Challenging Ron Paul’s Followers on Racism

ron paul and racismI can’t say that I am surprised by the content of recently unearthed Ron Paul newsletters from the 1990’s that talk about a coming “race war,” or about Congressman Paul’s continuing connection to the John Birch society. Neo-Confederates, white supremacists, and those who hate immigrants and gays have been vocal supporters of the conservative wing of the Republican Party for the last 40 years, so it is not surprising that Rep. Paul would count people with such views among his most loyal supporters.

Nor he is alone in such a posture. During her run for the Vice-Presidency, Sarah Palin attracted more than a few such people to the rallies she organized, to the great embarrassment of John McCain, while racist imagery was a fixture at early rallies of the Tea Party before leaders of that movement were able to persuade, or force, individuals with such views to go into deep cover.

But Ron Paul is not your ordinary conservative Republican. The success of his current run for the Republican nomination depends on him persuading Democrats attracted to his anti-war, pro-civil liberties policies to register as Republican. Moreover, his presidential run, either as a Republican or an independent, cannot gain traction without gaining support from at least some people of color, leftists and liberals.
 

If these people are like me — a white leftist who lives in a heavily immigrant city, works in a predominantly black workplace, and is part of a multiracial family — they will have something close to zero tolerance for racism, sexism and homophobia. They are not only going to look closely at how Congressman Paul responds to these latest revelations, but how his most impassioned white followers act when he is raked over the coals in the media because of suggestions that his campaign is tainted by such prejudices. In my own way, I have been very closely observing how the libertarians to whom I have been connected by social media have dealt with the new revelations about Ron Paul’s past. Have they responded by calmly pointing out that the Ron Paul campaign, and the libertarian movement generally, is a big tent that welcomes blacks, immigrants and gays, or have they attacked those who demand that Paul respond forthrightly and quickly to the new revelations as enemies of liberty whose motives are suspect?

[poll id="48"]The informal results of my little survey may surprise my friends on the left. The majority of the libertarians I work or correspond with have pointed out that the sentiments in those newsletters do not represent what Rep Paul, or the vast majority of his followers stand for and insist that the movement they are a part of will remain inclusive and multiracial. I don’t necessarily agree with all their conclusions, but the manner in which they have responded has been reassuring. In defending Paul, they have not allowed themselves to become the very people they were accused of apologizing for or protecting.

However, a few of the Ron Paul supporters in my networks have completely flipped out over the new accusations and have struck out at anyone and everyone who raises questions about the Paul campaign with injured innocence and a torrent of abuse.

Implicitly and sometimes explicitly, they have said that racism is no longer an issue in American society, and that critics of Paul are “playing the race card” to undermine the campaign of a great patriot and a great American

This argument is not only unconvincing, it is counterproductive. It suggests that supporters of Ron Paul have something to hide, most probably the very attitudes that critics accuse the movement of harboring

Let me conclude with the following suggestion. If supporters of Ron Paul want to continue to attract a multiracial following, they will have to deal in a serious and principled way with accusations of racism, homophobia, and anti-immigrant prejudice, not move into a posture of denial

mark naisonIn our very NON post racial society, denying racism’s existence is a posture that arouses, rather than defuses, suspicion among racism’s long time victims.

Healing America’s racial wounds requires open discussion and debate. Those who call for a cover up when real issues arise contribute to the continuation and intensification of the very divisions they claim to abhor.

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent 

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Comments

  1. says

    These “newsletters” were ghost written 20 years ago! Paul has been beat up over them in EVERY election he’s run in since (literally dozens of times).. he has long ago and multiple times explained that they are not his views and has multiple times taken responsibility for allowing his name to be used on such materials.. This “article” claims that they’re something new.. Not by any stretch of the imagination. A quick Google on the subject should lead you to all the information you’d need to dismiss the charge of racism against Dr. Paul.. hit piece with inflammatory cartoon unnecessary

    • says

      The issue is not necessarily whether or not he is a racist. I’ve written before about Ron Paul not taking responsibility for things written in his own publication. Even if he didn’t write them, he still made money and funded his congressional campaign from the sales of it.

      As president he wouldn’t be able to pass the buck like he does on this issue.
      *If he is sincere he would acknowledge that hurtful things were published under his name.
      *He would unequivocally apologize for it.
      *He would reveal who did write it.
      *He would show us that he understands why those things written in his paper were hurtful.
      *He would convince us that he knows which issues are important to the African American communities (besides drugs and prison).
      *And he would talk to us about how he really feels about African Americans specifically and without obfuscation.

      So far he hasn’t done anything like that. Instead, his response is in effect: ‘Shut up and get over it.’

      He is running to become the president of all Americans. If a large group of them are not clear about his association with a known historical enemy and a hostile philosophy toward them, if he wants their support and the support of their friends and allies, he needs to address the issue honestly and without equivocation. To not do so conveys contempt.

      • Val Eisman says

        The fact of the matter is that Paul is just another tool that works for the elite. He has said there is no basis in law for Medicare, social security or income tax. I’m sure though he would maintain the Defense Dept. He doesn’t believe uion wages are legal either. Paul represents the corporatist class who would pauperize most Americans and take us back to the 19th century. What’s amazing is that so many would want to follow this neo-facist back there. I guess I was fooled to until I got on the internet and began to dig further.

        LIberatarianism might just be another lesson Americans have to learn just like the Obama lesson that it is not about color.

        I’m sure there are confused people of all races ready to jump on this bandwagon without realizing that it is the corporatist class that pushes LIbertarianism (the Koch Brothers) and supports it.

        It is government that tempers the ravages of capitalism. And this is a time when we need our safety net even more. Those who don’t get it are living in la la land or are indifferent to the suffering of millions of needy people in our country.

        • Nate Fries says

          Medicare is LOVED by the healthcare-industrial complex. The pharmaceutical companies especially love the prescription drug plan passed under Bush, I mean they lobbied for it.

          The income tax is really a brilliant piece of trickery. By making it progressive, they made it appear to be “fair” and discourage digging deeper. But the fact is that because of loopholes put in place by lobbyists, the most well-connected and greedy of the wealthy pay very little compared to you and I. In addition to that, much of the government’s revenues and borrowing is funneled into the different industrial complexes, manifesting itself in exorbitant bonuses and a gradual shift in the distribution of wealth away from the masses. The corporate tax is even worse, a weapon for the well-connected big businesses to drive out innovative small businesses, but then at least some of those manifestations are known about.

          The Koch brothers might think they’re libertarians, but they’re not. They’re corporatist shills looking to make bigger profits for themselves. I wish more libertarians would open their eyes up to that fact and disassociate themselves from them, rather than accept their funding for policy proposals that typically won’t even fix the problems they seek to address, merely push them under the rug. But, libertarians are prone to deceit just as every other group.

          The government doesn’t “temper the ravages” so much as it supports and encourages the most barbaric traits of capitalism.

    • Val Eisman says

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/us/26Land.html?_r=5
      Ron Paul was the keynote speaker at the John Birch society’s 50th anniversary commemoration in 2010. If you read the above article, the present head of the John Birch Society is a raving anti-semite. This isn’t the past, it’s recent history. No wonder I’ve found anti-semitic posts amongst Ron Paul supporters amongst my facebook friends recently. They are now coming out of the woodwork like a bunch of vermin.

      • Ryder says

        Half the members of Occupy are anti-semites…! And LA Progressive supports them at every turn….

        Besides, almost nobody (and I will include all present here) knows what racism even is…

        • says

          Ryder:

          Have you been to an Occupy encampment and talked to Occupiers? Or are you getting all your news second hand?

          If you had, you know that anti-semitism is not an Occupy theme and certainly half the Occupiers are not anti-semites.

          And nobody here — but you — knows what racism is? On a site that focuses on issues of race and equality? Preposterous.

          But at least you got it right that LA Progressive supports the Occupy effort. In a short season, the Occupiers have brought America’s broken economic system very much to the fore. Quite an achievement. We’re excited to see how Occupy will develop into a true movement.

          You never see anything here that you like, Ryder. Isn’t it about time you created your own site to spread your narrow-minded pap?

          – Dick Price, Editor

  2. Nate Fries says

    It’s pretty pathetic that this is all you guys have against the man: a handful of bigoted/racist supporters and similar past connections.

    Okay, so maybe Paul’s worried about race riots and being mugged by a black man (some of the actual sensitive content in the letters); I didn’t hear of anything in the letters suggesting lynching or segregation. Bigoted? Yes. Violent or oppressive? No.

    And if you go by the speeches he’s made and many of his domestic policies, he sounds more like the minority’s best friend than some Klan member.

    And yet I’d bet you completely overlook all of Obama’s support from the crooked Wall St bankers and military-industrial complex, robbing our country blind and sending our kids off to war, just to fulfill their greed; and how Obama broke his campaign promises (and even tried to stay in Iraq longer than Bush wanted to) to keep his REAL constituency happy.

    PS: I’d recommend you head over to youtube and see what Ron Paul’s numerous ethnic minority supporters have to say about the racism charges. Or continue to make your own ignorance-based writings about his ignorance-based writings. It really holds no bearing, you’re going to intentionally spread ignorance regardless.

  3. Marta says

    Despite agreeing with Ron Paul on his antiwar, anti-Imperialism stance, no, I will not vote for him. He’s got a past with racist issues that he’s in denial about

    If he would have come out in the open about them a long time ago, and admitted he was wrong, I could respect him. Despite his anti-choice stand–which I vehemently disagree with, but understand. But the way he just denies and gets angry when asked about it? Well doesn’t work for me. Imagine how he would act under the very real pressures of the presidency
    And I STILL say no, no no to the Obama or Obama/Hillary War Machine. I’m sick of their escalation of the hatred and death. What Obama did in Libya was disgusting. The CIA were present when Gaddafi was captured, and allowed to be sodomized with a sharp stick. I mean REALLY! and Hillary’s snarky comment on Gaddafi’s murder a national TV interview: (laughing, mind you) “We came. We saw. He died”. She sounded like a New Jersey mobster’s “old lady.”

  4. James says

    In my experience, if you want to find the racist in the room, look for the person who was first to pull the race card. Misdirection and obfuscation.

    I’ve seen video of Ron answering the persistent, nagging, over-and-over asking of the same bloody question. . . as he has has responded in the past – some people need to clean the peanut butter out of their ears and let it go.

    When there is such hysteria over something which has been over and done with for years. . . if that’s the best the 1% can come up with, whether Ron wins or loses, the cat is out of the bag – the Anti-American forces are running scared.

    Good to know.

    • dusty says

      James — I haven’t heard that R. Paul forthrightly and honestly answered the questions. From the press reports he tried to slough off the challenge but if he did answer could you give a source that I can check? Now if he didn’t write the offensive material, although it seems consistent with a book that he authored and published in 1987 or so, then he should renounce it and call upon all his supporters to speak out for racial justice and equality and renounce racist organizations and positions. In this way he could demonstrate his position in action. Even though his utterances were or may have been years ago he still needs to demonstrate his change of belief and his change of heart.

      • Marta says

        Dusty
        Well put. How could Ron Paul NOT renounce the Neo-Nazi groups that are now supporting him? Is he that desperate for votes? Most importantly, how could any progressive want this kind of person in office?

        I used to like this Old-Fashioned but bright old man– despite his view on a woman’s choice– because he was an anti-Imperialist who felt the only time to go to war was if we were attacked–and then go after the attackers, not a country that had something we wanted. But I didn’t know about those racist statements, and it’s turned me off completely.

        After all, pre-Pearl Harbor, there were some famous people (for example, Charles Lindbergh, Fr. Coughlin- a Catholic priest ) that didn’t want to go to war with Germany— not out of love for peace, but because they supported the ideology of the regime. So we must look at the entire picture.

  5. Val Eisman says

    I’m one of those who is going to vote for Ron Paul in the primary only as a protest vote against Obama’s bombing of Libya and refusal to recognize Palestine as a nation as Israel declared its nationhood in 1948.

    I neither illusions about Ron Paul’s racism nor his racist supporters nor do I have illusions about Obama’s imperialist, racist base of supporters who care not a whit that we murdered 50,000 Libyans and bombed the infrastructure of that country. The democratic Zionist base of the Democratic Party and the Left both, abandoned the anti-war movement. Organizations like MOve-on coopted the phony Left in this country.

    Now when the racist, anti-humanity base of the Democratic Party that doesn’t even deal with the fact that America has locked up 2.3 million people and that Obama is pushing a pro-prison society deals with these contradictions and its own hypocrisy, then I will start worrying more about Ron Paul’s racism.

    Until then, start shining a light on yourselves and your racist anti-humanity complicity around the bombing of Iraq and attempting regime changes and more bombing campaigns around the world.

    • says

      Shine a light on your own self up there on your high horse, accusing anyone who doesn’t wholeheartedly agree with your simplistic analysis of being hypocritical, racist, anti-humanity, murdering, Zionist imperialists.

      I disagree that it was “Obama’s bombing of Libya,” and that he refused to recognize Palestine. I don’t believe you that Obama’s base of supporters are “imperialist, racists” nor that “we murdered 50,000 Libyans and bombed the infrastructure of that country” and would “care not a whit” if we did.

      I don’t think the Democratic Party is built upon a “Zionist base” nor that the Left abandoned the anti-war movement and “MOve-on (sic) coopted the phony Left in this country.” Likewise I’m not buying the Democratic Party has a “racist, anti-humanity base” thing either.

      I am a registered Democrat and I know plenty of other Dems who are pretty upset about the high incarceration rates in the US, and spend much of our time fighting against the prison/industrial complex.

      President Obama’s not pushing a pro-prison society. You’re making that up from bits and pieces you’ve placed in a pattern set out for you by charlatans with no evidence except their exhortations to gather a bunch of dubiously sourced ‘facts’ and ‘connect-the-dots.’

      Show some proof of these wild eyed ranting assertions or we’re libel to think you’re stricken with, and in the advanced stages of ODD (Obama Derangement Disorder) and require urgent psychological attention.

      Meanwhile, as you register your protest vote in the Republican Primary, remember it was the leaders of your “racist anti-humanity” party that made us all complicit around the bombing of Iraq, and have the good sense to vote in November for whoever can keep that particularly nasty brand of lunatic from running this asylum for the next 4 years.

      • Val Eisman says

        My response to Mark Halfmoon. Obama Self-Delusion Disorder. Democratic Corporatist Party denial and wishful thinking disorder.

        Obama has raised $37 million dollars from bundlers already. 120 of these bundlers out of 240 are Jewish. Obama has raised millions of dollars from the Zionist lobby by his refusal to recognize Palestine at the UN.

        Denial is not evidence either. And you cannot dispute this nor are you able to refute any of the claims I have made by citing yourself and whom you know.

        BTW, I caught that I’m against the prison industrial complex little out–but not against the bombing of Libya nor the military industrial complex. That’s okay. You’re so used to your Democratic ghetto that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is automatically a suspect of a mental disorder. This is the smugness and arrogance of the deluded and self-righteous democratic base.

        No wonder 2.5 million registered voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties.

      • Rachel Contreras says

        Very very well put. It’s a shame that there are so many narrow minded racist bigots trying to get Obama’s job that they have to fee alll this bunch lies , and the sad part they actually belive it!!!

      • Val Eisman says

        I’ve decided not to vote for Ron Paul in the primary after all with all the anti-semites now coming out of the woodwork with their openly anti-semitic statements. I don’t think this is what our nation needs right now. I thought of voting for Ron Paul has a tactical move to push back against the worse Christian evangelical warhawks in his party who are also pushing Obama to the right.

        But it would send the wrong signal to Americans that open anti-semiticism and racism is okay now in America. It would send a green light to the Southern Christian neo-nazi militias. And I don’t want to do that.

          • Val Eisman says

            As a child during the McCarthy era, I should have known better than to ever trust anyone supported by John Birchers given how they attacked progressives and socialists all during the McCarthy era. Perhaps I did suffer from Obama Deranged Syndrome.

            I knew all along in my guts Paul really wasn’t trustworthy and a phony playing to antiwar, alienated leftists like myself. But TONIGHT I READ SOMETHING THAT KNOCKED THE SOCKS OF OF ME:

            In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz Ron Paul said: “I am the only candidate that would allow Israel to defend herself if threatened without seeking US approval.”

            The article in Haaretz stated “Ron Paul gives green light to an attack on Iran by Israel.”!!!

            What point would there be in supporting Ron Paul then?????

  6. says

    Recently a friend told me he supports Ron Paul for president because “he plans to end the phony, evil, imperialistic War On Terror and end the War On Drugs.” I told my friend that Dr. Paul can easily afford to make those claims precisely because he knows he will never have to back them up. He know those claims are wildly popular with a growing number of people who are frustrated with the limitations of the two party system which offers no remedy for those twin atrocities.
     
    President Ron Paul would end the war, but refuse to provide long term government medical, psychiatric and financial help to war veterans and their families. He would make all drugs legal, yet refuse government funding of drug addiction education, prevention and recovery programs. If our allies in England or France were to be invaded or attacked by Russia or China, President Paul believes it’s none of our business, we should only protect our own country.
     
    But he will not get elected to the presidency. The Republican Party will not allow him to be their standard bearer for that reason alone, not because “he plans to end the phony, evil, imperialistic War On Terror and end the War On Drugs,” but because they know he has a snowball’s chance on a Death Valley two lane black top on the 4th of July of winning a general election.
     
    He stands for the most important things that the corporate beneficiaries of GOP rule desire: no regulation, no taxes, every-man-for-himself-only-the-strong-survive “free” market rule. Yet his supporters are convinced that he is some kind of rebel and antidote to greedy 1%er corporate plutocracy. They think Dr. Paul’s remedy to all of our nation’s ills is so simple we’ve been staring right at it all the time:
     
    Amputate! Cut taxes. Cut spending. Cut education. Cut regulation. Cut consumer, employee and environmental protections. Cut equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws. Cut the UN. Cut out the Federal Reserve. Hell, cut out the whole damn government! This is guaranteed to work, money back if you can catch him with whatever limbs you have leftover.
     
    But he will not win. Because in order to win the presidency, one must win the support of the African American community, which he won’t for reasons I will mention below; he won’t win Latinos because of his cruel and dismissive attitudes toward immigrants; nor women because of his anti-choice stance and refusal to recognize the need to have and enforce gender anti-discrimination laws; and Gays, because of his homophobic ideas about military service and anti-discrimination laws. He will need these constituencies in order to win, but none of them like him or trust him. It is no longer possible to be elected president in America today by appealing solely to the demographic of conservative and libertarian white men.
     
    Dr. Paul is smart enough to know that he will only see the inside of the Oval Office on the Congressional VIP Tour, so he is free to promise to end the War on Terror in the face of the bellicose generals and corporate titans of the gargantuan, ‘president shooting,’ Military Industrial Complex.
     
    Dr. Paul knows he will never have to fulfill his promise, so he can swear up and down he will vanquish the profits of well-connected, international drug-money laundering banks, giant security companies that dominate the private prison industry and its attendant manufacturing and assembly slave wage labor force.
     
    Dr. Paul also knows that as president he won’t have to disappoint and anger his supporters, who will call him a sell-out and accuse him of ‘caving’ when he fails to deliver on all of his promises right away due to an intransigent Congress who will block his every move and make it look like his fault.
     
    Dr. Paul, like Ralph Nader knows he is free to call for and promise all kinds of good things that many of us want to see become reality. It is a really good thing to have voices like theirs always out there, reminding the two-partiers what many if not most of us really want. But to actually govern in a democracy, you have to be able to work with and compromise with colleagues. Those two guys have never demonstrated a willingness or an ability to do that.
     
    To even get elected people have to like you, and neither of these guys are all that likable. Ron Paul is unlikable if you are in any of the demographics mentioned above, and Ralph Nader comes off like that puppet who lives in a trash can on Sesame Street.  
     
    Ron Paul may or may not have written those racist words in the newsletter bearing his name in a giant font banner on its front page 20 years ago as he claims, but I remain unconvinced that it is his compassion and desire for justice for African American youth that motivates his call to legalize drugs.
     
    And I’m afraid I do believe that this Congressional Representative of the United States Government who hates government so much he wants to be the leader of it, really does believe in, and is preparing for the “coming race war” his newsletter warns about.
     
    I believe this man who would refuse official recognition of the slain civil rights icon whose stone monument will stand on the National Mall, not far from Dr. Paul’s seat in Congress, long after he himself has been long dead and forgotten as a minor footnote in history, and who would deny recognition of the truly heroic effort in the face of jail, violence and death of a young woman who refused to give up her seat on the front of a bus to a man like himself, thereby shifting the consciousness and uplifting the soul of a nation….
     
    I believe that this man does believe in his heart that “only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions,” that “95 percent of the black males in [Washington DC] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal,” and “if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible,” and that after the Los Angeles riots, “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”
     
    If he did not write these things and does not think them himself, if Ron Paul is so libertarian that he won’t even police people who use his name, if his movement is filled with incompetents and opportunists, then what kind of a president would he make?

  7. dusty says

    Friends — Yes we should challenge Ron Paul’s supporters and Congressman Paul about his and their racism — I call them racist because to me if you support a racist then you are a racist even if your are a so-called libertarian — but further we should be challenging the Republican Party about its racism. On the just past holiday I was at a holiday party celebrating the several holidays that fall this time of year when a younger person and I started talking about the way I conduct myself and how I did organizing. I explained that from early childhood on my parents taught me that all people are equal in value no matter the color of their skin, their sex or sexual orientation, their religion, etc and from this I developed a credo about organizing that has stayed with me my entire life: I wouldn’t and won’t organize any organization that wasn’t/isn’t democratic — it had to be open to membership from any cultural group and had to be gender inclusive and so forth — anything less was not a democratic organization. And while internal democracy was of course one of the standards it couldn’t make up for external anti-democracy, i.e. discrimination in membership. There are lots of other parts to the way that I try to live my life and how I hope that others live theirs — but just not hating and discriminating is a good start cause hate and prejudice are always based on devaluing the humanity of others. I also related to this younger person that I believe that selfishness and narcissism, which I take to be interconnected, are one of the pillars to the hateful acts we see around us and the attitude of envy and jealousy that allows the hate to be acted out. In our consumer society we are constantly being brainwashed to believe that we are and our worth is reflected in the things that we own and can show off as our status symbols to claim superiority. For example people start buying consumer goods and at first they own the consumer goods but after a while the goods begin to own them and they develop an attitude of “I will kill you or hurt you if you try to take my goods away from me.” Now I am not suggesting that everyone just give up their things but that they realize that they can live without all that crap (a lot of which is probably stored in the garage or the washroom even though it is almost new because it has been replaced with a newer edition: think the fascination with having the newest i-phone). If they keep that in mind, that they are more than an extension of owned objects and can live wih out the possessions, then they can’t be manipulated so easily to hate others who they feel are trying to take things away from them. And since quite often the “other” existentially is the different from me then if we accept other human beings as being more important than things they it becomes harder to hate. One keeps a rational perspective about real threats as versus propaganda. For instance after 9/11 people became irrationally frightened of impending danger and then were manipulated into supporting the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq instead of demanding a US program to seek out those actually responsible, arresting them and trying them in a court of law. So, the fear of the danger of the destruction of property and people after 9/11, even though to any rational person the chance of it happening again anywhere near them or within our nation allowed hateful discrimination against Muslims to be projected as a good by haters. We have to live as human beings loving other human beings then we can act and do on a plane of love and respect.

    One last important thought: people can change and they can change the world around them. Ron Paul may have changed and his followers can change even if he hasn’t. The GOP could change and quit acting as the front for the white ciitzen’s councils and folk like that. They probably won’t but they could. We must always be willing to build a bridge that allows others to come over to the side of equality, democracy, love, peace and virtue — that is what our love allows and calls upon us to do — but if the call to change is rejected then we must bring about the change by all necessary means as Martin, Malcolm, Sojourner Truth, John Brown, La Passionara, and others have taught us — our species and our world are worth saving and hate won’t do it. A last note, sometimes people ask me if there aren’t people I hate and my answer is that there are people whose values and actions I detest and that I will fight to change them with my life — but I will “hate” what it is they stand for and tear that down but I will not allow myself to hate individuals: it doesn’t hurt them or change them and it clouds my mind so that I am irrational and waste time in acts of little consequence. I have to admit there are groups that I don’t much like: bankers, the 1%, and the folk who work to keep them in power — they are enemies of democracy and of our humanity.

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