Ron Paul vs. “Terrorist Nations”


This ad shows yet another reason why Ron Paul is a right winger, not a libertarian. The text of the ad is:

Today, illegal immigrants violate our borders and overwhelm our hospitals, schools and social services. Ron Paul wants border security now. Physically secure the border. No amnesty. No welfare to illegal aliens. End birthright citizenship. No more student VISAs for terrorist nations.

Even the libertarian Reason accuses Paul of pandering on this one. They quote from Justin Raimondo’s response at

Ron Paul’s Disgraceful Ad

This new Ron Paul ad is absolutely, outrageously, tragically wrong:

(Video of ad)

“No visas for students from ‘terrorist nations’”?

Rarely has a more ignorant proposal been advanced – and it is made even worse by the fact that this is Ron Paul we’re talking about.

To begin with, it is odd, indeed, for a libertarian to be invoking the concept of collective guilt: is every citizen of these unnamed “terrorist nations” to be declared persona non grata on account of the actions of a minuscule number of their countrymen?

Secondly, just which nations is Rep. Paul talking about? Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia: two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was Egyptian and another one hailed from Lebanon. Is Paul seriously saying that we should deport the thousands from these countries studying in the US? And why stop there? Why allow anyone from these so-called “terrorist nations” entry into the US for any reason whatsoever – just to be on the safe side?

This is pandering to the worst, Tom Tancredo-esque paranoia and outright ignorance (or do I repeat myself?) and is not worthy of Dr. Paul. I have the utmost respect for the candidate, but in using this unfortunate term, “terrorist nations,” the Good Doctor undermines his non-interventionist foreign policy stance. If these are, in truth, “terrorist nations” – which most will take to mean all predominantly Muslim nations — then why not invade them, kill the terrorists, and be done with it? This phraseology gives the War Party carte blanche – and, believe you me, they’ll use it.

As Murray Rothbard explained, the anti-interventionist conservatives of the 1950s made the same mistake when they jumped on Joe McCarthy’s bandwagon. The “red scare” was payback for the “brown scare” of the 1940s in which prominent conservatives were basically run out of public life on a rail for not getting with the program until Pearl Harbor. The original McCarthyite movement was directed against domestic reds, and was a sweet revenge for those conservatives who had been targeted as “subversive” and even “pro-Hitler” for being anti-interventionist during the Roosevelt era. However, it wasn’t long before the domestic witch-hunt spilled over the border and became an international armed crusade that roped us into NATO, lured us into Korea, and got us bogged down in Vietnam.

Thousands of students from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Muslim countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere come to this country and bring home with them the ideas of liberty, tolerance, and fair play that are the predominant themes of our culture. Barring them would be politically foolish, economically counterproductive, and a prelude to much worse.

It saddens me to write this, and yet I cannot be silent in the face of such a brazenly ugly attempt to cash in on barely disguised anti-Muslim sentiment, especially since his proposal would penalize large numbers of perfectly innocent people, young people whose only “crime” is to want to come to America. The Paul campaign should scrap the ad, pronto.

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  1. 1
    Colonial Scrip says:

    I agree, it’s crap, and I’m a staunch supporter of Paul’s message. He should leave the word terrorist to those for whom it applies the Militant NeoCon Global Jihad Terror Extremists.

  2. 2
    Paige says:

    Firstly, Ron, have you ever heard of a paleolibertarian? Here’s a primer:

    As you will no doubt read in that entry, paleolibertarians are typically pro-life and restrictive on immigration while being absolutely libertarian in the sense we think of it today on every other issue. There’s nothing inconsistent with being a libertarian in the form of a paleolibertarian and being restrictive on immigration.

    Secondly, I’ll readily say: I don’t like the tone of the ad, mainly because it creates an impression of Paul’s position as misleadingly xenophobic when in fact his position is much more nuanced. (I.E. He condemns scapegoating immigrants for the economy, says we should be more generous with immigration policy with an improved economy, etc.) However, this ad is HARDLY pandering. Pandering typically entails that you change your position in order to get a certain segment of the vote. However, this particular proposal you refer to is something he put in legislation back in 2001 after 9/11. Here is an article he wrote in January 2002:

    His idea is simple: we have not had open immigration from enemy countries in past wars, and if we are truly at war now, then it makes no sense to have open immigration with countries that support our enemies. It may not be the right proposal (I could argue the merits of it, if you’d like, even if I’m not 100% sold on it), but he’s had it out there for a while. What he is doing with his tone (Which, again, I don’t like) isn’t pandering; it’s saying “If you think about things this why, then here’s a way in which I fit that.” In other words, it’s marketing 101. Bottom line, $19.5 million this quarter has made him a serious player for the nomination, and if he’s going to compete for it and beyond if he runs as a Libertarian, he’s got to tap into the base of the Republican Party on an issue with which he agrees with a significant portion of them. It just so happens that immigration is an issue where a big portion of the base agrees with him and on which they are so upset with the leadership of the Republican Party that they are willing to break with it. It’s not perfect libertarianism, and it’s a flawed policy proposal with bad rhetoric, but it’s good politics. And RP, while the most principled and honest politician out there and a solid libertarian, is also a good politician and does what good politicians do.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Social conservativism trumps libertarianism under Paul’s ideas. It is hard to consider Paul’s views in any way libertarian when they would result in a reduction in freedom. I guess that if you want to label his views as a form of libertarianism that’s your prerogative but this isn’t a philosophy I’d want any part of.

    Maybe you don’t think this is pandering but sources which so far have been sympathetic to Paul ranging from Reason to Andrew Sullivan are calling this pandering.

  4. 4
    Collin 28 says:

    The greatest feat in Dr. Paul’s amazing performances may not be what has been witnessed by the masses, but what has been hidden from them. For this record breaking candidate has attained this profound notoriety while being virtually censored by every major news establishment, including the Republican party.
    Ron Paul is certainly the most magical presidential candidate in the race by far. Yet, he owes his accomplishments to genuine transparency and honesty, not sleight of hand. If he fails to produce a top tier finish right before your very eyes, it will only demonstrate that the prodigious conjuring of the American media has trumped him with a spellbinding illusion that he was simply no match for. Wake up America…..
    Take the poll…Is Fox fair and balanced?

    Dr. Paul should be included in all debates PERIOD…

    Dr. Ron Paul in 2008

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    He wasn’t censored. Paul has received a considerable amount of coverage by the media for a candidate who is only polling in single digits.

    Paul has received more interest for several reasons, but his appearances at the debates is one important one. People who are polling poorly should not be excluded as attracting interest in the debates can totally change the polls, as we’ve seen with Huckabee.

    The decision by Fox is somewhat more questionable, and very well might be because they don’t an opponent of the war on. However for the most part he suffers from the same media biases towards those doing well in the polls as all other candidates. It is not good coverage, but in general it is not something being done intentionally to keep people from hearing about Paul.

  6. 6
    Eric Dondero says:

    And this from a guy who represents a Congressional District with a nearly 40% minority, mostly Hispanic population.

    And consider too, that in 8 years in Congress, with 22 staffers a year, Ron Paul has had a grand total of 1 (!!), 1 single minority staffer – an Hispanic lady in Lake Jackson who handles all his immigration cases at the District office.

    Not very helpful for Hispanic outreach for the Texas GOP. And now this awful commercial. Shame on you Ron Paul.

    Eric Dondero, Fmr. Senior Aide
    US Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

  7. 7
    Eric Dondero says:

    BTW, a newspaper columnist for a Michigan paper – the Port Huron Times-Herald did some digging and learned that Ron Paul answered a questionnaire in 1988 during his Libertarian Presidential campaign: “I support abolishing the Border Patrol.”

    What a flip flopper.

    Bet, if someone went back to the 1970s when Paul was in Congress before, they’d find him supporter a “Tough stance on illegal aliens.”

    Bounce back and forth, depending on where to get the most votes, ‘eh Ron Paul?

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    I haven’t seen that quote, but I have seen other material showing that Paul has changed his views on immigration over the years. If that was his only problem I wouldn’t be too concerned. People do sometimes change their views on an issue.

  9. 9
    George Dance says:

    Eric, give it a break: Paul isn’t calling Mexico a “terrorist nation”. There is nothing unlibertarian about Paul’s policy toward Mexico. Trust me, I’m a Libertarian and a former Party Leader (from Canada).

    I see nothing wrong with the concept of a “terrorist nation”, as a sanction that could be used against a country whose nationals commit acts of aggression against the U.S. to be lifted when the terrorists are delivered up for justice. For instance, after 9/11 a Paul administration could (if authorized by Congress)have designated both Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as terrorist nations, those sanctions to stay in place until UBL and/or the rest of Al Qaeda were turned over to American justice.

  10. 10
    George Dance says:

    As for your next post, Eric: You’re distorting the facts. Paul called for replacing the Border Patrol with the Army. That’s still a good idea: if he’s gonna bring all the troops home, he’s gotta do something with them.

  11. 11
    George Dance says:

    Paige: I agree with all your comments. While there’s nothing unlibertarian about the ad per se, it sets the wrong tone for someone who needs more than white votes to be elected. It may even remind some people of American Thinker’s racist smear job.

    My advice, FWIW, would be to run it wherever illegal immigration is a hot button issue – Iowa, Texas, Duncan Hunter’s part of California – but to keep it out of the rest of the country.

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