Now here’s an ugly bit of business….

by Tom Palmer on January 30, 2010

Chait’s Response to the criticism offered below.

And a Little More: Now We Know What Real Humor Is….Or at Least Real Jokes

An old friend, Veronique de Rugy, has been slimed for her defense of some fundamental moral principles. I’ve known her for at least 19 years, since we organized the first English-language IES-Europe seminars (modeled on the IHS seminars in the US, which I had organized for some years before) in Szirak (Hungary) and Dalarö (Sweden). (I also stayed in her flat when she would leave Paris for weekends during the hottest Paris summer since Charlemagne; that was in 1995, and I was living in a one-room garret at 35 avenue Mac-Mahon near the Etoile. The heat was suffocating, even at night, and there was no running water, other than a tap in the hallway, so I would go to her place on those weekends when she visited her family to immerse myself in cold baths to survive the heat.) But I digress.

Vero recently criticized a proposal by Rep. Barney Frank for a special tax on high compensation and concluded “This anti-capitalist and anti-wealth mentality is scary and very anti-American.” (I suspect that what Vero was searching for was “un-American,” but you’ll understand why that may not have come to her as quickly as it might to some.) That did not sit well with two lefty bloggers. Jonathan Chait thought it clever to respond, “Hey, you know what else is anti-American? Being named ‘Veronique de Rugy.’” How very sophisticated. But, not to be outdone, Matthew Yglesias added some icing to the cake,

Veronique de Rugy is So Anti-American That She’s Not Even an American!

Jon Chait and I both likes it when Barney Frank dismissed concerns that a bank tax would drive talent out of the industry by quipping “I don’t know where people would go for comparable salaries, I guess perhaps they could star in major motion pictures.”

Veronique de Rugy begs to differ, saying “This anti-capitalist and anti-wealth mentality is scary and very anti-American.” Chait retorts “Hey, you know what else is anti-American? Being named ‘Veronique de Rugy.’”

My Googling has, however, revealed something even more disturbing — Veronique de Rugy is literally not an American. She’s French. She holds a PhD from the University of Paris-Sorbonne and is the author of an un-American book with the suspiciously French title Action ou Taxation. It’s true that she agreed to betray her native land by making this France-bashing video, but that doesn’t change the basic facts. Barney Frank is as American as an actual American.

Now, let’s unpack this. On the one hand, Chait and Yglesias just might think that people who are not from America should shut up, in which case they’re idiots. Or maybe they’re trying to be ironic, in which case they’re idiots. Or, if that’s too harsh, either they’re dim, or they’re dim.

Option one:

Yglesias and Chait are idiots (or just dim). They think that mocking people for unusual names is funny, or that only authentic Americans (perhaps native-born, so I don’t qualify, either, or citizens, or whatever) can or should ever make statements about what it is to be an American. That would qualify them as knuckle dragging neanderthals, that is, as idiots.

However, it’s worth considering whether Chait and Yglesias are attempting to be ironic. (I am going to be very careful here, as I recently criticized two dunderheads for their failure to understand the use of irony by a colleague).

So, Option Two:

Chait and Yglesias are trying to turn the tables on those who charge that X or Y is “un-American” (or “anti-American,” in Vero’s phrasing) by returning the favor. Ha ha, some may think. How clever. Yet, upon reflection, it would seem that, if that is their intent, they are too dim to understand the difference between A) calling, say, unequal treatment by the law “un-American” for violating the Constitution and the best core principles of the American tradition, and B) calling the serving of “saucisses et choucroute” “un-American,” in contrast to, say, “hot dogs and sauerkraut” [note the double irony, guys]. Vero criticized special laws punishing people for high incomes as un-American, in the way that one might call censorship “un-American” (Think! Think! The First Amendment is an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America); she did not remark that Hindus, or Catholics, or Scientologists, or sauerkraut are un-American, or use the term in any of the other ways in which the epithet “un-American” is slung around by knuckle-draggers, who confuse “America” with cuisine, or religion, or other inessential matters, rather than with principles of government, of liberty, and of justice.

Or maybe they’ve just put their feet in their big mouths and owe Veronique an apology. I doubt it would erase the embarrassment they should feel, but it would be the decent, French thing to do.

P.S. A note I got from Vero this afternoon: “Thanks also for correction my English. My french brain can’t totally get the difference between Anti and un- american but I can see that it was a mistake. Oh well.” I don’t see them as having any substantive distinction relevant to this smear of her. “UnAmerican” is what she was searching for, but “anti-American” is merely a matter of context; it’s usually used in the context of foreign activities (“anti-American riots,” for example), whereas the domestic context (which is obviously the context for Vero’s remarks about tax policies) would normally require “unAmerican.” In any case, the smear of her for being French and having a French name is disgusting. And the nativist comments from the defenders of Chait and Yglesias support my point. They are disgusting.

UPDATE: It turns out that Mr. Chait is guilty of accusing advocates of tax cuts of being “deeply unpatriotic” after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As usual, he could not wrap his mind around the idea that any actual taxpayers favor cutting their taxes, so he directed all his bile toward “K Street,” apparently unaware that normally “K Street” refers to DC lobbyists, who normally have their hands out for more subsidies. But here’s what Mr. “How Dare You Call Barney Frank’s Policy Positions UnAmerican” Chait wrote about advocates of tax cuts in The New Republic: “There is something deeply unpatriotic about K Street’s rush to turn the tragedy into quick profit.” Now we get it, Mr. Chait. People who want to limit government are “unpatriotic,” but referring to “the mentality” of punitive taxation (and that is the most appropriate term for Barney Frank’s proposal) as “scary and anti-American” is cause for mocking the name of the “Veronique de Rugy.” I suspect there would have been tears if someone had responded to his smear by mocking the name of “Chait.” (Some might say a foreign name like that doesn’t really sound very patriotic to them!) Grow up, little Jonathan.

Updates here and here.

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

JD January 31, 2010 at 7:21 pm

But didn’t we have like a 90% top marginal tax rate in America in the 1950s?
So was Ike’s USA un-American? Or anti-American?
And no, I won’t mention what Ike did for France. That would be offensive.

James January 31, 2010 at 7:23 pm

@IONUT
“Beneath dignity”? A French citizen (who is a professor of Economics, so presumably an educated woman) slanders a sitting American legislator and Congressman for being “unAmerican” or “anti-American” on the basis of his position on American tax policy. This woman has the gall to question his patriotism and love of his country? That’s dignified and forgivable, but people who observe the irony of her slander are somehow “beneath dignity”? I’d say this French woman is the one whose rhetoric is “beneath dignity.”

As someone observed above, freedom of speech in America does not confer protection from criticism for one’s “rhetorical excess.”

jfxgillis January 31, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Tom:

I was revolted by the shameful ugliness of Chait’s comments. Aren’t you?

Not one tenth as revolted as I was by the shameful ugliness of de Rugy’s comments.

What IS it with you right-wingers demanding the right to articulate nasty, demagogic, insulting, ignorant, inflammatory diatribes against your adversaries, then get all whiney, complainy crybabyish hurt feelings when you’re responded to in kind?

Heat. Kitchen. Do the math.

de Rugy wasn’t even correct on top of all that. Anti-financial-elite populism is as American as Apple Pie and as embedded in our politics as the bankruptcy provisions in the Constitution.

Will January 31, 2010 at 7:44 pm

I agree with Dervin: Chait and Yglesias were trying to be funny (I, for one, thought it was pretty funny); if you’ve followed them for the past few years you’d know that they are both thoughtful and intelligent critics, and unlike some on the right (R.S. McCain, Limbaugh, Beck, et al.), their name-calling is not construed as an actual argument, but rather as a joke. Therein lies your irony.
At the very worst, I’d say it was slightly puerile (even though I do, again, think it was pretty funny and ironic), but certainly not “shameful, embarrassing” or “idiotic.” And “disgusting” (another description of the horror Mr. Palmer’s supporters have used in the comments? If these silly remarks truly “disgust” you, you need to take a serious chill pill.

Will January 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

omitted the “)” after “…in the comments”. My apologies – I hate the syntactical disasters caused by dropped punctuation.

Tom G. Palmer January 31, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Let me put it one more time. The “irony” of Chait and Yglesias is a failure.

Here’s something that would have worked:

Let’s say that Vero were a birther and had questioned Obama’s right to be president and called him unAmerican. It would have been appropriate to say, “That’s a convincing case coming from an expert, Dr. Veronique de Rugy, who was born in Paris and raised in Normandy,… or so she says,” etc., etc., etc. The ugliness of the response by Chait and Yglesias is that it misconstrued completely her remarks about a policy stance being unAmerican and instead responded with slurs on her name and ethnicity.

It would have been appropriate to respond as Chait and Yglesias did had she mentioned that Barney Frank is gay or Jewish or something equally irrelevant. But she didn’t, and so responding with that kind of lame “irony” simply fails as irony. It’s merely stupid and, as I concluded my post, an embarrassment to Chait and Yglesias (and the other nationalistic wingnuts who have risen to their defense) for which they should apologize.

Lastly, the assumption that characterizes both left and right is that if you’re not one of us, you’re one of them, and you must believe whatever “they” believe. Ann Coulter says if you’re on the left, you’re a traitor and want the US to be conquered, blah, blah, blah. Michael Moore says if you’re on the right, you must favor Gitmo and illegal detentions and, blah, blah, blah. They’re the ugly mirror images of each other. It’s ok to mock Veronique because someone else made an idiotic resolution in the Congress renaming “French Fries” “Freedom Fries.” Right. Except that she opposed the war, and the USA Patriot Act, and the Department of Homeland Security, and a lot of other nationalistic and absurd policies, and can make pommes frites much better than any right wingnut.

Chait and Yglesias and their eager boosters — meet Ann Coulter. Y’all are peas in a pod.

brendan January 31, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I’d say Mr. Palmer needs to grow not only a sense of humor, but also a healthier sense of self. Healthier as in, more modest.
Does he really think that if he (almost alone, from all i can tell) does not ‘get’ a joke, then it is no joke? It becomes a slanderous attack, uncivil or worse, on the butt of the joke?
Sorry, Palmer. The rest of us, laughing the while, have been trying hard to take this tack of yours seriously, but you know what? I’ve been snickering so much reading all this (especially your repeated and increasingly heated screeds to justify each time the excesses of your previous bloviations, always only compounding the nuttiness) that I’m coming to think that maybe you’ve caught US in an absence of irony! You could not possibly have invested so much energy in convincing your readers of your absence of humor–or perhaps block-headedness. But we took it for real!
ha ha! the joke is on us.
No serious ‘libertarian thinker’ as i think the phrase goes could possibly be that dopey.
Right?

Tom G. Palmer January 31, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Sorry, jfxgillis, but you’re getting your panties in a knot about the wrong people. If you want to talk about pro-war nationalistic right-wingers, go and talk to Jonathan Chait, not me or Vero, who opposed his little expedition into Iraq.

And note that you’re not getting the difference between A) saying that a policy position is unAmerican (say, segregation, or punitive taxation, or establishment of a state religion) and B) saying that Catholics are unAmerican. Veronique may or may not be correct in identifying punitive taxation as unAmerican, but it is not — repeat, not — the same as saying that a person is unAmerican because of her name, or religion, or ethnicity. The failure in the lame attempt at irony (assuming that that is what they were aiming at) hinges on the failure to make that pretty obvious distinction. Martin Luther King was not being a right-winger or hateful when he called on Americans to live up to their heritage; pro-segregationists were properly considered “unAmerican” in their support for such an egregious violation of American principles. And, whether her remarks were on the mark or not (and I do consider Frank’s proposals malicious and punitive and incompatible with the rule of law, which is nothing new for him; he should have stopped the bailouts of the banks, AIG, etc., in the first place, instead), they are not in any way comparable to mocking a person’s name or ethnicity. No comparison. Chait and Yglesias lose on this one.

J. January 31, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Really? They’re using humor to point out the absurdity of anyone — French, American, whatever — calling the (popular) comments of a United States Congressman “anti-American.” Speaking of dim…

Nicolas January 31, 2010 at 8:45 pm

To all American nationalists: stop meddling into the business of pretty much every country in the world. If a foreigner cannot comment on something that is happening in the US, you certainly have no right to interfere (or to support your government to interfere) in the business of sovereign states let alone invade them (or to be so dumb enough to train people with tax payers’ money who, twenty years later, will terrorize the whole world (yes, I am talking about Bin Laden here)). Anyways, now the real arguments:

dr. de Rugy is absolutely right when she criticizes US policy as today, (whether you tree huggers like it or not) the economy is globalized and the economic policy of one country affects other countries as well. Wasn’t it in the US with its fabulous (this is irony people, in case you might not get it) inventions such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac where the financial crisis started and it spread like a virus through the financial world all over the globe?

I think there is a genuine linguistic distinction between anti and un (my native language is Dutch which is also Germanic and we have the same nuances as in English) but I think it is rather unfair to attack a non native speaker on a mistake. If you assume it was a mistake at least. In all the negative comments to de Rugy or Palmer I have not read any post that attacked the POINTS de Rugy is making.

If you assume that she actually meant such policies are anti-American: she is right as progressive taxes are bad for the economy, cause rich people to look to other places to put their money (so a flight of capital) and these consequences (and others I did not mention) are harmful for the US economy and thus the Americans and by enlarge the world.

By the way, I am not American, I am Belgian. That’s right, I am from the country of which a company bought the American beer producing pride: Anheuser Busch. and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it! Ah well, look at it from the bright side, at least you are drinking real beer now.

G January 31, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Then you deserve credit for your stances, Tom, and I withdraw the last bit from my previous comment; I’m glad you opposed Iraq and the Patriot Act–too many on the right-leaning axis did not (it’s hard to find elected Republicans who did, or even those today who acknoweldge they were wrong). But de Rugy writes for National Review, home to Mark “Fudgepack Mountain” Steyn and Jonah “LIberal Fascism” Goldberg; NR has been hurling ad hominem attacks at people of my political ilk for a long, long time. (and the Republican party’s been calling people of my political leanings traitors for an equally long time, as I pointed out with the Gingrich memo). Don’t think I’m as bad as Coulter, though, seeing as though she actually called for hundreds of Americans to die (google “Ann Coulter” + “New York Times.”) I don’t think the ad hominem war is ever going to end, honestly; Republicans seem incapable of acknowledging the damage they’ve done either to this country or civil discourse. If de Rugy steps up to the plate to acknowledge her party’s ills–or, for that matter, the rhetorical excesses of others at the magazine she writes for–then I’ll salute her. Until then, I’m with those who think a little bit of snark is hardly over the top.

Mark January 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Tom,

You should focus on the poor quality of de Rugy’s work, not someone else’s response to it.

A quick google search finds her making no end of ridiculous and inflammatory assertions. It just happens that the first time anybody noticed any of the stupid crap she has to say was when she called Barney Frank “anti-American.”

jfxgillis January 31, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Tom:

Did I say anything about the Iraq War? If I had, I suppose I’d point out that you, Vero and Barney Frank were all on the same side of that little policy dispute.

Funny you should mention the example saying Catholics are un-American since we once had an entire political party in the 1840s devoted to precisely the proposition that Catholics were un-American. So it would indeed be well within American tradition to say Catholics are un-American. The attitude, in fact, persisted into living memory for those of us who remember the 1960 election.

Not to mention punitive taxation going all the way back to Geo. Washington’s term of office.

Moreover, you seem to losing a rather important distinction yourself while straining at the gnat of the distinction you think is a camel: Vero de Rugy is not-American. Making fun of the fact that a not-American would presume to comment on what is or isn’t properly American by calling her truthfully a not-American, is, whether ironic, or funny, or unfunny, or ugly, ultimately true.

It’s not even properly an insult.

Huck January 31, 2010 at 9:48 pm

So, you define “un-American” or “anti-American” as being “contrary to American traditions.” Well, where do you get off deciding that you and Vero are the harbingers of American tradition? There’s plenty of room for debate there. For instance, protectionism and isolationism are very much part of American tradition. So, to0, is taxing the income of the wealthy at progressively higher rates, especially during wartime. In fact, this has been the case for nearly 100 years. So, you see, that “American tradition” you speak of regarding taxation is not what you think it is. But as I said previously, what really chafes is the presumptuousness of a foreigner to claim to have some special knowledge of American traditions such that this person would deighn to call other Americans like Barney Frank anti-American for proposing and backing legislation that falls squarely within the taxation tradition of the U.S. I will tell you this, though, that what does seem to me to be “contrary to American tradition” is defending a foreigner who implies that an American citizen, much less a sitting member of congress, is anti-American — or even un-American — because of the taxation policies he supports.

Bull January 31, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Putting aside the ‘lost-in-translation’ sideshow, after 30 years of trickle-down Reaganomics and Republican tax cuts – the amount of wealth going to the richest Americans is up to levels not seen since the Gilded Age of 120 years ago.

Yet if anyone suggests that the whittling down of the middle class is a problem in America, you’re accused of being a Socialist, and slammed for playing “class warfare”.

Why is it only class warfare when the bottom 90% want to level the field with these investment bankers who nearly flushed the world economy into the toilet, only to get bailed-out by that same vanishing middle class? It sure isn’t the GOP helping out with that – and they’d better hope that the teapartiers never make the connection.

James January 31, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Nicolas, no one is saying de Rugy shouldn’t be allowed to comment on American policy. They’re saying her insulting comment that Frank’s position isn’t just wrong, it’s anti-American, is foolish.

Luis Figueroa January 31, 2010 at 10:20 pm

“Ad hominem” argumentations and shallow mockery; ¡what a surpise! Ah, I long for the day in which we can discuss principles, instead of wasting time and resources with the rhetoric of people like C and Y. I understand as Un American as being contrary to American principles (which are very, very disctinctive, specially when one lives south of the Rio Grande)-even foreigners can check for those on the Declaration of Independence, and on the Constitution-. In my view, taking other peoples money, by foce, in order to use it for purposes that the legitimate owners of those resources would not choose unlsess forced too, that seems…against freedom, property, and the right to pursue happiness…it is against life.

Melinda Fussman February 1, 2010 at 1:10 am

Goodness. What a lot of fuss. I have read all of the documents and skimmed through the comments (some of which I had to read twice), and concluded that the two Americans Chait and Yglesias should apologize to Ms. de Rugy. At best, their remarks were puerile, absurd, and beneath their dignity. They should act like gentlemen, apologize for the undignified behavior, and then go their separate ways. I would hope that Ms. de Rugy and her friend, Mr. Palmer, would accept. And that would be the end of it. If they do not apologize, then that should also be the end of it, but for the fact that they would leave a very bad impression of themselves.

sophie February 1, 2010 at 1:23 am

Anti-American, un-American…. Bon d’accord il y a peut être une nuance qui nous échappe à nous français. Mistakes happen. Like other things. But in truth, the preceding paragraphs explained the author’s position. Nothing outrageous there. When it comes to US taxes, I see no problems with an academic voicing her opinion and, if she pays taxes in the US, even expressing it strongly. Thank goodness for free speech! And if congressmen prefer to eat “freedom” fries instead of the French ones, I’ll drink to that too with Belgium beers or Suntori malt. By the way I thought that Véronique de Rugy’s vidéo about French health care and taxation was a scream! Si français et si anti-français à la fois! J’en rigole encore! C’est ça le free speech, non?

conradg February 1, 2010 at 7:22 am

Something can’t be a smear if it’s true. Pointing out that Vero isn’t even an American is not a smear. You could say it’s irrelevant to whether Frank’s tax is anti-American, un-American, or whatever, but it’s not a smear. You could say that you’re an idiot for calling it a smear, when it’s merely a truth. Obviously, you have a chip on your shoulder here, and are taking offense at the truth being pointed out.

As for Vero, yes, she too sounds like an idiot for claiming that taxing the rich is un-American. Americans have taxed the rich for the last century at the very least. The federal income tax was originally only for the very, very rich. Was Teddy Roosevelt un-American? Was every President since then un-American for having a graduated income tax? It’s not anti-capitalist to tax income. It would be anti-capitalist to tax capital, but income is fair game. One can argue about whether certain taxes and rates are wise, but the notion that they are un-American is something only an idiot unfamiliar with our country, or a rank partisan, would claim to be true.

So, basically you are an idiot who is defending another idiot, who happens to be a personal friend of yours. That seems consistent, at least. And please, take offense. That too would be consistent with this problem you seem to have with the simple truth.

Ben Southwood February 1, 2010 at 9:27 am

“Putting aside the ‘lost-in-translation’ sideshow, after 30 years of trickle-down Reaganomics and Republican tax cuts – the amount of wealth going to the richest Americans is up to levels not seen since the Gilded Age of 120 years ago.”

You may notice that during the Gilded Age, the average working week dropped massively, wages rose quickly, and while the rich were getting richer — the poor were getting richer quicker! Do you care about the poor (as I do) or do you simply care about restricting the rich?

We do not live under capitalism, we live under a bastardised corporatism, with some features of capitalism and freedom, which happen to be the features of our societies which are the best (I live in the UK).

If we want to improve the lot of the poor, we need, as Tom is doing, to advocate for greater freedom, not more socialism.

Zorro for the Common Good February 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

All I know is that I’m Jewish, and nothing gets my dander up more than hearing non-Jews accuse Jews of being anti-Semitic. That’s not to say that Jews can never be anti-Semitic, or that only Jews can recognize anti-Semitism, but it just carries a condescension that bugs the hell out of me.

Having said that, it’s not even worth debating whether Yglesias or Chait were being ironic. OF COURSE they were. Just imagine what would have been the reaction from the right if Jacques De Francois had written in The Nation or Mother Jones that Bush and Cheney were “anti-American”, and you can get an idea of what they were poking fun of.

Mathieu Bédard February 1, 2010 at 10:48 am

It’s pretty irrelevant, and I wouldn’t know (wouldn’t care either to be honest) if it’s the case of Veronique De Rugy, but how can you assume that a person is not an American citizen from the simple fact that his name sounds funny, holds a degree from a foreign university and has published a book in a foreign language? I would assume there are plenty of Americans that have studied abroad, speak a foreign language, and aren’t named “Buck Jones”…?

John Rohan February 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Amazingly, Andrew Sullivan chides his friend Yglesias for this statement as well.

But then I actually read the statement; the reason why it disturbed him was that it could be applied to him as well (Andrew Sullivan is also not a US citizen, and he incessantly writes about US politics).

Bradford February 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Hey Tom,

Was there any reason you deleted my comments pointing out how you were missing an obvious dynamic in Yglesias’s and Chait’s posts?

Bradford

Tom Palmer February 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I don’t recall deleting any comments. Let me check. Sometimes the spam filter catches them, especially if they’re full of obscenities or ads for viagra. I’ll look and if it’s in the spam filter and not full of obscenities, I’ll approve it.

SJE February 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Why are the commenters concerned with what other people say beside Chait, Yglesias, Palmer and DeRugy? Yes, a lot of people on the right and the left did and do stupid things. So what? You might be on stronger ground if, say, DeRugy was a sitting member of Congress, or spokesperson for an organization, instead of an independent writer and thinker. If I want broad brush smearing, I can listen to Rush Limbaugh or Air America (or whatever replaced it), rather than the wonky blogs.

Tom Palmer February 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I’d like to point out what a little sleuthing did. Mr. Chait, he of the oh-so-sensitive skin, attacked — not in a joking way — people who advocated tax cuts as “deeply unpatriotic.” What a jerk. I’ll get the cite in a minute. And no, he wasn’t even attempting to be “ironic.” His smear of Vero was a case of failed irony. His early case was simply vicious and disgusting.

Crusty Dem February 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Now that Chait and Yglesias are on the record detailing (and explaining for the irony-impaired) that their posts were ironic, are you going to chill out a bit with the “disgusting smear” talk, or do you intend to continue to beat this dead horse until everyone stops paying attention..

The answer is largely rhetorical, I’ve never known a self-described libertarian able to cease equine corpse flagellation.

Tom G. Palmer February 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm

As I explained several times, I get that they are trying for irony. Take a few minutes (or a lot, depending on your reading speed) and read what I wrote above. It’s that their attempt at irony doesn’t work. See my response above:

And note that you’re not getting the difference between A) saying that a policy position is unAmerican (say, segregation, or punitive taxation, or establishment of a state religion) and B) saying that Catholics are unAmerican. Veronique may or may not be correct in identifying punitive taxation as unAmerican, but it is not — repeat, not — the same as saying that a person is unAmerican because of her name, or religion, or ethnicity. The failure in the lame attempt at irony (assuming that that is what they were aiming at) hinges on the failure to make that pretty obvious distinction. Martin Luther King was not being a right-winger or hateful when he called on Americans to live up to their heritage; pro-segregationists were properly considered “unAmerican” in their support for such an egregious violation of American principles. And, whether her remarks were on the mark or not (and I do consider Frank’s proposals malicious and punitive and incompatible with the rule of law, which is nothing new for him; he should have stopped the bailouts of the banks, AIG, etc., in the first place, instead), they are not in any way comparable to mocking a person’s name or ethnicity. No comparison. Chait and Yglesias lose on this one.

5th Level Fighter February 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Typical lefties, attacking the messenger while obfuscating the message. Oh, how they regret no being able to serve Stalin or Hitler in the effort to better mankind…

Amused Observer February 1, 2010 at 11:26 pm

LOL,
This french chick has a very good point. The redistribution of wealth is an unamerican idea. She was quite polite about it however. Barney Frank is a corrupt slimeball whose fingerprints are all over the real estate meltdown in this country that has effected the global economy. The worst thing about Frank is that he is one of the few liberals intelligent enough to recognize the damage that follows in his wake and he does it anyhow.

5th Level Fighter February 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Crusty Dem February 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

“Now that Chait and Yglesias are on the record detailing (and explaining for the irony-impaired) that their posts were ironic…”

You must mean “now that they’re on the record covering their own hateful, bigoted, lying asses…”

You libs are always so quick to defend you’re own pathetic trash. Can’t you keep your fascism clean?

Colorado February 1, 2010 at 11:44 pm

You mean it’s a defense against stupidity to claim intentional irony?

No wonder then that idiots like Chait do it.

jay February 2, 2010 at 12:25 am

Punishing success is unAmerican. And taking that extracted wealth to spend on more budget wealth extraction schemes to serve the party of big budget wealth extraction schemes is antiAmerican. At least, it was until the Progressives appeared on the scene.
Viva la Rugy!

Rob February 2, 2010 at 12:27 am

Un, anti confusion? Isn’t it simple? un means not, anti means against or opposing

Lord Action February 2, 2010 at 12:29 am

What’s hilarious is these two douchebags would be the first to note “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels”, but appearing in a “France bashing DVD” is a crime against reason. F’ you, you statist commies.

Cinnamon February 2, 2010 at 12:38 am

I thought Jonathan Chait and Matthew Yglesias were worried about foreigners opinions of the US? They were under Bush, no so much now?

Rich Cook February 2, 2010 at 7:47 am

Nicolas

Is this the same Belgium that took over the Belgian Congo?

Rich Cook February 2, 2010 at 7:48 am

Nicolas

Stanleyville?

willis February 2, 2010 at 8:13 am

“But didn’t we have like a 90% top marginal tax rate in America in the 1950s? So was Ike’s USA un-American? Or anti-American?”

Ike inherited those tax rates when he took office. To his disgrace he did nothing to change them. It took a famous pro-American, John F. Kennedy, to drastically reduce them. As for Barney Frank’s positions, please stick to politics and don’t get personal. At least not this early in the morning.

Frank B. February 2, 2010 at 10:22 am

You know what they say about fighting with pigs…
Well, even if you don’t, now you’ve experienced it. Some of the comments are proof that you’re title to this post could not be more accurate.

Assistant Village Idiot February 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

Oh, irony! Well darn, we didn’t know, seeing how we’re stupid over here on the right. I still thought that irony was something more than a post hoc rationalization of simple inversion.

Filed in my extensive collection of incidents illustrating that liberalism is a social, rather than intellectual POV, dependent on sneering as a method of social control. It’s so cute when they sigh and roll their eyes like that.

Jeff February 2, 2010 at 11:35 am

Did I miss it when C and Y called Andrew Sullivan un-American ? Sullivan is the darling on the left who it turns out, is still trying to become an American.
Attack the messenger is right out of the Alinsky playbook.

Brendan M. February 2, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Normally, I’d feel obligated to leave a more substantive comment, but seeing as how the author didn’t bother I’ll just make a quick statement: Tom G. Palmer is a giant, fucking moron and a pathetic, dishonest ignoramus. n

Dick Eagleson February 2, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I urge the head coach of Team USA to see if Team France might be interested in trading Ms. de Rugy for Messrs. Chait and Yglesias, with perhaps a future draft pick or two thrown in to sweeten the deal.

Bentley Strange February 3, 2010 at 4:47 am

Chait and Yglesias “ironic” !?! After reading some of their works I doubt either has the wit or intelligence to understand what irony really is. I mean, defending Barney Frank !

Robert February 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I find it amusing that leftists like to “prove” their intellectual superiority by pointing out how nuanced their POV can be. Yet they can’t grasp de Rugy’s pretty obvious point.

Cinnamon – Your point is right on target.

Jean-Paul Belmondo February 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

conradg says

What? If someone responded to Barney Frank’s comments by saying, “Well, you know what? He’s a Jew,” would that be a smear? It’s true, and certainly I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being Jewish — but wouldn’t we assume that critic was trying to suggest that there’s no need to take advice from a Jew? I think conradg should reword his analysis.

As for Brendan M.: Well said, sir! Touche!

Jean-Paul Belmondo February 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm

conradg says “Something can’t be a smear if it’s true. Pointing out that Vero isn’t even an American is not a smear.”

What? If someone responded to Barney Frank’s comments by saying, “Well, you know what? He’s a Jew,” would that be a smear? It’s true, and certainly I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being Jewish — but wouldn’t we assume that critic was trying to suggest that there’s no need to take advice from a Jew? I think conradg should reword his analysis.

As for Brendan M.: Well said, sir! Touche!

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