Paul Krugman on What's Behind the Right's Ridiculous Tendency to Panic

In his Friday column, Paul Krugman reminds readers that modern Republicans can be counted on to respond to international crises with a combination of stupidity and cruelty. It's happening with the refugee crisis. It happened with Ebola. One current and ridiculous example Krugman cites is Erick Erickson, the editor in chief of the website RedState.com, who "declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because 'there are no metal detectors at American theaters." Erickson joins dozens of governors, mostly Republicans, who want to ban Syrian refugees, and of course the Paul Ryan-led House of Representatives' panic attack.


Meanwhile, Parisians are returning to their cafes.

Krugman's point is that this mode of operating is ubiquitous and business per usual on the modern American right:

But we shouldn’t really be surprised, because we’ve seen this movie before (unless we were too scared to go to the theater). Remember the great Ebola scare of 2014? The threat of a pandemic, like the threat of a terrorist attack, was real. But it was greatly exaggerated, thanks in large part to hype from the same people now hyping the terrorist danger.

What’s more, the supposed “solutions” were similar, too, in their combination of cruelty and stupidity. Does anyone remember Mr. Trump declaring that “the plague will start and spread” in America unless we immediately stopped all plane flights from infected countries? Or the fact that Mitt Romney took a similar position? As it turned out, public health officials knew what they were doing, and Ebola quickly came under control — but it’s unlikely that anyone on the right learned from the experience.

Dig a little deeper, and Krugman finds that an apocalyptic mind-set has taken hold among Republicans in the Obama years. And it won't let go:

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

And once again, the disaster and Donald Trump's xenophobic response have only inflated his poll numbers.

This could all end very badly. Time will tell.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.