Could this be a kook, a racist and a white supremacist calling in the cleaning crew to “white wash” his political image?
In July, the neoconservative website Washington Free Beacon published an article with the headline “Rebel Yell: Rand Paul aide has history of neo-Confederate sympathies, inflammatory statements.” The subject was a peculiar one—a staffer for Sen. Paul (R-Ky.) who had worked as a radio shock jock with the nickname “Southern Avenger” while wearing a Confederate-flag wrestling mask.
The Southern Avenger had said some pretty atrocious things. He toasted John Wilkes Booth’s birthday each year and believed that Lincoln “would have had a romantic relationship with Adolf Hitler if the two met.” He worried about “racial double standards for white people” and that “a non-white majority America would simply cease to be America.”
That Rand Paul aide was me. I had written and said all of these things. They no longer reflected my beliefs by the time the Beacon article came out—and hadn’t for a long time. Some I had completely forgotten, like the John Wilkes Booth toast. The reporter had retrieved that one from an old long-defunct website.
“He expressed surprise when read his remarks about race, saying, ‘Hearing you even read that to me, because I just don’t speak like that, sort of bothers me,’” the reporter wrote. “He said his views had changed dramatically.”
They had changed. But it didn’t matter. There was no excuse for my comments. In fact, the Jack Hunter of 2013 would have condemned the Southern Avenger of 2003 for making them.
Two weeks after the story broke, I resigned.
For the previous three years, I had worked for Rand Paul and his father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. I had helped Rand Paul write his 2011 book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, and had worked to spread what I saw as his broadly appealing message of small government and personal freedom.
It was much more than a job.
I had a front-row seat for the war brewing between the Republican Party’s old guard and a new breed of libertarian conservatives who were causing headaches for the establishment. The Free Beacon article led to dozens of subsequent stories calling me a kook, a racist and a white supremacist. Suddenly, Paul couldn’t give an interview without being asked about me. “If I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately,” Paul told the Huffington Post. I had become a distraction.
Sen. Paul had known that I used to wear a Confederate wrestling mask as part of an old radio shtick, and I still sometimes used the Southern Avenger moniker—it was my Twitter handle and appeared on my Facebook page. But he hadn’t known about the many stupid and offensive things I’d said. By the time I met him in 2010, I had changed my tone and many of my views.
The Free Beacon would eventually obtain a Southern Avenger CD in which I suggested that someone “whip” director Spike Lee, who had trashed Mel Gibson’s 2000 Revolutionary War film The Patriot as “whitewash.”