Letters — From the June 2013 issue
Live Free or Die Trying
Michael Ames suggests that the future of the Republican Party may be the Ron Paul movement [“The Awakening,” Letter from Tampa, April], but the Ron Paul movement already has a future of its own — in New Hampshire. We started congregating here in October 2003 as part of the Free State Project, a settlement of people committed to Paul’s idea of liberty. Whereas many “Free Staters” are politically active, some focus their efforts elsewhere — from homeschooling to jury-nullification outreach to holding rallies for the legalization of marijuana. The Free State Project is an attempt to show the diversity of Paul’s politics in action.
President, Free State Project
Ames fails to mention one aspect of the “liberty” doctrine that I have often sensed in my encounters with Ron Paul’s supporters over the years — the racial one. Many of them believe “liberty” to be under attack not only by the Fed, which refuses to conform with their rather utopian understanding of the economy, but also by a federal government that enforces what they see as a misguided notion of equality. These views are informed by ideology, but they’re also the result of an uneasiness about America’s changing demographics and about the skin color of our current president. To be fair, this isn’t the case with every Paulite — but I fear that many see the “Ron Paul Revolution” less as a radical political movement than as a mainstream white-supremacist cause.
Onward, Christian Soldiers
In her essay on hippie Christians [“Blinded by the Right,” April], T. M. Luhrmann argues that the political activism of evangelicals in this country is new. But in fact there were many early evangelical political movements — for example, abolitionism and prohibitionism. What separates the evangelicals of today from their authority-defying forebears is a new support for U.S. militarism. This is why the liberal criticism of evangelicals is not, as Luhrmann says, that they are naïve “sheep,” but that they are cynical; they supported peace and love when liberals were ascendant, but came to embrace war and bigotry when conservative values went mainstream. If the public ever turns on these policies, you can bet that evangelicals will soon follow.
The hippie Christian movement was much more diverse than Luhrmann implies. Those who rejected the conventions of the Sixties fall into several different categories. Some of us in the “Jesus people” camp who were more accepting of ambiguity realized that no institution, church, or government holds a monopoly on the truth; those who turned to the evangelical right sought a new authority to replace the state they rejected. And there were other evangelical strains born of the movement that did not hew to antigovernment, knee-jerk individualism — the Sojourner Community, for instance, which since 1972 has focused on promoting social justice.
Ross Peter Nelson
Whitney Terrell and Shannon Jackson’s Annotation on the Google Fiber installation in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas [“Only Connect,” April], raises valid questions but misses the point. Our country’s traditional communications companies have ceded the residential wired-Internet-access market to the cable industry, which faces neither real competition nor real oversight. Google’s fiber-to-the-home network, which makes available far better access at a far lower price, sheds light on an alarming state of affairs: America has become a communications backwater. The United States doesn’t even rank among the top ten countries in providing fast, cheap Internet service.
I agree with the authors that Google should not be providing the country’s high-speed communications infrastructure. But our national affection for deregulation and consolidation is not Google’s problem to solve. The success of the company’s network — already correlated with a rise in Kansas City’s credit rating and the relocation of technology start-ups to the area — may galvanize other mayors, and eventually federal officials, into action.
Professor, Cardozo School of Law
New York City