Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rand Paul continues to wonder why the Republicans get such a small percentage of the African-American vote

(Via Brad DeLong, a second time today.)  I have already seen several accounts of Rand Paul's aide Jack Hunter and his flamingly outrageous and highly vocal neo-Confederate, racist, xenophobic, and otherwise reactionary views.  But this piece by Alana Goodman pulls the story together especially well. I've quoted some highlights below, but it's worth reading the whole thing. Hunter's ideological outlook is not at all idiosyncratic, and it's useful to know how these people think.  —Jeff Weintraub

Washington Free Beacon
July 9, 2013
Rebel Yell
Rand Paul aide has history of neo-Confederate sympathies, inflammatory statements

By Alana Goodman

A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.

Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag.

Prior to his radio career, while in his 20s, Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, which “advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic.” [....]
[JW:  Just some long-ago youthful follies?  Not exactly.]
By the early 2000s, Hunter was providing anonymous political commentary under the moniker the “Southern Avenger” on local rock radio station 96 Wave.

Transcripts of some of Hunter’s monologues from 2003 to 2007 are available in archived versions.

In a 50-minute interview with the Washington Free Beacon on Monday, Hunter renounced most of his comments.

In one 2004 commentary, Hunter said Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth’s heart was “in the right place.”

“Although Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, the Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln’s murder automatically turned him into a martyr,” he said in 2004.

He later wrote that he “raise[s] a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth’s birthday.”

He also compared Lincoln to Saddam Hussein and suggested that the 16th president would have had a romantic relationship with Adolf Hitler if the two met.

Many of Hunter’s monologues touched on racial issues, and his contention that white people are subject to a “racial double standard.”

“Black Americans are encouraged to celebrate their racial identity by appealing to their shared experience of injustice and African roots,” wrote Hunter. “Hispanics indulge in an even more nationalistic form of racial identity by flying Mexican flags, listening to a foreign music that both black and white Americans have never even heard of and turning everywhere they settle into northern outposts of their Mexican homeland.”

“Not only are whites not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity – but anything that is considered ‘too white’ is immediately suspect,” Hunter continued. “The term ‘diversity’ has become nothing more than a code word for ‘not white,’ and it’s a shame that just because we have fair skin, we are always denied fair treatment.”

In a 2007 commentary, Hunter opposed Spanish-speaking immigration to the United States.

“That Americans, white or otherwise, don’t want Spanish-speaking people dominating their airwaves, neighborhoods, or country is no more racist than Mexico’s lack of interest in Seinfeld,” he wrote. “Native Americans had no illusions about how their land would change as boatloads of white men landed on their shores and modern Americans aren’t wrong to deplore the millions of Mexicans coming here now. A non-white majority America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious – whether we are supposed to mention them or not.”

In 2005, Hunter’s anonymous commentary caught the attention of a local Charleston newspaper.

“Some call it hate speech, while others call it comedic genius,” wrote the Post and Courier in a profile on the radio pundit. “But [the Southern Avenger] swears that every word that issues from his lips, no matter how controversial or politically incorrect, actually represents how he feels about that particular issue.” [....]

In 2008, Hunter began writing for paleoconservative websites such as the American Conservative and Taki’s Magazine. [JW:  It seems fair to add that The American Conservative is no longer as overwhelmingly appalling as it was when it got started a decade ago—at its best, in fact, it has become one of the more interesting and intellectually stimulating magazines on the American righ—although some traces of that older perspective do remain. He also began posting his Southern Avenger commentaries under his own name. [....]
[JW: As part of this Old Right/Buchananite cocktail, Hunter agrees with Mearsheimer & Walt, as well as some alleged "progressives", that US foreign policy is controlled by Israel and its supporters.]
In another 2008 commentary, Hunter accused neoconservatives of pushing America into wars on behalf of Israel.

“Whether for Israel or oil, or both, a permanent U.S. foothold in the Middle East has been the primary neoconservative goal since day one and certainly since long before 9/11,” he said.

Hunter defended his pro-secessionist views as recently as 2009.

“In my early 20s, I was a full-blown, right-wing radical. As a member of the Southern secessionist group the League of the South, I argued seriously for the states of the old Confederacy to break away from the rest of the Union,” wrote Hunter in a Charleston City Paper column. “I thought it might be better to tone down the radicalism and at least try to appear more respectable. But when I came across an old column of mine last week, I realized that I never really changed. I’m still just as radical or crazy, depending on your perspective. In fact, I might be getting worse.”  [....]

The Washington Monthly reported Monday that Hunter is part of a group of close aides who advise Paul on foreign policy.  [....]

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, said the younger Paul has tried to avoid being associated with some of the elder Paul’s fringier political views.
“I think they’re trying to fight that, and we’ll just see how successfully [Rand Paul] does,” said Barone. “Clearly he wants to avoid that perception.”

Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas), came under fire in 2008 when the New Republic reported that he had published a series of racially-insensitive  [i.e., blatantly racist]  newsletters in the 1990s. The elder Paul maintains that the newsletters, which were published under his name, were actually written by others at the time.

While the younger Paul has tripped over sensitive racial issues in the past—most notably when he dodged questions about whether he would have voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act—he is viewed as a much more mainstream figure than his father. [...]
[JW: True, he is widely perceived that way. But which stream is that, precisely? You can read the rest of Alana Goodman's piece here.]