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‘New York Times’ writer Paul Krugman’s bad 9/11 tweets have united the country—against him

The economist and op-ed columnist shared his interpretation of what happened in America after 9/11. A lot of people aggressively disagreed.

‘New York Times’ writer Paul Krugman’s bad 9/11 tweets have united the country—against him
[Photo: Ricardo Rubio/Europa Press via Getty Images; Twitter]

The wise prophet, uh, @MapleCocaine virally proclaimed last year, “Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it.”

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As New York Times writer Sopan Deb points out, however, there is a fate worse than being Twitter’s designated villain on just your average Friday morning.

Deb isn’t just manufacturing a hypothetical here; rather, he is subtweeting his colleague, Nobel Prize-winning economist and op-ed columnist Paul Krugman, who sent Twitter into a frenzy on this tragic anniversary, with an ill-advised Twitter thread.

Although his six-tweet spree ends on the salient point that America has more to fear from white supremacists than foreign terrorists, Krugman takes a circuitous and rather ahistorical route to get there. Most notable is the tweet below, which has created such a massive uproar online today, it drowned out the ire surrounding Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer’s macabre annual minute-by-minute re-creation of 9/11.

First of all, no.

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Secondly, huh?

And perhaps most urgently, no again.

Krugman’s series of tweets, which arrived around the time of morning the planes struck the twin towers on that nightmare of a day, immediately spawned a multitiered backlash of epic proportions.

People were mad about the idea that Americans handled 9/11 “calmly.”

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People took exception to the idea that George W. Bush tried to calm prejudice, rather than weaponize it to settle a perceived score with Iraq.

People were mad at Krugman’s whitewashing of history in suggesting that anti-Muslim prejudice didn’t run rampant through the U.S. at the time (and beyond).

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Some people touted reportage proving Krugman’s claims to be deeply inaccurate.

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Most heartbreaking, however, was the mass outpour of tweeted testimonials about lived experience from the time period in question.

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Perhaps most galling of all, though, is the idea that Krugman isn’t downplaying the actual aftermath of 9/11 in service of a great point, but rather that he (and perhaps many others) have internalized his fictitious interpretation, and that it’s helped shaped his worldview altogether.

Fast Company will update this story if and when Krugman responds to the backlash.

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