It’s usually not good to be known as a “one-trick pony.” And a recent offering proves that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has become just that. He’s finally ridden his lone pony off into the sunset while chanting his mantra: “Everything is Bush’s fault.”
His Oct. 21 piece is supposedly about the anti-Semitic comments of Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia. Krugman predictably uses those comments to stick pillory the Bush administration.
“Thanks to its war in Iraq and its unconditional support for Ariel Sharon, Washington has squandered post-9/11 sympathy and brought relations with the Muslim world to a new low,” Krugman writes.
First of all, the administration hasn’t “squandered” anything. If the rest of the world will show us sympathy when thousands of innocent Americans are slaughtered but can withdraw that sympathy because they disagree with our political policies, than they can keep their sympathy. We don’t want it, or need it. What we do need is simply their help in the war against terrorism, a war that no civilized country can afford to lose.
Second, let’s consider exactly what Mahathir said. “The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy,” he told a group of fellow Muslim leaders on Oct. 16. “They get others to fight and die for them.” The leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation.
Krugman allows that Mahathir’s blatantly racist comments were “inexcusable.” But he quickly goes on to explain them as a mere response to Malaysian politics.
“Almost surely,” he writes, they are “part of Mahathir’s domestic balancing act, something I learned about the last time he talked like this, during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.”
But the reference to the past undermines Krugman’s entire argument, which is that the Bush administration has alienated Muslims and, by doing so, inspired Mahathir to lash out. In 1997, Mahathir blamed Jewish currency traders for his country’s economic problems and claimed, “the Jews are not happy to see Muslims progress. If it were Palestine, the Jews would rob Palestinians. Thus this is what they are doing to our country.”
And, in 1986, Mahathir intoned, “the expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land 2,000 years ago and the Nazi oppression of Jews taught them nothing. If anything at all, it has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly in their propaganda material. They have been apt pupils of the late Dr. Goebbels.”
Mahathir’s comments this month weren’t some politically inspired response to George W. Bush’s policies, as Krugman would have us believe -- they clearly represent his deep and long-held anti-Semitic beliefs.