KNOWLES: Conscience of a coward

As President Obama read from the Book of Psalms to grieving families, friends and neighbors of the 3,000 innocent civilians murdered in the terrorists attack of Sept. 11, 2001, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman ’74 published his own reflection on his blog, “Conscience of a Liberal.” The piece, entitled “The Years of Shame,” mentions neither the victims of the attacks nor the first responders who laid down their lives while saving those still trapped in the smoking towers. It does not discuss the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93, who reclaimed the cockpit from its terrorist hijackers and prevented the flight from reaching our nation’s capitol by ending their own lives in an empty Pennsylvania field. It does not name Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any of the 19 hijackers who murdered those 3,000 innocent Americans in cold blood.

Instead, Krugman used his 181-word reflection to call former President Bush, former Mayor Giuliani and former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik “fake heroes” who “raced to cash in on the horror.” Krugman’s reflection, unlike those articulated in his alma mater’s newspaper or during its candlelight vigil Sunday night, does not mention the words we usually associate with that day. World Trade Center, al-Qaeda, Pentagon, terrorism — none of these terms appear. Krugman does indeed once use the term “hijacking,” but even then only to describe those “professional pundits” who turned a “blind eye to the corruption” and lent “support to the hijacking of the atrocity.”

Krugman’s brief but venomous diatribe concludes with a reflection on how we should remember the day that our nation was attacked. He writes, “The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame.” Sunday’s memorial ceremonies, which Krugman reported in his reflection to be “oddly subdued” even before they had begun, have shown us that this conclusion is incorrect. The memory of Sept. 11, 2001, has once again united those defenders of justice in their determination to eradicate the evil that, a decade ago, struck but could not demolish our free society.

The memory of Paul Krugman, however, has been irrevocably poisoned. From his loudspeaker at the New York Times, Krugman traded his opportunity to unite our generation and reflect on its defining moment in order to once again criticize a political party that he doesn’t like. Krugman ends his Sept. 11 piece by noting that he would not “allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons,” and the reason is indeed obvious. He will not acknowledge his readers’ reactions because deep down in the conscience of Krugman, although he would never admit it, he feels a bit of shame himself. Krugman knows that his weakness, his inability to put aside for even one moment his own partisan hatred, has brought shame on himself, on his city, and on the University that he calls alma mater.

Unlike Mr. Krugman, I have encouraged the News to allow comments on this post.

Michael Knowles is a senior in Davenport College.

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