Austin Petersen, who describes himself in the introduction to his Freedom Report Podcast as a “hard-core libertarian” who cares about “pure freedom,” is upset that Ron Paul wrote an editorial expressing skepticism regarding the US government’s and media’s line on the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight in Ukraine.
Petersen, indeed, provides in his Wednesday podcast some advice for Paul: No more of that saying what you think stuff. If you do that, you might make some people uncomfortable, and the media might even run negative headlines!
Petersen’s advice brings to mind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani challenging Paul to “withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn’t really mean it,” when Paul discussed “blowback” from US foreign intervention during a 2007 presidential debate. By answering Giuliani with more education about the history of US foreign interventions and blowback instead of backing down, Paul, then a US House of Representatives member from Texas, took the limelight of the debate in a manner that strengthened his campaign and expanded his educational reach.
Petersen says Paul “sounds like he hates America” because — get this — an article concerning Paul’s editorial was published with the headline “Ron Paul Defends Russia After Malaysian Plane Crash.” That gives you an idea of the lack of logic involved in Petersen’s presentation. Just to be crystal clear, Paul wrote neither that headline nor the article it accompanies.
Defending Russia is synonymous with hating America only among the people who relentlessly try to depict Russia as an enemy of the United States, not among libertarians who value peace, communication, and commerce internationally.
Also, there is no reason to conclude from Paul’s editorial, or even from the headline of the article concerning the editorial, that Paul endorses everything the Russia government does.
Petersen in his podcast even presents an absurd discussion of how media cannot get away with publishing misleading headlines. The reality, as Paul knows from experience, is that, when media decides to attack you, media can mischaracterize you in multiple headlines in a single day. Petersen, not apparently willing to let reality interfere with making a point, says this does not happen.
Petersen, who touts his experience “in the media” to encourage people to accept the nonsense he is proclaiming, gives Paul’s famous “blowback” confrontation with Giuliani as an example of how Paul sometimes makes counterproductive statements. Of course this confrontation in which Paul forcefully and succinctly explains that people want to attack America because of the US government’s foreign interventions was a huge boost to Paul’s presidential campaign, the spreading of Paul’s message, and the creating and motivating of activists for non-intervention and respect for liberty.
Elsewhere in the interview Petersen lets slip that his disagreement with Paul regarding Paul’s “blowback” debate within a debate with Giuliani is not just based on a “message marketing strategy” difference of opinion. Instead, Petersen in fact takes Giuliani’s side in the debate. Petersen explains:
…people probably hate us around the world not because of our arrogance necessarily, although that may be part of it. The people probably hate us because they’re a bunch of socialist backwaterers and they’re jealous of our success. Now, people uh libertarians one of their favorite things is to make fun of the statement that George Bush made about “oh, they hate us for our freedoms.” And it’s funny, you know it sounds jingoistic and sounds just overly simplistic, but, the more you delve into the foreign policy history of the United States and into the war on terror specifically and the actors in the war on terror, the more you realize that there are actually people who do despise us for our freedoms.
Petersen proceeds along this line of thought further, never giving any credit to Paul’s side of the debate.
People seeking more information regarding US foreign intervention and blowback can read some or all of the books Paul recommended to Secretary of State John Kerry in March, including Robert Pape’s Dying to Win that provides an analysis of the motivation for suicide attacks.
Petersen also complains that Paul is using the same rhetoric as did “Soviet apparatchiks.” Oh no — rhetoric cooties!
If we abandon every form of argumentation Vladimir Lenin — just one Soviet political leader — used in his voluminous communications, we may well be left with little means of arguing at all.
The only real point of Petersen’s complaint is to associate with Paul through proximity the disconcerting term “Soviet apparatchik.” Petersen’s Soviet smear is just a “gotcha” turn of phrase; it is not an exercise in logic.
The “Soviet apparatchik” non-argument is a deceptive two-fer for Petersen. At the same time it illogically smears a champion of freedom with endorsing the defunct Soviet Union, it similarly equates in people’s minds the current Russian government with that of the defunct Soviet Union. The low-grade trick even seems to work on Petersen in his own presentation, with him having to correct himself after referring to Russia as the Soviet Union.
Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.