Should Glenn Greenwald have to own the Ron Paul blue plate special?

Ron Paul, pictured with Don Black, director of the white nationalist website Stormfront, and his son, Derick.

Salon writer Glenn Greenwald insists he’s not a Cato Instituter (he just writes for them from time to time) — though he clearly appears to be a Libertarian, and a guy with a particular fondness for Ron Paul.

Greenwald’s consistent praise of Paul is based solely on the Republican presidential candidate’s positions on the civil liberties issues with which Greenwald is principally concerned. Paul opposes foreign interventionism, the PATRIOT Act and extrajudicial assassination of terrorist suspects, so he’s AOK with Glenn.

Greenwald, who I should point out hasn’t endorsed Paul for president (he had a different preferred presidential candidate in 2010, who by the way is now running on the Libertarian Party line…) doesn’t comment on Paul’s more bizarre aspects: his racist newsletter business and opposition to civil rights legislation, his desire to outlaw abortion, his extreme gun nuttery, or his belief that not only was World War II not worth fighting just to save a few (million) Jews, that the civil war wasn’t worth the lives it cost, when Abe Lincoln could have just bailed out the slave owners by having the federal government buy up the 4 million slaves still in shackles as of 1865 … thus saving 600,000 lives. He has yet to weigh in on Paul’s apparent heebie jeebies over people who, like Greenwald, are gay, including not wanting to use their bathrooms or shake their hands, and freaking out when he thinks one is coming onto him.

Greenwald doesn’t feel constrained to answer for these parts of Paulism, because a President Paul wouldn’t have offed Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, or helped NATO bomb Muommar Gaddafi out of power in Libya. And to Greenwald, that’s all that’s relevant. And I suppose a President Paul would have pinned a medal on Bradley Manning for spilling state secrets (oh, wait, to Greenwald, being an unstable, angry kid who can’t handle homophobia and so lashes out by downloading the contents of his secure server and sending them off to some creep with a Wiki is called “being a whistleblower…”) Never mind that a President Paul would also like to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. Those things just matter to regular people. Global civil liberties and the tyranny of the military-industrial complex is book-writing-level important.

But here’s my question:

Why shouldn’t Greenwald be held just as accountable for the beliefs of people he trucks with ideologically, as he attempts to hold the supporters of the president, whom Glenn derides as “cultists” and “evil” for daring not to despise Barack Obama over individual policies Glenn disagrees with? The folks from Stormfront say Paul tracks with many of their beliefs. If Don Black opposed drone strikes in Pakistan, would Greenwald ignore his white supremacist stuff and tweet how superior his civil liberties cred is to Obama’s? Pat Buchanan also opposed the Iraq war and holds many of the same views on civil liberties and foreign interventionism as Paul, along with many of his views on American history, the civil war and World War II. If Pat were to run for president again, would Greenwald feel just as comfortable praising him? And if he did, what would Glenn’s liberal followers think about that?

In the end, shouldn’t Greenwald at least have to comment on the endlessly emerging, uncomfortable facts about Paulite “libertarianism” … including:

– That it was deliberately designed by its proponents in the 1990s to appeal and pander to overt racists in order to grow the movement, and continues to tolerate the presence of white supremacists in their coalition?

– That it trucks in bizarre conspiracy theories including fears of a “one world government” and a desire to get out of the U.N., not to mention gun nuttery and militia-style paranoia?

– That it is no different from the kind of states-rights jargon pushed by the proponents not just of slavery, but subsequent Jim Crow? Thanks to my girl Tammy (@only4rm) for pointing me to this excellent, must-read post by Tom Hilton. A clip:

… Paul’s positions on issues like military intervention, surveillance, and the drug war may converge with the positions of civil libertarians, but they aren’t really based on civil liberties as we liberals understand the term.

A lot of prog love for Ron Paul is based on his national defense policies: “Avoid long and expensive land wars that bankrupt our country….eliminat[e] waste in a trillion-dollar military budget.” An anti-war stance, naturally enough, sounds pretty good to anti-war liberals. Paul opposed the Iraq War from the beginning (as, of course, did Obama); that buys him a lot of goodwill.

But the nature of his anti-war stance is fundamentally different from that of liberal opposition to any given war. The tipoff is in his opposition to foreign aid, and his anti-United Nations position: he’s anti-war because the rest of the world just isn’t worth it. His is not the pacifism of the anti-war movement but the nativist isolationism of the America-Firsters; Paul is “to the left of Obama” the way Lindbergh was to the left of Roosevelt. (That may be true in a fairly literal sense, although I wouldn’t trust anything from Big Government without further corroboration.)

Similarly, Paul’s positions on civil liberties issues aren’t actually about civil liberties as we understand them; they’re about his opposition to Federal authority. (An opposition that is somewhat conditional, it should be noted.) For example, in talking about the death penalty, he makes clear that he opposes it only at the Federal level. His opposition to the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, and domestic surveillance come from the same root as his opposition to the Civil Rights Act. He has no real objection to states violating the rights of their citizens; it’s only a problem if the Feds do it.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

It may be convenient for Greenwald and other liberal Libertarians to ignore the scarier components of Paulism because all they’re focused on is opposing the national security state and the federal government’s propensity to start and wage wars (on countries and drugs.) But why should liberal Libertarians get a pass on the ugly aspects of their chosen belief system? Paul’s states rightism is central to his libertarianism. They are two parts of a whole. And not for nothing, but Greenwald and his friends certainly don’t give their opponents in the pragmatic progressive community a pass, expecting that these people must answer for every soldier still in Afghanistan, and every drone victim in Pakistan, for having the temerity to believe that, on balance, President Obama has been a markedly progressive president.

When liberals get down with Paulism for the anti-war appetizer, they should be prepared to take home the blue plate special — meaning all that comes with Paul’s right wing populism and states rights “tentherism” disguised as Libertarianism.

If the shoe was on the other foot, it’s what Mr. Greenwald would demand of his opponents.

This entry was posted in Conspiracy Theories, Glenn Greenwald, People, Politics, Ron Paul and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Should Glenn Greenwald have to own the Ron Paul blue plate special?

  1. Precious says:

    Does Obama feel threatened by Glenn Greenwald? In your defense at whatever cost of Obama you sure are throwing incendiary bombs at Greenwald. Why attack him and not Ron Paul? Greenwald won’t probably say it, but after this attack on him he could probably and very easily counter attack you by saying that you are an Obama cultist. So, is this tid for tat necessary?

  2. Xanthippas says:

    “It may be convenient for Greenwald and other liberal Libertarians to ignore the scarier components of Paulism because all they’re focused on is opposing the national security state and the federal government’s propensity to start and wage wars (on countries and drugs.) But why should liberal Libertarians get a pass on the ugly aspects of their chosen belief system?”

    Your column is basically a “why does Glenn Greenwald think these issues are important when I think other issues are important?”

  3. majii says:

    IMO, the point of this article is accountability-both Paul’s and Greenwald’s. If one is willing to question another about his/her positions on the issues, why should that person be above reproach? Those who do not believe that Greenwald and/or Paul should be held accountable for their beliefs/positions/actions must be willing to either give them a free pass and/or favors censorship in order to quash any criticism of them.

  4. JReid says:

    Um, Precious? You presume I care what Glenn thinks or says about me. I don’t. I just think he should be judged precisely the way he judges others. I know he and HIS cult of followers don’t think he should be accountable, but I disagree. If he’s a Paulite, then he needs to address Paul’s offensive views.

  5. Nick Mamatas says:

    Not a bad smear of Greenwald. If someone wasn’t paying attention, he or she might actually think Greenwald is a libertarian who has endorsed Ron Paul. You offer precisely zero evidence of that.

    Greenwald is certainly a *civil* libertarian, but clearly is a creature of the left. He’s simply further to the left than Barack Obama. This isn’t actually confusing to most people—you have to ignore him appearing at an explicitly Marxist event ( as a speaker, his interest in a LEFT third party (not the Libertarian Party), and his interest in a notional Johnson/FEINGOLD campaign, etc.

  6. Jenny says:


    Love you, Joy

    You’re the best.

    Have a wonderful New YEar.

  7. Precious says:

    Greenwald really has you seeing red, Joy. It sounds that there is more to it than your belief that he is a Paulist. Somewhere he seems to touch your rage at something, so what really comes out very transparently in this piece is your rage at Greenwald. ?

  8. Observerinvancouver says:

    I wonderful if the PL understand the meaning of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”? IMO, that’s what they seem to be doing.

  9. LAC says:

    Keep up the good work! Greenwald always has his minions running around and posting every time the chinless wonder is challenged.

  10. Steve Jones says:

    If and when Greenwald endorses Paul, yes, he will have to eat that blue plate special, skin, bones and all. Until then, his effectiveness as a journalist bringing up disturbing trends, patterns and issues regarding civil liberties and matters of our imperial foreign policy make him an invaluable asset. Read him and weep, read him and groan, read him and write guilt-by-association responses (as here), but read him.

  11. Tom Hilton says:

    Thanks so much for the shout-out! Quite an honor.

    Interestingly, Greenwald claims (on Twitter) that “the whole thing [this post] is based on the lie that I support Paul’s candidacy”–which is a peculiar thing to say considering that you specifically note that he hasn’t endorsed Paul. Funny, that.!/ggreenwald/status/152848333973622784

  12. Jay Schiavone says:

    Cherry-picking and strawmen: very compelling arguments. To respond to comment # 11: the essay above begins with the factual premise that Greenwald doesn’t support Paul, then launches an argument which is predicated on the opposite being true. Also, commenter # 9, please post a photo image of your chin.

  13. Chatham says:

    Here’s what Greenwald actually wrote:

    “An honest line of reasoning in this regard would go as follows:

    Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.”

    He did mention the newsletters, reproductive rights, civil rights for minorities, etc. as being a negative for Paul. So for you to pretend he didn’t, and that Greenwald says he’s AOK, is a lie.

  14. cc says:

    So Paul “freaking out” when someone he thought was a reporter led him into a dark room, lit candles, and dropped his pants is something to be held against him? If a male had done that to a woman wouldn’t that be creepy and would you really blame her for “freaking out”? Give me a break. If you want to cite legitimately homophobic statements written outside of purposefully creepy situations as evidence of Paul holding questionable views, fine – but using that encounter obfuscates the discussion.

  15. Pingback: On bullying: Glenn Greenwald and the ‘nun rape’ smear : The Reid Report

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  17. GM says:

    Glenn Greenwald supports Bernie Sanders for President 2016
    Joy Reid, well….I don’t need to tell anyone who she’s in the tank for.

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