How is this Derbyshire article different from all other Derbyshire articles?
I have been thinking about the liberals (mainly progressives but also right-liberals) and what offended them in John Derbyshire’s article The Talk: Nonblack Version. I don’t think it was merely the scientific racism, although that does of course offend the left, as well as many on the right. But that is something that Derbyshire has proffered before without being fired from National Review.
Rather, I think what is really going on here is that Derbyshire broke two tacit rules of the entente between progressives and right-liberals. These rules are as follows: (1) The Right is permitted to be very modestly scientifically racist, so long as no action of any kind is advocated, and the left gets to shriek “racism”; (2) The education of children is entirely and completely the domain of the left.
Derbyshire broke both rules, and flagrantly. Not only does Derbyshire advocate taking personal action based on racist stereotypes, he also advocates teaching such foaming hatred to children. That is why he had to be defenestrated by National Review.
- end of initial entry -
James P. writes:
Leonard D. argues that what’s different about Derbyshire’s article is that he advocated taking action on politically incorrect beliefs.
That reminded me of your frequent criticism of Mark Steyn, which is that he notes problems but never advocates doing anything about them. For example, in “Earth to Mark Steyn: Therefore, what?” you wrote, “Steyn, as always, manages to come off as if he’s taking a much tougher position than he actually is taking. Namely, he leaves unaddressed the “Therefore, what?” question.” You told Steyn himself, “Until you address that question, it remains impossible, as in the past, to see you as being serious.”
Could we conclude from this that Steyn knows full well that if he provided a serious public answer to the “Therefore, what?” question, and actually advocated action, he would be fired? Does it go too far to theorize that “conservatives” are only permitted access to “respectable” media outlets on the condition that they remain non-serious, and offer only problems without solutions?
There is an important truth in what you are saying, but, at least as regards Steyn, I don’t think it’s the whole picture. In my criticisms of Steyn I never said that he ought to act as Derbyshire has done in this article, throwing over all the traces and setting off every PC bomb in sight. I only said that he needed to do a couple of modest things, namely to stop ignoring Muslim immigration as a factor in the Islamization of the West, and to say that we needed to reduce or stop Muslim immigration. Given his enormous popularity, I do not believe that his taking such a position, which would have been entirely consistent with his well known warnings about Islam for which he had not gotten in trouble (except with the Canadian Human Rights Commission), would have resulted in his being dismissed from the mainstream venues where he is published. I believe that the reason he remained absolutely silent about Muslim immigration for all these years even while obsessing about the Islamic takeover of Europe, was not that he feared the practical consequences to his career of speaking out, but that in his heart he is a neocon who cannot relate to the idea of immigration restrictions on anyone.
James P. replies:
“In my criticisms of Steyn I never said that he ought to act as Derbyshire has done in this article, throwing over all the traces and setting off every PC bomb in sight. I only said that he needed to do a couple of modest things, namely to stop ignoring Muslim immigration as a factor in the Islamization of the West, and to say that we needed to reduce or stop Muslim immigration.”
Saying those modest things would “kick over the traces” and set off every PC alarm. Geert Wilders is vilified as an awful racist for doing exactly what you think Steyn should do — not merely telling the truth about Islam, but recommending that the Netherlands stop Muslim immigration and encourage Muslims to leave.
A reader writes:
Leonard D. makes an important point about education when he discusses Deryshire’s kamikaze attack. I was pondering how traditionalists may somehow someway get out of our predicament when I thought of Thomas Kuhn’s structure of scientific revolutions. He found that way new science is adopted is not by persuasion or facts, but instead by the death of the people who believe the old theories.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 09, 2012 03:13 PM | Send
The noxious baby boomers, with the odd ex-hippie thrown in (and their elders who did not face them down) have wrought enormous damage on this nation and continue to do so.
Traditionalists need to develop institutions, habits, and alternative activities that will allow kids to access the better, older U.S. and not spent their lives chained to our current ruin. It seems to me that some portion of the remainder of the country will be open to persuasion, but most will not—or they will bend over backwards to avoid speaking frankly about it.