On Monday, in response to the death of Chris Kyle, Ron Paul offered the following thoughts on Twitter: “Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense”. To give a bit of back-story for those who are unaware, in an attempt to help ease his friend’s posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from his experiences in the military, Chris brought Eddie Routh to a shooting range. While there, Routh killed both Kyle and another man.
Regardless of the medical wisdom or folly of taking a PTSD victim shooting, Paul’s comments were horribly offensive and callous. After all, when a tragedy such as this incident occurs, about the worst response a person can offer is, “see, I told you so!”
Ron Paul later tweeted, “As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad…” If Paul had offered this second statement in place of the first, there would have been no great public outcry, but instead he solidly wedged his foot in his mouth and, as he is seen by many to be the father of the liberty movement, his words helped weaken the momentum that he has been instrumental in developing.
Tuesday, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, a Republican candidate seeking to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia, wrote a response repudiating Ron Paul’s comments. In truth, I agree with a lot of what he says. For example, his paragraph that states, “Not only was Chris a hero on the battlefield but he was a hero at home. When Chris realized a hometown veteran was suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he once again answered the call of duty. This time, not as a sniper, but as a friend, helping a fellow warrior who suffered mental wounds from the field of battle” was particularly poignant.
However, Delegate Lingamfelter then went on to make a number of comments that are terribly odious to those of us who, despite his unfortunate gaffe, still hold Ron Paul in exceedingly high regard. He stated, “It sickens me that our party — the party of Reagan — could put on a Republican stage a candidate who holds our party, our process, our principles and our nation in such utter contempt.” The delegate concluded, “As expected, Senator Rand Paul tried to paper over his father’s words. Don’t you believe it. Today, everyone who ever has served in the military knows exactly what Dr. Paul and some of his supporters think about our country.”
Here are my thoughts on the matter. Lingamfelter is right to be upset at Paul. But his remark stating that it is sickening that Paul had a national stage is completely uncalled for and an insult that I had to repeatedly endure from rank and file Republicans when I had the honor of working for Dr. Paul in South Carolina during the 2008 campaign. Oh, Ron Paul is out of touch with the modern GOP. His ideas about the Constitution and liberty are antiquated and Republicans ought to embrace the notion of a strong federal government. He and his supporters are nothing more than a bunch of crackpot conspiracy theorists that shouldn’t be allowed to speak. I heard all of these arguments and many more like them and appreciate them as much now as I did then.
If I had the chance to speak directly to Delegate Lingamfelter, I’d say yes, I do know what Dr. Paul thinks about our country for his thoughts mirror many of the same ones that I hold. He has fought diligently to restore our liberty during his time in office, not because his holds his fellow citizens in disdain, but because he knows the history of our nation, the great promise that it once held, and the bright future that our people and our country deserve to enjoy. And like you sir, he loved America enough to serve in our armed forces when called.
Ron Paul is not perfect and you are quite justified to call him out if and when he blurts out stupid or heartless comments, but, to be frank sir, I’ll be damned if you think I’ll sit quietly by if you or anyone else attempts to completely eradicate his legacy and his supporters from the national scene, state politics, or our political party. As mentioned in a previous post, I thought you performed excellently at the Lynchburg debate. Given the conservative values I heard you articulate there, I sincerely hope that you will not simply dismiss my fellow Ron Paul advocates and me, thus squandering any chance to connect to the liberty wing of the Republican Party.
In times of tragedy such those surrounding the unfortunate death of Chris Kyle, emotions run high and it is easy to speak without thinking. Whether his medical advice was proper or not, Ron Paul ought to be rebuked for the insensitive comments he made on Monday. In addition, however well meaning he sought to be, due to his over the top response that could alienate some libertarians and conservatives, Scott Lingamfelter should be admonished as well.
Update: This morning, after several articles on this topic were written, one on this blog and another on the Mason Conservative, Delegate Lingamfelter offered the following response on his Facebook page.
First, I do not oppose participation of anyone in the Republican Party who will stand firmly by our Creed. I am a Reagan Republican, period. And if you agree with the leadership model he advanced, I am eager that you join the ranks.
My point about Ron Paul is this. What he said was dead wrong. And frankly I am pleased he even recognized this by clarifying his hurtful and disrespectful comments about Chris. Here is what he said after hearing from many people all across the nation, even from his own supporters.
“As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies. –REP”
Nobody—particularly a veteran—wants to fight a war that does not have both the legal and moral authority of the people. But a soldier’s duty is to the oath he or she takes. You can make the clear points on fighting wars on a constitutional basis without bringing scorn on those who do and are ready to give “the last full measure of devotion”.
I want our party to be the conservative party for America. And we can’t do that by insulting veterans when they die tragically, like Chris. Would Reagan have done that? Would Reagan have been silent with respect to these comments? Not a chance. I spoke out knowing it would upset some folks. But I will never stand by quietly when our veterans are spoken of in the manner we have heard in the last 24 hours. No way.