Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is defending a former staffer who has argued in favor of secession and the Confederacy.
According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday, Jack Hunter, a social media staffer for Paul, has in the past made incendiary comments about race and the Civil War. Hunter has said his views have moderated in recent years.
“Are we at a point where nobody can have had a youth or said anything untoward?” Paul asked the Huffington Post. He compared it to the scandal when a college student accused the senator of being involved in a collegiate, pot-fueled hazing.
“If I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately," Paul said of the aide, who once described himself as the "Southern Avenger" and wore a Confederate flag mask. Paul said Hunter was "incredibly talented," even if some of his writing is "absolutely stupid."
And in case there was any doubt, "I'm not a fan of secession," Paul told the liberal online news organization.
Libertarians have dealt for years with so-called neo-Confederates within the movement who see Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant and the Civil War as an unjust act of aggression against the South. While many libertarians have condemned this group, Paul's father, former Texas congressman Ron Paul, has ties to them and has himself argued that the Civil War was avoidable.