we took this land; the need to entomb people in a static, homogeneous culture for their benefit (they should be grateful!) when it is really to benefit the enslavers – are merely different recipes for preparing and consuming someone else’s dignity.

That cannot happen anymore. Neither my nor my neighbors’ dignity are meals for your ego. If you try to consume us, or even subsume us, you will choke on our resistance.

I firmly believe we have it in ourselves as human beings to come together at the table, if we let go of cultural biases that separate us. Join us, and we will all feast. Extinguish your torches. Let unity snuff the flames. We will give you a votive to hold, and together we will pray to heal.



The evil that police do – Darren Wilson and the family of Michael Brown

Ferguson Protest, NYC 25th Nov 2014
Ferguson protests in New York City, Novemeber, 2014.
By The All-Nite Images from NY, NY, USA (Ferguson Protest, NYC 25th Nov 2014) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“He’s evil.”
– Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, speaking to Al Jazeera America about former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, Darren Wilson

When I went to Germany, eight years ago, my friend in Hanover was less than enthused when she found out we had been to visit the museum at the Dachau concentration camp, near Munich. She wasn’t angry. She just expressed herself in what might be described as a very resigned, German way.

“It’s a shame,” she said with a shrug, “that whenever people think of Germany, they think of Nazis.” Maybe, but murder leaves a mark. Racist hate leaves resentment and anger. Evil leaves a stain.

Evil is blind, too. It draws conclusions in shallowness because it lacks the vision, or the compulsion, to look deeper.

It’s quite callous, the way former police officer Darren Wilson recently described his feelings about Michael Brown, one year out from their fatal encounter on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. In an article in the New Yorker, Wilson tells writer Jake Halpern that he dismisses claims of historical, cultural abuse at the hands of whites as an excuse that Brown and other young people of color use to justify resenting authority and behaving badly.

“People who experienced that, and were mistreated, have a legitimate claim,” he told Halpern, referring to those he calls the “elders,” who lived through Jim Crow. “Other people [meaning young people, who grew up post-civil rights era] don’t.”

Don’t justify and call it justice; confront truth and discover justice

Wilson goes on to claim that, despite what the article describes as a difficult childhood, he has been able to persevere and build a life, but it comes across as an “I did it, why can’t they” attitude. “What happened to my great-grandfather is not happening to me,” he said, “I can’t base my actions off what happened to him.”

His obvious lack of understanding doesn’t bother him in the least. He thinks he doesn’t have to understand more than what’s going on in the moment. “We can’t fix in thirty minutes what happened thirty years ago,” he told Halpern. “We have to fix what’s happening now. That’s my job as a police officer. I’m not going to delve into people’s life-long history and figure out why they’re feeling a certain way, in a certain moment.”

But doesn’t community policing require more of an effort at understanding the community you’re policing, rather than making assumptions about who they are and what they are capable of? Not according to Wilson. To him, they are as free to make the same, sound choices he has.

“They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than — what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from.”

Halpern didn’t let that statement go unchallenged:

“This sounded like racial code language. I pressed him: what did he mean by ‘a different culture’? Wilson struggled to respond. He said that he meant ‘pre-gang culture, where you are just running in the streets—not worried about working in the morning, just worried about your immediate gratification.’ He added, ‘It is the same younger culture that is everywhere in the inner cities.’”

Wilson says he is certain that families in the community are to blame, and definitely in the case of Michael Brown’s family. “Do I think he had the best upbringing,” he asked Halpern rhetorically, in a tone the writer describes as “striking.”

“No,” Wilson concluded, answering his own question, “Not at all.”

Given that his own mother was a “compulsive” thief, who Wilson warned his own friends against, who left his father, then put his stepfather $20,000 in debt the first year they were together, it makes one question his frame of reference for what is and is not “the best upbringing.”

“His acts were devilish,” Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden told Al Jazeera, Wednesday morning, “and we definitely know he didn’t have the right upbringing, because those are words that you just don’t use, especially after you took somebody’s life and you know you had no reason to.”

Wilson has looked at Michael Brown’s life and just doesn’t care anymore, if he ever did, except that he is being sued by Brown’s family. “Do I think about who he was as a person? Not really, because it doesn’t matter at this point,” he explained to Halpern.

“He can’t hurt me with his words,” responded McSpadden. “What he did hurt me really bad, so his words mean nothing to me.”

Racism and Ferguson: a systemic problem requires a systemic solution

It’s a shame. It’s a shame that in communities of color – in Ferguson, in Staten Island, in North Charleston, in Baltimore, in Cincinnati – that when people think of white police officers working in those communities, they think of careless, frightened, hair-trigger murderers.

This need not be the case.

Many law officers have been caught escalating too quickly to violence, asserting superiority over unarmed men and women, too quick to draw their weapon, shoot a fleeing suspect in the back or physically abuse a prisoner already in custody.

Dying in custody – a necessary conversation

There is a problem with training that says, “You have a gun. You’re in charge.” If that’s your philosophy, go join the army, if they’ll have you. They need people who will shoot to kill.

But police should be working with communities, not against them. Cops need to be evaluated not by how many tickets they write and how many arrests they make, but on how they get along with the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.

Ferguson fallout – justice dancing on the head of a pin

Asked whether she could ever forgive Darren Wilson, Michael Brown’s mother answered simply, “Never. Never.”

It’s a matter of respect – the kind that police expect and the citizens deserve. Killing officers only reinforces this us vs. them attitude. As long as one lives in fearful resentment of the other, people will be as uncomfortable in their own neighborhoods as the cops who patrol them.

Unless full, mutual respect is achieved, citizens will die, families will be torn apart and police who kill will remain the face of evil for entire communities.


Yes, losing the Confederate flag really means something to South Carolina

RebFlagDownWhen I posted on Facebook last Thursday, that I was thinking about going to Columbia, South Carolina, Friday, to watch them finally furl the Confederate flag, I got a little pushback from some of my conservative friends. They cynically insisted that the historic event I was going to witness was no big deal and its impact way over-hyped.

They said, on my post and others, that the media frenzy over moving “a square piece of cloth” was at worst a distraction for the world’s problems and at best a panacea that would lull people into thinking that we’ve finally turned a cultural corner in the Old South.

“It’s a manufactured event, ” one critic wrote. “I don’t expect the air to smell like lilacs, don’t expect 300 million people to hold hands and sing kume by ya.”

“Just smoke and diversion” from the “real issues,” wrote another.

I thought they were misreading people’s expectations, that there can be no question there is still much work left to do. Was it mostly symbolic? Sure, but it was an important step. As it turns out, for the people of South Carolina, it was hugely important, much closer to an awakening than I thought, and so much more of the optimism the event’s critics sardonically predicted.

After witnessing that anachronistic flag, despised by many and revered by few, being lowered, folded up and driven away from the capitol grounds, Friday, I have to admit that the people we spoke to indeed saw only sunny days ahead for the Palmetto State, and their joy was rarely expressed in measured declarations.

Artist Bernard Jackson was genuinely enthusiastic about the flag coming down.
Artist Bernard Jackson was genuinely enthusiastic about the flag coming down.

Bernard Jackson, a local artist, set up an easel across from the flag post depicting a Buffalo Soldier looming large, with the flag behind him, “because it’s behind us now,” he explained.

“This isn’t a black victory, or a white victory,” he went on, excitedly, “This is an American victory. This is a world victory. Everybody across the world is rejoicing right now. It’s a ripple effect. You changed the tides of the world.”

His optimism was jarring, because I expected there to be much more tension. There wasn’t.

FightingTerrorTshirtTrue, among some, like Myron Murrow, who said his family had been in South Carolina since at least the Eighteenth Century, there was some indignancy and resignation. After all, he showed up, grandchildren in tow, wearing the Confederate emblem on the back of his t-shirt, surrounded by the words “Stopping Terrorism Since 1861.” This, of course, follows the euphemistic Southern description of the Civil War as the “War of Northern Aggression.”

“When they try to erase it from our history,” he told me, “that’s when I proudly wear my flag.”

But as long as that flag flew on public, state-owned property, at “the people’s house,” as someone put it, then it seemed like nothing more than an ironic attempt to hide South Carolina’s history of racism in its own shadow.
Watch the video of the Confederate Flag coming down.
“We can’t say that slavery didn’t happen, that segregation didn’t happen, that people weren’t lynched and murdered and harassed and oppressed. It happened.” Brittani Williams, a young woman who had driven up from Charleston, explained.

Murrow decried the consequences of the state legislature’s actions, lamenting, “It makes a lot of people feel like, if they have ancestors who fought, it makes it feel like they lost the war all over again.”

Yet among almost everyone else we spoke to, the conversation was enthusiastic, characterizing the event as a time for love, forgiveness and moving on.

“This is going to bring everybody closer and bring America hope, tighter knit,” Reginald Epps, a facilitator for a S.T.E.M. program in Greenville, S.C., said. “That’s why I think it’s important, what’s happened here.”

Williams couldn’t hold back the tears. “I cried the whole way here. I’ll probably cry the whole way home,” she said, using her hand as a fan to help regain her composure. “Being from Charleston, this is a victory for us, because we lost nine beautiful people,” she continued, adding, “It’s a step forward. It’s a victory for our nation, because now we can start to heal.”

So maybe it wasn’t an entire nation coming together in a group hug, but it wasn’t a small thing, a diversion, either. It was a long time coming. I think I approached it as an outsider, albeit not an unbiased one, and I just did not anticipate how profound it was to have a burden lifted from the shoulders of those who had been squirming uncomfortably beneath it for 150 years.

Jackson, the artist, painted a brightly colored picture of the state he loves and the place he calls home. “South Carolina is about to turn the corner, enormously,” he said, “and I can’t wait.”


Related Stories:

  • Confederate Flag Wavers Greet President Obama in Oklahoma (ABC)
  • Charleston Church Shooter Dylann Roof Expected in Court (NBC)
  • Rightfully suppressing the toys and the tantrums of the unreasonable

    Photo credit: Janice McDonald
    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signs bill that permanently removes the Confederate Battle Flag from a pole on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia, July 9, 2015. She is surrounded by former governors and families of those killed in Charleston’s June attack. Photo credit: Janice McDonald. Used here with permission

    Call it the unraveling of the Republicans’ over forty-year-old “Southern Strategy.” Driven by a party that finally sees the dangers of perception that come with aligning itself with racists and secessionists, the GOP is letting go of the Confederate flag as a means of reaching a segment of the voting population. Like an obese diabetic swearing off corn syrup, they are looking for other ways to get their sugar that are more easily digested by the public.

    Just to be clear, I’m not saying all Americans who live in the South are racists. Neither are all Southern Republicans, but when you feast at the trough of intolerance, one is bound to adapt at least some of the affectations of one’s dining partners. The need for votes and money and more money and even more money means that even if your find the racial and social attitudes of the pigs abhorrent, you can’t be seen without a snout mask, lest you reveal an upturned nose behind it.

    The Democrats had to exorcise that demon back in the 1970s, and it cost them the 1980s, but this is a different time in racial politics. The flag furor is a distraction, and it helps Republicans look less intransigent on social issues, at a time when the culture wars are really heating up.

    The causes of the culture clash remain the faith-based rationales for intolerance, discrimination and militarism. The problem is not with the faiths. It is with the way they are implemented by some adherents, meaning their inability to keep their dogma in perspective, as part of a pluralistic society. Those in public service who swing to God to justify their manifestos are all too happy to provide the kindling for righteous indignation and bogeyman politics. It is a maneuver worthy of a ten-year-old boy, for whom every challenge is stridently answered, “Uh-uhhh,” or, “Your mama.”

    Aware of humanity’s inconsistencies in abiding by the principles of freedom and tolerance that are necessary to preserve our republic, Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, issued several cautionary advisements. More than a few point to the stubborn divisions which even now grip our country and freeze our government with an intolerant zeal usually relegated religious fanaticism.

    After expressing his expectation that all would rally around the young Constitution, “and unite in common efforts for the common good,” he added:

    “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle: that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable.”

    After the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, where a young bigot walked into a historic black church and gunned down nine people during Bible study, some on the Right were quick to cast it as an attack on faith in general, and the Christian faith in particular. Such speech feeds the monster of intolerance they count on to get elected, and rallies their political base to show up at the polls. But is their “will to be rightful” at all reasonable? More importantly, is using the faith community, fallacious argument that it is, consistent with our nation’s founding principles?

    It was Jefferson who said, citing mankind’s long history of wars and killing for the cause of religious superiority, “that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance [just] as despotic, [just] as wicked, and capable of [just] as bitter and bloody persecutions.”

    Instead, he said, we are a nation “enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter.”

    Those who are quick to wield the sword of some maleficent deity, clinging to a single truth against coexistence, cleave all Americans from our heritage as a free country. Fanatics and zealots of all stripes are corruptions of “a benign religion,” and their extremism is an anathema to a belief in the “happiness of man.”

    Their dogma distorts.

    Perhaps it is the fanatic’s belief in exclusivity that drives his myopic zeal, a deeply seeded understanding that his race and religion make him part of a group that is destined to inherit the keys to the kingdom and rule over others. For a soul so possessed, there can be no “common good,” only the distorted fulfillment of their distorted perceptions of God.

    Children are also often told they are special, that they make their parents proud. This is a perception most grow to understand as coming from the unfettered love a parent has for for their child. Very few carry it into adulthood. That is, unless they find the world so daunting and unwelcoming that they hasten back to the warmth and comfort of memory and seek a way to prove to the world what their parents convinced them was true.

    The rambling letter the confessed killer in Charleston, posted online, is rife with the delusion of superiority and entitlement he thinks are due Americans of European ancestry. According to D.R. (I’m not going to empower him by using his name), Whites in America “are in fact superior,” and because they are superior beings, they are also victims of “lies, exaggerations and myths.” And, he adds lamentingly, “I have tried endlessly to think of reasons we deserve this.”

    Poor Whites. And it’s all the fault of “Jewish agitation of the black race.” Jews, he says, operate secretly under a cloak of Whiteness. “If we could somehow turn every jew [sic] blue for 24 hours,” he suggests, “I think there would be a mass awakening, because people would be able to see plainly what is going on.”

    It’s so simply juvenile, this racist rant by a man incapable of taking responsibility for his own shortcomings. Jews are an “enigma.” Blacks “are stupid and violent.” Hispanics may have European blood, but “are still our enemies.” He and the people he sources never stopped blaming others for a country growing and changing. We accept. We consent. We grow. We put away childish things like the Confederate flag and hopefully, someday, the pointy white hoods of the racists. We put away the fear of losing wealth for the joys of clean air, a sound education and healthcare for all.

    This is not our country changing in some foreign way. It is, instead, precisely the way our Founding Fathers envisioned our republic evolving.

    “E pluribus unum – out of many, one,” is the motto of our nation, a true declaration for pluralism and tolerance, so that we can thrive, Jefferson said, “possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation.”

    Welcome to the “golden door.”


    PS. Truly principled freedom rings out from the Virginian’s speech, and it is at the very least regretful that he polluted the consistency of his principles by owning slaves. That is a fact that cannot be easily washed away by high minded thoughts and words. Nevertheless, I urge you to embrace the message, if not the messenger.

    The Most Dangerous Game, institutionalized

    “I wanted the ideal animal to hunt,” explained the general. ” So I said, ‘What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?’

    “And the answer was, of course, `It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason.'”

    “But no animal can reason,” objected Rainsford.

    “My dear fellow,” said the general, “there is one that can.”

    “But you can’t mean–” gasped Rainsford.

    “And why not?”

    “I can’t believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke.”

    “Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting.”

    “Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder.”

    – from the short story, The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell

    Humanity loses when we set up people to be prey, targets for bigoted hunters who’s survival in no way depends on an ethnicity’s destruction, but who choose to bait and pursue, both barrels up, as a bloodsport. Whether you’re an “ugly” American, White Supremacist or committed Jihadist, your group-think notions of a life-and-death struggle for cultural survival are too often distilled into self-aggrandizing, self-righteous assertions of moral superiority. culturecontest

    “Our Judeo-Christian culture is far superior to the Islamic one,” Geert Wilders, the keynote speaker at the anti-Muslim cartoon contest that was attacked, Sunday, told the crowd in Garland, Texas, just before the shots rang out. “I can give you a million reasons. But here is an important one: We have humor and they don’t.” I guess no one ever explained to America’s indigenous peoples what jokers the European missionaries were. Cortez, particularly, was a barrel of laughs.

    Pamela Geller, head of the hate group American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sponsored Sunday’s Texas event, told CNN Monday, that the shooting in Garland “illustrated” that there is “a problem in Islam.”

    I think our Founding Fathers and Mothers would agree that while free expression is paramount, if one uses that right as bait to ensnare those who are tragically consumed by their religion, who are as zealous for their version of truth as you are to challenge it, even if it ends with them lying in a pool of their own blood, then you haven’t proven your point. You’ve proven theirs. You become the intolerant aggressors. They become the ones martyred for a cause.

    Geller is careful not to dehumanize her enemy, in any obvious sort of way. Instead, she merely subhumanizes them with the antiquated terms of the Crusaders of old and the aforementioned colonialists. “I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages,” she said, in defense of her group’s actions in holding an event she knew would be offensive to Muslims.

    It’s important to be clear, here, that while the actions of Geller’s group disgust me, they do have a right to give voice to their beliefs. The U.S. Constitution gives them that right. But my personal constitution does not. Their “contest” smells too much like the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda that targeted my recent ancestors. It is used as a justification for murder.

    But violence of the sort perpetrated by individuals claiming to represent the so-called Islamic State, in response to the Garland event, is also never, ever right.

    Injustice, intolerance, racism – these should all be hunted down and destroyed, but advocating for the destruction of human behavior does not mean advocating for the murder of those who practice it. It is the practice itself that must end. That was the staff at Charlie Hebdo’s point. Geller, et al, have abandoned the French cartoonists’ nuance for a cudgel.

    Finally, and I can’t say this loud enough, making Pamela Geller the bogey in this is not the right approach. Just as hatred of Islamist militants only empowers them because it gives them an “us against the world” determination, so too Geller, Wilders and the other racists’ voices only get louder the closer we put our ears to them. We should send them back to the fringe from whence they came. If we’re lucky, we won’t hear from them again, except as high squeaks in a distant, fading echo.


    America’s inescapable specter of violence and racism

    “…they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents.

    “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got hands the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert…”
    – Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), referring to DREAMers, in an interview with Newsmax, Thursday, July 18, 2013

    There’s no American racist poster child. That’s a sad fact. After his horrible comments, which he doubled down on, during a radio interview, Tuesday, we might like to hang it on Rep. King, but he’s just the xenophobe du jour. Sadly, our struggle with racism is older than our Republicans, and our republic.

    We are born from an egg of independence fertilized by musket sperm. We were weaned at the teat of slavery and subjugation. Our country was raised on European snobbery and Christian absolutism.

    “All men are created equal” was a great slogan for declaring war on a king, but the rebellion of the American Colonies against the British Empire was a revolt against tyranny, not privilege. Privilege is an inalienable right, under that whole “pursuit of happiness” clause. Without the superiority complex with which our founding fathers endowed us, in a period of colonization and exploitation, we would be just another Western Hemisphere backwater, trying to find a way to live with the native population instead of looking for the most efficient ways to annihilate them and their cultures. Empathy was not a tool of survival for the early settlers.

    So when President Obama said the other day, “Trayvon Martin could have been me,” it shook the absolutists to the core. There’s no room for empathy in their view of justice, be it judicial or economic. There is only what the law says, and we move from there. Even the president, in that same speech, last Friday, admitted that a trial was held, a jury deliberated and a verdict was rendered, and inasmuch as this is what defines the criminal justice system in America, justice was served. “That’s how our system works,” he said.

    Then he tried to put it into context, by talking about what it’s like to be a young black man in the United States, distrusted and feared by a white majority that seems to think cautionary aloofness is safer than positive engagement. The changes he suggested were all based on the way we relate to each other as a society. He spoke of changing the way the police think about racial profiling, and creating positive role models for young black men who are in threatening community situations.

    Even when he was talking about “stand your ground” laws, he did not talk about changing the law. Instead, he talked about it as an unfortunate result of a society that would rather find an excuse to justify murder than a way to confront the ambiguous and seemingly capricious way those laws are applied.

    We may not be able to change the sordid roots of our nation’s racist tendencies, but we can change what happens from now on. Yes, we can. That was always Barack Obama’s message. As the president said in his speech on the economy, in Illinois, Wednesday, quoting the state’s Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Carl Sandburg:

    “The past is a bucket of ashes. Yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west. There is only an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows.”

    So the next time you hear a Congressman call immigrants from Latin America “wetbacks” or “drug mules,” remember that they read from a thin, fading parchment, that will turn to dust with them. When that happens, we will not dance on their graves, for we will have long dismissed their ideas as a disappearing specter, a ghost of an unfortunate past that we will not care enough to miss.


    Ron Paul’s sphere sucks young voters into racism’s toilet

    English: Given permission by creators and owne...

    To the casual observer, like Baltimore Sun columnist Thomas F. Schaller, the perception of the Ron Paul brand is a simple one.

    “To look at him,” Schaller points out in his opinion piece, Tuesday, “Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul seems harmless. He’s cute and contrarian. He wears poorly fitting suits. He’s decidedly un-slick. You almost want to pat him on the head.

    “But,” he adds, later, “don’t let Dr. Paul’s impish, avuncular and professorial style fool you.”

    Republican presidential contender, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), is in a maelstrom of his own making. Buoyed early in his political career by the support of swastika-wearing supremacists, he is struggling to disavow his ties to those groups, so in a season of wild political extremism, he can appear an even-tempered moderate.

    The legacy, paleoconservative anti-federalists, like the folks in white hoods and Tim McVeigh and gun-hoarding militias, have harpooned the general anti-government backlash of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, and siphoned out those who blame others for their problems. The sucking sound is turning heads, and getting those who should know better to cock an ear like a curious dog.

    If they would just go sniffing around, the educated youth who are drawn to the vortex would realize that those who were “taken” by the language of the Libertarian Party, are the ones looking for easy answers. They would find that too many Ron Paul supporters are a caucus of racist, xenophobic and ignorant American voters, that hangs on the dependent clauses that complete the phrase, “Things would be so much better in this country, if …”

    Like, “Things would be so much better in this country if we controlled our borders,” or, “Things would be so much better in this country if everyone owned a gun,” or, “Things would be so much better in this country if only we didn’t have Obama [read ‘a black man’] in the White House.”

    So, why is Ron Paul such a big hit with racist extremists? One answer, on a web page of the white supremacy group Stormfront, asks a similar question, according to an article in the Herald-Tribune. “I understand he wins many fans because his monetary policy would hurt Jews,” one of the answers, submitted in the comments section, says.

    The HT article goes on to describe some of the controversial language in a couple Ron Paul newsletters from the 1990s, that has raised some of these charges of racism:

    “In the mid-1990s, between his two stints as a Texas congressman, Mr. Paul produced a newsletter called The Ron Paul Survival Report, which only months before the Oklahoma City bombings encouraged militias to seek out and expel federal agents in their midst. That edition was titled ‘Why Militias Scare the Striped Pants Off Big Government.’

    “An earlier edition of another newsletter he produced, The Ron Paul Political Report, concluded that the need for citizens to arm themselves was only natural, given carjackings by ‘urban youth who play whites like pianos.’ The report, with no byline but written in the first person, said: ‘I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self-defense. For the animals are coming.'”

    Despite his name on the newsletter’s masthead, Rep. Paul says he didn’t make those statements, that others wrote them for him. Even if that’s true (there’s no byline attributing authorship to the articles), one would think that a politician, albeit an activist one, would want to be more careful with his branding, and do some oversight.

    Paul, though, gives the excuse of the dirty cop who claims he was taking money from the mob because he was doing some super-secret undercover sting, that only he knew about, and he was trying to flip an informant. He’s not guilty of association, he says, because, “I’ll go to anybody who I think I can convert to change their viewpoints… I’m always looking at converting people to look at liberty the way I do.”

    The problem is, when you throw the ignorant-furious-paranoid and the educated-furious-frustrated in the same pool, you can’t wipe them down with the same towel of liberty, without their shit getting on everything.