Derbyshire’s accomplishment

Question: If John Derbyshire when he wrote his article, “The Talk: Nonblack version,” had not been a contributing editor at National Review and its website (and even a featured “star” on a recent NR cruise); if he had been just another writer on the marginalized race-realist right, like, say, Steve Sailer or myself, would his article have set off this firestorm and gotten all this attention? Of course not. It was the fact that he was an NR regular, a continuously published member of the respectable conservative mainstream (though of course he has always been outside the mainstream in many ways and his presence at NR was an anomaly), that made his article such a sensation.

What this means is that, by publishing the article, and losing his place at NR over it, he has, whether this was his intention or not, used his mainstream perch to the greatest possible advantage of true conservatism. His conduct did not follow the dishonorable example of such individuals as Lawrence Summers and James Watson, who carelessly made sensationally un-PC statements they were unprepared to defend, then apologized for them, and then got fired anyway, thus accomplishing nothing but the further empowerment of liberal orthodoxy. Derbyshire wrote an article that he reasonably had to expect would be widely attacked and would result in his being ejected from NR, and by doing so he drew maximum attention to the forbidden truth of race in America. If he wrote the article expecting this to happen, it was a noble deed. And even if he wrote the article not expecting this to happen, he is still to be admired and praised for writing it.

How could I not praise him? How many times have I pointed out that liberal America keeps leading white people, especially females, into the maw of death, by concealing from them the dangers represented by young black males and teaching them not to exercise any commonsense precautions with regard to their interactions with blacks, because such precautions would be racist? Derbyshire in his “Talk” gave exactly the counsels that a sane society with our racial problem would give to its young people, and because of his position at NR, which he sacrificed in the act of speaking the truth, his arguments were heard in a way they would not otherwise have been, and I honor him for this.

Which does not mean I necessarily approve of everything he said in the article. I will try later this week to go through the piece as a whole and distinguish the wheat from the chaff, the chaff consisting, according to some of its conservatives critics, of such things as over-generalizations about blacks or animus toward blacks. But, as Jesus says in the Gospels, the presence of chaff does not discredit the wheat. And besides, how much exactitude and precision can we expect in such a matter? Derbyshire’s conservative critics, such as Andrew McCarthy, lay down a standard that would preclude any sane warning to young people about the dangers of black anti-white violence, because, as McCarthy says (sounding like Edward Kennedy chairing the Senate hearings on the 1965 Immigration Act which set this country on the path to national suicide), we must only look at people as individuals and never consider group characteristics, because that is bigotry. Yet doesn’t McCarthy, in his increasingly strong and clear warnings about the dangers of Islam, call on us to consider the group characteristics of Muslims?

- end of initial entry -

A reader sends this comment following McCarthy’s Corner post about Derbyshire:

Teflon93 04/09/12 12:53

That wasn’t the first time Derb had said such things about blacks. He’s said worse about Christians without Lowry batting an eye.

The difference this time was that Derb said things which embarrass Lowry in front of his Ruling Class friends.

Which is no doubt why Lowry refused comments on his posts, lest he be called out on his hypocrisy.

You need to find another home, Andrew—you’re too serious a man and too committed a conservative for this crowd.

Steve R. writes:

I had so much respect for Andrew McCarthy. This is so disappointing. In response to your analogy about Islam I can imagine that he might reply that in the U.S., Muslims can silently become infidels and avowed supporters of the Constitution. So they couldn’t be said to have inherent, problematic “group characteristics” in the way that Derbyshire implies that Blacks do.

My response to that would be:

In L.A., there are some relatively nice Black neighborhoods with home prices substantially lower than those of the West Side. I presume Washington D.C. has similar neighborhoods.

Andrew McCarthy says:

We must only look at people as individuals and never consider group characteristics, because that is bigotry.

If his child chose not to live in a nice black neighborhood would he think him to be a bigot (for considering their group characteristics) or a wastrel—for throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars for no good reason?

LA replies:

Let’s note that the words you attribute to McCarthy in your example are my paraphrase of McCarthy’s position, not his own words.

April 10

Ed H. writes:

You are correct that Derbyshire performed a valuable service. In effect he told the lying squirming herd of PC conservatives the truth and stared them down.

Instead of staring back they turned away not having the courage or intellectual resources to address what he was saying.

It must gall these “conservatives” when they hear themselves scream “hater!” and “racist!” with the same mindless ideological conditioning as the lowest liberal functionary.

This tiny bit of self recognition is what Derb wanted. So let’s make the PC conservative crowd squirm. It is the least we can do.

Mel R. writes from Tulsa:

Wonderful assessment. God Bless you.

LA replies:

Thank you.

Thucydides writes:

The reason there was such a furor over Derb’s “The Talk” piece was that he transgressed a key moral fiction of our liberal culture. Liberal human universalism holds that there is no difference between men in any time or place, and that particular identities, whether racial (as in the present matter), national, ethnic, linguistic, religious, sexual, etc., are only incidental and epiphenomenal. It thus denies that there is any natural antagonism between the races.

But in fact everywhere that two or more races have lived in close proximity, there has been considerable antagonism. It is primordial human nature that people organize themselves by particular identities, and these are not incidental but constitutive of the person. The boundaries of such identities are normally marked by exclusion and hostility.

In the last century, there was a reaction against this unpleasant reality. The terms “prejudice” and “racism” began to be used to describe this antagonism which had always been taken as granted. This suggested that the problem was just a matter of cognitive error that might be amenable to therapeutic educationist intervention. This approach was in line with optimistic Enlightenment thinking concerning the natural goodness and rationality of man.

However, such antagonism is not always or entirely irrational. True, there is often a great deal of false belief or fear associated with it, but much of it is realistic. Members of one race will mistreat those of another (think of the feelings of a black suffering under 1920s Jim Crow laws, or of an urban white today who lives in constant fear of violent assault from some black). It is entirely reasonable to resent this deeply. This is not to say, and Derb acknowledged as much, that there are not often cordial relationships here and there. But this in no way detracts from reality of considerable levels of antagonism, particularly among strangers.

Liberalism, in its efforts to protect a false and sentimental view of human nature and of the human condition, prefers to maintain the moral fiction that any such antagonism is utterly irrational and need not exist in a perfect world. Instead of acknowledging the reality, and thinking of more realistic ways of dealing with it, liberals make things worse by excusing and rationalizing black misconduct as purely an emotional response to white injustice, while insisting that whites suppress any concerns, however rational, over the threat presented by high levels of black violent criminality. The situation is exacerbated by liberal politicians efforts to exploit racial fears and paranoia for electoral advantage. It is no secret that the Democratic Party is dependent on a very strong black turnout to make them competitive in national elections. The involvement of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton in the Trayvon Martin matter suggests that this sort of exploitation is taking place in that case.

Notice that Derb opened his piece by referring to recent news pieces about blacks having to warn their children about possible white hostility. He did not criticize this at all; he simply said there is also a talk that non-black parents need to have with their children about black hostility. He thus acknowledged the reality of actually existing racial antagonism, without offering up any soothing bromides.

This is what produced such a strong and irrational response (“point and sputter”) on the part of the NR crew and other “conservatives”—a key premise of our liberal culture, which they share, had clearly been violated.

James P. writes:

Andrew McCarthy stated at National Review:

We believe in the equal dignity and presumption of equal decency toward every person—no matter what race, no matter what science tells us about comparative intelligence, and no matter what is to be gleaned from crime statistics. It is important that research be done, that conclusions not be rigged, and that we are at liberty to speak frankly about what it tells us. But that is not an argument for a priori conclusions about how individual persons ought to be treated in various situations—or for calculating fear or friendship based on race alone. To hold or teach otherwise is to prescribe the disintegration of a pluralistic society, to undermine the aspiration of E Pluribus Unum.

The assumption behind his conclusion is that group or national behavior is simply the sum total of all the individual behaviors. This is clearly untrue. Humans behave differently as groups (or as nations) than they do as individuals—that is why the field of “group dynamics” exists. For example, in Western countries, individual Westerners generally treat individual Muslims with dignity and decency, and many individual Muslims are of course decent and well-behaved. Nevertheless, the immigration of large groups of Muslims (as well as other alien groups) has created undeniable problems in many Western countries despite this decent, dignified behavior on the individual level. The unfortunate fact is that the prescription that “individuals should treat individuals with dignity and decency” is not scalable to the national level. The sum total result of millions of alien immigrants, most of whom deserve, receive, and reciprocate decent treatment, is not a harmonious, pluralistic society. Instead, the result is significant social stress, racial and ethnic tension, and the formation of competing, self-segregated groups—this is observable in every country that permits large-scale immigration! Far from promoting E pluribus unum, the precept that we have to treat groups the same way that we treat individuals is actively leading to the very disintegration of pluralistic society that McCarthy fears, not least because this precept inhibits honest assessment of the impact of immigration and domestic policies such as education.

LA replies:

James’s point is one of the most important that can be made, yet it is also one that is still not understood at all. The opposite falsehood to James’s truth is still what is universally believed in the West today. Well-meaning Western people such as Andrew McCarthy instinctively recoil from any generalized negative statements about groups, because they see that as a violation of the moral imperative to treat all human beings as individuals. They are looking at reality through a wrong model. When a society considers allowing a mass immigration from another culture, the proper question ceases to be, “How shall I as an individual treat another individual who happens to be of a different racial/cultural background from myself?”, and becomes, “What is going to be the effect on our society of this culturally and racially different group”? But Western society never asks itself this question, because it still sees the situation through the filter of relationships between individuals.

In the same way, when a white person in today’s society finds himself in a black environment, such as the white man standing on a Baltimore street recently, the pertinent question is not, “How shall I deal with individuals?”, but “How are blacks as a group likely to treat a white man who has naively wandered into their neighborhood and is standing there on the sidewalk with a distracted expression on his face?” What is likely to happen to a such a white man in a black neighborhood is radically different from what is likely to happen to him in a white neighborhood or a Japanese neighborhood.

McCarthy’s mid-20th century, Eleanor Roosevelt-style liberal idealism leaves him totally unequipped to grapple with such questions, or even to see the palpable facts of black group and individual behavior. Presumably he reads the news media and has come across the constant news stories of black savage behavior (though of course the word “black” is almost never used in such stories). But he hasn’t taken it in, because it doesn’t fit his liberal model of a world of individuals whose race doesn’t matter. He therefore recoils from and condemns Derbyshire’s highly relevant warnings.

Brian B. writes:

You state regarding Andrew McCarthy:

“He therefore recoils from and condemns Derbyshire’s highly relevant warnings.”

You can bet with 100 percent assurance that A. McCarthy does not recoil from and condemn Derbyshire’s highly relevant warnings in his personal life.

LA replies:

That is what I plan to question him about directly in an article I’m thinking of writing.

James N. writes:

This is one of the most important, and difficult, discussions I’ve read on VFR. The distinction between judging (or pre-judging) an individual as an individual, versus reacting to him as a member of a group, seems simple at first, but for Americans born after WW II it is actually quite difficult. I think this is because we grew up in a world where group identification produced particular, visible injustices to certain individuals, whose stories became well-known.

The result has been, through a kind of mental judo, that minorities can now CHOOSE when and by whom that want to be judged as individuals, and when as members of a group. Obviously, most choose whatever mode is advantageous at any particular point in time.

“Celebrate diversity” is a conscious appeal to group identities. It is precisely group characteristics we are called on to “celebrate” (tolerate). But woe betide if our “celebration” touches an individual in a disagreeable way. THAT is forbidden.

I have been, and I remain, confused about how to give appropriate weight to the individual AS individual vs. the individual as member of his group. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss it here.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 09, 2012 11:55 PM | Send

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