Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2013, April 16: Again on Rand Paul at Howard University

Rand Paul's awkward appearance at Howard University has generated quite a bit of commentary relating to the present-day segregationist mentality.

Charlie Pierce in Keeping Up With the Pauls Esquire Politics Blog 04/12/2013 reminds us what a politically extreme act the father-song pair of Ron "Papa Doc" and Rand "Baby Doc" Paul really are. Papa Doc is joining with two other neo-Confederate and Christian dominionist-minded sorts, Gary North and Thomas Woods, Jr., to produce far-right propaganda to be passed off as textbooks to Christian homeschoolers. And he notes of Baby Doc:

And, believe this, the kid's not much better, just a little slicker. His hilarious floundering at Howard University this week wasn't just a function of his being dumb as a stump, though he really is, it also was a result of his attempting to fashion the discreet de facto bigotry of his fundamental political philosophy — "I am not a racist, although almost every social policy I champion inevitably has resulted in terribly racist outcomes." — into something more palatable, which the kids at Howard would not buy if it came with a free introductory bag of emeralds. [my emphasis]
On this story, see also Rachel Tabachnick's Ron Paul Curriculum Launched by Reconstructionist Gary North and Neo-Confederate Thomas Woods Talk to Action 04/09/2013, who notes that Woods proudly describes himself as a founder of the white racist and overtly neo-Confederate League of the South:

Woods is from Massachusetts with degrees from Harvard and Columbia, but he has described himself as one of "the founders of the League of the South." He is also affiliated with the Abbeville Institute, described by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a group of 64 scholars nostalgic for the Old South and Secession. Time Magazine described the institute, founded by Emory University professor Donald Livingston, as a group of "Lincoln loathers." The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the Abbeville Institute founder as one of the leaders in the modern neo-Confederate movement and, as described in a Chronicle of Higher Education article, pointed out the following quote in its mission statement.
I wrote in my earlier post on Baby Doc's speech that I don't think his Howard University speech was really aimed at an African-American audience but rather at Republican white base voters. Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Journey to Mecca The Atlantic Online 04/15/2013 is more generous in that regard, writing:

I think Rand Paul deserves credit. These sorts of speeches are often done by conservatives as a way of signaling to moderate whites that they aren't racist. ... I think Paul's was different. I can't remember a potential Republican presidential candidate standing before a group of black students like that and actually taking questions. And these were not plants. Paul got the full brunt of a school where black history and politics are the air.
He then proceeds to critique his performance and obvious lack of preparation. "It's not so much that Rand Paul is a Republican that matters, its his obvious lack of either good African-American advisers, or advisors who simply cared enough to do some recon. Someone who knew Howard could have told him that he was walking into a lion's den. This is the real and hard value of diversity ..."

But in the subsequent post The Limits of Good Faith 04/105/2013, he was already repenting his generosity. It seems that when Baby Doc was later asked about his reception at Howard, he fell back on standard white-whining that the mean black people were pickin' on him: "I think some think a white person is not allowed to talk about black history ... which I think is unfair." And Coates concludes:

Rand Paul went to Howard University, lied, and then got his ass kicked. That's not so bad. I got my ass kicked regularly at Howard. That was the reason my parents sent me there. But having gotten his ass kicked, his answer is to not to reflect but to make an allegation of racial discrimination.

One of the things I try to do in my work is -- in general -- take people at their word. It's very hard to communicate about anything without good faith. This, of course, assumes that communication is the goal. That was my assumption about Rand Paul. I was clearly wrong.

Elspeth Reeve in Rand Paul's Twisted History Blames GOP Race Problem on Depression-Era Gifts The Atlantic Wire 04/10/2013 takes on some of Baby Doc's revisionist history:

Rand Paul's explanation for how Republicans lost the support of black voters sounds a lot like Mitt Romney's explanation for why he lost the 2012 election — that Obama won because he offered "gifts," "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people." Rand Paul's explanation is wrong. Paul did not mention that the New Deal is why white people voted for Democrats, too. ...

Paul only got to it when asked by a student whether he was from the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln or "post-1968 Republican party — Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan." Paul disagreed that there was any difference between the Lincoln party and the Reagan one. "People perceive those as being completely different parties," Paul said. ...

There is a difference! Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 general election campaign near Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place that is solely famous for being the site of three civil rights murders. Reagan invented "welfare queens." In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich said he would crack down on crime by building emergency prisons and advertising longer sentences on "MTV and rap radio." Rand Paul's father Ron Paul made millions of dollars selling newsletters that warned of a looming "race war." This is not disputed history. Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern Strategy in 2005.

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