I’ve always thought Andrew Sullivan’s criticisms of John Derbyshire of National Review Online were unfair. Now, however, Derbyshire has put his foot in his mouth in a manner that makes Trent Lott look discreet and statesmanlike by comparison. In his latest NRO column, Derbyshire vows to stop talking about race, since his views are “non-respectable.”
Unfortunately, in the process of swearing off any further talk about race, Derbyshire lets loose one last volley of incomprehensible stupidity:
“All American politicians are liars and hypocrites about race, from Democrats like Hillary Clinton posing as champions of the downtrodden black masses while buying a house in the whitest town they can find, to Republicans pretending not to know that (a) many millions of nonblack Americans seriously dislike black people, (b) well-nigh every one of those people votes Republican, and (c) without those votes no Republican would ever win any election above the county level.”
It’s hard to know where to begin responding to this slander of Republicans and Republican voters. In the first place, while there are no doubt plenty of white people who don’t much care for blacks (and vice versa), I don’t know of any support for the claim that “many millions” of nonblack Americans “seriously dislike black people.” If this were the case, it is hard to see how Michael Jordan could be our most admired athlete, Oprah Winfrey one of our most popular entertainers, and Colin Powell probably the most admired person in American public life–to take just three of many possible examples.
Further, Derbyshire’s claim that “well-nigh every one of these people” (i.e., racists) votes Republican is ridiculous. All of the public opinion surveys I have seen on the subject have indicated that racial animosity is expressed more often by Democrats than by Republicans. (They also indicate that of all ethnic groups, whites express the least animosity toward other races.)
And finally, the idea that without the anti-black vote, “no Republican would ever win an election” is equally absurd. Take just one example, my home state of South Dakota. South Dakota’s black population is essentially zero, and the state has historically voted Republican. George Bush carried South Dakota easily in 2000. Does Derbyshire seriously believe that what motivates South Dakotans to vote for Republicans is their distaste for black people?
The conservative movement is a big tent, and in general, I don’t like efforts to expel people from it; for example, I thought it was silly for NRO to purge Ann Coulter for language it deemed over-the-top. But to anyone capable of expressing such foolish and destructive sentiments as we have just heard from Derbyshire, all I can say is: get off my team.
Thanks to reader Casey Abell for pointing out Derbyshire’s column.
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