Monday, January 9, 2012

An Open Letter to Alan Dershowitz on His Charge of Anti-Semitism against Ron Paul

By Walter Block

Alan M. Dershowitz who needs no introduction here or anywhere else for that matter, has written what I consider a slanderous attack on Ron Paul for the latter’s supposed racism and anti-Semitism. Well, let me just say that this Harvard Law professor is likely to be nominated for the Supreme Court by Obama (all the more reason we need to work even the harder to elect the Congressman from Texas). Dershowitz’s calumny is entitled “Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream” and was published electronically on January 3, 2012. Most of this article deals with his claim that the following people are anti-Semitic: Brian Leiter, John Mearsheimer, Gilad Atzmon and Richard Falk. These people, Dershowitz charges, are guilty of enabling these “classic anti-Semitic tropes—‘the Jews’ control the world and are to blame for everything that goes wrong, including the financial crisis; ‘The Jews killed Christian children in order to use the blood to bake Matzo; the Holocaust never happened — (to become) acceptable and legitimate subjects for academic and political discussion.’”

First, I object, strenuously, to Dershowitz’s besmirching of Ron Paul’s name merely by linking him with these “classic anti-Semitic tropes.” By writing about Dr. Paul in an article that even mentions these things constitutes guilt by association. Further, why is the Texas congressman coupled with these other people? Cannot Dershowitz bring himself to attack Dr. Paul on his own? As far as the evidence indicates, Congressman Paul is as knowledgeable of, and supportive of, the views of Brian Leiter, John Mearsheimer, Gilad Atzmon and Richard Falk as he was, before he was made aware of them, of the perspectives and the persons of Arrowsmith, the Rolling Stones and Kelly Clarkson.

Second, Dershowitz and I have very different views as to what constitutes “acceptable and legitimate subjects for academic and political discussion.” If he had his druthers, these “tropes” would be banned from any and all discussion at universities, if I understand him correctly. In my view, in sharp contrast, nothing, nothing at all, should be precluded as a legitimate subject for analysis in such places, and, indeed, anywhere at all.  And here I include such issues as whether or not the earth is flat, whether or not 2+2 really equals four, whether or not triangles have 180 degrees, whether or not the Pythagorean theorem is true, whether or not demand curves slope in a downward direction, along with the “tropes” against which Dershowitz inveighs (I join him on this, of course). Let me repeat that: nothing, nothing at all, should be precluded as a legitimate area of inquiry, at least at a university devoted to free inquiry. The entire concept of academic freedom lies in precarious balance between Dershowitz and me on this issue. I follow in this regard the teachings of John Stuart Mill in his essay, “On Liberty” who states:

“Even in natural philosophy, there is always some other explanation possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory instead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the true one: and until this is shown, and until we know how it is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion. But when we turn to subjects infinitely more complicated, to morals, religion, politics, social relations, and the business of life, three-fourths of the arguments for every disputed opinion consist in dispelling the appearances which favour some opinion different from it. The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary's case with as great, if not with still greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practised as the means of forensic success, requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. That is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of; else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty. Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition; even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess.”

Please excuse me for quoting Mill at such great length. I do so because I find it quite disgraceful that an academic at one of our nation’s most prestigious universities wishes to limit free speech in, of all places, institutions of higher learning.

With this introduction, I now proceed to examine Dershowitz’s case against Paul on the grounds of anti-Semitism and racism. (I quote his remarks in italics; my responses are preceded by these arrows: <<)

The same can be said of Ron Paul, who everyone has heard of.

<< Dershowitz is here placing the Congressman from Texas in the same category as the aforementioned Brian Leiter, John Mearsheimer, Gilad Atzmon and Richard Falk. He has no warrant to do any such thing.

Paul has, according to The New York Times, refused to "disavow" the "support" of "white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy." (These "anti-Zionists" believe that "Zionists"—Jews—control the world, were responsible for the bombing of the Oklahoma federal building, and caused the economic downturn, because "most of the leaders involved in the federal and international banking system are Jews.")

<< Why anyone should trust the New York Times on any issue is beyond me. This is the very same yellow journalist rag that published Walter Duranty’s numerous reports to the effect that all was well in the Soviet Union during the times of Lenin when he was murdering millions of innocent people. See on this herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here.  For this one episode alone, that newspaper should have been run out of town on a rail. To use the Times as a source for the criticism of anyone constitutes a per se support for that person. Nor does Dershowitz link to this very imperfect source of inaccurate information.

<< In the event, Ron Paul did indeed “‘disavow’ the ‘support’ of ‘white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy.’” Dr. Paul has stated, and stated again and again until he is blue in the face, that “they support him; he does not support them.” On this see here, and here (this last one is from the newspaper of record, the one that gives us all the news that is fit to print; so, we must take this one with a large grain of salt, even though it gives credence to my position and denigrates Dershowitz’s).

<< According to this source, “The Paul campaign suggests he will put the money to better use than Black would if it were returned, and Black acknowledges he knows Paul doesn't share his views on race.” (The “Black” here is Don Black of West Palm Beach, who runs a Web site called Stormfront). But is it not true that the money will be better spent in behalf of promoting liberty by Ron Paul than it otherwise would have been by these racists? What is so wrong with using the money donated by evil people for good purposes? Said Jesse Benton, Ron Paul’s spokesman: “If someone of a small-minded ideology sends money, it’s his loss. First, it’s $500 less for Black to use on whatever it is he does. Then, it’s $500 more for Dr. Paul to use to protect the individual rights of all Americans.

<< So the facts, even as reported by the disreputable and unreliable New York Times, undermine Dershowitz’s claim.

<< Does not Dershowitz recognize a man of principle, or a principled act when he sees one? I suppose not. The typical politician when given a donation from such unsavory sources either returns the money, or donates it to a non controversial charity such as for cancer research. Does Dershowitz really think that Paul needs the stinking, lousy $500 that much? Does this college professor really think that the congressman wants this vast amount of money so that he can show his support for such disreputable low-lifes? Don’t they require brains before they give you a tenured faculty position at Harvard?

He allowed his "Ron Paul survival report" to espouse David Duke type racism and anti-Semitism for years during the 1990s, claiming he was unaware that they were being promoted under his name. Edward H. Crane, the founder of the libertarian CATO Institute, has said, "I wish Ron would condemn those fringe things that float around" his campaign, but he refuses to reject the support of these anti-Semites who form a significant part of his base. The New York Times has criticized Paul for his failure to "convincingly repudiate racist remarks that were published under his name for years—or the enthusiastic support he is getting from racist groups," including those that espouse "anti-Semitism and far right paranoia."

<< Dershowitz has not done his homework. If he wants to make any of these smears stick, he has to go way beyond merely reiterating them. These charges have been made again and again (google Ron Paul and racist, or Ron Paul and anti-Semite and you will find thousands of such entries.) The sum total of the offensive lines in all of those years of newsletter publication amounts to less than a dozen lines. My two favorite refutations of the nonsensical charge of racism on this ground are these: "Bombs and drones may break human bones but only 'insensitive' words can truly hurt us," by Will Grigg, and also this one: "Ron Paul is vilified for missing a few paragraphs out of hundreds of newsletters by people who pass 2,000-page bills without reading a single word," by Hosanna Myers. But also see hereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here for further repudiations of Dershowitz.  My three favorite refutations of the nonsensical charge of anti-Semitism are these: herehere, and here, But also see herehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere and here.

<< Dershowitz, go back to the drawing boards. Do your homework; read this material I have already provided for you, you lazy rascal. I assume you will remain unconvinced by all this evidence. You will still see Dr. Paul as a racist and an anti-Semite. But, if you read this material, you can do a better job of falsely vilifying him. Get to work. Enquiring minds want to know what lies you will make up about him after you are thus better prepared. And I, personally, stand ready to refute you once again, should you ever care to do a workmanlike job. As it is, your critique is a shonda fur the goyim. What kind of Yiddisha cup writes inferior material like this? Surely, you can perpetrate evil more effectively than this?

<< As for Ed Crane’s “wish (that) Ron would condemn those fringe things that float around" his campaign, Dr. Paul already has. Again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Is no one listening? He has continually disavowed these statements, and their support for these ideas that he finds abhorrent.  Dershowitz and the New York Times might consider CATO to be a libertarian Institute, but this is strictly an inside-the-beltway perspective. In my own assessment, they are at best semi-libertarian. (It is not easy for me to determine who is speaking in this paragraph, Crane or Demsetz; if I have inadvertently assigned a viewpoint to one of them that belongs to the other, it is due to this difficulty.)

Even now, Paul continues to accept contributions from Holocaust deniers, from those who blame the Jews for everything and from other bigots, thus lending some degree of legitimacy to their hateful views.

<< We have already dealt with these charges. Does Dershowitz have so little to say against Paul that he has to be so repetitive? Maybe this response will stick: One need not lend any legitimacy to a group by reducing the amount of money with which they have at their disposal so as to spread their hateful programs.

When Nazi anti-Semitism began to achieve mainstream legitimacy in Germany and Austria in the 1930's, it was not because Hitler, Goebbels and Goering were espousing it. Their repulsive views had been known for years. It was because non Nazis—especially prominent academics, politicians and artists—were refusing to condemn anti-Semitism and those who espoused it.

<< Dr. Ron Paul has been condemning anti-Semitism from morning until night. He has been doing this pretty much every day on the campaign trail. The mainstream media’s attempts to mischaracterize his views on these matters, to obfuscate them, to ignore them, have been an utter failure. As have been your attempts to do the same thing.

It has been said that "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Leiter and Paul may or may not be good men, but they are guilty of more than merely doing nothing. They are, by their actions, helping to legitimate the oldest of bigotries. Shame on them!

<< Shame on you, Dershowitz, for trying to drag a good man through the mud. And shame on you too, for doing such a pathetic job of it.  I’ve got some advice for you, Harvard professor: stick to your day job. Your attempts to denigrate the next President of the United States are a dismal failure.  Good man Ron Paul has been promoting personal liberty, economic freedom, Constitutionalism, and an anti-imperialist foreign policy. He is awakening the entire country, no, the entire world, to this message. He has been using the Golden Rule; asking Americans how we would like it if some other country did to us what the U.S. has long been doing to them. That is the action of a man you are trying to paint as hopelessly immoral? Give it a rest.

<< Why continually attempt to beat up on Dr. Paul for his supposed racism and anti-Semitism? It is because the enemies of a free society, such as you, Dershowitz, cannot lay a glove on this future POTUS in terms of any of his substantive programs. You and they know full well that the horrendous wars (on drugs, on foreign countries that have no chance at all of invading us) disproportionately negatively impact black and brown people. You and they know full well that Obama is vulnerable on the economy. There is an aphorism in the profession of law that Dershowitz is applying here: “If you can’t win on the facts, try the law; if you can’t win on the law, try the facts. If you can’t win on either ground, scream, hurl garbage at the other side, engage in libel, etc. This is exactly what Dershowitz has done in his unwarranted, unsubstantiated, improper attack on Congressman Paul.

 Walter Block is an Austrian school economist and anarcho-libertarian philosopher. He  is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Chair in Economics and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans and Senior Fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He can be reached at


  1. One key element that he leaves out of the early history of the NAZI movement is that it was born out of an anti-wealth movement similar to #OWS. Back the early 1900s in Germany many of the bankers were Jewish. So maybe Dershowitz is as guilty of those he accuses of not doing anything during the early years of the Nazi party by not condemning #OWS.

  2. What a goofball. Thanks for kicking him in the shins, Dr. Block.

    Dershowitz' hysteria is a clear signal that the elites are worried sick. Ron Paul continues to rise in the face of their relentless attacks.

    Hmmm. Ron Paul continued to rise in the face of silence -- skipping over him at the debates -- too.

    Looks like nothing will work for the defenders of the status quo. Breaks my heart.

  3. Apparently, Professor Dershowitz is a glutton for punishment. Recall his most severe butt-whoopin' by Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein on Democracy Now!

    Not long thereafter, Finkelstein (a scholar's scholar, btw) was denied tenure by a university that was strong-armed by Dershowitz and his fellow thought-thugs at the ADL and elsewhere.

  4. The media seems to push two things against Paul
    1. He is a racist
    2. "Dangerous" foreign policy

    The racist thing is stupid and false. I have seen more African Americans, Jews, and Hispanics sticking up for him (from experience) than any other candidate which speaks volumes.

    The people that say his foreign policy is no good aren't those in the military or the CIA but radio and TV talking heads (yellow journalists)

    I would like to see someone ask one of these "Republican" (because they certainly aren't conservative) talking heads if they would vote for George Washington or Thomas Jefferson if they were running today (which they will invariably say yes even though they know nothing about either) and then point out that they both had the same foreign policy beliefs as Ron Paul. "Would that preclude Washington or Jefferson or Taft from getting your support?" And then ask them what they know about foreign policy that former CIA Chief Michael Scheuer (who has endorsed Ron Paul and his foreign policy) does not.

  5. Mearsheimer's discussion of the Atzmon book here,

    suggests Ron Paul isn't the only one being falsely smeared by Dershowitz.