The Hate Merchant

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In reading Paul Krugman’s column today on the Arizona shooting — a very predictable column, I might add, given Krugman’s political views — I am struck by the fact that we have a mathematical economist who adds 2 + 2 and gets 5. Not only is his theme dishonest, but he also goes about presenting the information dishonestly.

When he first heard about what happened, Krugman said the following on his blog Saturday:

We don't have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She's been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she's a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that "the whole Tea Party" was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin's infamous "crosshairs" list.

So, he right away assumes that some Angry White Male Who Belonged To The Tea Party carried out the shooting. Furthermore, he claims that the ONLY angry rhetoric directed against her was coming from the right, yet he apparently ignores (and one wonders if he is doing this on purpose) the hateful rhetoric that was directed at her from the Daily Kos, which is a hard-left Democrat website that adores Paul Krugman.

(The post quickly was taken down after the shooting, as the Kos wanted to make sure that Sarah Palin received the blame. I checked the site this morning and there is no reference to anything the Daily Kos had from its own side, and it once again is blaming Palin and the Usual Suspects from the Tea Party, as well as a quote from Krugman. Gabrielle Giffords, it seems, committed the sin of voting for John Lewis for speaker instead of Nancy Pelosi. Obviously, according to the Daily Kos, that alone was worthy of death.)

Since the shooting occurred, we have found much more information about the shooter, Jared Lougher. Apparently, the guy was somewhat a person of the Left, and it is quite doubtful that Sarah Palin influenced him to do anything. He apparently is someone whose behavior has been growing increasingly bizarre and disruptive. Furthermore, it is abundantly clear that he has had nothing to do with the Tea Party or any of the other protest movements.

All of that information is known to us, and it was available when Krugman wrote today’s column. Thus, I come down hard on him precisely because he purposely ignores the facts. Krugman writes:

…there has, in fact, been a rising tide of threats and vandalism aimed at elected officials, including both Judge John Roll, who was killed Saturday, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords. One of these days, someone was bound to take it to the next level. And now someone has.

It's true that the shooter in Arizona appears to have been mentally troubled. But that doesn't mean that his act can or should be treated as an isolated event, having nothing to do with the national climate. (Emphasis mine)

In other words, after first having claimed Saturday that the shooter MUST have been tied to the Tea Party, Krugman now ignores the guy’s background and life circumstances. Why? It does not fit Krugman’s narrative.

As one who does not watch television — and especially the political talk shows like those on MSNBC with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and the ones on the right on Fox News — I have no idea if the rhetoric is comparable or not between right and left. However, when I read the following from Krugman, I have to wonder how a Nobel Prize winning economist can stretch language with a straight face:

And there's a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you'll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won't hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly, and you will.

Now, I really doubt that either Beck or O’Reilly (neither of whom I respect) have called for political opponents to be shot and killed. I HAVE seen (on YouTube) some of the hateful rhetoric that Olbermann has directed toward Ron Paul. On this segment, he accuses Paul of treason, which carries the death penalty. No doubt, if O’Reilly were to accuse someone of treason, Krugman would claim he was trying to have that person killed.

In other words, with Krugman it is “heads I win, tails you lose.” Anyone who disagrees with Krugman and his friends and makes that disagreement public is a traitor and an inciter of hate. Now, this is the same Paul Krugman who has smeared other economists with hateful rhetoric, calling them “zombies.” (Robert Murphy lays out the Krugman theme in this insightful article.)

So, in the end, Krugman jumps into what clearly is a tragic situation and throws around partisan rhetoric, makes up his own narrative, and ignores the facts. Had Sarah Palin written that Rep. Giffords was “dead to me” on her website, would Krugman have pretended she never said anything like that?

Right. Years ago, I wrote that Krugman was not an economist, but rather was a political operative. I have not changed that opinion a whit, and Krugman’s column today proves my point.

It is one thing for political hacks like Olbermann or Beck or even the people at the Daily Kos to frame everything that happens in political terms and ignore pertinent facts. I expect that kind of behavior from them.

However, when a decorated academic economist does the same — and calls it careful analysis — I draw the line. I NEVER have seen or heard hateful rhetoric coming from other Nobel Prize winning economists, ever, and I have spent hours with many of them. Yet, with Paul Krugman, it seems that all we get is hate and name-calling and political talking points. I will let you be the judge of that kind of behavior.

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.

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