Elias Atienza is a history sophomore and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
As one of your Mustang News columnists, I believe you have a right to know where my political affiliations lie. I’m a Libertarian and I voted for Gary Johnson on election day. There’s a reason why my column is called “Breaking the Right-Left Spectrum;” I don’t see myself as either right- or left-leaning.
The lines between support and opposition aren’t always as clear as party lines. As someone who supports many of the goals of Black Lives Matter but refuses to get behind the movement, I have had my run-ins with libertarians who support the movement and others who do not. I’ve seen racist Libertarians who are behind Donald Trump and I’ve seen Libertarians who would rather vote for Hillary Clinton than be associated with Donald Trump (me included).
Libertarians have a unique relationship with race. Most Libertarians seem to be white men, and this observation is something backed up by data and studies. As a minority within a political minority, it is hard for some in the Libertarian community to acknowledge that the movement, at times, has a very big problem with race.
When Ron Paul was running for president in 2008 and 2012, he was charged with being a bigot by the congressional black caucus for claiming that, ‘They are only against (the war on drugs) because they want that money to go to food stamps.” But others will also point that he wanted an end to the War on Drugs and acknowledged the racial disparities between whites and blacks.
Keeping with his father’s split support, Rand Paul disagreed with a part of the Civil Rights Act which made private discrimination illegal and he was crucified for doing so. But other people and I also feel the need to point out that he is at the forefront of criminal justice reform and has introduced bills that would end things like mandatory minimums and reform outdated drug laws to connect Republicans and Libertarians with communities of color.
My own race-related interactions with the Libertarian movement have been varied. They’ve ranged from friendly and open dialogue to outright hostility that this is even a topic of discussion. Many Libertarians believe that race is a dead topic, something that should never be discussed again. It seems implausible that I have received the vitriol I’ve seen in these discussions when simple matters about the racial disparities of the drug war were brought up — all this despite us agreeing with the fact that the War on Drugs needs to end.
There are others who think race is the only thing that needs to be discussed. It is always the fault of the white person and if you don’t believe that, then you are an Uncle Tom. As a Filipino-American, I’ve seen how fast these people turn on another minority for not believing in the same thing they believe in, effectively isolating them for thinking differently.
Then, of course, there are the racists of the Libertarian movement. The people who believe the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is racist towards white people and that slavery wasn’t that bad. These are the people most associated with the racist elements of the right such as Stormfront and the KKK. These people are deplorable; there is no doubt about it. I wish I could tell you how horrifying it is to see that these people exist, but the words cannot form.
These are the people of the Libertarian movement who sicken me. The ones who think that only white people are “true Libertarians.” They’re the David Dukes of the Libertarian movement and should be ostracized and thrown out; yet they remain a steadfast minority that has not been snuffed. Some of these so-called Libertarians have called for other minorities within the movement to be thrown out. I have personally been called an “illegal alien,” an “anchor baby,” and a “wetback” by people who claim to share my defining political identity.
However, unfortunately for them, Libertarians are becoming more and more racially varied. People who self-identify as Libertarians, especially young millennials who followed the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008 and 2012, have become more diverse, as they start to match national racial demographics instead of being overwhelmingly white.
I love libertarianism and my fellow Libertarians, but we as a movement need to do more to disavow the neo-Confederate racists who bring tarnish and ruin to the movement. Racism still tinges the ideology and they need to be stamped out before libertarianism can truly become a widespread ideology.
It begins with recognizing the current Libertarian leaders of the movement, men such as Rand Paul, Justin Amash and Gary Johnson, all support criminal justice reform. Libertarians have been advocating against the War on Drugs since the beginning, but we should recognize that it has different racial outcomes. We cannot victim-blame, as many Libertarians like to do, but instead must focus on crafting solutions that advocate our ideals. Rand Paul does this with his criminal justice reform bills and economic freedom zones, along with going to historically black colleges and black-dominated neighborhoods.
Racism within the libertarian movement should not exist. Ayn Rand, a controversial figure in Libertarian political thought, once said that racism is the ugliest form of collectivism. It goes against everything Libertarians should stand for, which is judging everyone by their own personal merit. After all, Ayn Rand also said the smallest minority is the individual.