All Hail Ron Paul

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by Paul Gottfried by Paul Gottfried

Reading Ron Paul’s magnificent dissent from House Resolution 676 and its intended celebration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shows the kind of reeducation (in the good sense) that we on the non-Left have to undertake to combat the managerial therapeutic regime. Contrary to the recent happy talk from paleos, the neocon establishment is not collapsing; nor are the liberal media running to replace customary neocon discussion partners with those on the right who share their opposition to the Iraqi adventure. The liberals and the neocons are bound together in their dedication to social engineering, the politics of entitlement, and the welfare state. Ron Paul and Tom DiLorenzo will not likely soon replace David Brooks at the New York Times. And even were we ten years younger, it is doubtful that Harvard or Berkeley would offer Claes Ryn or me a chair in political theory, no matter how many books we produced, on the basis of our misgivings about American imperialism. Agreeing with the left on the folly of the foreign policy advocated by Wolfowitz and Krauthammer will not suffice to change the real Right’s status. What must be done, to borrow Lenin’s lapidary phrase, is counter the sheer mendacity of the prevalent liberal-neocon interpretation of recent American history. Like Congressman Paul, we have to call attention to the misrepresented bad turns that we have taken in government and to the equal complicity of both national parties in the process discussed.

Let us not forget that the Republican Party contributed the political numbers to pass the act now being celebrated. Over 90% of the Republicans then in Congress, but far, far fewer Democrats, supported the Civil Rights bill. The reward that Jack Kemp—Republicans earned for such contortions in reaching-out as affirmative action, the Civil Rights Act, and signing on to the MLK adoration bill has been the burning hatred of black voters and black politicians. The black minority persists in identifying Republicans with the Ku Klux Klan, a tendency that grows more obvious the more often and the more loudly the GOP tries to atone for not having reached out far enough. Never has poetic justice been more fully deserved!

Another point that needs making is that lies about the recent past can be harmful. It is one thing to confuse the course of events in the Persian Wars or the location of the battle where the Thebans ended Sparta’s hegemony over Greece. Altogether different is to imagine that a "civil rights" act passed in 1964 established "freedom" for all American citizens, when its long-range impact was entirely different. Congressman Paul is correct to let us know that there was no incompatibility between the Civil Rights Act and the ensuing reign of judicial and administrative activists. One set the stage for the other. The creation of a far-reaching federal agency to judge discriminatory intentions led seamlessly into quotas and "recruitment," and the fact that women were included among the objects of discrimination made it possible for the feds and their myrmidons at the state-level to extend their surveillance beyond black-white relations.

Note that Fox talking-head Sean Hannity, in his latest bestseller Let Freedom Ring, glories in the fact that American Republicans were instrumental in giving Americans both the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a proper appreciation of the moral genius of Martin Luther King. In Hannity’s simplistic mind, Republican equals "conservative," which can also translate as "neoconservative." The question posed by Congressman Paul, who represents the classical liberal constitutionalist tradition of Robert Taft, is whether Americans should be celebrating the hemorrhaging of constitutional liberties or the opportunity for reckless intervention by the federal bureaucracy in social and commercial relations. Paul is speaking as a true classical liberal — in contrast to Mr. Hannity, who seems to confuse "conservative" with social democratic activism carried out by Republican politicians or enabling acts passed for government bureaucrats with Republican votes. For those who haven’t noticed: "Conservatives" inside and outside of Congress as well as Hannity, whose notion of a good thing is the bureaucratically managed Civil Rights Revolution, stand well to the left of liberals like Ron Paul.

July 5, 2004

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is professor of history at Elizabethtown College and author of, most recently, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt.

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