I'm Shocked—Shocked!—That Rand Paul Has Ties to Neo-Confederates

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During his 2008 presidential campaign, then Texas Representative Ron Paul faced wide criticism for his newsletters—published as far back as the 1970s—which, at various points, were racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic. One newsletter from 1992 claimed that nearly all black men in Washington D.C. are “Semi-Criminal or Entirely Criminal”—while another from 1994 claimed that gays were “maliciously” infecting people with AIDS. Paul defended himself by saying that the newsletters were produced by a ghostwriter—with his name attached, and presumably, his consent—and the controversy didn’t do much to diminish his following among a certain set of young libertarians. But for those of us less enamored with Ron Paul, it did underscore one thing: His long-time association with the reactionary far-right of American politics.

Ron Paul has retired from politics, but his son—Kentucky Senator Rand Paul—is in the mix, and is clearly planning a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Ideologically, the younger Paul is indistinguishable from his father. And while he isn’t as close to the far-right as Ron Paul, it’s hard to say that he doesn’t have his own problems with race. In 2009, his campaign spokesperson resigned after racist images were discovered on his MySpace wall, and in 2010, Paul landed in a little hot water during an interview with Rachel Maddow, when he told her that he would have opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act for its impositions on businesses, i.e., they were no longer allowed to discriminate against blacks and other minorities.

Now, as the Washington Free Beacon reports, it also turns out that Rand Paul has his own relationship with the racist backwaters of American politics. I’m not a fan of the publication, but this looks terrible for the Kentucky senator:

A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.

Paul hired Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington during his 2010 Senate run. Hunter joined Paul’s office as his social media director in August 2012.

From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a South Carolina radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger.” He has weighed in on issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and stated his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

During public appearances, Hunter often wore a mask on which was printed a Confederate flag.

When considered in light of everything I mentioned earlier, none of this comes as a surprise. We know that Ron Paul has ties to neo-Confederates, and we know that Rand Paul has faced criticism for beliefs that echo their opposition to civil rights laws. Hiring a John Wilkes Booth sympathizer fits the picture of the Pauls as a political family that—regardless of what’s in their hearts—is comfortable working with right-wing racists.