Bykofsky: where’s the outrage?

A right-wing columnist for a large-circulation newspaper calls for another 9/11. Drudge features him. Fox News gives him air time. Then … silence.

Isn’t it astonishing how quickly right-wing columnist Stu Bykofsky’s call for another massive terrorist attack to help Republican candidates, … sorry, that’s “restore America’s righteous rage and singular purpose to prevail” has disappeared from the public discussion? After all, it was published in a large-circulation big-city newspaper and then featured on Drudge and Fox News.

The contrast with Markos Moulitsas’s unpremeditated, quickly-retracted dismissal of the deaths of four contract fighters in Iraq couldn’t be sharper. Before the retraction, his comment was roundly denounced in Blue Blogistan, and since then no self-respecting Red blogger would mention Kos without mentioning that unfortunate comment. (A Google search for “Kos ‘screw ’em’ ” yields almost 13,000 hits.)

Bykofsky, by contrast, has escaped largely unscathed from his own side of the aisle. Michelle Malkin finds it necessary to praise Bykofsky while disagreeing with him: Byofsky is “tone-deaf,” according to Malkin, and anyway we don’t really need national unity, we just need everyone not currently infected with Malkin’s brand of hysteria to be converted to her way of thinking. A Townhall blogger finds calls Byofsky’s loony column “required reading” and comments “Sad, but true.” A Technorati search finds no A-list Red blogger who denounces Bykofsky, and a Google search does no better.

Bykofsky has taken his lumps on the left, of course, but no one seems to want to make a crusade of it. And of course it would never occur to most Blue bloggers to make the false suggestion that Bykofsky’s insanity is somehow characteristic of “the right” generically, or to keep using Bykofsky as a stick with which to beat Red bloggers for the next four years. Note that Bykofsky is keeping his job with the Daily News; no one is going to bother whipping up a campaign to boycott the paper until it fires him, as would surely happen if a critic of the Bush Administration had called for a terrorist attack to demonstrate the incompetence of BushCo when it comes to protecting the country.

No, I don’t really wish that we behaved like our wingnut opponents, but their capacity to work up and sustain outrage has to be counted among their structural advantages.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: