September 11, 2011

EVERYBODY’S ANGRY, to judge from my email, about Paul Krugman’s typo-burdened 9/11 screed. Don’t be angry. Understand it for what it is, an admission of impotence from a sad and irrelevant little man. Things haven’t gone the way he wanted lately, his messiah has feet of clay — hell, forget the “feet” part, the clay goes at least waist-high — and it seems likely he’ll have even less reason to like the coming decade than the last, and he’ll certainly have even less influence than he’s had. Thus, he tries to piss all over the people he’s always hated and envied. No surprise there. But no importance, either. You’ll see more and worse from Krugman and his ilk as the left nationally undergoes the kind of crackup it’s already experiencing in Wisconsin. They thought Barack Obama was going to bring back the glory days of liberal hegemony in politics, but it turned out he was their Ghost Dance, their Bear Shirt, a mystically believed-in totem that lacked the power to reverse their onrushing decline, no matter what the shamans claimed.

Plus, a comment: “I’m not ashamed. If Dr. Krugman, and the circles he moves in, are ashamed then they’ve left us. 9/11 didn’t become a wedge issue because we left them.”

And, cruelly: “Should we be ashamed of bombing the crap out of Libya, too? Inquiring minds want to know.”

And crueler still:

Te atrocity was a unifying issue, Bush’s way to deal with te atrocity garnered over 70% approval. Krugman and his ilk drove a wedge and claimed Bush, after eight whole months in office should have prevented te atrocity, Bush’s calmness and continued reading My Pet Goat showed he was not presidential, not fit for office.

10 whole years later, Krugman would prefer some hysterics to highlight the “gutsy” call to kill the guy hidden in a cave (metaphorically), and diverts attention away from the doubledip recession. The double dip caused mostly by the One listening to Krugman and his ilk. After three years, it’s still Bush’s fault for a lousy economy.

Indeed. (Will “te atrocity” become a lasting Krugman meme?) Anyway, don’t be angry. Just be glad Krugman illustrated exactly what lies behind the have-you-no-decency schtick he sometimes affects. From the comments: “Krugman’s comments are an indication of the nature of one of the problems we face; which is, a lot of people in positions to influence our country really don’t like our country. Krugman (by the way, did you know he is a former ‘Enron adviser’?) is among those who earn well, live well and eat well but really wish they could live among a better sort of people.”

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Dear Prof. Reynolds,

I really began to follow your blog on Sept 11, when most other websites were down due to traffic. Looking back ten years, I think it would be true to say that I have never experienced a historical event that has been more whitewashed, and this is almost frightening. There’s the obvious airbrushing of the falling victims, any body-parts or blood, the people cheering in the Middle East, etc. But there’s also the invention of a “we were all united and then Bush ruined it” idea. This is nonsense. The professional and academic left immediately started with “the chickens have come home to roost,” “it’s our fault for supporting Israel, etc.”

On Sept 11, just after the second tower fell, I was walking across campus with one of my colleagues. This was at the point when we thought there were 50,000 people dead. Her very first comment was, and I am not making this up or exaggerating it: “I am most worried about our muslim students.” Most worried. Not a word for the dead, not a word for the suffering, not a word for students who might have lost loved ones, but a concern verging on panic about the utterly idiotic idea that a bunch of students on a small liberal arts campus in New England were about to persecute the four muslim students in their midst. Political ideology trumped human decency, and elaborate fantasies of deranged redneck muslim-haters were concocted out of thin air. People were demonstrating on my campus against a war in Afghanistan even before Bush issued the ultimatum: there was never support for that war among the professional or academic left.

Another thing that has been airbrushed is that the country (and especially the political class) didn’t immediately support Bush. His handling of the crisis seemed inept at the very beginning, and I know that I had a sinking feeling that he would do exactly what had been done with every other attack: stern words, sanctions, some UN investigating committee which would take years. And the left wasn’t exactly giving Bush a break. Mary McGrory (in a column that I think has been memory-holed for its amazing stupidity) actually proposed that Bush make Gore co-president, because we needed a “national unity” government. It wasn’t until Bush said “and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon,” that I could start to hope that maybe something could be done. The country wanted action taken: most of the political class really did not, but they were pushed along by the public.

Maybe I’m naive, but I never thought I’d see the history of an event that billions of people saw be re-written in less than a decade. My Orwell had a pretty keen eye for the future.

[if you use this, please don’t use my name, but if you want an identifier, maybe “A Professor at a small Liberal Arts College in New England”].

Sad that so many of my academic readers request anonymity.

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