Dirty South Bureau

January 24, 2008

On Walls (& Ron Pauls)

Filed under: Other,Race — christian @ 12:15 pm

The most glorious image I have seen in years came across my computer screen the other day… the image of families and streams of people crossing the collapsed remains of the wall between Gaza and Egypt. Can there be any sight more affirming to the human spirit than human beings crossing the barriers that keep them from other people… and in our contemporary era, from the things that they need- such as, in this case, food, medicine and fuel?

We cheered when the Berlin Wall fell, and people all over the world should cheer now. And yet this morning, I found myself looking at another curious sight… Counterpunch publisher and Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn endorsing Ron Paul for president in the January 21 edition of The Nation (I know, I’m a week late reading this one). In Coburn’s deeply creepy column, he speaks about seeing the faces of the people with Ron Paul bumper stickers pass him on the highways of his northern California retreat and liking what he sees. I don’t know, Alex… is that because they look like you? White country folk?

I dislike even writing about Ron Paul, who to me is just another small time right-wing nut, like the pathetic two dozen white supremacists who marched in Jena on Monday (surrounded by, according to the AP, ten times their number of counter-protesters), or former presidential spoiler Ross Perot. But lately folks like Cockburn and Stan Goff have been supporting him, and so I feel like I need to come out and say it.

Now I know that the Iraq war is the most important issue in this election, and that Ron Paul has voted consistently against the war- unlike Hillary Clinton or John Edwards (Obama wasn’t in a position to, but has scary enough foreign policy statements). But there are plenty of people who oppose the war these days, and frankly that isn’t enough for me. And here’s why.

Ron Paul wants a more “secure” militarized border. Read— big wall between us and Mexico. In the twenty-first century, this is not only sick and wrong, but it is deeply backwards. Coburn mentioned that he liked Paul’s commitment to “Jeffersonian democracy”, which should tell you something- that Ron Paul is stuck in the early 19th century. Of course he opposed the Iraq war- he’s a nativist isolationist, and his ideas are worthy of the Know-Nothing Party.

True, Paul would avoid certain foreign policy decisions that increase the stimulus for immigration. But it’s too late for that. We have populations in much of Latin America who have been pushed to desperation through lopsided trade policies and other means of economic warfare, and now they are coming here.

You may be asking yourself- what does this have to do with New Orleans?

New Orleans, as a city, is proof of the power of diversity. The greatness of this city cannot even be taken away in our recent ruin, because the gifts New Orleans gave the rest of the world shaped and at times defined world culture in the twentieth century. With our Spanish and Caribbean architecture, our African-American rhythms set to European-American instruments, our African parades, Catholic-French/Latin carnivals, our African and Italian food, we remain the most culturally rich city in the nation. And we owe all of this to our mixed heritage. This was, according to geographer Richard Campanella, the most diverse city in America one hundred years ago, because of large numbers of descendants of slaves and immigrants.

Who are we to say that our ancestors, who created all of this, were the ‘worthy’ immigrants, and the new immigrants are unworthy? It is not only hypocrisy. It is self-defeating. Today Hondurenos, Mexicans and other Latino immigrants are rebuilding this city faster than it ever would be rebuilt otherwise.

To Ron Paul and all of his supporters: this is the twenty-first century, folks- not the nineteenth. Get on board. Walls didn’t work then and won’t work now. And when they fall, get ready to meet your neighbors- “over the obscene boundaries.”


  1. I think calling him a white supremacist is a bit extreme. Yes, on immigration, energy, and healthcare etc… he’s really off. Building a wall and deporting everyone is not the answer. Though most of his views are non-intervention style policy which is more like anarchy in a way… I think that is the appeal his supporters see in him. Maybe they are anarchists in libertarian clothes, in republican clothes. Sure, some are white supremacists, but they don’t wear shirts.

    I strongly disagree with him on a number of matters, but I’m sure there are things that you can find common ground on:
    - Against Nat’l id cards
    - Fights Fed Reserve as a private entity
    - Faults FDA for failing to protect Americans from dangerous drugs (as a side note Sid Wolfe has a good video presentation at http://www.tamethecorporation.org/agenda.html)
    - Foreign occupation and war (you mentioned)
    - Presidential debate exclusion might garner more supporters of open debates.

    Giuliani wants fences, nat’l id cards, biometric checkout system (sounds fancy), etc… I think he one-ups Ron Paul.

    Comment by Sean — January 25, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  2. Sean,

    Thanks for your comment. To clarify, I did not call Ron Paul a white supremacist. I did call him a “small time right-wing nut” and say that in that way he resembled the white supremacists in Jena (and Ross Perot), but only by being a marginal figure on the right.

    But that does bring up an interesting point- at what point does exclusion of mostly brown people in a country with a dominant white culture (of immigrant descent) qualify as white supremacy? I don’t see this as being a yes or no matter, but degrees of white supremacist and racist ideology.

    Either way, Ron Paul has a similar position on immigration to the white supremacists. That’s enough for me. Sure, Giuliani is worse than Ron Paul- but Cockburn, Goff and others on the left aren’t endorsing Giuliani.

    Comment by christian — January 25, 2008 @ 6:08 pm

  3. Thanks for the clarification, but still… He isn’t small time like a couple dozen racists in jena. Either way I’m off topic. The issue is immigration reform, and the image of walls going up is like hiding from reality. Is the article you mention online?

    Jefferson was in favor of people seeking a new life in another nation, although he did have concerns that immigrants would come without acknowledging the new government. I’m no historian though…

    “I hold the right of expatriation to be inherent in every man by the laws of nature, and incapable of being rightfully taken from him even by the united will of every other person in the nation. If the laws have provided no particular mode by which the right of expatriation may be exercised, the individual may do it by any effectual and unequivocal act or declaration.” – Thomas Jefferson

    In debates the candidates won’t be asked the “particular mode by which the right of expatriation may be exercised.” They’ll just talk about secure borders and terrorists. Reforming the way we let immigrants in to this country and amnesty are the true issues that leave our gov’t in deadlock and racism further confuses the dialog.

    Comment by Sean — January 25, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

  4. First, let me say you and I have a common friend in Brian Marks. And second, AMEN ON SOMEONE PUTTING PAUL IN HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE. I was fooled for a little while, but the mask was flimsy and badly taped in place. Your blog is one of the better ones out there, politically, disagree with you as I may from time to time and point to point.

    Comment by Darryl X. — February 3, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

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