Posted on | April 10, 2012 | 63 Comments
The Bonfire of the Derbyshire has burnt itself out, although some latecomers are still poking around in the ashes. Liberals have reassured themselves of their moral superiority. Rich Lowry has reassured himself of his own editorial adequacy. And all is right with the world.
Except of course, it’s not really.
The wheels keep turning, and if Derbyshire’s downfall was just an isolated incident, rather than part of a larger phenomenon, it wouldn’t have resulted in such a carnival of finger-pointing and recriminations.
The other day, I made a call to a Known Thought Criminal and chatted for a while about all this. Republicans have an amazing flinch reflex about race, I said, and the Left’s politicization of race is something the GOP can’t figure out how to deal with. National Review is a Republican magazine, and Derbyshire’s extracurricular outrage was a public-relations nightmare in an election year, which Think Progress seized on in a way no one had hitherto seized on Derb’s previous excursions into race-talk.
Having studied the ways of the finger-pointers — sanctimonious white liberals who are as eager as Ashley Judd to drape themselves in a borrowed mantle of righteous victimhood — the whole ritual was to me entirely predictable. From the minute it was brought to my attention, I knew Derbyshire was doomed. If he wished to advocate freedom of association, certainly Derb understood that the proprietors of National Review must be extended the same freedom, eh?
We may therefore say they segregated themselves from Derbism, and the great misfortune may have been Derbyshire’s foolish belief that he could integrate himself into an unwelcoming community.
Perhaps no one will be offended (but my apologies in advance, anyway) if I extend the metaphor by saying that one day, Derb was minding his own business, wearing his hoodie and walking back from the store with some Skittles, when suddenly his career was ambushed by the Zimmermans of tolerance.
Like I said, apologies in advance.
Eric Holder once told us were were afraid to have a real dialogue on race. And he did so because he knew we were …
Goldstein’s theme is “defending the indefensible.” I know Jeff as someone who, like me, absolutely hates to see liberals win a fight — any fight — and especially hates it when liberals win because conservatives permit cowardice or convenience to persuade them to surrender.
You don’t have to agree with Derbyshire’s argument to say that liberals routinely get away with making worse arguments with more serious consequences: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” And isn’t politics about electing officials and enacting policies?
Isn’t it true that accusations of racism — overt or implicit — are a common tactic of the Democratic Party? So wouldn’t it have possible for Rich Lowry to say something like this?
“Wait a minute! I’ve called John Derbyshire on the carpet, read him the Riot Act, and suspended him from National Review until we can calm down and figure this out. I strongly disagree with what John wrote, and some of my colleagues are very angry at me for having let Derb drift along like this for so long without any attempt at enforcing editorial discipline. He’s an old man undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, and I think his ill health should be taken into consideration in dealing with this problem. It is not, and should not be interpreted as, an endorsement of Derbyshire’s opinions for me to refuse to fire a longtime employee, a writer whose work has been enjoyed for years by our magazine’s readers, under such extraordinary circumstances.
“We may be unable to work out any honorable solution, and in that case, a parting of the ways will be necessary. However, as matters stand, Derbyshire is suspended until further notice, and this seems like as good time as any — a ‘teachable moment,’ as our liberal friends might say — for National Review to have a thoroughing discussion about how issues of race relations have impacted our nation’s culture and politics. What Derbyshire did was both stupid and wrong, but if I’m the Boss around here, I must bear the responsibility for what my employees do.
“I am inextricably implicated in Derbyshire’s misdeeds, which happened under my negligent supervision. Therefore, as General Lee said to his defeated troops as they retreated from the failed assault on Cemetery Ridge he had ordered, ‘This is all my fault.’
“It would be dishonorable for me to say otherwise, and if the board of directors should see fit to require my resignation as the consequence of this embarrassment, I would tender my resignation without resentment, regretting only my costly failure.”
Yes, if Rich Lowry were a man, he might have said something like that.
But the word “if” denotes a hypothetical, doesn’t it?