Ron Paul Accepts Donation from Don Black

As I’ve written here and elsewhere, there’s an intriguing and not-well-documented connection between extremist white supremacists and more mainstream expressions of what Joe refers to as the ‘white racial frame.’ Most of the time, whites tend to disavow any connection to extreme groups, so I’m always intrigued when these ruptures appear, particularly at the level of presidential politics. And, this week the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Ron Paul is keeping a $500 donation from Don Black, white supremacist founder of “White Pride World Wide,” the largest white supremacist online portal.

And, perhaps more telling in offering the “connective tissue” between the extreme and the mainstream comes from The Swamp blog written by Frank James for The Balitmore Sun. He writes:

“As Paul’s campaign explained, it plans to keep the money because that will reduce the cash Black has to spend on spreading his controversial ideology by $500.

And, according to the campaign, another good will occur. Paul will have $500 more with which to spread his libertarian message of freedom from big government, including his opposition to the Iraq War.

One freedom Paul has comes from the unlikelihood he’ll receive his party’s nomination. If he were a real threat to be the Republican nominee, he would’ve given back the money immediately since no top tier candidate would want to take a chance on losing the big prize because of the kind of controversy surrounding this kind of controversy.

But a lot of money is given to candidates by supporters with views out of the mainstream, views many other Americans would find objectionable. That’s a given. The only difference is that Black doesn’t hide his views.

Still, the unwritten rule in politics is that when you find yourself getting money from someone controversial because of what they do or say, someone with views repugnant to most Americans, you give their cash back like it’s radioactive.

Paul’s approach is certainly unorthodox, like so much about the man. That doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. And because it’s so different a way of handling such a situation, it presents an opportunity for a discussion about what’s right and wrong in such situations. In short, it makes you think.”

So, according to Mr. James, Ron Paul’s “unorthodox” approach gives us all something to think about.   Alright, let’s think about this.  What could be wrong about accepting a donation from Don Black?  Maybe it’s the fact that it suggests an implicit endorsement of his views.   Perhaps the discussion to have, and not the one on anybody’s presidential platform, is the one about the centrality of racism in the U.S. and how we go about dismantling it, or at the very least, taking some small steps toward dismantling white supremacy by having a serious discussion about reparations.   Unforunately, I don’t think that’s the kind of conversation that Ron Paul’s actions are going to facilitate, if the comments over at The Swamp are any indication, such as this one:

With all the black on white murder, rapes, carjacking, home invasions, etc, racist organizations like the Nation of Islam, Zebra murders, racist NAACP shysters, 250,000 black on white murders since MLK marched on DC, don’t tell me about racism. The black man and his left wing anti-white white shysters who run our media and banks are the racial genocidists. How much money is being sent to the mulatto Obama from racist Nation of Islam? How many racist dollars were given to Richardson from the racist La Raza? Screw the news – a revolution is happening on the street and white people are rising to oppose the civil and human rights abuses by africans against us – march march march!

Of course, this is not what all the comments are like, but I think it gives a sense of the sort of “conversation” sparked by Ron Paul’s candidacy; and, to paraphrase Mr. James, it makes you think about the ways the easily-disavowed extremist white supremacists are connected to mainstream political campaigns and reporting about those campaigns.

Racism with a Badge: Report on Shootings by Cops

There is a new report from ColorLines and The Chicago Reporter who conducted a joint national investigation of fatal police shootings in America’s 10 largest (more than 1 million) cities. Two significant points emerge from the report:

African Americans were overrepresented among police shooting victims in every city the publications investigated.

And, second:

Latinos are a rising number of fatal police shooting victims. Starting in 2001, the number of incidents in which Latinos were killed by police in cities with more than 250,000 people rose four consecutive years, from 19 in 2001 to 26 in 2005. The problem was exceptionally acute in Phoenix, which had the highest number of Latinos killed in the country.

The report points to the “implicit bias” of police toward Black and Latino people, and notes that this can be overcome with a combination of accountability and training, as in D.C. :

Washington, D.C., which had the nation’s highest rate of police shootings during the 1990s, has cut the rate of shootings dramatically through a combination of training and accountability. Others point to a small but growing number of police departments like Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. that are looking not so much at whether the shootings are justified or not, but about the decisions police and supervisors took that led up to the shootings.

Still, the fact is, the mere fact of being Black or Latino in most large cities in the U.S., such as here in New York, means being ontologically vulnerable to being shot by police.