Is Niall Ferguson's Newsweek attack on Obama 'embarrassing' and 'unethical'?
I have been appalled by Ferguson's ignorance of history for years and that he was allowed to teach at Oxford, Harvard or any university. His recent "Civilization" TV series had so many factual errors and was so grossly ideological it should not have shown. It seems he has gone too far in his comments on contemporary history.Â FergusonÂ has said he "Â appreciates the US more than the UK because the "quality of intellectual life â€¦ is so much higher." The responses to his Newsweek article by Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong,Â Alex Pareene,Â Dylan ByersÂ Â and Matthew O'Brien (cited here)Â areÂ putting himÂ inÂ his place.Â
August 22, 2012Â The Guardian
Having swapped Oxford for Harvard some years back, the neo-imperialist (his term) historian Niall Ferguson recently observed that he appreciates the US more than the UK because the "quality of intellectual life â€¦ is so much higher". He is now finding out just how much the intellectual life of his chosen country appreciates him.
In a forthright cover story for Newsweek magazine entitled Hit the Road, Barack, Ferguson argues that Obama has broken almost all of his campaign promises of four years ago, and attacks the US president's foreign policy, healthcare reforms and economic and fiscal policy.
To say that commentators in the US have criticised the piece would be an understatement. Nor is it Ferguson's political views they object to (the Glasgow-born historian was an adviser to Obama's 2008 Republican rival, John McCain). Rather, and somewhat embarrassingly, they dispute the accuracy of his facts and the logic of his argument...
[For example] ,In the Atlantic, James Fallows â€“ a Harvard alumnus â€“ apologises on behalf of his alma mater, saying Ferguson's story "is so careless and unconvincing that I wonder how he will presume to sit in judgment of the next set of student papers he has to grade".
Describing Ferguson as "embarrassingly bad" and accusing him of lying, Brad DeLong, a widely read University of California Berkeley economist, recommends: "Fire his ass. Fire his ass from Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. Convene a committee at Harvard to examine whether he has the moral character to teach at a university. There is a limit, somewhere. Ferguson has gone beyond it." At Politico, Dylan Byers accuses Ferguson of "editing" a key Congressional Budget Office report on Obama's healthcare reform "to change its meaning. With all due lack of respect: What are you thinking?"
Back at the Atlantic, associate editor Matthew O'Brien has published "a full fact-check" of Ferguson's "very bad" piece. "Rather than make [the] straightforward case against the current administration," O'Brien says, "Ferguson delves into a fantasy world of incorrect and tendentious facts. He simply gets things wrong, again and again and again." At Salon, Alex Pareene describes Ferguson as an "intellectual fraud" and his article as "based on a bunch of crap he made up."...