Monday, January 02, 2012

Dr. Block Shreds the Race Card

One of the most frustrating things about politics is the way we Americans have turned it into the Jerry Springer Show (in fact, Springer is a former mayor of Cincinnati - which speaks volumes for American political discourse).  Americans are easily drawn into mud-wrestling - all the while convincing themselves (like some of my childhood friends) that pro-wrestling is not scripted, and what you see on TV (and now on the internet) is always real.

Thanks to talk radio entertainers and TV "news" programs that are basically reincarnations of SNL's Weekend Update - combined with the American culture's lack of attention span and disdain for deep reading and study - our political process has become a cross between a bad Zombie movie and an episode of Jackass and our political discourse has become both Troglodyte and Trotskyite.

Just recently, a facebook "friend" forwarded a rant alleging that U.S. congressman (and presidential candidate) Ron Paul is a "racist" - based on things written by other people that the congressman himself expressed disagreement with in no uncertain terms.  But given our Idiocracy-like political culture (some people actually think the film is a comedy instead of a documentary...), this issue has become a toe-hold for other Republican candidates who are alarmed at Paul's recent rise in the polls.  And so, several of these privileged white upper-crust candidates have begun playing the race-card.  You can't make stuff like this up!

Here is a little something that shows the race-card for what it is when played against Dr. Paul.

At any rate, my facebook "friend" began to spread the race-card "wealth" around to the Ludwig von  Mises Institute and its founder Lew Rockwell (guilt by association).  The Mises Institute is a scholarly educational organization devoted to the free-market school of economics as taught by several brilliant 20th century Austrian economists (such as F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises) who defended the market economy and sound money even in the midst of the seeming triumph of Socialism and Nazism and central banking.  Hayek opposed the more-popular John Maynard Keynes and defended free markets against the rising tide of centrally-planned economies.  In 1974, Hayek was awarded the Nobel Prize.  Ron Paul is a close personal friend of Lew Rockwell and a member of the Mises Institute (which explains the political mudslinging).  Many economists in the Austrian School predicted the recent international turmoil, the debt crisis in the United States, the bursting of the stock market, and the meteoric rise in the price of gold.

Given this reality, a lot of people are starting to listen to what the Austrian School has to say - even to the point of including some Austrian economists in mainstream analysis of our economic situation - and the Austrian economists have a lot of establishment Keynesian economists (and politicians) running scared.  For if nations around the world were to listen to the Austrian economists, they would have to cut back on spending, cut taxes, reduce regulations, stop looking for wars to fight, and get out of the centrally-planned economy and the printing of paper money out of thin air (like the United States has done for a century by virtue of the Federal Reserve system).

Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who espouses Austrian economics.  This makes him more of a target than any other in the field.

But back to my facebook "friend."

I challenged his use of the race card for both Paul and Rockwell.  I do not know Ron Paul, but I have read a good bit of his writings, and his political philosophy can be called "libertarian" - which by definition is not "racist."  For libertarianism views individuals as bearing inalienable rights rather than seeing people as members of tribes or collective groups that enjoy government privileges.  One can no more be a "libertarian racist" than one can be a "free market communist" or a Protestant who believes the pope is the head of the Church by divine right.  It is a preposterous charge - the desperate act of desperate politicians who will do anything to win an election.

The made-up-guilt was then associated with Lew Rockwell.

Another person piled on at my "friend's" facebook wall and called Lew Rockwell a "Jew hater."  Now, I am not Lew Rockwell's drinking buddy. I don't purport to know him personally. In fact, I've never met him face to face. I had a close call this year, but it didn't work out.  But again, I have read a considerable amount of Lew Rockwell's writings, I've corresponded with him over the years and he has published some of my writings as a guest columnist thirteen times (I believe) at  I've corresponded with a good number of other Lew Rockwell writers - quite a diverse and provocative group!  One of them is also a Missouri Synod pastor named Heath Curtis (whom I count as a dear friend and brother in the ministry).  I personally have no time of day for collectivism of any kind - which includes judging people based on nationality.  In fact, as a believer in the literal account of Genesis, I believe there really is only one race of human beings who are all descended from common ancestors.  Even atheistic DNA analysis confirms that all living human beings are related by blood.  Anyone who has ever lived life in any cosmopolitan setting can point to remarkable and intelligent people of every ethnic background - and ditto for those who are thuggish, not so bright, or violent.  Brilliance and stupidity do not confine themselves to skin color or ethnic heritage.  Unfortunately, there are Philistines from  every bloodline.  Fortunately, there are also heroes and geniuses from every ethnic heritage.  The beautiful thing about liberty is that it unites people of every race, color, and creed.  For everyone wants to be free.

My facebook "friend" implied that anyone "associated" with Lew Rockwell (you know, the "Jew hater") was also a "racist."  I challenged him on this, and pointed out what he obviously did not know: Ludwig von Mises was Jewish.  Also, the most beloved (and probably prolific) economist and writer within the modern Austrian economics movement is the late Murray Rothbard, who is also Jewish.  When I pointed out that Lew Rockwell's two favorite economists - including the one he founded a society after - were Jewish, it was implied that this was just more evidence of Rockwell's "antisemitism" - as there were many Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.  I am not kidding about this!

What can one even say?  I shot off an e-mail to Dr. Walter Block, another beloved economist within the Austrian school and a longtime regular at  He wrote back with his typical terse and biting wit.  Shortly after, he released the above YouTube video-blog about the issue.  I'm not claiming credit or anything like that.  What I am saying is that my facebook "friend" (who by the way, "unfriended" me unceremoniously - and pusillanimously - rather than address the issue further through civilized and intelligent debate) is talking about real live individuals with real live reputations - and he doesn't know diddly about them as men.  In the 8th Commandment, God calls upon us not to bear false witness against our neighbor, and I think the Small Catechism's explanation says it best that we are always to "explain everything [about our neighbor] in the kindest way."  Savaging reputations of people using the race-card is a prime example of this sin - and the fact that it is done in the name of politics will not absolve people of their responsibility to their neighbor.

It is fair to disagree - even vehemently - with Ron Paul's politics or Lew Rockwell's economics.  Good people can disagree about politics - even radically so.  There are intelligent people all over the political spectrum.  I have many friends and people I admire who disagree greatly with me.  That is to be expected, and makes the world interesting.  But lying about these men and assassinating their characters is not part of our God-given freedom.  Honest and spirited discourse is one thing - especially when grounded in well-read and articulated reason.  The race-card (especially when it is demonstrably ridiculous) is the mark of a weak mind trying to make a weak argument.

And so, my hat is off to Dr. Block - who teaches Austrian economics close by at Loyola University - for taking a courageous stand against this kind of shallow neanderthal politics.  I had the honor to be at a meeting of the Mises Institute in New Orleans when Dr. Block was awarded with the Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize for his "lifetime achievement in the cause of liberty" and lauded with great affection and respect by his "antisemitic" colleagues and former students.  I get regular invitations from Dr. Block to participate in Economics functions at Loyola.  I am going to try to do so this year, and am gratified that there are still a few great American minds out there who can think deeply and provocatively rather than simply aping radio loudmouths and re-posting internet slander in the name of politics.

Shalom, Dr. Block!  And thank you for being a thinking man, a person of integrity, and one who aspires to a society based on human liberty!

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