The Republican Ray Allen
On Monday, when Shoals reported that Ray Allen was advising LeBron to "be more political", I was reminded of an important issue I've long been meaning to raise: the organized, subterranean whisper campaign regarding Ray Allen's own political leanings—specifically, the notion that Allen is actually a Republican. But before I do that, let me first provide some context.
A few weeks back, I was reading an article about neoclassical economists and the clubiness and group-think that has long prevailed among segments of the profession. I was curious whether this thesis could be tested using Facebook, where one can actually observe the density of a given social network. Anyway, as I was browsing through the various pages, a peculiar pattern began to emerge: in addition to all being friends with each other, many conservative economists are also friends with Ray Allen, or at least some Facebook version of Ray Allen. Thus, I found myself looking at several profiles like this one, from the CATO Insitute's Arnold Kling...
. . . a conservative economist, pallin' around with 5 other conservative economists, along with a Fox News personality, a crazy Iron & Wine impersonator who says we can live forever, and . . . yes, Ray Allen. Similarly, many of the conservative economists pictured here are also friends with the Allen, including former Bush advisor/Harvard Prof. Greg Mankiw and those dudes who write for marginal revolution. (Ray Allen is also friends with Nouriel Roubini, also an economist, but one who's politics are more opaque).
At first, I thought it was that the economists were befriending Ray—that it was a common interest on their behalf that explained the pattern of interconnection. Certainly, one can imagine elements of Allen's game (the commitment to fundamentals; a bias towards efficiency; Boston) that might appeal to the more conservative/academic economist fan. But with a little more digging, it soon became clear that the roles were actually reversed. Indeed, the only mention I managed to find of Ray Allen's Facebook page comes from the blog of (yet another!) conservative economist, in a year-old post titled "Did Ray Allen Just friend me on Facebook?". To wit:
A Ray Allen friended me so I friended him back. I checked out his profile and he pretends to be *the* Ray Allen, you know the shooting guard on the Boston Celtics, photo, green jersey and all. He friended me and the Cato Institute, so far no one else. Oddly I've read somewhere that the real Ray Allen is in fact a libertarian and also quite intellectual. What are the odds that this is *the* Ray Allen?
Yes, what odds indeed.
Looking at the actual Facebook page, it's clear that a Republican Ray Allen does exist, though perhaps independently of the real one. In an otherwise-accurate biography, this Ray Allen lists his political affiliation as Republican, belongs to some kind of Milton Friedman fan club, and even shows love for John McCain:
Of course, there is always the small probability that the Republican Ray Allen is in fact the Real Ray Allen; certainly, most of his 2700 friends think he is. Yet from everything we know about the man, it seems awfully unlikely. And even if it were true, I'd still refuse to believe it.
That leaves us with just one final question, which is perhaps the most discomforting of all: namely, who is the man or men behind this Republican Ray Allen, and what is the aim of their deception? I mean, granted, I'm young enough to understand that there are a variety of purposes to which network technologies are deployed, be it the struggle against Bovine Growth Hormone, or getting Larry Summers fired. Still, I remained bewildered by what the goal might be of creating a Republican Ray Allen. What is this monster trying to accomplish? Does he just want to provoke a conversation about the issue. And if so, what's the issue? That Ray Allen might be a Republican?
Either way, the results are clearly mixed. On the one hand, the Republican Ray Allen has 2700 friends and climbing, and none of these has thus far questioned his authenticity. Nor have they inquired into his unlikely politics. Lots of "Great Game, Ray" and well-wishing for the playoffs, but not even the slightest curiosity when it comes to the (yes) elephant in the room. And perhaps this is the morale of the entire endeavor: proving that even if Ray Allen were a Republican, no one would really care.