Ron Paul’s Disgraceful Ad

This new Ron Paul ad is absolutely, outrageously, tragically wrong:

“No visas for students from ‘terrorist nations’”?

Rarely has a more ignorant proposal been advanced – and it is made even worse by the fact that this is Ron Paul we’re talking about.

To begin with, it is odd, indeed, for a libertarian to be invoking the concept of collective guilt: is every citizen of these unnamed “terrorist nations” to be declared persona non grata on account of the actions of a minuscule number of their countrymen?

Secondly, just which nations is Rep. Paul talking about? Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia: two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was Egyptian and another one hailed from Lebanon. Is Paul seriously saying that we should deport the thousands from these countries studying in the US? And why stop there? Why allow anyone from these so-called “terrorist nations” entry into the US for any reason whatsoever – just to be on the safe side?

This is pandering to the worst, Tom Tancredo-esque paranoia and outright ignorance (or do I repeat myself?) and is not worthy of Dr. Paul. I have the utmost respect for the candidate, but in using this unfortunate term, “terrorist nations,” the Good Doctor undermines his non-interventionist foreign policy stance. If these are, in truth, “terrorist nations” – which most will take to mean all predominantly Muslim nations — then why not invade them, kill the terrorists, and be done with it? This phraseology gives the War Party carte blanche – and, believe you me, they’ll use it.

As Murray Rothbard explained, the anti-interventionist conservatives of the 1950s made the same mistake when they jumped on Joe McCarthy’s bandwagon. The “red scare” was payback for the “brown scare” of the 1940s in which prominent conservatives were basically run out of public life on a rail for not getting with the program until Pearl Harbor. The original McCarthyite movement was directed against domestic reds, and was a sweet revenge for those conservatives who had been targeted as “subversive” and even “pro-Hitler” for being anti-interventionist during the Roosevelt era. However, it wasn’t long before the domestic witch-hunt spilled over the border and became an international armed crusade that roped us into NATO, lured us into Korea, and got us bogged down in Vietnam.

Thousands of students from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Muslim countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere come to this country and bring home with them the ideas of liberty, tolerance, and fair play that are the predominant themes of our culture. Barring them would be politically foolish, economically counterproductive, and a prelude to much worse.

It saddens me to write this, and yet I cannot be silent in the face of such a brazenly ugly attempt to cash in on barely disguised anti-Muslim sentiment, especially since his proposal would penalize large numbers of perfectly innocent people, young people whose only “crime” is to want to come to America. The Paul campaign should scrap the ad, pronto.

UPDATE: Well, we certainly have gotten our share of comments: this blog entry was posted a mere two hours ago, and we already have 150 comments.

I want to state for the record that I am not: a) accusing Ron Paul of racism, b) arguing with his stand against illegal immigration, or c) arguing in favor of open borders.

What I am saying is that a blanket ban on visas for students from unspecified “terrorist nations” is pandering to the worst, lowest instincts of the American electorate – and, as Tom Tancredo’s pathetic failure of a campaign demonstrated, it isn’t good politics, either.

This is about allowing legal immigration – and, specifically, of a type that benefits us in many ways, economically and in terms of the good will generated throughout the world at a time when we sorely need it. No one objects to vetting each and every visa applicant: a blanket ban, however, is quite a different matter, for all the reasons detailed above.

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