Man Without Qualities

Friday, October 10, 2003

"Anger" And "Hate" In Herr Doktorprofessor

"Anger" and "hate" are not the equivalents or near equivalents of "incivility." But Paul Krugman says they are, at least when its his anger and hate and the incivility of others, or, in his words:

It's the season of the angry liberal. ... (Yes, I've got one [of those angry liberal books] out there, too.) But conservatives are distressed because those liberals are so angry and rude. O.K., they admit, they themselves were a bit rude during the Clinton years — that seven-year, $70 million investigation of a tiny money-losing land deal, all that fuss about the president's private life — but they're sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil.

Why does this paragraph start with "anger" and end with "civility?"

As Don Luskin has already pointed out - Herr Doktorprofessor's column is largely a putative answer to a column by his Times Op-Ed colleague, David Brooks, who never used the words "civil" or "rude" - and didn't complain about anyone's "incivility" or "rudeness." Mr. Brooks wrote about liberal "anger" and "hate," and elliptically accused Herr Doktorprofessor of being consumed with "anger" and "hate."

And Mr. Brooks is right. I have previously noted the descent of Herr Doktorprofessor's writing from mere "shrillness" (previously almost a consensus term to describe his style, and at least close to "rude") to outright "hate" and "anger," as with his earlier column hurling coded charges of anti-semitism at the Administration and the President, a column that I summarized this way:

I, Paul Krugman, am so filled with hate that I propose seriously and publicly - but in the same deniable code used by loathsome anti-Semites all over the world - that the Bush Administration lied to and under funded New Yorkers following 9-11 because the Administration is influenced by anti-Semites who just hate big-city folk so much that they like lying to them so those hated big-city folk can't protect their health and are cheated out of their appropriate compensation.

Such efforts by Herr Doktoprofessor are not just "rude" or "uncivil" or "shrill" - they are angry and hateful. And his writing - as with his coded and unsupported smear of anti-Semitism above - is increasingly and ever more consistently angry and hateful.

I have pointed out previously that I do not consider Paul Krugman's "shrillness" to be inappropriate for a partisan such as he is- and, frankly, I see no indication that David Brooks or people like him care much about Herr Doktorprofessor's "rudeness" or "incivility" or "shrillness," either. Mentioning that Herr Doktorprofessor is unaware of - or at least will not admit to- his "rudeness" or "incivility" or "shrillness" is good for a (rather mean) laugh at his expense, since his lack of awareness indicates his utter lack of self-insight.

What does concern Mr. Brooks about the quintessential new warrior in the culture wars, such as Herr Doktorprofessor? Let Mr. Brooks speak for himself:

The quintessential new warrior scans the Web for confirmation of the president's villainy. He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred. He doesn't weigh the sins of his friends against the sins of his enemies. But about the president he will believe anything.

Mr. Brooks is writing about Paul Krugman here. And Mr. Brooks is definitely not writing about "rudeness" or "incivility" or "shrillness."

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