Is Ron Paul’s Campaign Being Hijacked By The Whacko Fringe ?

Over at The Huffington Post, Thomas Edsall comes pretty close to writing a smear peace when he points out the fact that Ron Paul’s campaign seems to be attracting the support of some less than desirable characters:

Through no fault of his own, Rep. Ron Paul’s anti-globalist, anti-government campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has become a magnet in neo-Nazi networks, pulling in activists and supporters from the fringe white nationalist community where anti-Semitism, anti-black and anti-immigrant views are commonplace.

In some cases, these internet-based activists acknowledge that even though the Paul campaign does not have a racist or anti-Semitic agenda, it can serve as a vehicle to find sympathizers and to recruit new loyalists drawn to the Republican congressman’s opposition to international trade agreements, federal police authority and to the income tax.

Such web-based organizations as Stormfront (motto: “White Pride, World Wide”), Vanguard News Network (“No Jews. Just Right.”) and the Nationalist Coalition (“working to create the relationships that will lay the foundation for the White community that is necessary to our survival”) have become sources of support for Paul’s bid for the Republican nomination, and in some cases have set up separate Ron Paul discussion groups.

The Paul campaign dismissed the pro-Paul activities among these groups. “We don’t know who these people are,” said Jesse Benton, Paul’s communications director. Their support has “nothing to do with Ron Paul, and what he stands for….His message of freedom, peace and prosperity – that’s why people support him.”

Paul has not made racist or anti-Semitic appeals to the controversial organizations and their members. Instead, their support is based on Paul’s libertarian opposition to government generally, including the IRS and the powers granted to the federal government under the Patriot Act – views that are shared by many on the conservative fringe of the spectrum.

As Edsall points out, of course, there’s really nothing about the Paul campaign that comes anywhere close the agenda that the white supremacists (although they like to call themselves “white pride”) groups are advocating. Instead, what has happened, as I pointed out when the Stormfront ad became an issue last week, is that groups like these seem to be taking advantage of the decentralized nature of the campaign to latch their own agenda on to the campaign. And it’s not just the racists who are doing it, you can say the same thing about the 9/11 “truth” crowd, even though the Congressman has made it clear he doesn’t agree with them.

Edsall, being a typical Huffington Post contributor, tries to ascribe all this to Paul’s views on the issues:

The white nationalist and anti-Semitic support flowing to the Paul campaign reflects one of the difficulties facing candidates who do not fall into the midstream: that often their views on less controversial subjects like trade and the power of the federal government to take property through eminent domain also appeal to extremist groups.

Which comes pretty close to what leftists usually say about conservatives and libertarians — you’re ideas are invalid because you’re racist. Here’ Edsall can’t go that far, so he simply makes the implication and let’s the reader draw the conclusion.

Rather than the ideas being the problem, though, Jeff Cammaroto thinks its the campaign strategy that’s partially to blame:

The problem is, it seems like the campaign has been more than happy to welcome outsiders to spread its message online. That might seem like a great idea at first but when messages are not vetted by an official source, it is only a matter of time before some people rise up and exploit them.

Which, it seems, is what’s happened in this case.