The Asymmetry of America
John Derbyshire and the unNational nonReview
During Easter Christians like to remember the crucifixion of an innocent man for his words, so it was entirely appropriate that John Derbyshire was sacked at this time from the National Review for innocently writing an article for another magazine that intruded on America’s central taboo of race. But there was more to it than that. This case also helped to reveal some of the “uncomfortable truths” (notice how these two words increasingly go together) about America and the decline of the national discourse once represented by the likes of the National Review.
This wasn’t the first time Derbyshire had expressed “politically incorrect” views on race. In the past he has even admitted to being a “tolerant racist,” so one has to wonder about the timing of his dismissal. Perhaps it was because his latest article came too close to the canonization of America’s latest saint, Saint Trayvon of Sanford, the patron saint of Skittles, or perhaps it was the fact that Derbyshire’s face was an increasingly bad fit among the growing ranks of wet-behind-the-ears, multicultural, Israel-loving Neo-Cons who have now ‘occupied’ the National Review.
Probably it also had something to do with the fact that paying readers are no longer as important in terms of generating income as they once were, as Derbyshire seems to have been one of NR’s most popular writers. Magazines now increasingly rely on advertising income and online operations, which means that the puritanical PR demands of companies not to be associated with anything “offensive” become disproportionately important. This represents something of a challenge, because, in order to remain interesting, magazines have to skate pretty close to the thin ice of offensiveness to keep up interest. For several years, Derbyshire’s writing seemed to be a good fit for NR, being interesting without being needlessly offensive.
Whatever reasons lie behind his sacking, the event itself was notable for a several reasons. First, there was the concerted “shitstorm.” This started with reliably leftist heavyweight publications, like The Atlantic and The Guardian in the UK, flagging up the article in the lowly Taki’s e-zine. This was then followed by a massive surge of anti-Derbyshire comments at Taki’s and elsewhere denouncing Derbyshire’s “racism” from people who had obviously never visited the site before and seemed to be using cut-and-paste garbage from some liberal/ leftist trollbook.
Given the time in the canonical calendar, this was all a bit reminiscent of the mob baying for Jesus’s blood. Next, Judas-like, National Review colleagues started leaving little messages on the internet, distancing themselves from Derbyshire, one-by-one, followed up by a coup-de-grace at the hands of Caiaphas himself, Richard Lowry the National Review’s editor.
When the magazine was set up in the 1950s, the case could still be made that America was a nation, and that because it was a reasonably coherent entity, there was some sense in establishing a Conservative political magazine that sought to review it as a whole; hence the magazine’s dull but descriptive name. Reviewing, by the way, means to look at, examine, and analyze something so as to offer opinion, insight, and enlightenment. Something to bear in mind in the present age.
Over several decades, however, the nation that the magazine was set up to review changed so spectacularly that there is no longer any certainty that it is an actual nation with a unified culture and identity. The most obvious of the many divisions that have arisen is that Blacks are no longer held to the same standards as the rest of the country, with the result that a great many of them have simply given up trying to live in a way compatible with Whites. While some see this as a disaster for the “Black family,” it can also be seen as the rejection of what are essentially Northern European modes of behaviour, and the reassertion of the tribal and extended family patterns inherent in African populations.
The changes that America has undergone are not only significant in themselves, they also have severe journalistic repercussions. These have beeb clearly revealed in the Derbyshire case. While the old National Review could critique the nation as a whole and examine the most important issues, including race, with a degree of frankness and honesty, the present day mainstream media do so at their peril.
With the recent sacking of Pat Buchanan from MSNBC and now Derbyshire many will say we are moving into a zone of growing intolerance and political correctness. This is partially true, but the real reason is that the changing nature of America means it can no longer bear the strain of being honestly debated by its own mainstream media. To do this honestly and frankly, as Buchanan and Derbyshire did, emphasizes the fault lines and threatens to rip them apart.
This creates a major difficulty because you can’t understand America or any of its aspects without bringing a frank discussion of race into the picture. For example, in the case of education, how do you deal with the problem of a failing public school system without looking at the real problem, the inherently lower IQs of a significant part of the population? To understand an entity like America without addressing the issue of race is simply unthinkable, but to bring race into it also unleashes the kind of emotions that makes a sensible debate practically impossible. Catch 22!
But America is not the only multicultural or multiracial society. There are scores throughout the world, and the truth is that most of them handle race a lot better than America does. For example, Switzerland with four separate languages is clearly a multicultural country, but there the different cultural groups can deal with their differences and common interests without claiming that Romansch, German, French, or Italian are “social constructs” or resorting to stupid platitudes about the content of each man’s character.
Malaysia is a multiracial society with quite different racial groups, each with its own interests, but through an honest racial dialogue they have managed to create a society where the cleverness of the Chinese can be partially balanced by affirmative action that benefits the indigenous Malays and allows the two groups to create a reasonably effective symbiosis.
An examination of Spain, Lebanon, India, Russia, and Egypt will reveal countries that admit and deal with significant cultural and racial differences. It’s not always pretty and there are often problems, but in none of these countries is race consigned to the realm of taboos as it is in America.
Compared to these states, America has a special problem. These other countries are largely the result of “organic” historical processes that pushed their different populations together. America, by contrast, is much more the product of far-ranging economic processes, like Trans-Atlantic emigration from Europe and the African slave trade overlaid with modern mass immigration. Because of this different racial elements have been thrown together, and are much more disparate in character. This creates much greater ‘asymmetry’ in the differing racial characteristics, especially between Blacks and Whites.
In Switzerland the German Swiss and French Swiss are different but there is a rough equivalence that allows them to work together with mutual respect, deal with differences, and strike deals that are mutually acceptable. The same can be said for Castilians, Catalans, and Basques in Spain, and Hundus, Sikhs, Muslims, Gujaratis, and Bengalis in India. These groups are all different, but the differences are not so great or one-sided as to render them completely asymmetrical. Where goodwill exists, the different groups can represent their racial and cultural interests and address problems in a quid pro quo manner without denying race as the American establishment does.
Between Blacks and Whites in the USA, this is simply impossible, because whenever racial issues are addressed the enormous “racial asymmetry” instantly becomes an issue. But what does this “racial asymmetry” consist of? In concrete terms it refers to the entirely lopsided relationship between two races. In the case of Blacks and Whites in America it includes the fact that Blacks on the negative side of so many indices compared to Whites. They are much poorer, more criminal, imprisoned in much greater numbers, less educated, depend much more on welfare, have much less conventional family stability, and report much lower IQ rates than Whites. By all the standards that matter in a modern society, Blacks trail disastrously behind Whites. It is this asymmetry that makes an honest discussion about race an impossibility in modern America.
Instead we get a dishonest discussion about race: Back in the 1950s and 60s, round about the time the National Review was getting on its feet, nice, kind White liberals popularized an explanation for all the above phenomena that tied them all together in a series of causes and effects in a manner that was not overly insulting and offensive to Black people. Basically it said that Blacks were suffering from slavery and racism and that once racism was removed they would soon catch up with Whites.
Interestingly, this face-saving explanation of racial asymmetry, which I will call the “Face-Saving Racial Myth,” has now become the dominant racial narrative across the entire mainsteam media and most of the political spectrum, not because it is true. Indeed, everybody secretly knows it is untrue in the same way that everybody secretly gives their kids exactly the same kind of advice that John Derbyshire said he gave his. No, this Fairy Godmother explanation of racial asymmetry is favoured simply for reasons of short-term political and economic expediency because America is a political entity and collection of economic entities that all run on short-term political and economic expediency.
The basic racial asymmetry between Blacks and Whites means that the “Face-Saving Racial Myth” must never be challenged, for when it is the already tattered national fabric starts ripping apart. Wherever you have a marked racial asymmetry, honest discussion of it will do two things. First it will be immensely offensive to the disadvantaged race and those who claim to speak for them. This doesn’t mean that they are right, but they can’t help feeling the way they do. They will be well and truly pissed. This is not an argument to placate them. It is just a statement of fact.
The second thing that will happen is that White people, who have nothing but goodwill for Blacks, will notice that the longer they honestly and frankly discuss race the more they will end up sounding exactly like “White supremacists” and so-called hard-line “racists.” This is not because they have “inherent racism” as leftists like to imagine, it is simply because the facts of the debate will push them in that direction.
Derbyshire’s article is a perfect example of both of these effects. Far from being hateful or racist, the tone of the article was one of stoical regret that things had to be the way they are, but that, because of undeniable facts, certain precautions were advisable to safeguard one’s children. Writing with his usual honesty and thoroughness, it wasn’t long before he was unwittingly saying things that couldn’t help but be offensive to Blacks, while nevertheless being completely true.
The direction that the debate goes was revealed on the on-line comment boards at Taki’s and several other publications that got involved in the fight. Where these weren’t censored, the debates all served to highlight the great racial asymmetry between Blacks and Whites. After Black crimes rates were mentioned, the debate tended to move on to why Blacks commit so much more crime than Whites, leading to issues of poverty, low IQs, and the failure of Blacks to progress since “racism” ended. This then led to the corruption, chaos, and devastation of Black-run areas, with countless examples, usually mentioning Detroit and occasionally Haiti, as well as African countries.
Against a plethora of hard facts and hard experience all that the defenders of Blacks have is the “Face-Saving Racial Myth,” creaking, ragged, and ridiculous from constant overuse since the early 1960s, and a flood of Nazi, klan, and hillbilly jibes to cover up the vacuum where there arguments and evidence should be.
In short, the more that race is honestly discussed the more insulting it inevitably becomes for Blacks, and the more Whites will find themselves slipping unwittingly into “supremacist” language and attitudes, simply because of the underlying racial asymmetry. As for discussing, in a mutually polite and respectful way, topics like the 20-point IQ gap, Black-on-White crime (with stats and examples), and racial profiling. Forget it!
Personally I have no wish to bang on about White “supremacy,” and I’m sure that John Derbyshire didn’t either, but when you have a frank, open, and honest discussion about race in America this is one of the inevitable by-products, and this is exactly why the National Review has stopped reviewing the nation, and fired the last writer on its books capable of living up to the magazine’s title.