When I read this very well-documented story in the Lone Star Times about the $500 donation to Ron Paul from well-known white supremacist Don Black, I didn't really blame Paul for taking the money. After all, it's hard to screen out every kook in advance. I assumed Paul would immediately return the money (or donate it to a group like the Holocaust Museum), prevent a link on Black's Neo-Nazi website, Stormfront, from connecting to the campaign's donation page, and announce these moves on the official Ron Paul website. I assumed wrong.
Five days after the Lone Star Times story appeared, Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told the paper he was still unsure whether the campaign would return Black's money. "At this time, I cannot say that we will be rejecting Mr. Black's contribution," he said, "but I will bring the matter to the attention of our campaign director again, and expect some sort of decision to be made in coming days." Would the campaign at least block fundraising links from Stormfront's IP address? Again, Benton said, he'd have to bring up the idea with the campaign director.
Since then, more than two weeks have passed without an update from the Paul campaign, so I sent Benton and email today asking what the campaign manager had decided. Would Paul be returning Black's money and blocking further donations from Stormfront? A few minutes later he wrote back, and this is what he said:
Mother Jones: How soon should U.S. troops leave Iraq?
Rabbi Michael Lerner: They should be out as soon as we can take the steps necessary to make sure there is a safe withdrawal. But there are some things that we're saying that are somewhat different than what the rest of our peace brothers are saying. We're saying that there are steps that will make for safety for our troops and the United States:
Number one, that the United States go to the United Nations and apologize, repent for what we have done. And acknowledge that we should not have done what we did and that we were wrong. Because this is a tremendous change in the way that an empire works if an empire says, "Hey, we shouldn't have been trying to dominate there."
Mother Jones: How soon should the U.S. leave Iraq?
Medea Benjamin: I would say, just to pick a time, by the end of the year. We have been saying troops home by the holidays, but we’ve been saying that for the last four years. And then in terms of when we would leave, that’s a very different story. I think if we left a year from now, that would be not my ideal, but it would certainly be positive. I doubt even that is going to happen.
MJ: When you say, “by the end of the year,” do you mean you want to pull out every last U.S. soldier by then?
Mother Jones: After American troops withdraw, will the violence in Iraq escalate?
Kevin Martin: I don't even think it is a fair question. There is no guarantee with anything in life. Anybody who says, "Oh, if we pull out on this timeline or do it exactly this way, Iraq is suddenly going to look like Sweden," is fooling himself.
MJ: Should the peace movement offer a contingency plan for peacekeeping?
KM: That's not our job. Our job is to generate political pressure to get the U.S. out of there and end this nightmare that the U.S. is responsible for. You are trying to hold us to a higher standard of accountability than anyone is holding the Bush administration to, and I'm wondering why. In my organization and the umpteen antiwar coalitions that I am in, this is in no way a priority that we think about or talk about. I'm not saying that we wouldn't care. But, again, that's the job of generals in the Pentagon, of people in the U.N., of others who'd be involved in some sort of interim peacekeeping force. We are not responsible for dreaming up a perfect world. We are responsible for trying to end the damn war and putting the political pressure on our government, which is extremely difficult when you have a feeble Congress and a dictator president.
Mother Jones: How soon do you think America should leave Iraq?
Tariq al-Hashimi: Well, I said before I think there must be common goals before anybody could take any sort of decision. What we have said and keep saying, to make the return of the American soldiers safe to their families as soon as possible, but provided that they shouldn't leave behind a security vacuum. This is the most important issue that has to be taken care of, which means that unless we insure that our national armed forces are becoming competent—we have to be very careful on that.