A lot of right libertarians love to talk about freedom. They love to tell us how their ‘libertarianism’ will make us happier. “Greed is natural and greed is good” is the motto by which they live their lives. They also love to talk about how they want to abolish institutions that work to promote greater understanding and equality. The suggestion put forth by the right libertarian is that the ‘invisible hand’ of the ‘free market’ will eliminate racism. It’s not only laughable. It’s a myth. Especially when so many right libertarians harbour deep-seated prejudices.
Scratch the surface of some of these ‘libertarians’ and you’ll often find some questionable attitudes to difference underneath. Their attitudes are almost always shrouded in economic dogma and masked by cold, matter-of-fact business-speak. For example the lunch counter protests in the South were retroactively opposed on the grounds of “trespass”. They also argue that businesses should be permitted to refuse someone on the basis of skin colour. It is for these reasons that soi-disant libertarians claimed to oppose the civil rights movement. Ron Paul, whose soubriquet is “Dr No”, has earned a reputation among right libertarians as “principled”. He is often lauded on The Telegraph’s blogs and hailed elsewhere as a true ‘libertarian’. A commenter on Hannan’s blog says,
Ron Paul seems to be ignored by the British media. In the U.S. he also gets a raw deal. A recent CNN poll had him rated at
0%. It turned out that they had polled just 50 people.
This reads like a lament but the commenter does not connect the lament with lived experience. Furthermore this commenter wilfully ignores Paul’s racist and anti-Semitic remarks. In 2008 CNN reported that,
A series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul contain several racist remarks — including one that says order was restored to Los Angeles after the 1992 riots when blacks went “to pick up their welfare checks.”
Hannan is a self-declared admirer of Paul, whom he describes as an “honest principled patriot” (see the comments). There’s no mention of his racism and that is no surprise. It’s much easier to elide something as inconvenient as Paul’s racism and talk movingly about his ‘honesty’. We’ll return to Hannan later. Paul may deny it but there are still many doubts over his protestations of innocence. Is it because he doth protest too much? CNN again,
The controversial newsletters include rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr. — described as a “pro-Communist philanderer.” One newsletter, from June 1992, right after the LA riots, says “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”
It’s just a joke… yeah, sure it is.
In May 2011, capitolhillblue wrote,
Twice-failed Presidential wannabe Ron Paul’s racism is never far from the surface and reappeared Friday when he admitted to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he would not have voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 if he had been in Congress at the time.
News One, a black website tells us that Paul is closely associated with the extreme right-wing John Birch Society,
Despite its nefarious history, Ron Paul has been a longtime supporter and friend of the John Birch Society, speaking as they keynote speaker at their 50th anniversary and holding rallies with them. Like The John Birch society, Paul has become a magnet for Neo-Nazis who support him online on sites like Stormfront. Paul even has a picture with the Internets most notorious Neo-Nazis, Don Black and his son Derrek, the founders of Stormfront. Paul also famously refused to give back a donation from Don Black.
In fact, here is Paul addressing the John Birch Society in August 2009.
Outside the Beltway attempts to defend Paul and, by extension, the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
Much of the piece is guilt by association. Kirchick notes Paul’s long association with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a respected libertarian think tank, and points out that other people associated with the organization are Confederate sympathizers and the like.
The Ludwig von Mises Institute is at the intellectual forefront of the neo-Confederate movement. It produces reams of libertarian justifications for slavery, while also perpetuating the myth of the Southern states-as-victim. The Civil War, they argue had nothing to do with slavery. It was all about states rights. In other words, and in the mind of the neo-Confederate, the war was about the right for individual states to continue the practice of slavery as well as “tariffs”. In essence, the LvMI rewrites history to suit a particular ideological agenda. Their neo-Misean narrative is intended to lend intellectual gravitas to what is, actually, a Dixiecratic vision. This article is fairly typical.
Immediately following that clause in the Confederate Constitution is a clause that has no parallel in the U.S. Constitution. It affirms strong support for free trade and opposition to protectionism: “but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry.”
The LvMI believes its strict economic discourse is unassailable. The suggestion is that economics is a neutral ‘science’ that speaks for itself. LvMI’s ‘scholar’ Thomas Di Lorenzo is part of the vanguard in the historical revisionism of the Confederate States of America. Here he says,
Legal scholar Gene Healy has made a powerful argument in favor of abolishing the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. When a fair vote was taken on it in 1865, in the aftermath of the War for Southern Independence, it was rejected by the Southern states and all the border states. Failing to secure the necessary three-fourths of the states, the Republican party, which controlled Congress, passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 which placed the entire South under military rule
The Fourteenth Amendment is the one that contains what is known as the Citizen Clause. This granted all persons born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of their skin colour, the right to citizenship (The Indians were mysteriously excluded). Prior to this, black people – free and slave – were not considered to be citizens. The amendment is referred to as a “Reconstruction” amendment and was enacted partly in response to the Black Codes of the southern states, which were passed in the wake of the Thirteenth Amendment – which ended slavery – and forbade blacks from voting and holding public office. In this article, Di Lorenzo muddies the waters by introducing the straw man of northern racism. He splits hairs over the Constitution which is, in the mind of the neo-Confederate, an evil document that stole their freedoms away.
The Fourteenth Amendment has had precisely the effect that its nineteenth-century Republican party supporters intended it to have: it has greatly centralized power in Washington, D.C., and has subjected Americans to the kind of judicial tyranny that Thomas Jefferson warned about when he described federal judges as those who would be “constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” It’s time for all Americans to reexamine the official history of the “Civil War” and its aftermath as taught by paid government propagandists in the “public” schools for the past 135 years.
Di Lorenzo presents what appears prima facie to be a reasonable request to examine the history of the Civil War in new light but why stop there? Why not re-examine the Civil War against the backdrop of the entire history of the United States as Howard Zinn has done with The People’s History of the United States? The answer to that question is because Di Lorenzo and the LvMI have a vested interest in isolating the Civil War from the rest of US history. But notice how he uses quotation marks around the words “Civil War”.
Di Lorenzo’s main body of work orbits the dead star of Abraham Lincoln, whom he and the LvMI regards as a tyrant and a bully. Those of us who are familiar with a broader sweep of history already understand how historical figures are cosmetically-enhanced to offer a media-friendly image of flawed men and women. It happened then and is happening now. Lincoln is not unique. Yet Di Lorenzo labours under the illusion that he and the neo-Confederate movement are the only people to possess such knowledge. And Jefferson Davis? Not a word about him and his poor grasp of military tactics or his slipshod presidency. The Claremont Institute produced a review of Di Lorenzo’s The Real Lincoln in which it says,
As the title suggests, The Real Lincoln purports to go beyond the mountains of revisionist historiography to reveal Lincoln’s genuine principles and purposes. According to DiLorenzo, these had nothing to do with the perpetuation of free government and the problem of slavery: The “real” Lincoln did not care a whit about the “peculiar institution.” At the core of the “real” Lincoln’s ambition was an unqualified and unwavering commitment to mercantilism, or socialism as DiLorenzo sometimes intimates. Lincoln would stop at nothing to impose the “Whig economic system” upon America, and any opinion he voiced regarding slavery was merely instrumental in advancing this end. Lincoln’s “cause,” in the words of DiLorenzo, was “centralized government and the pursuit of empire.” According to DiLorenzo, Lincoln said this “over and over again,” although DiLorenzo does not trouble himself to produce a shred of evidence for this assertion.
If the “real” Lincoln needed to resort to war to advance his cause, he was happy to do it: “Lincoln decided that he had to wage war on the South,” because only military might would destroy “the constitutional logjam behind which the old Whig economic policy agenda had languished.” In the end, writes DiLorenzo, “[Lincoln] wanted war” and “was not about to let the Constitution stand in his way.” Lincoln was devoted to undermining the Constitution in the name of tariffs and internal improvement schemes. In its place Lincoln hoped to build a centralized mercantilist-socialist state, with himself at the helm.
The League of the South recently published its “Declaration of Cultural Secession” advocating a society that advances what it calls the virtues of “Celtic culture,” defined on its Web site as “the permanent things that order and sustain life: faith, family, tradition, community, and private property; loyalty, courage, and honour.” The SPLC lied about and defamed the League of the South by spreading the falsehood on its own Web site that by “Celtic culture” the League of the South means, and I quote, “white people.” Apparently the SPLC believes that only white people embrace family, tradition, community, private property, courage, etc.
Notice the wilful misrepresentation at the end of the paragraph. Di Lorenzo, who is supposed to be some sort of academic, writes in a prose style that’s reminiscent of a petulant correspondent who writes regular letters of complaint to local newspapers. Here he writes of Obama,
It only took the Obama administration a couple of weeks to prove that the national leadership of the Democratic Party is guided by totalitarian-minded socialists who seek to create an omnipotent government. The U.S. government is now controlled by people who have been dreaming of living out their utopian socialist fantasies ever since the fantasies were brought to their attention in college decades ago by their Mao/Castro/Che Guevara poster-hanging, capitalism-hating, communistic professors.
Right libertarians will often use words like “socialist” , “totalitarian” or “America-hating” to describe Obama. Some will question his birth (see the amusingly self-styled ‘Birther’ movement) and claim that he wasn’t born in the US. It’s merely a way of transferring one’s racism over to a narrative about ‘patriotism’.
Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs also identifies herself as a ‘libertarian’ but her website tells us an altogether different story. Atlas Shrugs is often cited by the Islamophobes of the EDL and Stop the Islamisation of Europe. Even the mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, cited it. Geller even wrote a few apologies for Breivik’s actions. She described the summer camp on the island of Utoya as an “indoctrination center” that was full of “jihadists”. She even tried to claim that those who had attended the summer camp weren’t “pure Norwegian”. Recently, she edited her blog to remove a blatantly racist caption.
Writing for the Mellon-Scaife WorldNetDaily, she wrote of Barack Obama,
After reading Barack Obama’s speech at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP Thursday, there is no getting around it: The man is a racist. He is not a unifier, a healer, or a leader – he divides, incites, destroys. He foments animus and anger. The speech proves, yet again, that he does not (nor does he want to) represent all Americans. He is the most racist, divisive official we have ever elected to any high office, let alone the most powerful office in the world.
Of course, no Obama speech would be complete without the advancement of Islamic supremacism. He got applause for claiming that “Muslim Americans [are] viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God.” He made no mention of public Christian prayer (which can get you fired these days).
Every single headline calls Terreblanche a “white supremacist,” alluding to his position in the waning days of the apartheid government, thirty-odd years ago. But the real story here is not that Terreblanche was a “white supremacist” — if he really was (and I know how the left loves to throw around those labels). Whether he was or not, the man was brutally murdered, and I had to go through ten newspaper accounts to find out how he was murdered. The liberal media had to dehumanize him first. And not one newspaper account speaks of Black supremacism — yet that is the really important story in South Africa today. All I see in South Africa is Black supremacism. Terreblanche may have been a white supremacist, but he’s the dead one.
The genocide of Boers taking place in South Africa is never spoken of
In Britain, right libertarians also offer lip service to anti-racism. I say “lip service” because while they claim to be against racism, they will call for certain institutions to be abolished and will excuse an employer’s racism by declaring it a matter of ‘business’.
Barack Obama has an exotic background, and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it. During the campaign, he made a virtue of his unusual upbringing. He was at once from the middle of the country (Kansas) and from its remotest edge (Hawaii). He was both black and white. He was a Protestant brought up among Muslims. He seemed to have family on every continent. Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.
Was he playing to his gallery of US right libertarians? No doubt about it.
They complain that he has no mandate for the policy of tax, spend and borrow. And they’re right. Look, I supported the fellow, and I still wish him well. But to seek to close down debate with the racism card is pretty low.
Well, I hardly think anyone is “playing the racism card” and even if they are, then they may actually have a valid point. Indeed, it’s easy for someone who isn’t black to make excuses for the tone of language used by Obama’s right wing critics. Like many so-called libertarians, Hannan swats aside any idea that racism may be lurking behind the rhetoric used by the likes of the ‘Birthers’ for example. Incidentally, Hannan later wrote that he was “wrong” about Obama.
Now, I am not accusing Hannan of being a racist. He may be many things but I don’t think he’s necessarily a racist. However his use of the word “exotic” when describing Obama was wrong-headed. The word “exotic” is often applied without much thought and is used to describe someone of a different skin tone. My own background, for instance, is probably more mixed than Obama’s. But why has Hannan overlooked Ron Paul’s racist outbursts? Because he has the right credentials: he’s a small stater. But what Hannan fails to mention is Paul’s love of conspiracy theories. Paul has appeared on Alex Jones radio show to talk about the ‘New World Order’ and the 9/11 ‘Truth’ movement. When people speak about such things, you can’t guarantee that anti-Semitism and racism are following closely behind. The libertarian right are rather fond of conspiracy theories.
Hannan is a member of The Freedom Association, a right wing pressure group that was founded by Ross and Norris McWhirter, who had previously been involved in the Economic League, which worked to blacklist trade unionists and others whom it deemed to be subversive. The McWhirters were also associated with Lady Jane Birdwood, an eccentric right-winger who was closely associated with Britain’s fascists in the 1980’s.
The McWhirters were close personal and political friends. In the mid-1970s she joined forces with Ross McWhirter to produce the far-right magazine Majority. But it was to be a short-lived venture as the project was terminated after Ross McWhirter was killed by the IRA in 1975. Although she fought bitterly to keep the publication going, the trustees opposed such a move.
TFA’s darkest hour came when it supported the rebel English cricket tour of apartheid South Africa. In 1976, upset at the deselection of turncoat Reg Prentice, TFA secretly funded Julian Lewis (now Conservative MP for The New Forest) to pose as a Labour moderate in order for him to take control of the Newham North East constituency Labour Party . Prentice later joined the Tories and became their MP for Daventry. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992.
The recent riots in England have sent the right libertarians scurrying to pen articles attacking black youths, whom have been variously described as “feral”. There is an implication here that black people are genetically pre-disposed to criminality. When television historian and Tudorist, David Starkey blamed the riots on the way people spoke, he unwittingly cast himself in the role of a rather posh Alf Garnett. He deliberately inflamed the situation by quoting Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. Yet, the Telegraph’s arch-libertarians were quick to defend Starkey claiming that he wasn’t “a racist” and that he was right to single out black youths because of the way they spoke and the music they listened to. They also defended his weird thesis that “whites have become black”.
Toby Young (known as Hon Tobes on this blog) produced this apology, while hiding behind the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism.
To begin with, Starkey wasn’t talking about black culture in general, but, as he was anxious to point out, a “particular form” of black culture, i.e. “the violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture” associated with Jamaican gangs and American rap music. Had he been talking about these qualities as if they were synonymous with African-Caribbean culture per se, or condemning that culture in its totality, then he would have been guilty of racism. But he wasn’t. He was quite specifically condemning a sub-culture associated with a small minority of people of African-Caribbean heritage. (Admittedly, he could have made this clearer.) Rather than being racist, he was merely trotting out the conventional wisdom of the hour, namely, that gang culture is to blame for the riots. The Prime Minister made the same point in the House of Commons on Thursday. (I wrote a blog post on Thursday in which I pointed out the shortcomings of this analysis.)
He then went on to make an almost equally controversial observation about the Labour MP for Tottenham. “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypical successful black man,” he said. “If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you’d think he was white.”
Owen Jones leapt on this: “You said David Lammy when you heard him sounded white and what you meant by that is that white people equals respectable.”
But I don’t think that is what Starkey meant. Rather, he was simply reiterating the point that he wasn’t condemning African-Caribbean men per se. On the contrary, he was condemning a particular sub-culture, one that may have originated in parts of the African-Caribbean community, but which has now been taken up by some white people as well. Condemning a sub-culture that’s associated with certain people of a particular race, but is embraced by blacks and whites, may be provocative, but it isn’t racist.
But would Hon Tobes be able to identify racism without the aid of the OED? Unlikely. He adds this,
No doubt there’ll be people who take issue with this analysis.
The only problem for Tobes is that his use of the word ‘analysis’ is misleading. This is an apology and a very poor one at that.
Delingpole tried to claim that if “Starkey is racist, then so is everyone else”. But that doesn’t let him off the hook.
The part of the programme which seems to have most got the Left’s goat is the one where David Starkey says that “the whites have become black.” But again, the cultural point he is making is indisputable. Listen to how many white kids (and Asian kids) choose to speak in black street patois; note the extent to which hip hop and grime garage and their offshoots have penetrated the white mainstream; check out how many white kids like to roll like pimps or perps with their Calvins pulled up to their midriffs and their jean waistbands sagging below their buttocks.
This is a posh, middle-class white man speaking in an RP accent. Remember, Delingpole is not only a self-styled climate change sceptic, he’s a batshit mad libertarian who rejects peer-reviewed evidence. Like others of his ilk, he clings fast to conspiracy theories. But people like Young and Delingpole can only see culture in one-dimensional terms. For them, there is a ‘black’ culture as well as a ‘white’ culture. One culture contains an aberrant popular form and the other doesn’t. It’s simple. The cultural cross-fertilization that occurred as a result of immigration is neither here nor there. In fact, it is seen as a corrupting influence and there is no evidence to the contrary that can change their views. After all, wasn’t Grand Theft Auto accused of encouraging people to commit the crimes depicted in the game?
Right libertarians prefer to see things in black and white. The world is a complicated place that is full of complex issues. Yet, these people only want easy answers – hence their love of conspiracy theories. The racists among them lack the honesty to admit to their prejudices. For them, it’s simply a matter of individual rights and if those individual rights include the right to discriminate on the basis of skin colour then it’s simply a matter of ‘business’ and not racism.
The line here seems to be “I’m not a racist, but…”