Niall Ferguson – the peevish hole digger

8 May, 2013 at 22:27 | Posted in Varia | 2 Comments

dig a holeYou would think that a Harvard historian would know about the First Law of Holes: When in a hole, stop digging.

But Harvard historian Niall Ferguson dug his own hole of trouble a bit deeper, in “An Open Letter To The Harvard Community” posted at the Harvard Crimson’s website on Tuesday. In the letter, Ferguson apologizes profusely for recent dumb statements he made about the legendary economist John Maynard Keynes. In the process, Ferguson makes several more dumb statements.

In case you missed it, Ferguson last week declared that Keynes’ homosexuality had left him childless, making Keynes care nothing about the future and leading him to suggest that governments should spend their way out of economic downturns, which is why he is history’s greatest monster. Suck it, logic! At last conservatives had a Unified Theory Of Gay to explain all that has gone wrong with the world for the past 80 years or so.

Of course, most oxygen-breathing creatures immediately recoiled at the 100 or so varieties of stupid in Ferguson’s statement and reacted with fury and scorn. Like Ron Burgundy after he jumped into the Kodiak bear pit to save Veronica Corningstone, Ferguson immediately regretted his decision. In a statement on his website on Saturday, he offered an “Unqualified Apology,” admitting his comments were “doubly stupid” — not only do childless people care about the future, but Keynes’s wife had suffered a miscarriage, he pointed out. I would add that gay people can also have children, which makes Ferguson’s comments at least trebly stupid. But anyway, Ferguson’s apology was indeed appropriately unqualified.

But he just couldn’t shut up about it. He seems to have been baited into commenting further after Berkeley economist Brad DeLong and others noted that Ferguson had previously commented on Keynes’ sexuality, back in 1995. Ferguson’s “Open Letter” now addresses those claims. While purporting to be an apology, it is not unqualified at all. Instead, it turns into an exercise in peevishness and self-defensiveness.

Mark Gongloff


  1. Your reference to oxygen breathing creatures calls to mind a former english soccer goalkeeper named David Icke who postulated that current ruling elite were in fact alien lizards in disguise (amongst other fruitloopery). At times I worry Sherlock Holmes might have concluded same by his elimination process.
    Niall Ferguson appears to have the morals/empathy of an axolotl, he must be glad that he has tenure @ Harvard ! Sorry for this facetious post, if Niall had kept his mouth shut post initial apology surely this issue would be deader than Mrs T.

  2. Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson explaining the “the law of finance” at 1:17.

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