Monday, June 29, 2009

The eliminationist rhetoric of ... Paul Krugman!?

Words mean things. Words have consequences.

If it is dangerous and wrong-headed for rightwings to scream tyranny about the Obama administration's success in pressing its own agenda because such inflammatory rhetoric, well, inflames people...

So how about the word Treason in the mouth of one of the most important national spokesmen for progressive/liberal policies--to wit, Paul Krugman:

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

He then goes on to recap global warming science before returning to his treason meme:

Given this contempt for hard science, I’m almost reluctant to mention the deniers’ dishonesty on matters economic. But in addition to rejecting climate science, the opponents of the climate bill made a point of misrepresenting the results of studies of the bill’s economic impact, which all suggest that the cost will be relatively low.

Still, is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason? Isn’t it politics as usual?

Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

Do you remember the days when Bush administration officials claimed that terrorism posed an “existential threat” to America, a threat in whose face normal rules no longer applied? That was hyperbole — but the existential threat from climate change is all too real.

Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

Here's the problem--if I really have to spell it out: to characterize the dissent of elected representatives from a political agenda (even stupid dissent) as treason is to invoke all the images that go with it: Benedict Arnold and the only crime punishable by death mentioned in the US Constitution.

Krugman is way over the edge here. His historical rhetoric, for at least the past year, has not just been over the top but (given his academic credentials) willfully misleading. Anyone who disagrees with his economic analysis (including other Nobel Laureates in Economics) is not merely wrong, but dishonest.

Now he has equated certain votes by 49% of the US House of Representatives as treason.

This is not mere hyperbole. This is exactly the sort of demonization and eliminationist rhetoric about which our liberal and progressive friends have been warning us will end in violence.

Or else it isn't. On either side.


Delaware Dem said...

You're right. It is perfectly legitimate to oppose the cap and trade bill. I disagree with the bill's critics, but those critics are not traitors to the planet or to America. Maybe Krugman is being ironic himself, but I doubt it. Instead, I fear the use of hyperbolic, absolute and eliminationist rhetoric is here to stay, and Krugman is saying, "hey, if the right wing can do it for the last eight years, and during the last six months in opposition to Obama, then fuck it, I can do it too."

That same right wing cannot complain, but you and I can.

UNRR said...

"That same right wing cannot complain, but you and I can."

Yeah right. I guess you missed eight years of Bush Derangement Syndrome from the left. Extremist rhetoric happens regularly on both sides.

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 6/30/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Hube said...

Yep, UNRR. And DelDem, of ALL people, should know about eliminationist rhetoric, right Mr. Shoot All Republicans?

Anonymous said...

always use his full name and title

Enron Paul Krugman, paid shill.

Instalaunch flocker said...

No discussion of Krugman's commentary can be complete without noting that among his credentials he is a former Enron advisor.