A high-profile Harvard professor has issued an 'unqualified apology' for remarks he made about the sexuality of one of the leading economists in history at a conference in California last week.
Niall Ferguson told the conference of 500 academics that economist John Maynard Keynes' policies were flawed because he was gay, did not have children, and therefore did not care about future generations.
Now the Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard has issued a grovelling apology. "I made comments about John Maynard Keynes that were as stupid as they were insensitive.
"I had been asked to comment on Keynes’s famous observation 'In the long run we are all dead.' The point I had made in my presentation was that in the long run our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are alive, and will have to deal with the consequences of our economic actions.
"But 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."
Briton Keynes, whose best-known work, "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" was published in 1936, was married but is known to have had a series of gay affairs.
He said his colleagues and friends had every right to be disappointed in him and he issued a 'deep and unreserved' apology.
Ferguson is a leading television personality in his native UK. He is married to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a leading critic of Islam and who has been threatened with death for rejecting the religion.