His “open letter to the Harvard community” isn’t exactly a letter from the Birmingham jail.
His main theme is that, while he was wrong on a couple of points and sorry about that, he is really a victim on “vituperative online critics,” which is pretty much what he said the last time around, during the brouhaha over his factually challenged attack on President Obama.
To be accused of prejudice is one of the occupational hazards of public life nowadays….
Ah, the plight of the statesman. It must be very difficult, being such a great public figure.
As he has done in the past, Ferguson strives to discredit his critics by suggesting that they are part of some digital conspiracy. The argument (a generous term) makes little sense. A) Ferguson is himself a blogger, b) they’re not part of a conspiracy, and c) what they say may be right or wrong, but where they say it is irrelevant to that.
It’s almost as if Ferguson thinks that by lumping his critics together and slapping a dismissive label on them, he can discredit them without actually having to cite or engage their arguments. Almost.
Besides, he certainly can’t be a “gay-basher”—why, some of his best friends….
If I really were a “gay-basher”, as some headline writers so crassly suggested, why would I have asked Andrew Sullivan, of all people, to be the godfather of one of my sons, or to give one of the readings at my wedding?
Similarly he can’t be racist because his wife was born in Somalia. (Presumably this means that she is black, but that’s the way Ferguson phrases it, so in the interest of meticulousness, I will get no more specific than he does.)
I don’t think that Ferguson is a gay-basher, generally, though he did take a cheap shot at Keynes, and I doubt that he’s racist. But still, one must point out that having a gay friend or marrying a black woman does not prove anything. I mean, it’s silly even to have to point that out, it’s so obvious, but since Ferguson made the argument… After all, plenty of racists could marry Iman but still have a general prejudice against black people. Just ask Thomas Jefferson.
FInally, Ferguson says that, by today’s standards, Keynes himself would run afoul of these crazy bloggers. He cites a couple examples of what he calls “political incorrectness,” which is his way of slighting the criticism of his words about Keynes.
As he told a friend in 1941: “I always regard a visit [to the US] as in the nature of a serious illness to be followed by convalescence.” To his eyes, Washington was dominated by lawyers, all speaking incomprehensible legalese—or, as Keynes put it, “Cherokee”.
Seriously, Niall—that’s the best you’ve got? Kind of a funny joke about travel to the U.S. followed by an expression that was basically like “it’s all Greek to me”? Given that he said this 70 years ago, I think that’s pretty weak beer. Did I mention that he said this 70 years ago, and you made your remarks about a week ago?
I don’t know if Ferguson considers me part of the knee-jerk blogosphere he so reviles. Probably. Truth is, his problems aren’t the blogosphere’s fault, they’re of his own making.
One suggestion: Cut back on the speechifying. You’ll make less money. But you’ll have more time to think.