Rand Paul aide has history of racial comments

Image used on Jack Hunter's Southern Avenger website in the past.
Image taken from archived version of Jack Hunter's Southern Avenger Web site.

An aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has a history of  inflammatory comments about race and the Civil War.

As first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online publication, Paul new media staffer Jack Hunter has for years been a provocative talk radio host who called himself the "Southern Avenger." Before that, he was a member of the League of the South, a group that advocates Southern secession.

“Sen. Paul holds his staff to a standard that includes treating every individual with equal protection and respect, without exception,” spokeswoman Moira Bagley said in a statement.

It's not clear how close Hunter is to the senator. He serves as Paul's new media director. According to a recent Washington Monthly article, Hunter has been advising Paul on foreign policy. In addition to his current work for the senator, Hunter helped Paul write a 2011 book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington." But on his Web site and radio show he clearly speaks for himself (as when he endorsed Mark Sanford in the May South Carolina special election). Hunter also worked on former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint's 2011 book, "Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse."

"My entire adult life I've defended the Old South and the southern cause in America's bloodiest war. Not because I support slavery or racism but despite it," Hunter says in one 2011 video.

But in other commentary, Hunter has waded explicitly into racial politics.

"Americans aren't wrong to deplore the millions of Mexicans coming here now," he wrote in 2007. "A non-white majority America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious – whether we are supposed to mention them or not."

That same year, discussing a racial disparity in school suspensions and expulsions, he wrote, "there are probably more black youth who deserve to be expelled ... who never receive proper punishment out of fear of accusations of 'racism.'"

In 2004, he lamented a "racial double standard" that meant that "Not only are whites not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity – but anything that is considered 'too white' is immediately suspect."

Another 2004 post declares that "not only was Abraham Lincoln the worst President, but one of the worst figures in American history" while arguing that "John Wilkes Booth's heart was in the right place" when he assassinated the president.

Hunter told the Beacon that he has changed his views on Lincoln's assassination, race and Hispanic immigration.

For years, Hunter wore a Mexican wrestling mask made out of the Confederate flag. "The whole idea of the Southern Avenger was to be an anonymous superhero," he explained in a 2011 article in the Charleston City Paper, where he writes a column. Hunter ditched the mask in 2007, when he moved from being a guest on a local music station to talk radio.

Hunter's history is particularly sensitive because Paul has made an effort in recent months to reach out to black and Hispanic Americans. The senator spoke in April at Howard University, and in his remarks he emphasized that the GOP is the party of Lincoln. (Hunter actually accompanied Paul to that event.) In a speech at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. in March, Paul endorsed a new path to legalization for illegal immigrants (although he opposed the final Senate immigration compromise.)

Before working for the senator Hunter was a supporter of Paul's father, former congressman Ron Paul of Texas, and the official blogger for his 2012 campaign. The elder Paul is no stranger to race-related controversy. He faced scrutiny over newsletters put out in his name in the 1990s that made derogatory comments about black and gay people. He has also described the Civil War as a "senseless" way to end slavery.

But Sen. Paul also has waded into these issues himself, with comments he made in 2010 questioning the part of the Civil Rights Act that dealt with private businesses. He has since said that he has always supported the legislation. In 2009, a staffer for Paul's Senate campaign resigned after a racist post left on his MySpace page surfaced.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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