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Ta-Nehisi Coates on Messengers: Louis Farrakhan and Ron Paul


The Messenger - Politics: I've thought a lot about Farrakhan, recently, watching Ron Paul's backers twist themselves in knots to defend what they have now euphemistically label as "baggage."… [L]et us remember that we are faced with a candidate who published racism under his name, defended that publication when it was convenient, and blamed it on ghost-writers when it wasn't, whose take on the Civil War is at home with Lost-Causers, and whose take on the Civil Rights Act is at home with segregationists. Ostensibly this is all coincidence, or if it isn't, it should be excused because Ron Paul is a lone voice speaking on the important issues that plague our nation.

I have heard this reasoning before. 

As surely as Ron Paul speaks to a real issue--the state's broad use of violence and surveillance--which the America's political leadership has failed to address, Farrakhan spoke to something real, something unsullied, which black America's political leadership failed to address, Both Paul and Farrakhan, in their glamour, inspired the young, the disaffected, the disillusioned….

But as sure as the followers of Farrakhan deserved more than UFOs, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories, those of us who oppose the drug-war, who oppose the Patriot Act deserve better than Ron Paul….

[T]he dispatches must be honestly grappled with: It must be argued that a man who could not manage a newsletter, should be promoted to managing a nuclear arsenal. Failing that, it must be asserted that a man who once claimed that black people were knowingly injecting white people with HIV, who fund-raised by predicting a race-war, who handsomely profited from it all, should lead the free world. If that line falls too, we are forced to confess that Ron Paul regularly summoned up the specters of racism for his own politically gain, and thus stands convicted of moral cowardice.

Let us stipulate that all politicians compromise. But the mayhem and death which attended the talents of Thomas Watson and George Wallace, renders their design into a school of sorcery all its own. In that light, it is fair to ask that if Ron Paul was willing to sacrifice black people to garner the support of the bigoted mob, who, and what, else might he sacrifice? 

I have some thoughts on the matter:

"We quadrupled the TSA, you know, and hired more people who look more suspicious to me than most Americans who are getting checked," Paul says. "Most of them are, well, you know, they just don't look very American to me. If I'd have been looking, they look suspicious ... I mean, a lot of them can't even speak English, hardly. Not that I'm accusing them of anything, but it's sort of ironic."

Presumably, this too, is just another unfortunate slip. Surely it says nothing about Paul's actual views.

I do not mean to be unsympathetic here. It is regrettable to find ourselves in this untenable space….

The fervency for Ron Paul is rooted in the longing for a reedemer, for one who will rise up and cut through the dishonest pablum of horse-races and sloganeering and speak directly to Americans. It is a species of saviorism which hopes to deliver a prophet upon the people, who will be better than the people themselves.