Weissberg excluded from NRO’s Phi Beta Cons

At the Phi Beta Cons blog at NRO, this terse announcement was posted last night:

Regarding Robert Weissberg
By Rich Lowry
April 10, 2012 9:19 P.M.

Unbeknowst to us, occasional Phi Beta Cons contributor Robert Weissberg (whose book was published a few years ago by Transaction) participated in an American Renaissance conference where he delivered a noxious talk about the future of white nationalism. He will no longer be posting here. Thanks to those who brought it to our attention.

Did Weissberg really talk about white nationalism at an AR conference? That is not his kind of subject. In any case, he certainly is not a white nationalist. Indeed, apart from Weissberg’s frankness about racial differences in intellectual ability, he’s not even particularly conservative. For example, in a debate with Jared Taylor some years ago, he argued that we should not oppose racial preferences for blacks, because they buy social peace. So I wonder if Lowry mentioned white nationalism in order to justify his exclusion of Weissberg, when, in reality, what he is really dismissing him for is that he speaks of racial differences.

- end of initial entry -

James N. writes:

Things are changing as a result of the rise of Trayvianity. It’s time for everyone to lay their cards on the table.

Mr. Lowry: what, exactly, did Mr. Weissberg say that was “noxious”?

LA replies:

Like the PC apparatchik that he is, Lowry doesn’t have to give facts and reasons; he just has to use an adjective: “noxious.” In this his method is similar to that of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which automaticaally appends the terms “hate-group” or “racist” to every instance of the name of the groups and individuals it is attacking.

James P. writes:

Could anything be more indicative of Lowry’s lack on interest in actual facts than his expulsion of Weissberg? Look at the man’s vita, which is not that of a marginal intellectual hack. If he is not qualified to comment from a conservative perspective on American education, then nobody is.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

In connection to Weissberg’s exclusion from NRO, you ask whether “Lowry mentioned white nationalism in order to justify his exclusion of Weissberg, when, in reality, what he is really dismissing him for is that he speaks of racial differences.”

My guess is that in Lowry’s mind those distinctions are basically meaningless. “Race realism,” “white nationalism,” these distinctions don’t mean very much to him—they’re all of a piece with deviation from liberal orthodoxy, and that’s pretty much all he knows or needs to know. If you were to show him that speaking about racial differences isn’t the same thing as endorsing white nationalism per se, he would probably just wonder why you were bothering to distinguish various types of evil.

LA writes:

Robert Weissberg informs me that Robert VerBruggen, the editor of Phi Beta Cons, asked him for his white nationalism paper, Weissberg sent it to him, and a few hours later he was informed that he was being expelled.

I’ve glanced through the 2,500 word talk. Its main point seems to be that white nationalism is both an “unsavory” ideology and a losing strategy, and that the winning strategy is to try to preserve or restore “white” standards of society without making specific references to race. As an example, Weissberg says that this is what Rudolph Giuliani successfully did as mayor of New York City when he reduced disorder and crime and made the city safe and functioning again.

This is what Rich Lowry found “noxious.” I still think it comes down to the fact that Weissberg is frank about racial/cultural differences.

Steve N. writes:

Slightly off topic, but Weissberg’s assertion that the racial preference system “buys us social peace” is worth thinking about a bit. If, in fact, preferences did buy social peace, then it would be I think well worth the trade off. The fact that they don’t seem to, and, in fact, seem to exacerbate racial tensions not least in the very groups they are designed to favor, is probably the best of all possible arguments against them.

LA replies:

I agree with you. If I remember correctly, I made the same argument at the time of Weissberg’s debate with Taylor.

LA writes:

I asked Mr. Weissberg if my summary of his talk was accurate, and he writes back:

All accurate and fine. I should add that my NR connection is very weak. Many of my essays posted there were posted by others. Nor was anything said about what I had written just for them. It is almost as if NR jurisdiction over offensiveness is now world-wide. I recall Mike Levin having endless trouble up at CCNY over a book review he did for an Australian magazine. So, no matter where you say it, if it’s heresy we’ll come and get you. And do notice Lowry’s “thanks” to those who passed on my name to him. This point has far broader implications and should be examined. It’s their version of kids spying on parents.

Timothy A. writes:

Who knew what a viper’s nest of “noxious” white supremacists was being harbored at National Review!

Beth M. writes:

I think that racial preferences DID buy social peace in the ’60s and ’70s, but the law of diminishing returns set in by the ’80s/’90s, and now it seems to be doing more harm than good. Blacks are still angry and dissatisfied, and Hispanics seem FAR angrier now than they were in the early ’80s when I was first around them. There didn’t seem to be any “Asian anger” in the ’70s, but there is now. And whites are now angry too, because the affirmative action programs that were started in the ’60s and ’70s and were supposed to help ONE generation of blacks are now permanent, and help everybody at the expense of whites.

Lydia McGrew writes:

Weissberg mentions Lowry’s “thanks” to people for “sending in” a link to a talk by Weissberg in a different venue, for which NR decided to break off all contact with him. He likens this to “kids spying on their parents.”

An interesting note: This sort of mindset on the left can also involve spying on a person’s spouse and “sending in” the information that a spouse has written something the left finds objectionable. About three years ago the infamous philosophical bully Brian Leiter attempted to create trouble for my husband and my husband’s philosophy department because of something I published at What’s Wrong With the World on the subject of Muslim immigration.

James N. writes:

Have preferences bought social peace? Well, whites have been deluded into believing that, sure.

And the fact that whites mistakenly believe that may have bought peace, but not in the way usually meant. Whites, believing that they are parties to a two-way peace pact (one could almost call it a peace PROCESS) are inhibited from retaliation for Knoxville, Wichita, etc., just like Israelis are afraid to retaliate lest THEIR imaginary peace process break down.

The ground is moving, now, I think. Exciting times.

Paul K. writes:

One day Rich Lowry will be waiting at a stoplight when a young black man decides to cross the intersection just before the light changes. As he leisurely saunters across while cars are forced to wait at the green light, Lowry thinks, “Why do black guys always … Oh my God!”

Confronting his own noxious racism, which he finds nasty and indefensible, Lowry resigns as editor of National Review and the publication closes down.

Gerald M. writes:

I attended the 2012 American Renaissance conference and heard Robert Weissberg’s speech. It was as you have already reported. Weissberg’s exact words about white nationalism were these: “As a viable ideology, white nationalism is dead on arrival.” He went on to give a talk about how whites can use what amount to passive-aggressive strategies to keep their neighborhoods, stores, and restaurants predominantly white. Techniques and strategies like playing classical (especially baroque) background music in restaurants and stores, strictly enforcing dress codes and housing codes, etc. These ideas to “help whites do an end run around diversity” have been around for a while, but Weissberg presented them in such a puckishly humorous way that his speech provoked more laughter than any other at the conference. In no way was it a white nationalist speech. It was racially conscious, taking as self-evident that whites—even liberal whites—want to keep away from large-scale “diversity” whenever possible.

However, I doubt Lowry ended Weissberg’s association with NRO for this one speech. The left-wing blogs which probably alerted him to Weissberg’s thought-crimes, especially Little Green Footballs, had quotes from several articles he had written for American Renaissance as well as a speech in which he made blunt (and completely factual) remarks about black IQ and violence levels.

In the end though, I suspect Derbyshire and Weissberg were not canned by NRO for saying things about blacks which Lowry and his minions found unkind (despite their obvious truthfulness). They were dismissed because they were writing, or speaking, as self-conscious whites, as members of a group. At National Review, prime enforcer of the mainstream conservative dogma that we are all raceless, colorblind individuals, such behavior—even when it occurs in far away venues—can no longer be permitted.

LA to Gerald M.:

Your comments at VFR are always so good, I wish you commented more frequently.

Gerald replies:

Thank you. Thing is, the quality of the other comments at your site is almost always so high, both in originality and expression, that I feel I should offer something that isn’t just a slightly different rehash of what has already been said, but something at least close to a fresh take on the subject. I find myself beaten to the punch so often by people who say what I was going to say—often saying it better than I would have—I have fallen into passive reading mode at VFR. Only because I’ve met and chatted with Robert Weissberg, and heard his AR speech live, and was a long-time subscriber to National Review, did I rouse myself from this state. Sage McLaughlin’s comment in the thread ties in closely with my point of view, but I thought I had enough useful facts, and a perspective distinct enough, to contribute this time.

I believe you have said roughly the same thing several times in recent years, but whenever I think of NR now, I wonder: How long does it take for a rotting corpse to stop stinking?

LA replies:

“I believe you have said roughly the same thing several times in recent years, but whenever I think of NR now, I wonder: How long does it take for a rotting corpse to stop stinking?”

I don’t think I’ve said that. Perhaps your thoughts are fresher, so to speak, than you realize. :-)

Gerald replies:

So to speak! Perhaps, although I’m certain I’ve seen such imagery about NR somewhere—perhaps it was the other commenters. By the way, I believe McCarthy or some other NRO bien pensant accused Derbyshire of “collectivist” thinking, in failing to consider only individual blacks. Hasn’t collectivism become the mainstream conservative version of the R-word? You have dissected McCarthy pretty well, but it might be useful to consider how often and predictably NR types use this word to end debate and paralyze thinking, especially among young people. It’s also a word Ron Paul supporters rely on as a magic bullet to discredit any opposition to their ideas.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 11, 2012 10:39 AM | Send

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