Will there be a tipping point that will mark the beginning of the end of this cancel-culture madness?
If there is, it won’t be because the mob has gone too far but because the mob will pick on someone they shouldn’t have. Who that could be is unclear as the desire to defrock and destroy is going full bore with no end in sight.
Dozens of academics around the country, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, are calling for Harald Uhlig’s ouster as senior editor of the Journal of Political Economy, the most respected economics publication in the West. Uhlig is a prominent economist at the University of Chicago, a bastion of free speech and academic freedom.
Was he perhaps seen in a grainy, 40-year-old photograph wearing blackface? Maybe he wrote something decades ago that offended someone?
Not even close. Uhlig’s sins include “disagreeing with the actions” of Colin Kaepernick, of (falsely) “drawing parallels between the BLM movement and the Ku Klux Klan, and, according to Krugman, Uhlig is “yet another privileged white man who evidently can’t control his urge to belittle the concerns of those less fortunate.”
The rich, famous, and “privileged” Paul Krugman apparently never looked in a mirror. If he had, he’d notice that — omigosh — he’s white too! But like the pigs in Animal Farm, some pigs are more equal than others.
But for Krugman and the other elite snobby academics who are calling for Uhlig’s head, it’s not what he said that matters. Uhlig has left himself open to destruction because — without putting too fine a point on it — he can be destroyed. And in these times in this atmosphere of fear, hate, and loathing, the exercise of the power to destroy becomes an exercise in control.
The drama began when Uhlig wrote on Twitter Monday night: “Too bad, but #blacklivesmatter per its core organization @Blklivesmatter just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of #defundthepolice.”
Uhlig continued: “Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying oh, it just means funding schools (who isn’t in favor of that?!?).But no, the so-called ‘activists’ did not want that. Back to truly ‘defunding’ thus, according to their website. Sigh. #GeorgeFloyd and his family really didn’t deserve being taken advantage of by flat-earthers and creationists. Oh well. Time for sensible adults to enter back into the room and have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all: e.g. policy reform proposals by @TheDemocrat and national healing.”
Uhlig’s primary sin is that he’s not fervent enough in his beliefs. He doesn’t have visions or revelations or weep uncontrollably as they do in North Korea at the sight of their Dear Leader. He makes an observation that BLM “torpedoed itself” by calling for defunding the police. Since 80 percent of the country believes it’s a loony idea, and Uhlig pointed out a fact you’ll have to fear for the future of the academy if these bozos can’t be sidelined.
His second mistake was to chide his friends about the stupidity of the idea. Should he have done that? He’s on Twitter for God’s sake, not writing in the pages of the Journal of Political Economy. His tone was exactly right for a banal social media platform. It may have been out of place in a more serious, academic journal.
As is customary, the condemned man made a last-ditch effort to save his job and career by apologizing to the rabble.
My tweets in recent days and an old blog post have apparently irritated a lot of people. That was far from my intention: let me apologize for that. Did I choose my words and comparisons wisely? I did not. My apology, once again. Let me also make clear that all these are just
— Harald Uhlig (@haralduhlig) June 9, 2020
my views, not pronouncements by the JPE and most certainly not the @UChicago or my department: a bastion of free speech, where we disagree all the time and where surely a considerable number of my colleagues passionately disagree with things I said. I said what I said because
— Harald Uhlig (@haralduhlig) June 9, 2020
Krugman and his academic thugs will tear through the academy unchecked unless someone puts their foot down. Who is going to stand up to the mob?
As long as there’s blood in the water, the sharks will feed.