THE PLANK OCTOBER 16, 2009
After picking up my new copy of National Review (not yet available online), I noticed that the first book under review was 'We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism', by NR writer John Derbyshire. Unsurprisingly, the review--courtesy of New York Post film critic Kyle Smith--is a rave ("delightful", "wide ranging", and "gratifying").
Derbyshire is extremely politically incorrect, with beliefs that go well beyond the normal bounds of right-wing opinion on race. What is most interesting here, however, is Smith's reaction to Derbyshire's racial views, because that reaction is indicative of right-wing opinion on race. Here's Smith:
[A]ny liberal who bothers to read this book will probably denounce it as, at best, racially insensitive. Derbyshire doesn't care.
This would perhaps be laudable on Derbyshire's part if in fact the book steered completely clear of racism. Smith's next paragraph, however, reads:
Borrowing (mischeviously) his terminology from the racist CCNY professor Leonard Jeffries, Derbyshire notes that "Ice People" (Asians and whites) are almost completely segregated from Sun People (blacks and non-white Hispanics) in public schools...[Derbyshire] can't resist adding that "Sun People kids are, in the broad generality, unacademic and unruly."
Yeah, yeah, the natives never know how to behave. But note Smith's tone here. He finds this all so charming and "mischevious". He goes on to add that, "Derbyshire knows that even many fellow conservatives will be clearing their throats and checking their watches at such points, and he delights in that discomfort." Terrific. To people like Smith, showing any discomfort about actual racism is all so P.C. And it is this attitude, more than Derbyshire's nonsense, that defines the conservative approach to race.