A group of Facebook activists were caught attempting to smear GOP presidential contender Ron Paul by dressing up as members of the Ku Klux Klan and appearing at his events in South Carolina, where the next caucus is set to take place January 21. The entire effort was intended to depict Paul supporters as racists.
The plan was openly discussed on the “Stop Ron Paul 2012” Facebook page, where a thread was started that announced a plan to discredit Paul and his supporters.
“If you live in South Carolina and want to have some real fun with these Paulbots here is what we do — go online and buy or make your very own KKK robe, complete with hood (hood is important),” stated the post. “Then get some Ron Paul signs off the internet or make your own. Follow Paul around South Carolina and be sure to get photographed by the media. Again, hoods are important. All can be Klansmen for Paul. Black, white, Jewish, Asian — those Paulbots will sh** a brick!”
Immediately, a number of the page’s supporters responded with delight. One member chortled, “That is seriously a great idea! Anyone wanna volunteer???” Others asked where they could come by KKK robes.
One “voice of reason” objected somewhat to the idea, asserting, “It might be funny for an SNL skit … it only makes you look like a liberal idiot to the world! There are enough REAL KKK members who support ron paul. To make them up seems redundant.”
However, one of the plan’s supporters responded, “Why not show the world the truth about the type of ilk that supports Ron Paul?”
Interestingly, however, Ron Paul remains the most popular Republican among non-whites. A CNN/Opinion Research poll last month found that in a hypothetical matchup between President Obama and various Republicans, Ron Paul would fare the best amongst non-white voters, with 25 percent of the vote.
Paul’s campaign press secretary Gary Howard, who is an African American, said that it is Paul’s opposition to the war on drugs that has helped him win support from minorities. Comparatively, Mitt Romney received 20 percent, Rick Perry 17 percent, Michele Bachmann 18 percent, and Newt Gingrich 15 percent. “The figures in this poll show that voters are looking at Congressman Paul’s decades-long history of fighting for the individual liberties of Americans,” explained Howard.
The Daily Caller indicated, “Paul has made direct appeals to non-white voters, saying that he believes the criminal justice system and the war on drugs have disproportionately affected African-Americans, as have foreign military campaigns.”
During his 2008 presidential run, Paul announced that if elected, he would “pardon all blacks, all whites, everybody who has been convicted of non-violent drug crimes.”
Paul also indicated that he opposes the federal use of the death penalty because he contends it is “unjustly” applied to the poor and to minorities.
The results of that poll have been welcomed by the Paul campaign after a variety of attempts have been made to smear him as a racist based on some statements found in a series of newsletters Paul started in the 1980s. Paul hired half a dozen writers to write the newsletters under his name, but unbeknownst to him, one or more of those writers slipped overtly racist quips in those newsletters. Some of the racist content read:
I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.
Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.
The newsletters also included harsh criticisms of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ron Paul later denied ever having written, or even having read, the offensive statements before they were brought to his attention. He asserted, “They were never my words,” but admitted that he “had some moral responsibility for them.”
Likewise, Paul’s supporters pointed out that Paul would never have written such criticisms of MLK, whom Paul has called a political “hero.”
As noted by The New American’s Tom Eddlem, the only thing that the newsletters prove is that “Paul exercised poor management over employees’ statements.” But nothing in Paul’s record indicates that he harbors any disdain for minority groups. In fact, it is the opposite.
It’s worth noting that those behind the plan to associate the KKK with Ron Paul have a history of resentment toward Ron Paul. Jere Brower of Georgia, who suggested the deception at the “Stop Ron Paul 2012” Facebook group, has claimed that the Texas Congressman wants to “legalize child prostitution” and is “against children going to school.” He has also called Paul’s supporters “clinically insane,” and has spoken out against Kelly Clarkson after she Tweeted her support for Ron Paul. Brower was an open supporter of Herman Cain.
After the plot on Facebook was reported in the news, however, Brower seems to have deleted his Facebook profile.
The other major advocate of the KKK plan is Chris Collins, who names his former employer as HermanCain.com. He listed his activities as a member of his county’s GOP, the local Tea Party group, and Freemasonry.
Another response to the Facebook post came from Rex Foster, who proposed that the those who hate Ron Paul volunteer to make phone calls for the Texas Republican, and pose as kooks. He suggested that they call South Carolina voters on behalf of the Ron Paul campaign and say, “Hi, I am __, — and I am calling on behalf of Ron Paul’s campaign. He wants you to know that the lizard people from xenon 33 are working behind the scenes with the Buildaburgers and the Federal Reserve to steal all the money and suck your brains out. Vote for Ron Paul, and he will fight to stop this takeover.”
The Facebook thread was flagged by the group lacrossewatchdog.org, after receiving a tip from the Capital Free Press. Once Ron Paul’s supporters caught wind of the plot, they issued warnings on Facebook and Twitter, eventually prompting the group to remove the thread late on Friday evening. Unfortunately for the group, it was not before Paul’s activists captured screen shots of the post.
Later, Brower attempted to clear himself, claiming someone had hacked his Facebook account. However, The End Run discredited this defense, noting,
The thread was posted three days ago, with several follow-up posts by Brower. Furthermore, The End Run has examined his publicly-available Twitter and Facebook posts and found many examples of him calling “Paulbots” “clinically insane”, falsely accusing Ron Paul of wanting to “legalize child prostitution” and being “against children going to school”, attempting to conflate him and his supporters with the KKK and racism, using vulgar language to disparage them, and so forth. These posts go back months. When Kelly Clarkson tweeted that she supports Ron Paul, he repeatedly trolled her Facebook page, accusing her of wanting to burn crosses.
In addition to the plot on Facebook, a questionable YouTube video which was said to have been made by a Ron Paul supporter drew media attention recently for its racist undertones. The video questioned Jon Huntsman’s patriotism because he adopted Chinese and Indian daughters. That clip was later analyzed by an independent company which determined it most likely came from a source within or tied to the Huntsman campaign.
Ron is not the only Paul who has been targeted for discrediting. Similar tactics were attempted against Ron’s son Rand during his campaign for the Kentucky Senate seat. Democratic operative Tyler Collins, who supported Rand Paul’s opponent at the time, attempted to depict Rand Paul’s supporters as racist kooks by dressing up in a tin-foil hat and carrying racist signs. A local Kentucky paper captured photographs of the man and depicted him as an actual Rand Paul supporter.
Similar tactics have been employed at Tea Party rallies across the nation, to discredit its members.
Still, despite the attempts to destroy Ron Paul’s reputation, he has surged to 20 percent in South Carolina polls, and continues to climb in national polls as well.