Andrew Sullivan and Conor Friedersdorf make a very reasonable argument about Ron Paul and racism. Whatever personal feelings he might have on the subject, they correctly point out, he is the only candidate from either party to support a number of policies that would do a great deal to reduce inequality and discrimination in our criminal justice system.
He is the only candidate that advocates ending the war on drugs, which has resulted in astonishing racial inequality in our criminal justice system. Drug use among black people is no different than white people, yet they are arrested, convicted and imprisoned at far higher rates. The numbers are absolutely staggering. On marijuana, for example, a higher percentage of whites use the drug than either blacks or Latinos, but arrest rates for possession are nearly three times higher for the racial minorities than for whites. Blacks make up about 13% of the population but they comprise 37% of all drug arrests, 59% of convictions and 74% of prison sentences for it. And Ron Paul is alone among the candidates of either party in wanting to end that destructive policy.
He’s also the only candidate who wants to abolish the death penalty, which is also administered in clearly discriminatory ways. And the only candidate who supports a range of criminal justice reforms, including giving all convicted criminals access to DNA testing that could prove their innocence. President Obama, on the other hand, argued against doing so in a Supreme Court case. He also argued in favor of absolute prosecutorial immunity. His record on such issues is as bad as his record on nearly all civil liberties.
Ron Paul may be a racist, but he does support policies that would make a huge difference in the lives of racial minorities in this country and make this a much less unequal nation. Should that change anyone’s mind about supporting him? That’s up to each person to decide. for me, I still can’t support him. But let’s at least put that information on the table to be considered along with everything else. Friedersdorf’s article, in particular, is typically thoughtful and rational.