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Reporter of Niall Ferguson's Keynes remarks goes on the record

Thomas M. Kostigen is coauthor of The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving The Planet One Simple Step at a Time (Three Rivers Press).

I was in the audience at the Altegris conference in Carlsbad, Calif., last week when Niall Ferguson, well-known historian, Harvard professor and author, spewed his remarks knocking economist John Maynard Keynes for being homosexual and not having children. Indeed, it was my blog post that drew worldwide attention to the comments. The following day, Ferguson issued an unqualified apology. I thought that was that. But I was wrong.

Ferguson issued yesterday an open letter to the Harvard community, explaining himself and qualifying his remarks. He equivocates, and points out that Keynes had said offensive things himself. Ferguson also goes to town on his critics and detractors, and hammers the "blogosphere." Most importantly, he tries to explain how Keynes' homosexuality affected his judgment....

Soon after my blog post appeared, Ferguson e-mailed me saying that he was "dismayed" to see what I had written, and that I must have misunderstood him. "Dismayed" and "misunderstood" are not words of apology; they are words of contrition in attempt to spin. And spin he has with his open letter: "Not for one moment did I mean to suggest that Keynesian economics as a body of thought was simply a function of Keynes’ sexuality. But nor can it be true—as some of my critics apparently believe—that his sexuality is totally irrelevant to our historical understanding of the man. My very first book dealt with the German hyperinflation of 1923, a historical calamity in which Keynes played a minor but important role. In that particular context, Keynes’ sexual orientation did have historical significance. The strong attraction he felt for the German banker Carl Melchior undoubtedly played a part in shaping Keynes’ views on the Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath."...

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