Here's a bon mot that made my jaw drop in disbelief this morning and wonder if we actually live in the same country or on the same planet:
"...as Sept. 11 did not result in a much-feared (by intellectuals) wave of popular Islamophobia or xenophobia, so the market crash has resulted in remarkably little popular hysteria or scapegoating."
Really? Even though I have no statistics to definitely prove that the opposite is that case, I have heard enough anecdotal material to be astonished by Mr. Kristol's apparent lack of hesitation to make big sweeping statements like this and expect his readers to simply accept them as the truth.
As for the Islamophobia claim, apart from numerous reported cases of discrimination and hate crimes, it is clear that the country suffers from a serious and mostly unrecognized fear of Islam, most vividly displayed by the fact that the accusation the Barrack Obama is a Muslim is exactly that - an accusation. And even those defending him are more focused on proving that he is not a Muslim than they are on the irrelevance of the claim. It's amazing that it finally took Colin Powell to say the words that not even the most liberal supporters of Obama dare speak:
“The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in this country? No, that’s not America.”
Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan for that one.
As for the latter statement, has Mr. Kristol talked to anyone anywhere? Was he paying any attention at all when the bailout package was first turned down in the House because the members were bombarded by letters from their constituents infuriated by the idea of bailing out Wall Street, which they singularly blamed for the mess we're in? So much for no scapegoating.
As for no hysteria, not to belabor the point, but has he talked to anyone anywhere? At work, I interview and survey businesses around the country constantly to understand various trends and most recently I have been on the phone with dozens of them talking about the impact of the slowing economy and the financial crisis. While the real-time impact on current profits may not yet be catastrophic, business owners are extremely nervous; nervous, as in hoarding cash and not planning any major purchases for the foreseeable future. My favourite example was a dentist in Iowa who decided not to purchase a piece of equipment for his practice because of the volatility on the stock market. A dentist - one of the most economically resilient professions - in Iowa - pretty removed from Wall Street.
So before making any more sweeping statements for international circulation, can Mr. Kristol do me a solid, get his head out of his ass and talk to, say, 5 people? It may not be super scientific, but it's a good baby step in the right direction.