Do it to stop war, then live

I’ve read this post by HTML Mencken three times very carefully, and I still can’t figure out what his deal is. Leaving aside that he undermines his commitment to fighting racism by using the words “hobbyhorse” and “pet cause”—minimizing language, by any measure, only used to insinuate that the cause at hand is not, in fact, important—he does testily admit that racism is serious shit, but just suggests that the war in Iraq is a more important cause right now. Fighting the war and fighting racism are somehow in conflict? asks the usually intelligent but confused human being. Isn’t racism a primary cause of war-mongering? Isn’t the vast majority of energy left for this imperialist cause coming from screeching Muslim haters, now that every other remotely rational person has exited stage left?

Mostly true, but now that Ron Paul has joined the race, we should apparently soft-pedal his association with white supremacists because Ron Paul is against the war, and we need more people on the right opening up to the possibility of voting Republican and being against the war. Also, there’s the potential of Paul splitting the ticket somehow, or taking on a 3rd party run that splits the vote. Fair enough; HTML Mencken is not suggesting that Paul is anything but a slimy piece of shit who just happens to be against the war. The idea, I think, is to shove a sock in it about Paul’s associations with hate groups, neglect to point out that his political platform is straight of a skinhead/militia playbook of conspiracy theories about Jews running the world, and let moderate, anti-war Republicans think Paul’s the guy for them. It’s a tempting argument, but I’m not buying it.

My main problem with the argument is that it’s narrow and short-sighted. From a political angle, we shouldn’t be focusing our energies on giving the moderate Republicans an out from the war, but in fact looking to recruit them to the Democratic party. Period. This entire Bush debacle and the fact that Republicans are so firmly behind him is souring moderate conservatives left and right on the Republican party, and they’re ready to hear about why the party switch is right for them. And it is. Most moderate conservatives are actually “liberals” in our lexicon that’s been shoved so far to the right, and they belong with the Democrats anyway. Letting Ron Paul play the moderate, anti-war conservative continues the myth that such a beast really exists anymore, but pointing out that he’s a crank who runs with people whose main opposition to the war is their sense that Jews are getting away with something hastens the demise of the myth of the moderate conservative. Pointing out that Paul is a kook reinforces the message: If you vote Republican, your choices are crazy people or imperialists out to maximize corporate profits, even if the price is paid in the blood hundreds of thousands (and over a million if we move on Iran) of people.

From what I can tell, Paul’s supporters are a weird mix of white supremacists, kooks who use the misleading label “libertarian”, and naive people who like the idea of legalizing weed and stopping the war. This is what we need to happen with these three groups: The first needs to be completely marginalized, without any influence at all over major party candidates. The second isn’t going anywhere, but they’re really just Republicans with particularly acute masculine anxiety issues and will probably vote for Giuliani anyway. The third need to sack up, grow a brain and vote for the Democrats. We can’t get Paul to drop out, but we can help get these three results by making it utterly clear that Paul is crazy and runs with some really ugly racists.