“Dictatorships and Double Standards” is of course the title of Jeane Kirkpatrick’s famous Commentary article about how “human rights” liberals of the time were hard on our allies who had less than stellar human rights records, but supine in the face of totalitarians like the Soviet Union and its allies such as Cuba. (Because, as we all know, Cuba’s literacy and universal health care are more important than bourgeois rights like free speech, etc.)
It’s time for an update, with reference to the juxtaposition of the treatment of Niall Ferguson and Dick Harpootlian, which shows liberal double standards at work once again. (Repeat the old joke here, if liberals didn’t have double standards. . . etc.) Ferguson, as you’ve likely heard, decided to tempt the PC gods by speculating at an investment conference last week that John Maynard Keynes’s economic philosophy—or at least his famous comment dismissing the long-run effects of his deficit-spending formula that “In the long run we’re all dead”—might have some relation to his homosexuality and lack of children. This is not a brand new idea about Keynes, as Jonah Goldberg reviews here, but liberals have reacted as if Ferguson had questioned the saintliness of Gandhi or something. And while the idea that attachment to posterity through our children is far from being outré, it does seems a stretch to reduce Keynes’s layered views to this sole anthropological dimension. After all, lots and lots of heterosexuals with children believe in unsound economic and social theories, too. What was Ferguson thinking? Did he think, “Gee—I’d really like to see what it’s like to emulate Larry Summers?” (Ferguson is the Tisch professor of history at Harvard.)
Meanwhile, Dick Harpootlian is the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party who remarked last week that voters there should “send [GOP Governor] Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from,” which comes on top of remarks he made about Haley last summer, as reported by Politico:
At last year’s national Democratic convention, he compared Haley to Adolph Hitler’s mistress, saying the governor “was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”
Harpootlian’s remarks, for which he has refused to apologize, have received a little coverage in the media and no outrage among sensitive liberals, while Ferguson has provoked the usual DefCon1 response from the sensitivity police. Ferguson has issued an abject and unqualified apology, unlike Harpootlian. Anyone think this will reduce the uproar about Ferguson at Harvard? He’s likely about to find out just how far today’s PC dictatorship extends.
James Pethokoukis notes how this episode will be used to defend Keynesian economics, which is an odd mirror image of Ferguson’s blunder.