Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Krugman's nightmares

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Today Paul Krugman's New York Times column asserted: "it can happen here."

He lists what he sees as sign of it:

  1. One thing that's going on is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose.

  2. Another thing that's going on is the rise of politicians willing to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet the letter, to cater to the religious right.

  3. 31 percent of teachers surveyed by the National Science Teachers Association feel pressured to present creationism-related material in the classroom.

  4. There is a nationwide trend toward "conscience" or "refusal" legislation. Laws in Illinois and Mississippi already allow doctors and other health providers to deny virtually any procedure to any patient. Again, think of how such laws expose doctors to pressure and intimidation.

And he shares where he thinks it is leading:

America isn't yet a place where liberal politicians, and even conservatives who aren't sufficiently hard-line, fear assassination. But unless moderates take a stand against the growing power of domestic extremists, it can happen here.


Funny. We have different nightmares. I've always been more afraid of the power of the state to swoop up opponents and to terrorize communities where resistance might grow, than of the danger to politicians. But Krugman has a point: if this country is to function as any kind of democracy, politicians have to be able to act without fear of bodily harm from vigilantes, however much hatred they may inspire. When those limits are breached, it is indeed happening.

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