From: John Derbyshire To: Joey Kurtzman Subject: A favorable review of MacDonald would be professional death
Now look: We can’t agree too much, or the whole debate will peter out.
Was that really 4,000 words? Good grief!
So far as the consequences of ticking off Jews are concerned: First, I was making particular reference to respectable rightwing journalism, most especially in the U.S. I can absolutely assure you that anyone who made general, mildly negative, remarks about Jews would NOT—not ever again—be published in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The New York Sun, The New York Post, or The Washington Times. I know the actual people, the editors, involved here, and I can assert this confidently.
Qualifications: You may, if you have ironclad journalistic credentials going back decades, like Novak or Buchanan, get away with something critical of Israel or the Israel lobbies. For a minor figure like myself, however, even that—let alone a favorable review of MacDonald—would be professional death.
Leftwing figures like Chomsky or Fisk are neither here nor there. The modern left is riddled with antisemitism, and nobody notices it any more. I spoke of the milieu I know. In this milieu, I say again, you don’t f*ck with the Jews. William Cash’s treatment—he was writing for The Spectator, a rightwing British magazine—was no anomaly. It was just what I should expect.
On the matter of intergroup courtesies, I think you are right that things have gone way too far, as some of the examples I raised in my last post illustrate. I certainly don’t think ethnic humor is out of bounds, though. The fact that it flourishes in private settings shows that it satisfies some deep human need.
I used to watch a lot of mainland Chinese TV, including the variety programs. Most Chinese TV humor consists of making fun of the various accents, manners, and stereotypes of China’s many regions. The Shandong people are pugnacious and none too bright; Cantonese will eat anything that moves; Shanxi people are cheap; Shanghainese are crafty; Beijing people ingratiating (“oily” is the actual Chinese word—jing you = “capital oil”); northeasterners inclined to crime; and on and on ad infinitum.
Even in PC America ethnic humor flourishes, on the understanding that jokes about group X may only be made by members of group X (though anyone is allowed to laugh at them). Chris Rock is outrageously funny on the criminality and sloth of blacks (“My friend called and said his car had broken down. He asked me what he should do. Where was he? I asked. He said he was on Martin Luther King Boulevard. I told him he should RUN…”). Similar with Jackie Mason and all his shoulder-shrugging Jew jokes.
On Kevin MacDonald: I thought his first two books made too much of the fact that the premodern European Jews were a distinctive group very diligent in maintaining group cohesion and advancing group interests. What’s surprising?
I thought Culture of Critique much more striking because of its detailed coverage of a topic I had been thinking about in an unfocused way for a long time, viz., how the great influx of European Jews into the U.S. in the decades around 1900 had had strong effects on American intellectual culture. This includes some very negative effects, like the elevation of spite-the-goy movements such as the Frankfurt School, and self-contained Talmudic-style pseudosciences such as Freudianism, headed by charismatic, authoritarian rabbi figures.
The very intense opposition of American Jews to almost any kind of immigration restriction has been much chewed over, not only by Kevin MacDonald. However, attitudes are changing fast.
John Podhoretz, editorial page editor of the New York Post, went to address a group of Midwestern Jews several months ago on the topic of illegal immigration. I hear that when he started with the traditionally Jewish-American lines about unrestricted immigration being a gift from G-d, etc., the audience hissed him down!
And several of the immigration-restrictionist groups (the CIS, FAIR, NumbersUSA…there are so many now I’m losing track) have Jewish activists in key positions—Dan Stein of FAIR comes to mind. It’s dawning on a lot of U.S. Jews that the main sources for present and future mass immigration into the U.S. are (a) Latin America, and (b) the Muslim world.
The former has high levels of antisemitism (look at where all the old Nazis retired to!) while the latter is antisemitic root and branch, and contains thousands of people who think that killing Jews is a holy sacrament. Mass immigration may no longer be “good for the Jews.” Older and more insulated Jews like Podhoretz haven’t got it yet, but I think younger Jews have.
I have a number of problems with MacDonald. There is, for instance, the one I specified in my review of Critique: his flat refusal to say anything positive about Jewish contributions in the U.S. For example, Jews totally revitalized American popular culture, especially musical culture. It’s hard to understand why someone working with such flammable material wouldn’t make some effort at fire prevention.
And then there is the issue of intention, which he is slippery about. To what degree is this “group evolutionary strategy” conscious? He clearly doesn’t think there is a “Jew Central” organizing it all, so I guess it is self-organizing, but what’s the mechanism of transmission? Why would it consciously be kept up by self-de-Judaized Jews, which is what most of the Jewish intellectuals in Critique are? If any of it is conscious, does MacDonald think there is a component of malice against Gentiles? (I think he does think so, but don’t recall him saying it explicitly.) If none of it is conscious, what does he think drives it? Genetics? Or what?
But I am over limit again.