Recently, Ron Paul has been subject to intense criticism over controversial newsletters written under his name in the 80s and 90s that frequently included racism, bigotry, and conspiracy theories. Over the last few days, Paul has responded that he did not write the newsletters and disavowed their contents, claiming this has been his consistent position for 20 years. Here’s what Paul told CNN on December 21:
PAUL: I never read that stuff. I never — I would never — I came — I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written… Well, you know, we talked about [the newsletters] twice yesterday at CNN. Why don’t you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN, and what I’ve said for 20-some years. It was 22 years ago. I didn’t write them. I disavow them and that’s it.
Paul’s denials, however, are not supported by the public record. When the newsletters first arose as an issue in 1996, Paul didn’t deny authorship. Instead, Paul personally repeated and defended some of the most incendiary racial claims in the newsletters.
In May 1996, Paul was confronted in an interview by the Dallas Morning News about a line that appeared in a 1992 newsletter, under the headline “Terrorist Update”: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.” His response:
Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation…
In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men.
“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” Dr. Paul said.
Paul also defended his claim, made in the same 1992 newsletter that “we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in [Washington, DC] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal” Paul told the Dallas Morning News the statistic was an “assumption” you can gather from published studies.
Paul’s failure to deny authorship was not an oversight. He was repeatedly confronted about the newsletters during his 1996 campaign and consistently defended them as his own. A few examples:
– In 1996, Ron Paul’s campaign defended his statements about the rationality of fearing black men. (“[W]e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”) The Houston Chronicle reports, “A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]
— Paul said that his comments on blacks contained in the newsletters should be viewed in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]
— Paul defended statements from an August 12, 1992 newsletter calling the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) a “moron” and a “fraud.” Paul also said Jordon was “her race and sex protect her from criticism.” In response, Paul said “such opinions represented our clear philosophical difference.” [Roll Call, 7/29/96]
— “Also in 1992, Paul wrote, ‘Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.’ Sullivan said Paul does not consider people who disagree with him to be sensible. And most blacks, [Paul spokesman Michael] Sullivan said, do not share Paul’s views.” [Austin American Statesman, 5/23/96]
Contrary to his statements to CNN last week, it was not until 2001, that he first claimed that newsletters were not written by him. He told the Texas Monthly in the October 2001 edition that “I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me.” The reporter noted, “until this surprising volte-face in our interview, he had never shared this secret.”
There is no evidence that Paul denounced the newsletters in clear terms until he ran for president in 2008 when he said “I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.” Paul has never explained how this blanket denial squares with his vigorous defense of the writings in 1996.
Further, some of the disturbing ideology embedded in the newsletters is reflected in Paul’s legislative record. In 1999, he was the only member of Congress to oppose the issuing on a Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks. In May 2011, Ron Paul said in an interview that he opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964.