Contrary to early indications, NR folks have had quite a bit to say about the Derbyshire firing. I thought this probably wouldn’t happen because then they would have to say that the Derb was basically in the right on the intellectual merits, tone issues aside. Which would be awkward. But they have gone there (to their intellectual credit and/or moral discredit – you decide). For example, here’s the latest from John O’Sullivan:
The paradoxical result is that a piece that begins as a criticism of anti-white racism gradually morphs into something akin to an expression of white racism. It therefore strengthens the anti-white racism it is meant to satirize which, as it happens, is a growing problem in the U.S. — not in the suburbs or backwoods but in the corporate executive suites, the media elites, the courts, the bureaucracy, and of course the entire industry of sensitivity training which used to go under the more honest title of “Political Reeducation” in the gulag. Combined with class snobbery, as it usually is, anti-white racism produces bigotry and discrimination against innocent persons too, less viciously than past discriminations perhaps, but also more unanswerably because it operates under the virtuous disguise of anti-discrimination and social justice.
Obviously there is no paradox. I wish Yglesias would get off his moneybox soap box and revisit one of his evergreen themes of yore. But I guess I can do the honors. The appeal of banging on and on about anti-white racism (anti-anti-racism), even though it’s obviously silly to suppose it’s a gulag-grade social problem that is in some ways worse than old-fashioned racism ever was, is that it is akin to an expression of white racism. Historically, expressions of white racism have gradually morphed into expressions of anti-anti-racism, as it became less and less socially acceptable to express white racism openly. Republicans stand in steady need of rhetorical forms that are akin to expressions of white racism, but that afford plausible deniability against charges of racism. Thus: anti-anti-racism. But plausible deniability requires that you get in and out in a hurry.
And that’s why, as O’Sullivan says, the real problem with the Derb’s piece is not what it said but, paradoxically, the fact that it was said at such length. If something that hasn’t quite come into clear view quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s likely to morph into a duck, the longer you look at it. That’s just playing the odds. (Not really a paradox at all.)
Let me adapt a bit from comments to my other post. Here are two ‘spirits’ in which Derb could have talked the Talk:
‘Kid, once upon a time, good people had a noble, liberal dream of a color-blind society. But reality played a cruel joke on us all, and here’s the way things work and I doubt anything is ever going to change that. But anyway, you don’t want to be mugged …’ If he’d said that, he’d have kept his job, to say the least.
Here’s something more in line with what he actually said: ‘once upon a time, bad people had a warped, liberal dream of a color-blind society. And reality played a deliciously cruel joke on them. Now the rest of us have to live somewhat artificial lives, in the aftermath of this vain social engineering collapse, but at least we – who are not ultimately the butt of the joke – can derive some vicarious Schadenfreude from the sorry spectacle – which is no small compensation …’ Probably then you give the kid some de Maistre to read.
The Derb gave an interview to Gawker, in the aftermath of his firing, in which he pretty much took the mild, ‘more in sorrow than anger’ line:
Fix the schools! End poverty! Stamp out racism! Affirmative action! Fifty years ago a thoughtful person could sign on to those prescriptions. I know: I was around: I did. Yes (we said) once unjust laws had been struck down, and some social massaging of that sort been done for a few years, the races would merge in happy harmony, and the word “race” and its derivatives would drop out of the language. We all believed that. I believed it.
Plainly this hasn’t happened, except of course in the upper classes, which go by their own rules. For a thoughtful person today to believe that these social-engineering nostrums will (for example) bring black crime rates to a level indistinguishable from white crime rates, involves a strenuous act of what Orwell called “doublethink”—massive self-deception.
But plainly this isn’t the spirit of the Taki Mag piece he wrote. So what gives? You can’t BOTH think liberalism is a noble, albeit tragically failed dream of color-blind racial equality that only conservatives are keeping alive, by heroically protesting against anti-anti-racism AND be delighted by the mischievously self-delighted racism of the Derb’s version of the Talk. So will the real Derb please stand up?
Well, I don’t know. But I’ll bet they are both as real as houses. The thing to see is how easy it is for conservatives to be in this particular state of cognitive dissonance.