Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Niall Ferguson Battles "Insidious Enemies Of Academic Freedom" AKA His Critics

Dr. Boggy shows his lack of fear in digitally hanging with dead Oscar, about whom I can attest that I Googled an entire book of Wilde's poems and found not one mention of the words "future" and "family". How can Boggy stand to mingle with such a hateful man?
Watching Niall Ferguson, who I like to call Dr. Boggy, trying to find a workable way out of his dilemma—that he errantly spoke the truth on Saturday, thus revealing his considerable anti-gay bigotry (again)—is most instructive.

Ferguson is like a hapless conquistador in that quaint island of sincere regret, where Dr. Boggy shipwrecked the other day seeking solace from the public reaction to his mouth (unfortunately still connected unreservedly to his bigoted brain).

Or, that is to say, most commentators have noted that seething not so far beneath the surface of Ferguson’s attempt to apologize his way out of claiming John Maynard Keynes was a bad economist because he was gay!—was a tone suggesting it was Ferguson who was the victim, and not Keynes' memory or Harvard’s fast-drooping academic integrity.

Of course, a few pro-Fergusonites came forward to denounce the naysayers as cynics who would not allow poor @nfergus the human right to play a Get Out Of Bigotry Free card.

But then, after a couple of days of being roundly and soundly denounced as what he clearly was—a bigot—Dr. Boggy illustrated the very concern many Niall-critics had about the sincerity of the apology by publishing in the Harvard Crimson a letter to students announcing that he, Dr. Niall Ferguson of Harvard (for the time being), was the true victim of bigots—i.e., all the people calling Ferguson a bigot.

I know you are but what am I?

Here are  a few of Ferguson’s ridiculous list of textbook bigot claims, as he furiously sought to qualify his apology:

• Boggy Niall says can’t be an anti-gay bigot because an actual gay person, Andrew Sullivan, was godfather to Ferguson’s kid. Sullivan declared Ferguson’s original comments about Keynes to be “stupid, offensive, and absurd”, but defended his friend otherwise, and while Sullivan claimed the matter was “closed” for him, suggesting he wasn’t going to say anything more, on Monday Sullivan continued the discussion. Yesterday, seemingly accepting that the Austerity Armada is sinking, Sullivan declared himself for now, a Keynesian.

• Ferguson claims it is unfair, and even bigoted, for critics to have rejected his claim that his remarks were a product of some kind of benign “stupidity”, instead of an expression of some kind of malefic policy. Now, it does not need to be either-or. Critics, certainly including myself, would heartily agree that Niall Ferguson’s assessment of the Keynes problem was stupid. But that does not necessarily mean the remarks were not also flowing from a stupid set of assumptions which Dr. Boggy has been preaching for many years now. This was in fact the claim made by Cambridge University economist Michael Kitson, who tweeted: “I heard him make the same over 20 years ago at a history seminar he gave at St Catherine's College, Cambridge.”

And the fact is that this bigotry about Keynes and about Keynesian economics has been out there, in the thinking and sermonizing of a lot of writers over the years.

• Dr. Boggy says “I had forgotten that Keynes’ wife Lydia miscarried.” Oh right! That means old gay Keynes must have fucked his wife at least once, and might have been trying, however misguidedly, to have had a kid with her—so Ferguson blurts out trying to excuse his idiocy. First off, isn’t it convenient for a historian, an alleged expert on the history of economics, to forget such a thing about the life of a figure whose biography, and particularly whose allegedly sham marriage, Ferguson tells us is crucial to a deeper understanding of Keynesian economics and its flaws? Dr. Boggy implies he really does know a lot about Keynes: “Throughout my career as a historian, I have regularly written and spoken about Keynes.” See? We should point out that no matter how much meaningless hetero (or whatever) sex Keynes may have had with his wife—IT DOES NOT FUCKING MATTER respecting questions of the rectitude or viability of Keynesian economics! No matter how Dr. Boggy spins it, he comes out stinking as a rotten historian—really a clown who should be teaching at Liberty University perhaps, but not Harvard.

Dr. Boggy closes his Open Letter by launching into this egomaniacal absurdist theater:
“What the self-appointed speech police of the blogosphere forget is that to err occasionally is an integral part of the learning process. And one of the things I learnt from my stupidity last week is that those who seek to demonize error, rather than forgive it, are among the most insidious enemies of academic freedom.”
So, let us understand this allegation and worldview of Dr. Boggy—he sees his critics, who have rightly charged him with anti-gay bigotry, as “the most insidious enemies of academic freedom.”

I suppose if one means to be so inclusive in this threatened freedom that Dr. Goebbels is assured an esteemed teaching position of history at the nation’s premier educational institution, then criticizing Dr. Boggy’s real offenses might make one an “enemy” of the school and state.

But, if the idea is still to expose the defects of intellect and reasoning (or lack of it) on the part of people paid to minimize those shortcomings BEFORE opening their traps, I think no harm has been done in assisting Niall Ferguson in his journey back to the bog, or as Forbes put it, "to the Rush Limbaugh hall of shame".

Wonkette has a review of what she calls Boggy Niall's "mansplaining" of what is happening.

She concludes: "If this is the best and brightest, we are in serious trouble. But we knew that already."

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