Derbyshire endorses Separationism, while attacking Separationists
In one of his (for me) impossible to read articles in which every point is tiresomely filtered through the Derbyshire personality and Weltanschauung instead of being argued logically, John Derbyshire has it both ways. He basically supports Separationism, while he condemns “Islamophobes,” i.e., the very people who enunciated the Separationist principles that Derbyshire here endorses.
As he himself makes clear, his opposition to “Islamophobia” is driven by his hostility to Christianity. The “Islamophobes” are too sure about good and bad, right and wrong, and they are too judgmental of Islam, all of which makes him uncomfortable. He agrees that Islam is a great danger, but says that this does not stem from any essential quality of Islam. The main reason for Islamic radicalism is resentment at being left behind by the West.
How then do we describe Derbyshire? He is a Nominalist Separationist, a cross between Pipes and Auster.
Or he’s in the tradition of Hume. A person who doesn’t believe in truth, yet still has conservative instincts.
Meanwhile Jonah Goldberg in a brief note at the Corner says he agrees with Derbyshire. He expresses alarm at people who think that “Islam is the problem” and that “the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.” For Goldberg, to believe that Islam is the problem is to believe that the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. The usual high level of thought we expect from the Animal House conservative. Also, in the tradition of Ralph Peters, Goldberg doesn’t bother naming or quoting any of the awful people who supposedly believe this awful thing.
However, if Goldberg, as he puts it, agrees with the “thrust” of Derbyshire’s article and only disagrees with “minor points,” that means he agrees with Derbyshire’s endorsement of Separationism, namely, as Derbyshire put it, that
… the Western countries, in the present state of affairs [should] ‘fence off’ Islam—that is … deny entry to foreign Muslims, … expel—regretfully, politely, and humanely, but firmly—resident foreign Muslims, and … restrict the activities of Muslim citizens (preventing them, for example, from proselytizing in our jails, or working in defense establishments)…Has Goldberg, who has never before said anything of the kind, suddenly given up on the Bush Doctrine, given up on modern conservatism, given up on the liberal principle of non-discrimination, and come over to the Separationist camp? That would be nice, but I doubt it very much. I think Goldberg tossed off his comments between tv reality shows, and does not realize the implications of saying that he agrees with Derbyshire.
Update: If readers are wondering why I do not express more enthusiasm over Derbyshire’s endorsement of Separationism, the reason is that nothing the man says can be taken seriously. Just one month ago, on August 21, as discussed here, Derbyshire wrote a long article on Robert Spencer in which he seemed to embrace separationism, but then turned around and contemptuously dismissed the possibility of any separationist defense against Islam, because, he said, Christianity—his former religion which he now despises—makes Westerners hopelessly wimpy. The article contained a clear element of Schadenfreude at the prospect of the destruction of the West by Islam, since that would prove the worthlessness of Christianity.
Moreover, prior to his August 21 article, Derbyshire had repeatedly dismissed the very idea that Islam is a threat to us. See for example his July 2, 2007 article (discussed here), in which he derided scholarly Islam critics as people who “need a life,” and shrugged off the notion that Islam is a danger, because “I can’t take religion that seriously.”
Thus, in a little month, Derbyshire has gone from (1) dismissing the idea of a Muslim threat to the West, to (2) saying that separationism to defend the West from Islam would be a good idea, but that the West will never adopt it because the West is Christian and therefore weak, and so the West is doomed, but that’s cool because it shows how bad Christianity is, to (3) adopting the separationist strategy while attacking separationists and Christian critics of Islam as “Islamophobes.” (This last is reminiscent of Stephen Steinlight’s debut as an immigration restrictionist in 2001 when he attacked the best-known immigration restrictionists as racists and anti-Semites.) Note also that in stage #2 Derbyshire is against Christians because they’re too soft and inclusive toward Islam, and in stage #3 he is against Christians because they’re too harsh and judgmental toward Islam. So who knows where Derbyshire will be on this issue in another month? When a man’s views are primarily driven by resentment against things he doesn’t like,—such as Christianity, belief in God, and the belief in objective moral truth—rather than by his best insight into what is true, and, further, when his ideas are filtered through a self-centered perspective in which all issues are reduced to how he personally feels about them rather than what is true, then he is likely to believe anything.
Aaron S. writes:
You wrote: “Or he’s in the tradition of Hume. A person who doesn’t believe in truth, yet still has conservative instincts.”Mark writes:
I just finished reading Carol Iannone’s outstanding interview with John Agresto. I explored a little further and came upon your reference to Derbyshire’s latest: Derbyshire endorses Separationism, while attacking Separationists. Thank you SO MUCH for saying what I was thinking when I read it:LA writes:
Somehow I didn’t point out the most obvious objection to Derbyshire’s article. Here’s is a guy who talks frequently about race and race differences and has made a career out of defying politically correct restrictions on speach about race, who, when it serves his purposes, turns around and uses a standard politically correct term like “Islamophobia” to discredit everyone who has stronger critical views of Islam than he does! At least, as Derbyshire admitted in a note affixed to the end of his article, Roger Kimball reminded Derbyshire that the word Islmophobia means an irrational prejudice against Islam, and that to use it in the manner he was using it implied that it was not possible to have a rational criticism of Islam. Derbyshire seemed to take the point to heart, so perhaps he won’t be saying “Islamophobia” again. But the fact that he used the word extensively and that the objectionable nature of it had to be pointed out to him shows how unmoored from any principle he is.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 21, 2007 11:57 AM | Send