Kristof says they’re crazy: Paul Krugman’s new column is very important. It would be a very good thing if people were exposed to its content.
For that reason, we would say this: It’s too bad about his opening:
KRUGMAN (3/26/12): Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy—and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.Truly, that’s an astonishing statement. Because we’re discussing a Florida law, Krugman says it’s “tempting to dismiss it as the work of ignorant yahoos.” He rejects the idea because similar laws have been pushed (and adopted) “across the nation,” in various other states.
Specifically, language virtually identical to Florida’s law is featured in a template supplied to legislators in other states by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed organization that has managed to keep a low profile even as it exerts vast influence (only recently, thanks to yeoman work by the Center for Media and Democracy, has a clear picture of ALEC’s activities emerged).
Is that really what Krugman meant? It’s fairly clear that that’s what he said. But then, how about Nicholas Kristof’s offhand assertion in last Thursday’s column:
KRISTOF (3/22/12): Of course, political debates aren’t built on the consumption of roadkill. But they do often revolve around this broader moral code. This year’s Republican primaries have been a kaleidoscope of loyalty, authority and sanctity issues—such as whether church-affiliated institutions can refuse to cover birth control in health insurance policies—and that’s perhaps why people like me have found the primaries so crazy.You’ll have to read the full column for context. But Kristof seems to say he finds it “crazy” when Republicans ask “whether church-affiliated institutions can refuse to cover birth control in health insurance policies.” Can that really be what he meant? It seems to be what he said.
(For the record, President Obama has given his answer to Kristof’s question: Yes! For better or worse, “church-affiliated institutions can refuse to cover birth control in health insurance policies.” Is Obama crazy too?)
Kristof’s remark was a bit of a flippant aside. Krugman’s presentation strikes us as an unfortunate ongoing drift in his work. But Krugman’s column today is very, very important. Just a guess, and your results may differ: Ruminations about regional yahoos increase the chances that Krugman’s content won’t make its way outside the tribe.
“Stand Your Ground” laws have been adopted in states all over the nation. Such laws are most prevalent in the red states, but some analysts include Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire and Washington among the states which have adopted such laws. That said, even if such laws were confined to the brightest red of the red states, dismissive remarks about ignorant yahoos are a striking form of journalism, especially when they contain a regional cast.
Krugman has long been our side’s MVP. In our view, this jibe doesn’t help—and it carries a hint of the northeastern yahoo, a familiar type to various folk in various parts of the land.