O`Reilly`s Willing Executioners


Some perceptive critics, such as Michael Moynihan and Chris Roach, have noticed an extraordinary term that Paul Krugman, the most influential pundit in America, used twice in his Climate of Hatecolumn: “eliminationist.”

Krugman opined:

It`s important to be clear here about the nature of our sickness. It`s not a general lack of “civility,” the favorite term of pundits who want to wish away fundamental policy disagreements. … The point is that there`s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn`t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary. And it`s the saturation of our political discourse – and especially our airwaves – with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence. … Of course, the likes of Mr. Beck and Mr. O`Reilly are responding to popular demand.

Where did Krugman get the word “eliminationist?” Moynihan noted in Reason this recurrent theme in Krugman`s vocabulary in 2010:

If your dictionary is unfamiliar with the word eliminationist, that`s because of the term`s recent vintage, coined in 1996 by Harvard political scientist Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. In his book Hitler`s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Goldhagen argued that far from being bullied and terrorized into allowing its government to commit genocide in their name, most Germans were imbued with an eliminationist hatred of Jews-i.e., a desire that Jews be eliminated from Aryan society-which transitioned smoothly into an exterminationist orgy of violence. …

Of the 40 references to “eliminationism” in the Times archive, all but one refer to the destruction of European Jewry. The sole standout is Krugman, who, as we have seen, is referencing the Republican Party`s opposition to health care legislation.

Google`s Ngram notes a tiny number of instances of the word “eliminationist” showing up in books before Hitler`s Willing Executioners, but almost all usage since the 18th Century has come, as Moynihan says, following Goldhagen`s book.

Krugman`s obsession reminds me of Dick Cheney`sOne Percent Doctrine of how the threat from a “low-probability, high-impact event,” such as Al-Qaeda getting a nuclear weapon, justified things like the Iraq Attaq. Similarly, if there`s a one percent chance that Bill O`Reilly`s show will lead to “eliminationism,” well, that justifies … Well, it would certainly be interesting to hear Dr. Krugman`s inner opinion on just what it would justify in response.