It's just like a gang of white thugs are ransacking my house

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THe "evidence" that Arnold Kling is racist rests on two quotes.  One seems to have originated with Adam Serwer of TAPPED, and I'm frankly shocked that his magazine let it stand, it's such a grievous selective quotation.

Quoth Serwer:  "Oh, and in case you didn't know, our president is black so it's not a stimulus bill, it's a "reparations" bill."  Oh, that's awful!  That must be why he chose to hide the actual quotation from his readers' delicate eyes:

Why is the stimulus bill so filled with non-stimulus while it omits real stimulus measures, such as cutting payroll taxes?

I think the answer is that it is a reparations bill, not a stimulus bill. People who pay income taxes tend to vote Republican. People who live off taxes tend to vote Democratic. To the Democrats, the Bush tax cuts were a heinous evil, comparable to Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality in World War I. Now, they are demanding reparations, with hundreds of billions of dollars to be paid into teachers unions and other members of the coalition that won the election.

Most of the bill makes no sense from a stimulus perspective. But all of it makes sense from a reparations perspective.

I mean, okay, it's not exactly nice to compare a person to the French government, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it racist.

The other heinous quotation:

Barack Obama is destroying my daughter's future. It is like sitting there watching my house ransacked by a gang of thugs.

James Wolcott snarked:

Now if Kling can't comprehend the implication of racial menace encoded in daughter-gang-thugs/home invasion, he's either fatuously clueless--too innocent for this wicked world--or weaselly disingenuous, and a drama queen either way. Did he feel the sanctity of his home was being violated when the costs of the Iraq war shot into outer space? Did he picture marauders smashing cherished mementoes when Hank Paulson introduced TARP? Anytime Obama's name and "thug" are thrown in close proximity, it's a pretty sure bet that the speaker or author intends to fan the anxiety and animosity of those who think Obama's presidency represents black grievance gloved with the iron fist of the state--and out to punish whitey.

Only, it turns out that . . . er. . . the "thugs" quote was referring to Paulson.  Kling added that he felt like those thugs had just been replaced with a new gang, which a liveblogger at Heritage trimmed down to the politically punchier version.

This is why it's a bad idea to turn the volume on the racism charges up to 11; if you're wrong, it turns out that you were self-righteously . . . slandering someone.

Oddly enough, no one in the daisy chain except our own Andrew Sullivan has been interested enough in Kling's racism to post a correction when it turned out to be mostly imaginary.




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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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