In the acknowledgements page of his forthcoming book, MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan gives "special thanks to Marcus Epstein for the invaluable assistance and untold hours he devoted to researching ideas, issues, and anecdotes." Epstein, a writer and activist with a history of inflammatory statements about race and immigration, was previously arrested for attacking a woman with a "karate chop" and calling her the n-word.
In July of 2007, according to a factual proffer by the U.S. Attorney, Epstein "was walking down the street making offensive remarks when he encountered the complainant, Ms. [REDACTED], who is African-American. The defendant uttered, 'Nigger,' as he delivered a karate chop to Ms. [REDACTED]'s head. Ultimately, the defendant was stopped and arrested by Secret Service officers."
In January of 2008, Epstein entered an "Alford plea" to a charge of simple assault, in which he did not admit guilt but pleaded guilty "because the government could prove me guilty." As part of his plea, Epstein agreed he must not violate any laws and also agreed to continue mental health therapy; seek treatment for substance abuse; write a letter of apology to his victim; and donate $1,000 to the United Negro College Fund. Epstein's case was dismissed by the prosecution in July of 2009 after the conditions of his plea were met.
When Epstein's arrest became public in the summer of 2009, it drew notice because, as Dave Weigel noted, Epstein was "one of the utility players in the immigration restrictionist fringe of the conservative movement" and had ties to Tom Tancredo and Pat Buchanan. Epstein was serving as the executive director of Buchanan's organization The American Cause and Tancredo's political action committee. He was also a frequent contributor to the anti-immigrant hate website VDARE.com, where he wrote about race and immigration policy.
In a 2006 VDARE column, Epstein wrote of diversity: "Diversity can be good in moderation--if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don't mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers--as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture." TPM's Brian Beutler added of Epstein's writings:
There's much, much more, if you care to browse.
Here, for instance, is a long defense of the infamous Ron Paul Letters, complete with a sideways defense of the Los Angeles police officers who pummeled Rodney King. And here is a remembrance for paleocon Sam Francis who once said whites must "reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we must do so in explicitly racial terms through the articulation of a racial consciousness as whites . . . . The civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people, nor is there any reason to believe that the civilization can be successfully transmitted to a different people." And here is a piece supposedly slaying the "Myths of Martin Luther King"
On VDARE, Epstein makes clear he admires Buchanan, writing that he "quite literally believe[s] that no living American has done more for Western Civilization. ... Pat Buchanan will be remembered the lone voice of sanity in a nation driven mad."
TPM's Josh Marshall reported on a photo album on Epstein's Facebook page -- since removed -- about his trip to Ethiopia. In one, Epstein wrote of a piece of art: "It's no Sistine Chapel, but you know what Samuel Johnson said about a Dog walking on it's [sic] hind legs." In another, Epstein reportedly responded to a picture of him looking at baboons with the caption, "Mixing with the locals." Marshall commented on the Facebook album: "After seeing these it's awful shocking he ended up drunk in Georgetown, screaming racial epithets and attacking a black woman."
After Epstein's arrest, Bay Buchanan -- Pat's sister and the president of American Cause -- accused critics of "lynching" Epstein "without pausing to ask how so talented a young man could have found himself in such a mess." She wrote that "Marcus had serious problems. He drank to excess and suffered periods of deep depression." She added that Epstein entered rehab and deserves "a second chance -- as do all of us." In response to her column, Dave Weigel wrote:
Speaking just for myself, as someone who knew Epstein socially, for three years, I think Buchanan gets at the point, then whiffs.
Yes, bloggers ran with this because Epstein worked with Pat Buchanan and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) -- two men who were making their way across the airwaves and the pages of popular news sites arguing that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was a "racist." They did all of this knowing that they employed a troubled employee who not only had pled guilty to a racially charged assault, but who had a years-long record of white nationalist writing and associations.
I usually despise the "what if X has said this" framing of a controversy (which Bay Buchanan used to call Sotomayor a "bigot"), but consider -- how would Buchanan and Tancredo react if, to pick an example totally at random, a Latina judge employed a top-level assistant who had written thousands of words for a Hispanic nationalist site, and who had pled guility to hitting a white woman and calling her a "cracker"? Would they stay mum or worry, publicly, about the possible "lynching" of this employee? Or would they, you know, call this judge a racist?
After his arrest in 2007, Epstein continued to court controversy about race and immigration. In a February 2009 interview with The Young Turks, for instance, Epstein remarked of blacks relative to whites:
EPSTEIN: If you look at almost every single society where blacks are, they don't do as well as whites. And so, you know, the idea that this is -- this is not unique. I mean, this happens with black immigrants into Europe, this happens to blacks -- I mean every single place. So how is it that every single place is our fault? If you look at this [inaudible] other groups in this country who have faced discrimination, and, you know, they've done fine. So yeah, we wouldn't have had this problem if we didn't have slavery, and that was a terrible system, but other than that, I don't really think there is a problem, you know, maybe for one generation [inaudible] segregation and others of that policy, which have been over for over fifty years.
After Cenk Uygur challenged Epstein over his "dead wrong" statements, Epstein shot back by doubling down and responding that "blacks have a higher crime rate than other races":
UYGUR: But Marcus, you're dead wrong. Everywhere that blacks are, they don't do as well as other people? That's a preposterous statement. And right now, by the way, African Americans --
EPSTEIN: What society -- what country can say --
UYGUR: The United States of America.
EPSTEIN: -- where blacks have a lower crime rate than the whites, or they have higher educational achievement or higher education.
UYGUR: Marcus, that's a ridiculously ignorant statement. And, I mean, you're not understanding exactly what I've been trying to tell you. Look, how do we get here, OK?
EPSTEIN: Even these countries that are run by blacks, say like South Africa, I mean, every single thing has been done [inaudible] every single country in Africa or Ethiopia. How about Ethiopia?
UYGUR: You think every black country has a higher crime rate than every white country?
EPSTEIN: No, I'm saying within each country, blacks have a higher crime rate than other races. I mean, that is a fact.
UYGUR: That is not a fact. Where did you get that fact, Marcus? Where is that fact from?
EPSTEIN: [Pause] I -- you know, I don't have everything offhand.
UYGUR: Oh, that's right. Because that's an assumption. That is not at all a fact.
Epstein claimed that he would email Uygur with data supporting his assertions; Uygur said he never received an email.
When news of his arrest became public, however, Epstein largely stopped his public writing and activism. His VDARE archive lists only one piece after the news: A December 2009 post headlined, "War Against Christmas 2009: A Jewish Perspective."
During his previous runs for president, Pat Buchanan regularly received criticism about the background of people on his campaign. In some cases, Buchanan was forced to remove staffers because it was revealed that they had ties to former KKK leader David Duke or racist organizations. More recently, Buchanan has relied on white supremacist and fringe sources for his work.
Buchanan, of course, has a long history of bigoted statements about minorities and immigrants.