Race And Conservatism Debated At The Robert A. Taft Club (No Thanks To The Leadership Institute)
[Previously by Kevin
Brainwashing Backfires In Academe]
Last Wednesday, August 30,
Robert A. Taft Club, which describes itself as “a
monthly meeting group of traditionalist conservatives
and libertarians in the Washington, DC area,"
hosted a debate on the subject: "Race and
Jared Taylor, editor of
American Renaissance magazine,
John Derbyshire, a contributing editor at
National Review, and black conservative
Kevin Martin, associated with the
National Center for Public Policy Research.
The event provided a rare
opportunity for a frank discussion on race—but it almost
didn`t happen. In the past, the national headquarters
Leadership Institute had always been happy to host
the Taft Club. But this time it abruptly decided to
cancel with barely more than a day`s notice.
Apparently, the Southern
Poverty Law Center had alerted the Leadership Institute
to the fact that the
infamous "white supremacist" Jared Taylor would be
involved. But LI didn`t back down until the
One People`s Project—that other leftwing
"watchdog" group—declared they were going to show up
at the event. (We found out later that they
merely sent a spy. You can find
their take on the event here.)
Well, the irony of the
situation couldn`t have been greater. For those of you
who don`t know, LI is an organization ostensibly
dedicated to "training"
young conservatives. It makes much of how it never
gives in to the left. [Contact
the Leadership Institute]
In the end, the event was
simply moved across the street. The
controversy probably boosted attendance, as some of
the young conservatives at LI came to find out what all
the fuss was about—even I`m told, walking out on a speech
Grover Norquist so they wouldn`t miss anything.
As Jared Taylor remarked
in his opening statement, [Listen (MP3),
Amren.com] the fundamental question in the debate
was essentially "whether and to what extent
conservatives should talk about race."
His answer was that
everyone should talk about race, not just conservatives,
because "there are so
many things we can`t
understand if we don`t." Everyday, he pointed
out, we make decisions by
looking at the facts and weighing the evidence,
"but when it comes to race or ethnicity, however, this
Taylor then asked the
audience to imagine a "hypothetical" situation
where large numbers of people wish to live among us, and
that these newcomers are, compared to ourselves,
four times more likely to commit murder, twice as
drop out of high school, twice as likely to have
illegitimate children, etc.
Taylor, of course, was
speaking of Hispanics (as
VDARE.COM readers doubtless recognized). He lamented
that "you would think that this kind of analysis . .
. would be legitimate, and yet of course, it is not. We
not allowed to engage in this kind of discussion
when it comes to
Taylor then moved on to
discuss the reality of racial differences in
intelligence. He demonstrated to the audience how the
science on race can explain "a great deal that is
otherwise inexplicable." The refusal to discuss
these racial differences, Taylor contended, has had a
terrible effect on race relations, because it in fact
blacks, and increasingly
Hispanics as well, to hate whites"—because, if
realistic discussion of race is banned, white
"racism" and white oppression become the only
rational explanation for black and Hispanic failure.
Kevin Martin was the next
to speak. He opened by lamenting how difficult it is to
Republican in the
black community. He blamed most of the problems that
blacks face on the fact that "self-appointed leaders"
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have conditioned
blacks to believe in a culture of victimization that
prevents them from ever taking responsibility for their
seemed to blame the media for most of the negative
stereotypes about blacks. His speech was also full of
the usual banalities, such as "we`re all members of
one race: the human race," etc. Nevertheless, Martin
should be praised for rejecting the culture of
victimhood that he described.
John Derbyshire spoke
last [listen (MP3)
After admitting that Establishment conservatives don`t
usually talk much about race, he jokingly cited
Karl Rove`s recent speech to La Raza as evidence
that they will talk about it sometimes—"they just
don`t talk about their own race."
Humor aside, however,
Derbyshire`s remarks were quite insightful. After
telling the audience that he could actually remember the
early days of the Civil Rights movement, he explained
that everyone who took part in it truly believed that if
it was successful, "the result would be an America
where race did not matter."
The dream, Derbyshire
said, was essentially that, once the legal restrictions
were removed, blacks would, be proportionately
represented in all walks of life. And this, Derbyshire
observed, simply didn`t happen. Instead, he noted, the
result has been increasing racial separation, as blacks
and whites no longer watch the same movies or TV shows
or even give the
same names to their children.
The main result, he
lamented, has been "this whole rickety apparatus of
profiling protests and
speech codes. It`s not a pretty sight."
Yet Derbyshire, to his
credit, did not simply wring his hands and pretend not
to know why the dream died. "I have," he said,
"rather reluctantly come to agree with Jared Taylor here
on one thing: that something is going on here that liberal
orthodoxy does not explain."
Mentioning his various
geneticists, he explained that we`re now at the
point where we can confidently say that there are group
differences and that we`ll probably know much more about
them in the coming years.
Surprisingly, during the
question and answer session, no one ever questioned the
reality of racial differences. Kevin Martin did at times
verge on criticism, but his attempts probably tended to
reinforce rather than undermine the racial realist
position—at one point, for example, he said "I don`t
give a damn what a study says," because, he argued,
studies had been used to "prove"
Yet while Derbyshire
professed to agree with Taylor that we should talk more
honestly and openly about race, he rather hypocritically
mainstream conservatives for refusing to do so. When
someone asked him how many conservative writers and
thinkers were aware of the facts about racial
differences, he simply answered that he couldn`t speak
for other people.
It`s interesting to note,
however, that Taft Club organizer
Marcus Epstein said he`d invited several other
Establishment conservatives to speak, most of whom
initially agreed to come but then backed out when they
Jared Taylor would be on the platform.
One wonders why they
wouldn`t be more eager to disprove his views if they`re
so confident that they`re wrong.
What did seem to be at
issue, however, was precisely what Jared Taylor and
Steve Sailer have debated before on VDARE.COM, the
morality, or rather the viability, of white nationalism.
Derbyshire, specifically citing Sailer, argued that the
prospect of white nationalism emerging as a major force
in the future was
slim, partly because immigration, a principle source
of white anxiety, would probably soon be curtailed,
but more generally because whites don`t really see
non-whites as a threat.
Lest there be any doubt as
to where he stood, Derbyshire concluded by declaring his
Sailer`s "citizenist" approach.
What did the audience
think of all this? It`s difficult to say. Few seemed to
be repelled by what they heard, and at least two of the
young conservatives from LI told me afterwards in
private conversation that they were deeply impressed
with Taylor`s arguments.
How did Sailer`s
citizenism fare? I`m not sure, but I know I`ve never
bought into it.
Citizenism is a useful debating tactic in today`s PC
world, but that`s about all its good for. In the end,
it`s just another version of the same colorblind,
utopian thinking that`s made the current immigration
Moreover, as Taylor
pointed out in the debate, even if immigration stopped
tomorrow, whites would probably
still become a minority in the United States because
differential birthrates. In other words, citizenism
might help us close the borders, but it won`t be much
help to whites afterwards.
Yet regardless of what
views you might have found most compelling, if you
attended the Robert A. Taft Club that night, you had a
rare opportunity to see them publicly debated.
The kind of intellectual
combat and disregard for
contemporary taboos were precisely what made the
conservative movement great to begin with.
The fact that the people
at the Leadership Institute shied away from such a
spectacle ought to tip us off as to why that movement is
now in such disarray.
Kevin Carter [
him] graduated with a degree in economics this spring
and now lives in the Washington D.C. area.