Commentary Magazine


A History Lesson for Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman isn’t one for subtlety, but his latest column about CIA interrogations during the Bush years really takes hyperbole to new heights:

In the past, our government has sometimes done an imperfect job of upholding those [founding American] ideals. But never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for.

As a liberal, Krugman ought to be eminently familiar with the entire catalogue of American sins. Were the memos released last week really demonstrative of a greater “betrayal” of American ideals than slavery, massacres of Native Americans, Jim Crow, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II? One doesn’t have to be a devotee of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States to be familiar with these events. Perhaps Krugman conveniently overlooked these instances of American dishonor because Democrats presided over them.

This hyperbole is demonstrative of the the outrage racket indulged in by the Left since Abu Ghraib. Proclaiming one’s shame of the United States isn’t anything new for liberals, but in the aftermath of 9/11 they had to wait a few years before finding a reasonable pretext. In the freshest round of self-flagellation, the more scandalized one can become over revelations that American interrogators put wet towels on the faces of terrorist masterminds or subjected them to loud music for hours on end, the greater moral standing one can claim for oneself. To be unmoved by these tactics is to be cold and heartless. Outrage, much of it insincere, has become a badge of pride for swathes of the liberal commentariat and earns them membership in the club of the self-righteous. If you aren’t outraged at what’s taken place in your name — and if you’re not willing to share it with the country on a regular basis — then you’re simply a Cheney-esque barbarian, no different from Nazis and Communists.

The moral vanity of these people is a thing to behold.