Paul Krugman has a good column up, noting that this year’s crop of GOP candidates is even crazier than usual – all of them, with the exception of doomed atavistic sane Republican John Huntsman, are creationist, anti-choice, and climate-change denialists. All of them, that is, make medical and scientific decisions on the basis of religion, even in outright defiance of simple fact, and seek to impose their religious beliefs on others by law.
Predictably, the wingers are aspew with dudgeonified invective, as is their wont. But Roger Simon takes some kind of prize with this doozy:
Tedious New York Times reactionary (sorry for the redundancy) Paul Krugman . . .
Um . . . huh? It being yet another item of faith on the right that The New York Times is some kind of far-left publication, and Krugman being in fact certifiably liberal, Simon finds it somehow possible to call them both reactionary because they criticize politicians who are so far gone to the religious right that they engage in deliberate factual self-delusion about issues that are not controversial in rational circles.
What can this even mean? “Reactionary” is a term that, for good reason, is essentially synonymous with “right-wing”, but it does not technically mean “right-wing”. It means something like “blindly rejecting change or progress”. One cannot be reactionary to the status quo, because an unchanging state – a state of inaction – cannot provoke a reaction. Reactionaries reject progress, not stasis, by definition – and thus are anti-progressive, by definition. (Possibly one could be reactionary towards a retrogression, but that’s not how the term is usually used, and presumably not how Simon understands it. These would indeed be good times for a progressive reactionism, but Simon can’t mean that about Krugman, since he wouldn’t accept that creationism and AGW-denialism in any way represent a move backwards.)
As in so many cases, the right wing just makes up terms to suit itself (“intelligent design”, “pro-life”, “death tax”). A favored tactic is projection of right-wing crimes onto progressives (recall Liberal Fascism, and those two paeans to closed-mindedness, The Closing of the American Mind, and Illiberal Education – both arguing that higher education was ruined by letting more people have it on their own terms). Now Simon calls Paul Krugman – as mild-mannered, but sincere, a progressive as you could ever find – “reactionary”. Judging from the content of his blog, here are some things that are not reactionary, in Simon’s mind: complaining about Hollywood liberals; evangelical Christianity; conservative Christian prayer rallies officially hosted by elected officials; Rick Perry; Sarah Palin.
It goes without saying that someone who doesn’t even know what his own words mean can’t be relied on for any wisdom in speaking them. Like the rest of the right wing, he should just be ignored. But their vacuous stupidity still has the power to stun.