Farewell, Nolan Chart

I’m breaking a promise I made.

In an email to Walt Thiessen, the owner and webmaster of Nolan Chart, I said I would not contribute any more articles to this site as long as Billy Roper is in any way associated with it. Yet, here I am doing just that, and, moreover, doing it on a gorgeous Spring day on which I had planned to be outside planting my flower beds.

However, Walt left me little choice when he decided to respond publicly to my private communication. My intent was to give him a heads-up, to warn him that a neo-nazi is using his website to promote an ideology that he no doubt despises — and doing it under a “libertarian” label, no less. Rather than responding in an email, he chose to do so in the form of an article that was put out on Nolan Chart for all the world to see.

I did not give Walt “permission to repeat all this”, as he says. I told him he could do whatever he wanted with the information, not with the email. If my intention had been to express these views publicly, I would have done so in an article, and would have expressed them differently.

At the outset, let me make it clear that I understand this is Walt’s website. He can do anything he wants with it. He can publish any article, or any author he wants to publish, and he can refuse to publish any article or any author with which or whom he disagrees. He can even refuse to publish this article.

To Walt’s credit, he published most of the contents of my email, so I can’t accuse him of taking quotes out of context. However, deliberately or otherwise, he misconstrues my point. For example, he says

…I have news for Phil. People who hate other people are found in all political camps, including the libertarian camp.

This is hardly news to me. In fact, I said as much in an article I published on Nolan Chart more than two years ago at the time of the Ron Paul newsletter scandal when I said, “I think a libertarian can be a racist because I think anybody can be a racist.” I then went on to explain that

The significant point about libertarians and racism is not that a libertarian can’t be a racist; it’s that, in a true libertarian society, racism is irrelevant. A libertarian government would not have the authority to enact legislation that favors one racial or ethnic group at the expense of another because it would not have the authority to enact legislation that favors anybody at the expense of another.

Walt then says I want to deny people their rights:

Phil clearly expresses the view that we should shun such people and deny their presence, as well as their right to express their views, particularly in the liberty movement.

I did not “clearly express” any such view. While I do believe that we, as private individuals and in our own organizations, should shun open racists and neo-nazis, I do not advocate denying either their existence or their rights. Billy Roper has the unconditional right to publish anything he wants. In fact, the very article I referred to in my email is published on another website. (It’s a racist website; if you want the URL, you’ll have to Google for it yourself). I just don’t think libertarians should be opening their own publications and websites to people who openly embrace racist views.

I also don’t want to “sweep Billy Roper under a carpet”, as Walt says. In fact, as I suggested (not demanded) in my postscript to the email, Walt should not only remove Roper’s contributions from the site, but make some sort of public announcement about why he’s doing it. This is hardly “sweeping him under a carpet”.

One thing I find particularly disturbing in Walt’s article is his backhanded swipe at the Tea Party movement:

The tea party movement in particular has done a very poor job of confronting its own; this is precisely why the hate crowd have gained so much prominence within it. It is also why the media, and the tea party’s political opponents, have made so much “political hay” out of the presence of so much hatred within that movement.

“So much hatred within the movement”? Has Walt bought into the racism narrative being advanced by the Left and the mainstream media? Is he unaware that, although it is nearly two months since the alleged racist epithets were hurled at members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they made their way through the crowd of Tea Party demonstrators on Capitol Hill, not a single person has come forward with evidence that these allegations are true — even though libertarian blogger Andrew Breitbart has offered to donate $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund if anyone can produce such evidence?

In fact, on those rare occasions in which open racists or neo-nazis do show up at Tea Party demonstrations, they are dealt with pretty much the same way I suggested he deal with Billy Roper:

Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, said that at the heart of the effort to counter racism accusations is dissociating from protesters who cross the line… At a protest in Nashville, Phillips said, there were ” a couple of signs — which I’m not convinced weren’t plants from the other side — that were really tasteless and inappropriate.” The people who carried them “were told to put their signs down and leave…They were literally thrown out of the event,” he said.— Washington Post, May 5, 2010

The Tea Partiers have not been tagged with the racist label because they have “done a very poor job of confronting its own”, as Walt claims. They’ve been called racists because it serves the political purposes of their enemies. When you have no other arguments, you call your opponents racists.

It is inevitable that, as supporters of liberty, we will often find ourselves on the same side of an issue as people whose views on other issues we find repugnant. And it is equally inevitable that such people will try to gain respectability by glomming onto our movement. This is not a new problem. You may recall that Ron Paul received a contribution from the operator of a neo-nazi website. Or that Barry Goldwater — who had actually been a member of the Arizona chapter of the NAACP — was endorsed by the head of the Ku Klux Klan in his 1964 Presidential run.

We can’t do much about that, except to point out that they endorsed our views; we didn’t endorse theirs. But we can keep them out of our publications, off our websites, and out of our organizations. If we don’t, we will not be taken seriously. As I said in my email to Walt,

Can you imagine what they (the media) might do if they learn that a REAL neo-nazi is a regular contributor to this website? And what that would do to the “libertarian” label?

Like it or not, Nolan Chart is perceived as a libertarian website. Although it publishes material from across the political spectrum (I should say, the two-dimensional political spectrum), most of the contributors are libertarian. It is even named after a libertarian — David F. Nolan, founder of the Libertarian Party and creator of the “chart”. Ordinary (that is to say, non-libertarian) readers who read an article on the site whose author is a “libertarian” will likely associate the views expressed in the article with libertarianism. Even worse, they are likely to associate other libertarian authors who write for the site with those views.

I discovered Nolan chart more than two years ago while Googling for news of Ron Paul. I thought it was an interesting site. It reminded me a lot of The Libertarian Connection, a freewheeling 1960s publication that was written by its subscribers, who could publish in it just by submitting an article typed on a mimeograph stencil. However, even the Connection had its limits. Libertarians are notorious for their disagreements with one another, but there are certain lines you don’t cross.

I published a total of 20 articles on Nolan Chart over a two-year period. I enjoyed writing those articles, and I enjoyed the back-and-forth with the commenters. However, I value my credibility, and I fear I could lose a lot by writing for a website that also publishes the work of neo-nazis.

So, to you readers who enjoyed my articles and to those who didn’t (and to Walt, too), I say goodbye and God bless. This is my last article for Nolan Chart.

From Nolan Chart.