I think the terrible piece that Zandar and ABL discussed is a picture perfect example of what I’ve been talking about: a concerted effort to normalize racist sentiment. Specifically, by presenting that sentiment as a kind of “daring” in the way DougJ describes, racism as an act of intellectual courage or some such self-aggrandizing narrative. Meanwhile, those who engage in that sort of thing will be defended by the notion that criticism is a kind of leftist censoring. Take it away, Mark Steyn:
The Left is pretty clear about its objectives on everything from climate change to immigration to gay marriage: Rather than win the debate, they’d just as soon shut it down. They’ve had great success in shrinking the bounds of public discourse, and rendering whole areas of public policy all but undiscussable. In such a climate, my default position is that I’d rather put up with whatever racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic/whateverphobic excess everybody’s got the vapors about this week than accept ever tighter constraints on “acceptable” opinion.
It writes itself, if you’re trying to erode our fragile consensus on the equal dignity of black people. (There’s all kinds of racism, but let’s be real: they’re talking about black people.) Note that the idea of scandal exhaustion helps here; it’s far less likely that Mark Judge will be fired than John Derbyshire, and were he to be, the next conservative who said racist shit would be in even better shape. Every instance of bad behavior that provokes a righteously critical reaction simply feeds into the conspiracy mongering and grievance that animates the conservative project.
I fully expect that, in the near future– the next several years, and likely specifically as a reaction against another term for Obama, or a racialized controversy like the Trayvon Martin case– some fairly prominent conservative will write a post about “coming out of the race realist closet.” It will deny that any animosity is intended, again defining racism as a kind of lack of civility rather than as the belief in the inherent superiority and inferiority of different races. It will at once make broad claims about the lower intelligence and tendency to violence in black people, while expressing that position in an idiom designed to seem anodyne and academic. It will repeatedly assert that the writer is terribly hurt to have to make this argument, and insist that he (it will be a he) wishes it weren’t so, but as his job is to tell the whole truth, he will bear the pains and risk his career. Despite this meticulously curated “more in sorrow than in anger” pose, the piece will assert the fundamental dishonesty of those who disagree.
Now, maybe this first post won’t change things itself. The person who writers it will take heat. But it will come in a more prominent publication than Taki, and whoever voices it will likely be able to keep a job in the conservative media. And objections will spawn accusations of liberal groupthink, and the center will be moved, and then you’ll have the cable news networks at least talking about the idea– because “it’s out there now”– and even if they hold their nose and create distance, the idea just gets more and more mainstream. Then more dominoes fall, until the idea that any suitably large group of black people is statistically certain to be majority stupid is the sort of opinion a US Congressman can hold.
It isn’t gonna come from some bold break. It’ll come drip-drip-drip, first with your fringe figures like Derbyshire, than a little more mainstream, and a little more, and a little more, until….