Nationally-known National Review racist John Derbyshire in 2002:
...The treatment of the Indians by 19th-century settlers (and governments, and generals) is something we could argue about all night. I know all the wrongs that were done, and don't need to be told. I've read Blood Meridian and seen Soldier Blue. Personally, I have a clear and uncomplicated attitude to the whole business. The white man took North America from the Indians, by means frequently foul. As a result, we have a civilized nation here, with laws and legislatures, with libraries and hospitals, with colleges and police departments and TV talk shows and orthodontists and supermarkets and second-hand bookstores and gun clubs and lawns and swimming pools. If the thing had not happened, North America would be vegetating in barbarism, as it did for the previous several millennia, with none of the above. I like the above, all of them. I don't want to live in a society with no law but blood revenge, with no medicine or sanitation, with no books or computers, with a 30-something median lifespan, with a famine every five years, with ritual public torture, human sacrifice and chronic tribal warfare. Far as I am concerned, civilization is the bee's knees, and barbarism stinks. Yes, I know how it was done, and I can't say I altogether approve. But it was done, and I am glad it was done.Okay: No law but blood revenge.No medicine
When anyone tried to push the "noble barbarian" line on the unfoxable Samuel Johnson, he had a sharp retort for them: "Don't cant in defense of savages." Same answer here.
or sanitation.No books
or computers. [!]30-something median lifespan.Famine
every five years. [?]*Ritual public torture.Human Sacrifice.
**Chronic Tribal Warfare.
This is why we on the Left tend to think that conservatives are morons. Without making distinctions - paleocon, old fashioned, "decent" - any more. Because any more, I don't see any willingness to self-criticize or even get the bare fact straight. I pick up the Syracuse Cultural Workers' catalog and find confessional autobiographies of former Weathermen talking frankly about their movement's failings of sexism, self-righteousness, narrow focus. I find the modern conservative "intelligensia" still talking as if it were 1970, utterly oblivious to the passing of time and the maturing of some people.
But this takes the cake. This is the sort of juvenile error that would get an F in any college freshman history class - nothing but empty back-patting that ignores the fact that all of these criticisms he levels at Native American societies can equally be leveled at European "civilization," most of them at the same time, and some of them well
into modern times.
We all of us live in glass houses, and some are more vitreous of construction than others.
Let's not get too deeply into the "logic" of assuming that if the European colonists had not
ever come to America, or
had not settled in a less-genocidal fashion, America would never
have attained anything like its current level of material wealth, in his terms, "vegetating in barbarism." (Never mind the whole other
question of the intrinsic superiority of "grass materialism" and helotry implied by it, and the fall of wealthy empires down the ages.) Looking at the squalid mess of feudal savagery and self-destruction over the centuries of the ancient Roman and Gothic and Renaissance and Early Modern and Modern eras, one might consider civilization
- that is, a word meaning both "the state of life existing in a city-supporting society" and "the most desirable state for human society", the two being conveniently interchanged by rhetoricians and sophists.
Obviously, Derbyshire doesn't think the Gauls and the Athenians and the Romans and the Helvetii and the Gaels and the Picts and Allemanni and all should have been annihilated and dispersed and treated the way the Wampanoag and the Cree and the Abnaki and the Pima and the Seminole and all were, for the crimes of being nasty, brutish, short, and worst of all, inefficient. Yet his "argument" such as it is, would require him to assent to such a purgation, had enlightened [sic] aliens from an advanced civiliation arrived to take charge of planet earth in past centuries.
Or does he really know so little of Western European history over the past 3000 years that he thinks that we were so very different, that the worst of our failings were better than the best of their triumphs? Does he know, and lie, out of shallow triumphalism? Or does he just not care, any more than he cares about the fate of brown-people-not-related-to-him, which he admits (a step up for conservatives) actually took place, but is indifferent to?
It doesn't matter. Except as a matter for idle speculation on chronic intellectual dishonesty among ideologues. --What is the difference between John Derbyshire and a proponent of the Final Solution? Other than Derbyshire being born on the winning side, that is.
Now, why is it important? Not just because Derbyshire (who I've gone after before for different displays of chauvinistic idiocy, things like this
bit quoted approvingly here) is an influential author in the oldest and most famous conservative magazine in the country. Because it's widely quoted - gloatingly quoted - by other conservatives. For no apparent reason, either: this bit of Derbyshire gibbering came to my attention as a near non-sequitur, cited as supporting evidence [sic] in a thread
in one of John-not-Juan Cold's ongoing revelations of what fools even the smartest of the so-called decent conservatives are.
(Cole himself - who is learning the fate of those who stray from Majority Party line even as he recites other bits of Party dogma, not realizing that it is no longer politically correct to be a Goldwater Conservative (which is to say, greedy, ignorant, aggressive, self-deluded - but not a theocon) didn't quote this, btw, it was one of the commenters, just to be clear. He's showing his stupidity in not realizing that he's showing how deeply in the conservative political correctness bubble he's embedded by assuming that all liberal/environmentalists burst into screams of phobic rage at the words "nuclear power." Obviously he's missed all the heated battles between fellow liberal environmentalists pro and con over nuclear energy, on dKos, the other month/week/year...)
Googling to find the original bit of drool brought up
, not the NRO article itself first, but a bunch more cons' approving citation of it.
So, nowdays, just as I felt (but did not in those cowardly uncertain years, say aloud) that those "decent" conservatives around me who disapproved of Limbutt's frothing themselves, but felt that generally he was A Good Thing for "translating" the conservative ideology down for the masses, that you could not be
that way: you must either reject this sort of thing, or accept being slimed with the haters you approve. Anyone who quotes Derbyshire's hate approvingly has forfeited all claims to decency, or even humanity. Yes, we know Kim Du Toit is on the level of Adam Yoshida, but this sort of smug white supremacist moral relativism ("they deserved it, and I benefit from it") is - as I know only too well - both rampant among "decent" conservative academe, and turned a blind eye to, discretely ignored by other, slightly-decenter conservative academics and hangers-on such as I was.
"Har, har, we won, you guys lost and it's all ours, and you were a bunch of dirty heathens anyway--"
"Oh George, don't - that's so gauche--"
And people wonder where angry cranks like [part-Indian] Ward Churchill come from!
Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, btw, has the smackdown on the whole "equivalency" thing that is so in vogue (what I call "the playground defense") these days among cons whose conscience is starting to prickle a bit: This Modern World
Oh, but I do agree with one thing that Derbyshire said - Barbarism does stink. Worse than weeds, in fact.
*This quantifier seems to be a figment of Derbyshire's imagination.
**But it wasn't like them & they were at war & the sacred books said to do so, so they're still The Good Guys.