New York Times columnist Bret Stephens’ meltdown over being jokingly referred to as a “bedbug” reached unbelievable new heights on Friday night, when Stephens used his latest column to make a barely-veiled comparison between the professor who mocked him and the Nazis.
Stephens, you will recall, has been losing his mind all week after George Washington University professor David Karpf made the crack about him. (Karpf joked that reports of bedbugs having been found in the Times office were a “metaphor,” adding, “The bedbugs are Bret Stephens.”) Stephens immediately flipped out. He emailed Karpf and his university provost in protest, saying that Karpf should come to his house, meet his wife and children, and repeat the joke. Then, after Karpf tweeted about the email, Stephens went on MSNBC and continued the freakout, saying, “Being analogized to insects goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes in the past.”
That was all deranged enough, but now Stephens has raised the bar. His new column, entitled “World War II and the Ingredients of Slaughter,” is illustrated with a giant photograph of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Yes. Stephens then says that he sees a lot of parallels between the Nazi era and now, including “three crucial factors: new forms of mass communication, the rhetoric of dehumanization and the politics of absolute good versus absolute evil.” He also references Twitter. You see where this is going.
In case you were wondering whether Stephens was really just talking about something else, he makes it very, very clear that he still has Karpf on his on the mind (emphasis mine):
The political mind-set that turned human beings into categories, classes and races also turned them into rodents, insects and garbage. “Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing,” Heinrich Himmler would claim in 1943. “Getting rid of lice is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness.” Watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn that year, a Polish anti-Semite was overheard saying: “The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.”
Today, the rhetoric of infestation is back.
That’s right, jokingly tweeting that Stephens is a (metaphorical) bedbug is just like the LITERAL HOLOCAUST. This man has a Pulitzer Prize. It’s hard to know if this sort of overreach is more embarrassing or disturbing, but whatever it is, it’s apocalyptically nuts. Karpf was not amused.
Stephens’ research also, well, came into question.
Isn’t the New York Times, I don’t know, slightly concerned about all this?
Update, 8/31/19, 9:47 a.m. ET: They’re running things really well over there.