Civility and Tea Party Freedom Fighters

About five years back I happened to have an interaction with New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, at that time writing a weekend column for the Times business section.  He struck me then (as he did most of the time in his journalism at the Texas Monthly and the Washington Monthly before that) as a truly independent and fair-minded journalist, and indeed his 2006 story that tangentially involved me was reported quite fairly and against the grain of the usual media narrative going on at the time.

So it came as a surprise and disappointment last week to see Nocera join the braying ranks of the Krugman-Dowd axis calling the Tea Party “terrorists.”  Apparently Nocera had second thoughts, for he has issued an apology:

That anger reached its apex on Tuesday, when I wrote a column comparing the Tea Party Republicans to terrorists. The words I chose were intemperate and offensive to many, and I’ve been roundly criticized. I was a hypocrite, the critics said, for using such language when on other occasions I’ve called for a more civil politics. In the cool light of day, I agree with them. I apologize.

Good for Joe, especially since we’ll wait until you-know-where freezes over before Krugman or Dowd offers any kind of retraction for their intemperate language.

Meanwhile, a suggestion for the Tea Party and their sympathizers: Since Reuters and other establishment media types embrace the moral relativism of the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” nonsense, why not hoist them with their own petard, and start referring to “Tea Party freedom fighters”?  It will enable Krugman and Down to phone in yet another column.

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