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June 22, 2004 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Not-in-the-NewsFilter "Is Mr. Ashcroft neglecting real threats to the public because of his ideological biases?" Paul Krugman on the case of William Krar, a terrorist the justice department isn't talking about.
posted by jpoulos (32 comments total)

 


"Is Mr. Ashcroft neglecting real threats to the public because of his ideological biases?"

Rhetorical question?
Trick question?
Obvious answer: YES
posted by nofundy at 11:00 AM on June 22, 2004


The problem with Krugman's op-eds isn't that they're factually incorrect; it's that they're loaded with the same empty, polarizing rhetoric used by the same group he condemns on a regular basis. Here are two examples:

9/11 has focused our attention on the threat from Islamic radicals, but murderous right-wing fanatics are still out there - emphasis mine

Give me a break. On the one hand, he and his ilk argue that the terrorists who committed the 9/11 atrocities aren't actually representative of Islam, but instead are a perverted group attempting to use religion as a vehicle for their agenda. On the other hand, he has no problem creating blanket stereotypes regarding those damn "right-wingers". Call Krar what he is: a nutjob, a fanatic, or a fundamentalist, instead of casualing attacking the Republican Party.

Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist. - emphasis mine

Second verse, same as the first. He's a great writer and a very intelligent man; but his op-eds are so flimsy, polarizing, and hypocritical that all his good will from being a brilliant economist becomes moot.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:05 AM on June 22, 2004


To be fair, I'm not sure the article gives us enough information to conclude that Ashcroft is neglecting any threats -- the fact that this guy was found by accident doesn't mean the gov't isn't looking for this sort of thing. We don't know how the resources are being divvied up.

On the other hand, you can't argue with Krugman about the difference in the way the discovery was handled. If Krar was a Muslim, they would have assembled a press conference in Texas, dressed up Bush in full-combat chemical protective gear, and dropped him in by parachute.

Spell check is not working. Caveat lector.
posted by boredomjockey at 11:07 AM on June 22, 2004


I'm a Krugman fan, but a link to the NY Times isn't quite "not in the news." I give the Times credit for running stories like this.
posted by digaman at 11:11 AM on June 22, 2004


Give me a break. On the one hand, he and his ilk argue that the terrorists who committed the 9/11 atrocities aren't actually representative of Islam, but instead are a perverted group attempting to use religion as a vehicle for their agenda. On the other hand, he has no problem creating blanket stereotypes regarding those damn "right-wingers". Call Krar what he is: a nutjob, a fanatic, or a fundamentalist, instead of casualing attacking the Republican Party.

He did call them "right-wing fanatics", didn't he? Is this much different than "Islamic radicals" (as he also put it)?

Damn, we're in triple post mode here.
posted by boredomjockey at 11:16 AM on June 22, 2004


The problem with most of Krugman's op-ed pieces is brevity. I applaud his ability to approach, ascend and cover an issue in so little time and so few paragraphs, but he always brings up topics that would benefit so much from further illumination. As it is, generalities used to conserve space leave his columns stuck in the unintentioned mire mentioned above.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:24 AM on June 22, 2004


jpoulos, providing a bit of background for the Krar case would add a little more meat to a NYTimes op-ed FPP

Who is William Krar?

Man with huge weapons cache sentenced to 11 years

Domestic Terrorism Remains A Threat

_____________

he has no problem creating blanket stereotypes regarding those damn "right-wingers".


Krar's politics are well-known. he is a white supremacist. do you think that white supremacists aren't right wingers? is that your point? are they by any chance "homoleftists"?
or do you argue that Krugman shouldn't mention Krar's politics because they should be off-limits?

Tim McVeigh politics were quite relevant to his actions.
and Allah knows the Black Panthers politics were everywhere in the 1970's media
posted by matteo at 11:31 AM on June 22, 2004


BlueTrain: "Islamic radicals", "right-wing fanatics", [political/religious adjective-pejorative synonym for extremist]. What's the difference in treatment here?

Also: he and his ilk argue that the terrorists who committed the 9/11 atrocities aren't actually representative of Islam, but instead are a perverted group attempting to use religion as a vehicle for their agenda. His ilk? You mean like George W. Bush?

Further, "right-wing" does not automatically mean "Republican", just like "leftist" does not automatically mean "Democrat". Ashcroft happens to be in the right-wing of the Republican Party, which itself tends to trend to the right, so he's basically as politically extreme as one can get and still be a player in national politics. The fact that this drastically affects the way he does his job, in ways that may seriously harm our actual security, is a problem for all of us. Everyone's on the lookout for Muslims acting suspiciously, thanks to Ashcroft's trumpeting of Padilla, Lindh, the Lackawanna Six, etc. But who's on the lookout for the white guy with the trucker cap carrying those 55-gallon drums in the back of his pickup? Why do we have to wait for hundreds of people to die - again - before Ashcroft takes it seriously enough to talk about it in public? And why doesn't the press get on his case about it?

On preview: ditto, boredomjockey and matteo.
posted by skoosh at 11:44 AM on June 22, 2004


Call Krar what he is: a nutjob, a fanatic, or a fundamentalist, instead of casualing attacking the Republican Party.

He attacks the Bush Administration, and it's officers, but a search of that webpage reveals no use of the word 'Republican'.

BlueTrain, are you by any chance confusing in your mind the actions of the government with the policies of the party?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:51 AM on June 22, 2004


I think the politicization of the "war on terror" is a major, major problem. This goes for members of both parties. Yes, the offensive was led by the Republicans, but Democrats who play politics with important issues are also guilty.

One thing that this article reminds me of, is the opportunistic nature of the terrorist. If the feds are putting all the pressure and attention on foreign Muslims, it means the local fanatics might have an opportunity to stir up even greater trouble with even less effort. It's important to remember that Muslim fanatics are not the only ones who would like to land a blow against America, or at the very least cause chaos and confusion.
posted by chaz at 11:56 AM on June 22, 2004


Maxim subscribers feed Metafilter, reel at 10.
posted by omidius at 11:58 AM on June 22, 2004


Krar's politics are well-known. he is a white supremacist. do you think that white supremacists aren't right wingers?

No, but the reverse isn't necessarily true either. Not all conservatives are white supremacists, in fact, whatever their racial politics, I imagine most conservatives would consider Krar an embarassment at best or a dangerous lunatic who belongs in prison at worst.

Ashcroft is an inompetent paranoid failure but positing him as an ally of the Krars of the world is a stretch. And it's not like right-wing American terrorists have been getting a free ride: the last one we caught was strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm and his sidekicks probably going to get the same.
posted by jonmc at 12:15 PM on June 22, 2004


I think the politicization of the "war on terror" is a major, major problem.

Using and Abusing 9/11 Fears to Set National Security Policy
posted by homunculus at 12:16 PM on June 22, 2004


Krar got 11 years for this. Is it just me or is that sentence a bit on the light side? Most states have more time as a mandatory minimum on certain narcotics charges.
posted by clevershark at 12:25 PM on June 22, 2004


Ashcroft is an inompetent paranoid failure but positing him as an ally of the Krars of the world is a stretch.

No, it isn't.

Asscroft is a friend of racists and gun nuts and extremists.

Read his history.

And where is that anthrax terrorist? Did he pick a favorable target and can't be touched?

No, but the reverse isn't necessarily true either. Not all conservatives are white supremacists,

So, did anyone intimate that might be true or are you dragging a red herring behind you? Your statement does not negate what Krar is and who supports him and serves no purpose other than to try and deflect from the valid and important facts of this terrorist.

Many of Asscroft's bent think you must be Islam and dark skinned in order to be a terrorist and that is the simple truth. They are conducting a crusade to assuage their fundie beliefs and this man doesn't fit the mold.
posted by nofundy at 12:54 PM on June 22, 2004


Your statement does not negate what Krar is and who supports him ....

I never claimed it does. He's a nutjob and a dangerous man who belongs in prison, as I said. What I was objecting to was the conflation of "conservative=white supremacist" which as Blue Train says, is polarizing and over the top and makes any reasonable critics of Ashcroft look like tinfoil hat paranoids, which is a disservice.

... and serves no purpose other than to try and deflect from the valid and important facts of this terrorist

yes, you got me, nofundy. I'm one of Krar's secret agents and now that you know we're coming to your house to flouridate your water. Boooo!
posted by jonmc at 1:11 PM on June 22, 2004


I guess if you find this surprising you don't remember Bush's pardon of terrorist Orlando Bosch.
posted by bobo123 at 1:13 PM on June 22, 2004


Further, "right-wing" does not automatically mean "Republican", just like "leftist" does not automatically mean "Democrat".

I completely disagree. Conservative does not automatically mean "Republican", just like "Liberal" does not automatically mean "Democrat". That I believe. But the terms righty and lefty are derogatory political slang used to stereotype people.

do you think that white supremacists aren't right wingers?

Correct.

is that your point?

Yes.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:34 PM on June 22, 2004


What I find most interesting about this is that it has received almost no major media coverage. I'm glad Krugman wrote about it. I'm a news junkie and I feel certain that there have been no news stories about this on the mainstream media. Why? This guy was planning something big. Why the media silence on this?
posted by bas67 at 2:08 PM on June 22, 2004


bas67, it's because the media doesn't like complexity. This guy doesn't fit into the current story arc for the war on terror, so it might be confusing and require some additional analysis and historical background and examination of various stuff that hasn't been in the news for 10 years. So basically the answer is laziness.
posted by chaz at 2:13 PM on June 22, 2004


1. A square is a rectangle.
2. A rectangle is not necessarily a square.

3. White supremacists have conservative ideologies.
4. All people with conservative ideologies are not necessarily white supremacists .

I see Krugman and others here asserting #3, but I see no one taking issue with #4.

Now since both Ashcroft and white supremacists share extreme conservative ideologies I think it's valid to examine why he decided to treat this case differently than he has other is our War on Terror. That's really where the debate should be centered. Claiming that this article (or any of the comments above) argue that "conservative=white supremacist" is just simply wrong.

BlueTrain: On the standard one dimensional political spectrum, where would you place white supremacists? Do you know of any white supremacists who identify themselves as "left-wing"? Have there ever been any democratic white supremacists candidates? The first name of white supremacists politicians that pop into my head are David Duke. Maybe you can think of more.
posted by betaray at 2:16 PM on June 22, 2004


Conservative does not automatically mean "Republican", just like "Liberal" does not automatically mean "Democrat". That I believe. But the terms righty and lefty are derogatory political slang used to stereotype people.

You know, this just makes no sense.

If you've been paying attention for the past 15-20 years, you'll know that "Liberal" is synonymous with "moron / pornographer / communist / pedophile / socialist / libertine / blasphemer / ..." -- take your pick. That's not seriously up for debate.

"Right wing" doesn't come close to having the dismissive connotation of either "liberal" or "left wing".

In the past few years -- really, since the 2000 election galvanized them -- a few people have been struggling to claim "liberal" as a badge of honor in much the same way self-identified "conservatives" claim their own label.

Now, to the point: If white supremacists aren't right-wing, what the hell are they? Oh, yeah, they're just "nut jobs." That makes everything clear. Now I understand the politics of these right-w-- er, I mean, domestic nut-job terrorists -- perfectly. Now I understand exactly what drives them and how to smoke them out -- or prevent them from gaining traction in the first place.
posted by lodurr at 2:28 PM on June 22, 2004


Though I find it off topic, and only worth mentioning so that Blue Train will untwist his knickers, but having known more than a few white supremacists and radical ideologues (I live in Montana, yo) they are not easily categorized as right wing or otherwise. In their more lucid moments, they tend to be extreme libertarians, not necessarily or at all Republican.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:17 PM on June 22, 2004


Libertarians can be right wing, too. Right wing is not necessarily Republican either, although many of today's republicans are right wing. There are right wing democrats, too - but they're less visible these days.

The terminology of Left-Right politics was originally based on the seating-arrangement of parliamentary partisans, during the French Revolution. The monarchists who supported the ancien regime were commonly referred to as rightists because they sat on the right side of successive legislative assemblies. As this original reference became obsolete, the meaning of the terms has changed as appropriate to the spectrum of ideas and stances being compared, and the point of view of the speaker.

Tradition, the means of preserving wealth, and national solidarity and ambition are among the concerns typically associated with the right wing of the political spectrum; over against revolution, labor and social concern, cultural diversity and the community of nations, commonly associated with the left. Those on the right are sometimes called "reactionary" by their opponents, a term that first arose to refer to those whose politics was formed in reaction against the French Revolution.


- from here, with a more expanded version here
posted by bashos_frog at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2004


Krar was definitely pro "national solidarity and ambition" and definitely against "cultural diversity" so I think we are all justified in calling him right wing.

It's too bad for the more sane right-leaning Republicans that this is the company they keep (intentionally or not).
posted by bashos_frog at 7:36 PM on June 22, 2004


do you think that white supremacists aren't right wingers?

Correct.

is that your point?

Yes.


BWAHAHAHAHAHA

those damn lefty Idaho militiamen, with their pro-gay, pro-affirmative action, secular agenda!

thanks for the laugh, BT
posted by matteo at 7:33 AM on June 23, 2004


You are quite welcome. ::smiles:: Admit matteo, you don't know how to engage me. You can't get a decent read, so you throw up straw men and caricatures to make your points. Pity, too. We probably agree about many issues, but since you'd rather "win" through rhetoric, we wind up on opposite sides of any conversation.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:34 AM on June 23, 2004


How they caught Mr. Karr is ironic as hell. Here is a guy who doesn't trust the goverment. None the less he still uses the post office to mail sensitive material (probably because it is fairly anonymous versus UPS/FedEX). And wouldn't you know it; the USPS screws up and delivers the illegal material to the wrong address. Hillareous I tell ya.
posted by Mitheral at 9:01 AM on June 23, 2004


Admit matteo, you don't know how to engage me. You can't get a decent read, so you throw up straw men and caricatures to make your points. Pity, too. We probably agree about many issues, but since you'd rather "win" through rhetoric, we wind up on opposite sides of any conversation.

As a third party observer I'd just like to say [snicker] that BT makes a valid [guffaw] observation regarding matteo's rhetorical style. BWAHAHAHA!!!

OK, I'm lying, I admit it! You're full of it BT. It's like you're looking in the mirror and imagining you see matteo.

There are no rhetorical tricks left to defend Asscroft or his links to the wingers. Give it up.
posted by nofundy at 1:06 PM on June 23, 2004


Ashcroft Sued Over FBI Whistleblower Case

It looks like the Sibel Edmonds case isn't going away.
posted by homunculus at 1:47 PM on June 23, 2004




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