Niall Ferguson, to his credit, has apologized for claiming that Keynesianism was a big gay conspiracy:
I should not have suggested – in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation – that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried.
My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise.
Not surprisingly, Niall’s old friend Andrew Sullivan rushes to his defense. How could Ferguson be a homophobe when he and Sullivan shared so many good times together during Michaelmas term at All Souls?
This was never about Ferguson being a homophobe specifically. It’s about some conservatives’ (and not just conservatives’) need to put down their opponents for being part of an out group: Obama is black like Felix the Cat, Dixie Chicks are fat slags, Al Gore is fat, Nate Silver is effeminate.
Name-calling is fun — I certainly enjoy it — and it has its place, but “Keynes was a fag” isn’t much of an argument, and whether Ferguson wants to admit it or not, his hatred of Keynesianism is irrational and tribalistic, and much of what he writes in opposition to it is only marginally more sophisticated than “Keynes was a fag”.
When the serious Burkean mask slips for a moment, you see that it’s about punching down at the people below you.