phthisis (phthisis) wrote,

Paul Krugman Loses It

I haven't been jumping on the Hate Krugman bandwagon out of respect for the fact that economics ain't my thing, and often I just can't bring myself to care what a moribund and vapid academic has to say about topics he's hardwired to misunderstand. But his recent New York Times column is really beyond the pale. With respect to Dr. Mahathir's nasty villification of Jews at the OIC, Krugman apologizes for the incident as follows:

"Not long ago Washington was talking about Malaysia as an important partner in the war on terror. Now Mr. Mahathir thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Muslim reform. That tells you, more accurately than any poll, just how strong the rising tide of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among Muslims in Southeast Asia has become. Thanks to its war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon, Washington has squandered post-9/11 sympathy and brought relations with the Muslim world to a new low."</p>
Krugman hits a trifecta here. He misreads the cause and thus dangerously downplays the import of hemispheric Muslim Jew-hatred, makes the specious and now memetic Boykin analogy, and implicitly justifies the hateful lunacy Mahathir represents by blaming it on Bush in order to score partisan points. This man is nearly as crazy as Mahathir.

As Charles Johnson points out, Krugman's assertion is so off in its timing that it's absurd. Both Mahathir's Jew-hatred and its general sustenance in the ummah long predate Bush or the war on terror. I'd like to argue that such a child-like blunder serves to disqualify Krugman from further commentary on Middle East affairs.

I mean, there's always been Maureen Dowd, but I really can't believe this is what passes for insight on the New York Times editorial page.

From Andrew Sullivan.

P.S.: I'd like to commend the New York Times for otherwise getting it right.

Update: David Hogberg writes:

"... Krugman ignores Mahathir’s history of making anti-Semitic remarks. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes of Google searching to find this article detailing Mahathir’s long-time hatred of the Jews. It extends all the way back (at least) to his 1969 autobiography in which he wrote “The Jews ... are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.” In 1991 he accused leaders of Australia’s Jewish community of plotting to overthrow him, and in 1994 he banned the movie Schindler’s List from Malaysia because he felt it was pro-Jewish propaganda.

Krugman purposely ignores all that. How do I know that Krugman “purposely ignores” it? Because of the way he whitewashes Mahathir’s 1997 remarks. Although Krugman notes that Mahathir “talked like this” in 1997, he then states that Mahathir “loudly blamed machinations by Western speculators.” Here’s what Mahathir actually said, according to the article in the Sun-Times:

Mahathir told Forbes magazine that his government had "definite information" that George Soros, a Jewish financier, was responsible for the Malaysian economy's collapse. "When a person of Jewish origin does this kind of thing [currency speculation], the effect is the same as when a Muslim carried out something akin to terrorism.
Why did Krugman leave out the fact that Mahathir fingered Soros specifically? Because including it would cast Mahathir in an even worse light and expose his seamy history of anti-Semitism. It would reveal that Mahathir had engaged in anti-Semitism before the War on Terrorism was even a thought, and during periods (the 1990s) when the U.S. did not give Israel unconditional support. That would, in turn, undermine Krugman’s absurd contention that President Bush made him do it.
This is either naked distortion on Krugman's part, or true ineptitude. I remember reading Krugman's bit about "Western speculators" and tripping over a cognitive snag: surely Mahathir was talking about Jews. But I didn't follow it up...

Don Luskin, Krugman's most dogged critic (he writes maintains his own web site and writes the Krugman Truth Squad feature at National Review) described a recent encounter with the man at a book-signing:

"I thought it would be fun. I thought I could throw a tough question at him, or get him to autograph a copy of The Great Unraveling for me before he realized who I was. But there was nothing fun about this experience. I have looked evil in the face. I've been in the same room with it. I don't know how else to describe my feelings now except to say that I feel unclean, and I'm having to fight being afraid."
This seems ludicrous, no? Ridiculous conservative hyperbole, on par with some of the villification of the Clintons. Now David Hogberg says:

"There are three things to conclude from this. First, Krugman’s willinnginess to excuse anti-Semitism in order to bash Bush policy proves that his hatred of this President is pathological. Second, despite the removal of Howell Raines, the New York Times still suffers from a leadership without any sound judgment. And, finally, Don Luksin [sic] recently referred to Krugman as “evil.” Privately, I thought that was a bit over the top. Don, I cannot tell you how wrong I was."
He's right. I've chronicled what I believe to be the out-of-the-box dysfunctionality of liberal thought on the war on terror. I've talked about the left-liberal inability to correctly process the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the algorithmic anti-Semitism of far-Left ideology in the face of a non-shtetl Jewry. I have watched the recent coverage of Mahathir's tirade. Some liberal media get it, but most miss the point. They downplay its explicit path to genocide in favor of its precedential criticism of Islamist forces in the ummah. Or, fearing racist condemnation of Muslim culture, they indulge their exonerative reflex by equating General Boykin and his parochial audience to the Malaysian Prime Minister and his worldwide adulators, among them all the important Islamic heads of state including Hamid Karzai.

For the first time since the electric days leading up to war in Iraq, I feel that clarity again. In less anxious times, it's easier to give people the benefit of the doubt, to tolerate their stupidity and apologetics for tangible evil as "dissent" or "a different perspective". Please. I haven't read and digested Goldhagen's thesis, so I may be off here, but surely at least in part he means to say the smug, unthinking and partisan stupidity of a Paul Krugman is the substrate that nourishes great tragedy.

Addendum: The bit about Karzai underscores how shallow the liberal media understanding of the Mahathir event really is. You would think an enterprising pundit on that side of the political spectrum would question Bush's choice of Karzai to helm the Afghan reconstruction, a man who called Mahathir's speech "very correct". If we're looking to transform the ummah in order to dismantle the milieu that breeds terrorism, doesn't this make Karzai seem a troublesome choice? That looks like a golden opportunity for criticism to me.
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