Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ron Paul as Backdrop

My friend JR is a big fan of Ron Paul. I expressed my thoughts about Ron Paul once before on this blog, but JR convinced me to give him a look. So I read a speech by Representative Paul, given before the House on the 29th of November, 2001. Here's the link.

It'll take a while to read (an hour, for me). And parts of it ring of conspiracy. But keep reading, because this man is the hopeful godfather of the New Right in this country, and this is where he stands.

I disagree on many points; I don't think that 9/11 was an inside job. I don't think that the UN is an evil plot. I don't support militias. And I think his comments on FDR can go from careful and thoughtful to ideological cheap shots.


He takes his fear of government power and turns it into one of the best defenses of civil liberties ever spoken. It's Brutus level patriotism, and that's partly the problem with it - it seems stuck in a past that cannot be returned to. Ignore that bit, though, because it's really based on restoring the constitution as intended. And a Right mobilized around keeping government in check (not destroying government, and not wishing it away into a taxless oblivion) is the best opposition party that can be hoped for in an "age of Obama". If we can make it to the next century with our civil liberties not only intact but expanded, we will have succeeded as a nation. It may only be possible with the freedom-concerned Right working alongside the freedom-loving left.

Self Censorship

It strikes me that self-censorship is an impossibility. When a person feels the need to self-censor, what they are really doing is reconsidering their view in light of their audience. That's not censorship, that's decorum. Or at least, it's a situational awareness. People say what they want all over the internet with impunity, because there aren't personal relationships at stake. But all communication involves that interaction, and while I don't think a person should sacrifice one's opinions for the sake of visibility, I think that awareness of the audience is key.

I mention this because I've spent a lot of time lately debating Armenia with Turkish Nationals online. If I used the word genocide, I couldn't have a conversation. But if I dance around the word, play in the gray areas of war, war crimes, ethnic violence, civilian casualties, and unintentional consequences, I can have a meaningful debate. And that, to me, is far more important that a hard, ideological line in the sand. Discourse needs some flexibility to work, and I'm perfectly willing to not expressly attack people to make progress towards resolution.

(Ed Note: Armenia is easy for me to do this way, because I don't have a huge personal stake in it; I'm aware of the flaws in that.)

(My apologies for my absence from this blog; I've had more writing this semester than ever before in my life. But school is almost out, and I should be back to the blogosphere in no time)