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Jonah Whales on VDARE.COM!
A Personal Response
Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review Online, wrote in the L.A. Times on 2/24/02:
"We get Peter Brimelow, a once-respected conservative voice who now runs the shrill anti-immigration website VDARE.com …Rather than focusing on how to create a rational immigration policy that recognizes the permanence of America's ethnic diversity, they live in denial about how to get back to the days when America was 90% white. … Hiding out in their bunkers on the web and in the pages of a few obscure publications, these unhappy paleoconservatives and neo-nativists have rallied the troops under a single flag: white supremacy. … Take Brimelow's VDARE.com, which features--pardon the expression--a Chinese menu of white-pride dishes. Some authors concentrate on genetic questions … [T]he writings of the anti-immigration right are a bonfire of fear and hyperbole …Race isn't the point, so drop it. Now."
The Monica Lewinsky brouhaha made the ever-delightful Lucianne Goldberg, Linda Tripp's literary agent, into a celebrity. Her son, a young PBS producer named Jonah Goldberg, became a sort of satellite celebrity of his own. In the four years since, Jonah has admirably exploited the opportunity presented by his improbable entry into public life. He has churned out a remarkable quantity of sometimes insightful, often funny, and normally readable content each week. You would not guess that from his turgid diatribe against straw men quoted above.
Jonah also lends National Review a certain fashionable cachet (well, compared, say, to Russell Kirk). The Stanford Review even breathlessly proclaimed him "The Man Who Made Conservatism Hip." As a hipster, Jonah doesn't exactly rival Beck [PB: WHO HE? SS: a singer!]. But there's not much competition for the title of Coolest Conservative. While the typical bow-tie wearing, Mid-Atlantic accent-affecting conservative pundit disdains pop culture, Jonah, by contrast, proudly proclaims how much time he spends on his famous couch watching TV and memorizing Star Trek and Simpsons trivia. In fact, in his cultural tastes, Jonah resembles that iconic symbol of the modern male media-junkie nerd: "The Comic Book Guy." That's the sarcastic, Star Trek-obsessed owner of The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop on The Simpsons.
Granted, Jonah's recommendation that America invade, conquer, colonize and civilize the entire continent of Africa (here's his call to arms and here's his lengthy defense of it) was easily the worst idea to be put forward in the conservative media in this decade. Compared to Jonah's Bright Idea, Ann Coulter's impassioned 9-13-2001 eulogy for her murdered friend Barbara Olson, in which she famously called for America to invade and Christianize the Islamic world (and which ultimately led to Jonah firing her), sounded like the statecraft of Calvin Coolidge. Africa, despite all its faults, is not blowing up the WTC.
But I forgive Jonah for those columns. He writes so much that he simply can't be held responsible for everything he publishes. As with Andrew Sullivan, much of the pleasure of reading Jonah is in watching him try to explain his way out of the trouble he makes for himself by clicking on "Send" before he's thought through whatever he's propounding. Further, Jonah's African Adventure was hardly to be taken seriously. It was clearly just the adolescent fantasy of someone with no sons of his own to be sent into harm's way.
No doubt Jonah, who got married last year, will outgrow his current ignorance of the real world. Life has a way of teaching you valuable lessons, whether you want to learn them or not. When I was Jonah's age, I used to believe in some of the same theories – for example, about immigration and assimilation - that he expounds so confidently now.
The puzzling question about Jonah is why he undermines his potential as a humorist (someday he could be the P.J. O'Rourke of couch potatoes) by pompously posing as the Pontiff of Conservatism - proclaiming acceptable conservative dogma and excommunicating heretics, such as myself and other VDARE.COM writers. Maybe I didn't notice - did Bill Buckley die and leave a will naming Jonah next in the line of Apostolic Succession?
Consider, for example, how badly written and poorly argued was Jonah's Feb. 24th denunciation of VDARE. It will do nothing for his reputation other than establish him as the frontrunner for the 2002 Raoul Lowery Contreras Fruit Basket of Thanks for Promoting VDARE.Com.
Jonah, normally a fairly funny guy, finds nothing amusing about VDARE.COM. This webzine drives him so far around the bend that he ended up sounding more like Raoul than his normal glib self. In his rush to slur, Jonah concocted embarrassing sentences like:
"Rather than focusing on how to create a rational immigration policy that recognizes the permanence of America's ethnic diversity, they live in denial about how to get back to the days when America was 90% white."
What does that mean? Read literally, he's implying that VDARE.COM's writers are in denial about somebody else's method (Jonah's?) of getting back to the days when America was 90% white.
In fact, VDARE.COM is more concerned about the future than the past. For example, America is quite obviously headed for a nasty jam in the mid-21st Century because of the interaction of racial preferences and open-ended mass immigration of people who qualify for those racial privileges. The country can arguably withstand legally-encoded multiculturalism as long as the number of privileged people is kept small. After all, the tax-free status of tribal Indians was mentioned all the way back in the 14th Amendment. We could perhaps even shrug off affirmative action for the descendents of slaves, because African-American numbers aren't growing all that quickly. But the number of racially privileged immigrants is booming. It can't be shrugged off.
As the white majority that pays for the others' privileges becomes a minority itself, it's inevitable that whites will increasingly act like a modern American minority in pressing their racial demands in the political marketplace. At best, the power of the government will grow dramatically as American life becomes increasingly politicized along ethnic bloc lines. At worst … well, Bosnia.
This is an ugly prospect. How do we forestall it? Jonah's solution is simple. He'll write a column telling minorities that they ought to give up their legally privileged status – and assimilate into the bargain. When they don't (would you?), he'll write another column.
It's a lifetime employment gig.
Americans always shoot down multiculturalism when given the chance in referendums. But professional politicians - most notably, George W. Bush - have almost unanimously refused to associate themselves with manifestly popular issues as Ward Connerly's anti-racial preference initiative and Ron Unz's anti-bilingualism initiative. How come? Because the office-seekers assume that the number of legally-privileged voters will swell inexorably due to unchecked immigration. Further, they will keep coming. So fast that there will always be lots who are poor, unassimilated, and thus anti-conservative. So, the pols figure they'd better jump on the multiculturalism bandwagon now.
How can we change the politicians' expectations? The only feasible way is to cut immigration soon. That would shatter their mindset and allow them to respond to the current majority's dislike of multiculturalism. It won't be easy - especially with fashion-conscious folks like Jonah throwing unhip conservatives out of the sleigh to keep the liberal wolves at bay. But it's the only way out of this vicious cycle.
It would be sad if Jonah failed to fulfill his potential because his prose style goes to hell in his fervor to excommunicate much of the conservative movement's intellectual firepower. But it would be much sadder for conservatism, and thus for America, if he succeeds in his campaign of demonizing as "white supremacists" those of us who try to think objectively and rigorously about the vastly important topic of race.
Funny thing, in Jonah's brand of conservative political correctness, it's OK for him to retail unfunny anti-Chinese ethnic jokes about the Premiere of China eating Jonah's dog and leaving too many menus on his doorstep.
What Jonah excoriates, instead, is all serious thought about race.
I take this personally. Few public intellectuals have worked harder than I have over the last decade to tear down the old myths of the Left and the Right about race and replace them with a sophisticated evolution-based understanding of this vastly important subject. (You can find some of my articles here.)
Immodest as this sounds, I am attempting to rebuild thinking about race from the ground up. I'm sure Jonah sincerely believes that humanity's ancient and universal interest in race is just a hallucination kept alive by post-modernist college professors. But some of us are more realistic. We realize that race is an inextricable part of human nature. Why? Because "race" is the inevitable outgrowth of "family." A racial group is an extremely extended family that is inbred to some degree. When you start from this simple but profound definition, you can begin to answer all those questions that baffle and irritate Jonah about why humans continue to act as if blood relations were important to them. (Quick answer: because they are.)
Why have I devoted so much effort to thinking about race? I certainly could have made myself more popular as a writer by taking the easy route - complaining about Clinton, denouncing Daschle, hectoring heretics. You know the drill. I can only say I chose my path because I believe truth is more beneficial to humanity than lies, obfuscation, ignorance, wishful thinking – and even hipness.
Jonah's offended that "some authors" at VDARE.COM "concentrate on genetics." If Jonah's going to attack VDARE.COM for publishing articles on genetics, he ought to show some evidence that he's read some of them. There's only one such author at VDARE.COM - me. And I hardly concentrate on genetics. I have written nearly 100 original articles for VDARE, more than anybody else over the last two years, on a wide range of topics.
I certainly don't claim to speak for everyone on VDARE.COM - one of the great things about this webzine is its openness to original thinkers, who by no means all agree on everything. But if you haven't read my articles, you haven't read VDARE.COM.
Probably only a dozen or two of my VDARE.COM articles
have focused on technical issues in population and
behavioral genetics - such as my series on the strength
and weaknesses of the great Stanford geneticist L.L.
Cavalli-Sforza's monumental tome The History and
Geography of Human Genes. (Here are my essays
1, 2, and
Even the neutral terms Jonah uses, like "paleoconservative," are, in fact, wholly inappropriate descriptions of me. I am a neo-Darwinist (although I reject the Village Atheist tub-thumping of some neo-Darwinists). Jonah is more of a paleo than I am on the crucial question of Darwinism. "Let us not forget that Marx and Freud were once established scientific fact as well," he recently waffled in explanation of his intermittent support for Creationism.
Still, I plead guilty to trying to make sure that everything I write is consistent with the underlying scientific realities. I'm not crazy about labels for myself. But the most reasonable was one that John O'Sullivan invented in a 1999 National Review article: "Evolutionary Conservative." He wrote:
"This is an almost wholly intellectual group (e.g., Steve Sailer, John McGinnis, Charles Murray) — not a politician brave enough to stand with them — who have realized two things: first, that lessons of the new science of evolutionary psychology are largely conservative ones about an adamantine human nature, the natural basis of sex roles, and so on; second, that the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project and the rise of genetic engineering will throw up some fascinating and contentious political issues in the increasingly near future."
But how can we handle current human diversity, let alone predict the social impact of the genetic engineering made possible by new biotechnologies? The only safe way is honestly to study the naturally-occurring human genetic diversity that we see all around us. (For a fuller explanation, see the speech I gave to Mrs. Thatcher at a small seminar she hosted in 1999, or my 2000 essay "The Future of Human Nature.")
Echoing John, Jonah wrote in 2001 that genetics would be "the future of conservatism and where the excitement is going to be." But now, unfortunately, Jonah is acting as if those of us who are already there, where the intellectual excitement is, are not EvolCons - but EvilCons.
Jonah's describing me as a "white supremacist" pushing "white pride" is just slander. I am cold-eyed and hard-headed in order to be a more effective warm-hearted American patriot. I have always argued that the correct criterion for judging public policies such as immigration is whether they optimally benefit American citizens as a whole instead of any race or class. I define patriotism a little more rigorously than just the usual "We're #1, Down with the French (or Africans)" cheerleading.
I think patriotism means making sacrifices for your fellow citizens, such as being willing to pay them higher wages than is the going rate in Ciudad Juarez. I particularly detest how the white upper middle class uses mass immigration (much of it illegal) to provide themselves with low-cost servants (often tax-free) at the expense of driving down the wages of the 50% of American citizens with IQ's on the left half of the Bell Curve, almost two-fifths of whom are minorities.
The simple truth is that Jonah is ignorant about the scientific aspects of race. There's nothing shameful in that - particularly. He is still young. He has a little time to learn. What is shameful is that he wants to keep other people ignorant.
March 1, 2002