Crackpots: DiLorenzo, Paul . . . and Borges

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"Not Ron Paul again!" This is the sound of exasperation I often hear from my wife these days when I am reading the internet. I admit to being a Ron Paulaholic. Last night I heard the cry as I started the YouTube version of the "Morning Joe" program while she was trying to watch the documentary of a French celebrity required to make his way in Mongolia; sort of like a French version of reality TV.

I live in Paris. Being a Paulaholic here is not difficult because all of the best news and analysis about the campaign is on the internet. I can even participate in Ron Paul Meetups and events as shown in this video in Paris and a tea party in Strasbourg in front of the European Parliament. Go here to read the declaration.

I think all supporters understand the warm feeling of discussing with someone for the first time about their mutual regard for Ron Paul. But this is especially the case with people from other countries, who furthermore, are jealous of you as an American, because they cannot donate or vote for our man.

Even though my wife complains, she is very forgiving and occasionally interested in my obsession. After the Mongolian documentary ended we discussed the "Morning Joe" program I had been watching. The show was an example of the classic libertarian discussion. The libertarian (Dr. Paul) explains his position with details and further sources to read. In response he gets insulted (he was called a crackpot) with no attempt to address his arguments beyond propaganda-generated slogans. I empathize; for example, I don’t know how many times I have been accused of not caring about the poor because I am against the counter-productive welfare state.

My wife is French; therefore, she only knew that Lincoln was president during the War of Secession. That’s right; the US Civil War is more accurately named in France. As I started to explain the history in more detail she prudently went to the French version of Wikipedia to read about Lincoln where she found a link to this page on Jorge Luis Borges. Borges (1899—1986), originally from Argentina, was an internationally famous writer. The Borges Center at the University of Iowa says that "Although Borges could justifiably be considered the most erudite writer of this [20th] century, his works frequently provide the reader with moments of intact emotion or simple entertainment." And "through the perfection of his language, the extent of his knowledge, the universalism of his ideas, the originality of his fictions, and the beauty of his poetry — a real summa that does honour to the Spanish language and the universal mind." The Wikipedia article explains that when Juan Perón was reelected president of Argentina in 1973, Borges resigned from his post as director of the national library. And then following the death of his mother in 1975 became a world traveler for the rest of his life. This last sentence was footnoted with the following description of an interview for French radio that was later published.

Borges crée la surprise en déclarant qu’il considérait Abraham Lincoln comme le plus grand criminel de guerre du XIXe siècle . Selon lui, la guerre de Sécession n’était motivée que par le souci du pouvoir fédéral de récupérer les impôts des États sudistes, qui ne rentraient évidemment plus dans les caisses de Washington. Interrogé sur l’importance de la cause défendue, à savoir l’abolition de l’esclavage, il demanda si le fait de le faire abolir vingt ou trente ans plus tôt dans le Sud justifiait la mort de plus de 600 000 hommes et la mutilation de plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’autres.

My translation (with the help of my wife) appears below.

Borges created a surprise in declaring that he considered Abraham Lincoln "the greatest war criminal of the 19th century." According to him, the War of Secession was only motivated by the desire of the Federal power to recover the taxes of the southern states, which obviously no longer entered the cash registers of Washington. Asked about the importance of the cause defended, to abolish slavery, he asked if slavery were abolished 20 or 30 years earlier in the South justified the death of more than 600,000 men and the mutilation of several thousands of others.

Perhaps even Thomas DiLorenzo and Ron Paul were not aware of this statement by Borges, their fellow crackpot. They are not educated like Tim Russert and David Shuster who seemed to have studied at the Joseph Stalin School of Moral Calculus (proud graduates include Mao, Pol Pot and Madeline Albright), that teaches that a few hundred thousand dead are "worth it," whatever the political end.

Ira Katz [send him mail] lives in Paris and works as a research engineer for a French company. He is the co-author of Handling Mr. Hyde: Questions and Answers about Manic Depression and Introduction to Fluid Mechanics.

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