In an interview with Brian Sack on GBTV, columnist and author John Derbyshire inadvertently anticipated his future in commenting about the dismissal from mainstream of another iconoclast, Patrick J. Buchanan:
“MSNBC is a private company. They can hire and fire who they like. But Buchanan is a serious guy who talks in a serious way about serious issues. Yet he is out of the national conversation. That’s bad.”
Not long after, Derbyshire was dismissed from National Review, where he freelanced. The “girlie boys” of NR had taken offense to “The Talk: Nonblack Version,” a column Derbyshire published at Taki’s Magazine.
My book “Into the Cannibal’s Pot,” for which John provided praise, deals with the broad generalizations for which Derb was sent packing:
“Provided they are substantiated by hard evidence, not hunches, generalizations are not incorrect. Science relies on the ability to generalize to the larger population observations drawn from a representative sample. People make prudent decisions in their daily lives based on probabilities and generalities. That one chooses not to live in a particular crime-riddled county or country in no way implies that one considers all individual residents there to be criminals, only that a sensible determination has been made, based on statistically significant data, as to where scarce and precious resources – one’s life and property – are best invested.” (pp. 41-42)
John was also found culpable of cautioning kids about life’s dangers.
Similarly, in a WND 2011 column, “Sacrificing kids to PC pietism,” I rebuked the errant adults in the lives of “mild, meek and vulnerable boys like Carter Strange.” For these formative figures “enfeeble their children with PC pieties,” instead of forewarning them of perils they may well face.
The wilding attack that came close to extinguishing the life of this gangly, ungainly, 18-year-old Caucasian boy (Carter) was carried out by eight blacks, in Columbia, S.C.
National Review used to be conservatism’s flagship publication. These days its ideology reflects “Modern Republicanism’s” “dime store New Deal”‘ proclivities (Barry Goldwater’s characterization). Launching oxymoronic attacks on Obamacare for “endangering Medicare”: that’s the extent of NR’s fight to free minds and markets.
Tons of pixels have since been spilt in response to Derbyshire’s article and subsequent dismissal. The dimwitted discourse reflects a polemical landscape from which the Derbs of this world have been uprooted. None of John’s critics can write or reason as he does. None has his “range of historical and literary allusion,” as Mark Steyn observed. John Derbyshire’s is pellucid prose at its best.
A staff writer at The Atlantic epitomizes this fluffy, unfocused, Meghan McCain-like waffle (punctuated with a lot of, “I feel”) that lands you a job at a top publication. “As someone who places a high value on both robust public discourse and the fact that racism is now taboo,” he whimpered, “I won’t even try to mediate between these two except to say that … Derbyshire’s piece was wrongheaded.”
That’s it? A feeble, frightened assertion is a substitute for an argument?
Such cyber-ejaculate gushed from similar androgynous androids, possessors of the Y chromosome. The volume of bad writers safely ensconced in high places, and their voluminous, vapid output strengthened this conviction:
More so than enforcing conformity – ousting John was about safeguarding the future of mediocrity.
As professor Clyde Wilson of Chronicles Magazine has written,“Tocqueville in the 19th century, and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th, noted that conformity of thought is powerfully prevalent among Americans.” Indeed, Americans cannot abide enormous talent, unless it presents itself in a mindless or uncontroversial field: sports or the hard sciences.
Cognitive consonance is what writing in the Age of the Idiot is all about.
The key to success in the scribbling profession is to strike the right balance of mediocrity in writing and thinking, which invariably entails echoing one of two party lines, poorly.
Conservatism once had the genius of James Burnham, Russell Kirk, Frank Chodorov and Felix Morley; now the brand boasts S. E. Cupp, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Rich Lowry, and their editorial enablers. (Perhaps NR will recruit Jedediah [sic] Bila in place of Derb?)
Mark Steyn made sure to append a disclaimer to his defense of Derb: “Didn’t like the piece.”
For my part, I cop to Western man’s individualist disdain – could it be his weakness? – for race as an organizing principle. For me, the road to freedom lies in beating back the state, so that individuals may regain freedom of association, dominion over property, the absolute right of self-defense; the right to hire, fire and, generally, associate at will.
I want to see a lot of well-written, wickedly witty, controversial writing in print – in pixels or paper and always at the pleasure of the print’s owner. Why must the consensus-craving mob conflate this last wish with absolute endorsement?
Those who hoist their pitchforks to purge ideological disagreement, in Soviet-style, they are the enemies of civilization, not John Derbyshire.
Ilana Mercer is the author of “Broad Sides: One Woman’s Clash With A Corrupt Culture and Into The Cannibal’s Pot – : Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa.” She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, an independent, nonprofit, economic policy think tank. She also contributes to VDARE.COM, founded by Peter Brimelow and devoted to the analysis of immigration policy. To learn more about her work, visit IlanaMercer.com. If you would like to comment on this column, go to Ilana’s blog.