September 11, 2005

John Derbyshire's Spiked Essay on New Orleans

The Derb was commissioned by a prestigious foreign outlet to write about What's Wrong With America in light of New Orleans, but had it rejected for, well, for the reason that title makes tautologically clear. From the Derb's website:

You Can't Talk About That
I nearly fell out of my Barcalounger Sunday morning, watching The McLaughlin Group. The old Jesuit had Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift, Tony Blankley, and Clarence Page (who is black) sitting around. They were talking about Hurricane Katrina, of course. Suddenly, McLaughlin turned to Page and said: “Why the correlation between black and poor?”

Good grief, I thought, you can’t ask that. People get taken off the air for less.

Poor Clarence Page didn’t know whether to spit or wind his watch. He mumbled something that wasn’t even close to being an answer. McLaughlin, realizing his gaffe, quickly and deftly steered the talk to other topics. Everybody in the studio, and all of us out there in viewerland, started breathing again. You can’t ask THAT. Nobody wants to hear about THAT.

At my neighbourhood block party that afternoon, a white, liberal neighbour expressed the sense of national shame that we’d all felt at some point in Katrina Week. “It was like some Third World country!” he said. “Like Somalia, or Haiti…” The guy stopped dead in his tracks, suddenly aware of what he had implied, then desperately back-pedaled, trying to erase his thoughtcrime. “I mean, you know, Third World. Like, um, Cambodia…” Those of us listening nodded in sympathy, silently thinking: Nice save there, guy.

All of us, and John McLaughlin, and very likely Clarence Page, too, all of us were still haunted by what we’d been watching on our TV screens through Katrina Week: the spectacle of several thousand black Americans openly, nakedly displaying their helpless, hopeless, clueless, angry dependency. It was there, it was real, though we’re stuffing it down the memory hole now as fast as we can work our fingers. Come on, you saw it too. What did you think? What did you feel?

Speaking for myself, I felt pity, anger, and shame, in proportions roughly 3-2-1.

Pity. It could hardly be plainer that nobody gives a damn about these poor black people, and nobody has any clue how to lift them up, least of all the people who bellyache endlessly about “racism” (see next point). The meritocracy vacuums up every clever, talented black kid it can find and puts him through college, after which he is welcomed joyfully into the Cognitive Elite. (Hey, look at us! No racism here!) The rest are packed off into welfare slums, or jails — anywhere really, so long as we don’t have to think about them. Yale or jail.

Anger. The whole thing woke my anger at liberals, big time. What lying, thieving hypocrites they are! All their vaunted “programs,” all that money, all those decades of preaching to us. What’s it accomplished? Black people don’t actually occupy any space in a white liberal’s mind at all. All their pretended concern is just intra-tribal moral posturing, asserting their moral superiority over other whites. Horrible, horrible, people. Hey, Teddy, Hillary, Barbra: You have a few houses each — how about giving one or two of them over to a poor black family flooded out from New Orleans? Whaddya say? Hillary? Ted? Hello?

Shame. Just like my neighbor. More so, if I may thus flatter myself, since I am a naturalized citizen. I chose this country. And because we can’t stir ourselves to care about this, above the level of posturing and lip service and cooking up convoluted lies to tell ourselves, a bunch of crummy foreigners are laughing at us. The hell with them, except… we kind of deserve it, don’t we?

The lying is the worst. Boy, how we lie to ourselves. What was that thing Orwell said in the Blitz, about how he didn’t mind people flying over and dropping bombs on him half as much as he minded the lies they used to justify themselves? [More]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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