Know your enemy, Part II

Rand Paul and his supporters not only engage in political violence: they justify it. “Enemy” I said, and “enemy” I meant: these people are enemies of freedom.

Some commenters didn’t like my use of the word “enemy” in reference to Rand Paul’s brownshirts. I agree that it’s crucial not to elevate political difference into enmity; it’s possible to have civil and respectful relationships with opponents. But I said, and meant, “enemy”: people who use violence as a political tool are enemies of a free way of life. Rand Paul’s mealy-mouthed refusal to condemn the violence of his organized supporters – he describes it as “a bit of a crowd control problem” tells you everything you need to know about him and the movement he represents.

For confirmation, take a look at Gateway Pundit. It’s is one of the more unhinged of the wingnut websites, but not regarded as a pariah. The poster justifies the entirely one-sided violence on the grounds that the victim had been involved in civil disobedience, and the bloodthirstiness of the commenters is hard to believe – unless you’ve been paying attention.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

20 thoughts on “Know your enemy, Part II”

  1. Paul condemned the violence is a straight-forward manner. Mark, however, has refused to condemn violence by Conway supporters, and has never condemned the thuggish tactics of his political comrades during this election cycle. Mark says that people who use violence as a political tool are enemies of a free way of life, but he doesn't mean that. Mark called for his friends to "get even." Violent language, and threatening.

    Gateway Pundit definitely has this one wrong–he seems to have adopted Mark's position, which is that violence by his political opponents (or enemies, as Mark would have it) is to be condemned, while violence by his political allies is to be endorsed.

  2. Thomas, you're simply wrong. Paul vaguely called for "civility" and never said that he was sorry that a bunch of his supporters gave a woman a concussion. I'm not aware of any "violence by Conway supporters." There's one report (unverified as far as I know) that a Paul supporter had her foot stepped on by a Conway supporter. Without details or witnesses, I don't know whether that was deliberate or an accident. If it was deliberate, it certainly warrants condemnation. But there's no "if" about the stomping.

    The way for progressives to "get even" is to vote, make phone calls, and write checks. We should leave the violence to those who are so proud of it.

  3. Rand Paul really wussed out. He has not addressed the issue for what it was, a Move On employee being bashed by a member of one Paul's political groups. Gateway Pundit isn't the only one making objectionable comments about the woman. The rightosphere is blaming the victim. Neil Boortz says she deserved what she got. A collection of some of the misguided vitriol can be found at Firedoglake.

  4. Has Mr. Paul called for the perpetrators to be arrested and charged with a violent felony? That's what a real man would do.

  5. Mark, this is from the article you linked to (but apparently didn't bother to read): "The Paul for Senate campaign is extremely disappointed in, and condemns the actions of a supporter last night outside the KET debate. Whatever the perceived provocation, any level of aggression or violence is deplorable, and will not be tolerated by our campaign. The Paul campaign has disassociated itself from the volunteer who took part in this incident, and once again urges all activists — on both sides — to remember that their political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind." TPM reported the initial attack on the Paul supporter, and there are mainstream press reports as well; apparently there was a police report filed in that case.

    Of course, police reports aren't enough. Neither is video. Heck, when it was SEIU beating a Tea Party supporter in St. Louis, on video, that wasn't enough. For Mark, it was a beating, but not a "brutal beating." Violence wasn't something to get excited about. Just the mirror image of Gateway Pundit.

  6. Maybe I shouldn't think of these folks as my enemy, but it's pretty clear to me that they think of themselves as my enemy.

  7. It looks like the official Paul campaign issued a pretty strong condemnation, while Paul on Fox News gave a half-ass dodge of a response. So, as per usual, we get various versions of the truth, various degrees of condemnation. Something for everyone.

  8. I don't know. The Paul statement was clearly dismissive. The comments on the site are typical of your average authoritarian crowd. Meh.

  9. I'd note that, despite having his misstatement of the facts pointed out to him several hours ago, Mark hasn't revised his post. At some point doesn't that refusal to correct the record make the statement a [redacted due to the very strict standards of this website]? Overheated rhetoric, labeling those who disagree as enemies, deliberately misstating facts. Yep, all the hallmarks of Mark's politics, on display.

  10. Thomas, I'm not sure whether you need reading lessons or counseling about truthfulness, but your false assertion that Paul did more than dismiss the incident doesn't constitute "pointing out" anything but your own deficiencies.

  11. Mark, you said he "refused to condemn" the violence. And yet in fact the statement issued by his campaign does in fact condemn it. This isn't hard. It's right there for you to read, in the article you linked to (but apparently still haven't read).

    I understand forgetting what you said last year about the violent attack in St Louis, when you excused the violent attack on a tea partier because, while it was violent, it wasn't a "brutal beating", and of course it is possible that you've grown in your appreciation for the need for nonviolent politics. But this is on this page, in black and white. Hypocrisy is one thing, and not remarkable. This, on the other hand, is truly remarkable. You've surprised me again with your low standards. (I guess it's a good sign for you as a pundit that you can still surprise your faithful readers. Not a good sign for your intellectual health, or moral for that matter, but, hey, work with what you got.)

  12. Joe, you don't think maybe he has a little mud on him for excusing violent attacks on tea partiers just a year ago? I'd think that would take a lot of scrubbing to get that clean.

  13. Good news everybody–according to the comments on the other end of the link, the guy didn't step on her head at all. Rather, he "put a shoe on her back", or was "Resting his foot on her shoulder or head."

  14. Day 2 for Mark's "'condemns' means refuses to condemn" position…

    "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Perhaps it's time to retire that tag line.

  15. I never understand it when people, instead of addressing the actual issue in an original post or essay, bring up a different issue about a different situation and say the original poster should have discussed that. If I wish to say something about my Uncle Joe, someone else saying I should also discuss Aunt Nancy just makes no sense. If Uncle Joe's a jerk, no amount of discussion about other people is going to change my original point, which is that Uncle Joe's a jerk! When a crime such as this is committed, I am perfectly free to have it make me ill on its own "merits."

    And by the way, I gather that the idiot who stomped the woman and gave her a concussion is now demanding an apology from HER! This so reminds me of all the abusive men who claim that if their partners just wouldn't piss 'em off, they wouldn't beat them up.

  16. I like it when people complain that someone isn't narrowly addressing the issue they think is under discussion, and then immediately follow that with an irrelevant aside.

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