John Derbyshire, NRO, And The Curses Of Those Who Come After
John Derbyshire`s recent column Hesperophobia, (cont.) (“hesperophobia” is historian Robert Conquest`s term for fear and loathing of the West) is interesting both in itself and because it was spiked by his employer National Review Online. That it couldn`t be published says a lot about the puerility of mainstream conservatism.
Derbyshire, of course, is not puerile. Unlike the typical opinion journalist, who got into the business straight out of school, long before he`d earned any of his opinions, Derbyshire was in his 50s before becoming a full time writer. He`s lived all over the world and had many jobs, both mundane but instructive (such as computer systems analyst) and exotic (such as getting beaten up by the great Bruce Lee in the kung fu movie Way of the Dragon.)
Similarly, unlike the run-of-the-mill pundit, who knows only politics and some tedious pop culture, such as Star Trek trivia, Derbyshire`s particular interests range from poetry (he`s put together an enjoyable CD of three dozen great American poems) to mathematics. His book Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics was a surprisingly big seller and his next book, Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra, is slated for publication in the Spring.
Reflecting on the Muslim cartoon riots in his spiked column, Derbyshire asks: “The West is hated all over the rest of the world. Why?”
He answers his question:
“They hate us from wounded ethnic pride. They hate us because of our cultural superiority; which is to say, at one remove, our political superiority. They hate us because they can`t organize societies like ours, in which security, prosperity, and hope for the future are available to all, and creativity flourishes. They can`t, they know they can`t, and the knowledge drives them nuts.”
White Americans have a hard time realizing this because we don`t think about Third Worlders much at all. Why not? Because we don`t see them as rivals. It`s like how Tiger Woods thinks about the average PGA golf pro a lot less than the typical pro thinks about Tiger Woods. (Tiger thinks about Jack Nicklaus and his records.) And just knowing that Tiger isn`t worrying about them annoys an awful lot of them no end.
Similarly, we white Americans think of each other as rivals, and sometimes we think of those snooty French as competitors, and we treat the Northeast Asians as rivals when it comes to business. But we don`t think much about the Third Worlders, and that drives them crazy.
That this makes them mad at us is only human nature. And, as Derbyshire, says, “We may not, to borrow a rhetorical figure from Trotsky, be interested in the reality of human nature, but it is interested in us.”
I suspect that what got his essay rejected by NRO was this:
“It has long been known, for example, that East Asians have better visual-spatial skills than other peoples… But if a group of humans with one genetic heritage can differ slightly from some other group in the way they process visual information, might they not also differ in the way they process social information? And if they do so differ, might it not be that forms of society that come easily to one group, might come only with great difficulty, or not at all, to another?”
In contrast, the President`s invade-the-world-invite-the-world strategy is fundamentally based on the opposite assumption: that everybody is equal in potential, and that to even question that is unthinkable and evil.
Mr. Bush may be right. Many fashionable thinkers make the same claim. The late Stephen Jay Gould advised his readers to repeat after him, “Human equality is a contingent fact of history.” To help keep their faith up, he advised them to chant his slogan “five times before breakfast.”
But, what if Mr. Bush and Dr. Gould are wrong?
The genetic science is progressing so fast that we`ll know soon enough—perhaps two decades to be rock solid certain. We know which way the scientific wind is blowing right now, but even if we ignore that, wouldn`t the prudent action be to wait a couple of decades, to restrict immigration and refrain from utopian foreign adventures, until the science is in?
Then, if the Bush-Gould theory of human nature turns out to be right, we can open up the floodgates again and start occupying backward countries once more, with little harm done.
But what if Bush and Gould are wrong? Then we will have dug ourselves into a much deeper hole 20 years from now than we are in now. If Bush turns out to be fool and Gould a charlatan, well, then the joke will be on us, the American people.