Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sailer, Douthat and comments

Now, I finally see the cause of Ross Douthat's new "purge the comments" policy. Monday, Douthat acknowledged that he had used some research from Steve Sailer without proper attribution.

Sailer, a frequent contributor to VDare, is unfraid of the PC police (who've done about all the damage they could do to him by now). It appears that the Douthat-Sailer connection has put Douthat into a cross-current between two forces:
  • Leftists who are excoriating Douthat as a crypto-racist for using material from Sailer, who has written some very blunt things about race.
  • VDare readers who are excoriating Douthat as a wussified sellout for failing to be as blunt as Sailer is about the interaction of race, immigration, economics and politics.
Earlier, before I realized what was going on, I was sneering at Douthat for being a typical Harvard intellectual snob. Don't get me wrong, I still have a real chip on my shoulder about Ivy League elitists who presume to talk of the working class, but now that I see what Douthat's gotten himself into the middle of, I feel sorry for him.

Here he is, a perfectly respectable Harvard-educated conservative whiz kid, with a new book that's getting lots of critical buzz. Suddenly, he finds himself tagged as a plagiarist and a fellow traveler of racists.

Well, I still doubt I'll make it down to DuPont Circle for Douthat's swanky shindig tonight, but God help the poor boy now. Doubt he'll slum over here to read this (Harvard types don't do Blogspot) but if he did, my advice would be:
  • 1. Stay to the right of the Left. Don't try to get into a one-upmanship situation where you're trying to outdo them in multicultural enthusiasm. You can't win that fight.
  • 2. Avoid arguments with Paleos. Those guys play for keeps and (as Joan Jett said) they don't give a damn about their bad reputations.
  • 3. Keep your friends close, and your Neocons closer. This is the flip-side of my advice about the Paleos. Whatever your quarrels with the Neos, avoid making any outright enemies, or next thing you know, you're an "Unpatriotic Conservative" and NRO will dump you like yesterday's garbage.
I know, I know -- my routine bitching about Bill Kristol is a violation of Rule 3, but once a Republican gets a column in the New York Times, nobody in the movement trusts him anymore and he's too big to notice a mere blogger. So there's not really a downside to slamming Kristol now, movement-wise.

Also, I suppose the little thing between me and Clark Stooksbury could be viewed as violation of Rule 2, but Stooksbury started that. Stooksbury is a fan of Dreher, and I panned Crunchy Cons, so Stooksbury considers me evil. But if I've made a mortal enemy by criticizing the Buddhist economics (!) of Crunchy Cons from an Austrian perspective, I don't know what can be done to remedy the problem. When it comes to economics, Mises and Hayek are right and Buddhists are wrong.

At any rate, the key to navigating the kind of situation Douthat appears to have gotten himself into is to remember: You are a conservative. Conservatives are your friends. Liberals are not your friends and don't want to be your friends. Never risk alienating conservatives by attempting to appease the liberals.

If it all goes sideways, however, and Douthat ends up as persona non grata amongst his respectable conservative (former) friends, my advice is: Libertarianism.

No one can ever be kicked out of libertarianism, because no one's in charge, and there's like a Baskin-Robbins assortment of factions. However radical you become, you can always find some fringe anarchist splinter that will take you in. It's a come-as-you-are movement. There's probably even some Buddhist libertarians, but that's not my fault.

UPDATE: Having read the column in which Sailer takes credit for his own ideas in the Douthat/Reihan book, I now hate Douthat a little less. But he's still Harvard, so I still hate him. Harvard, New York Times, PBS, AFL-CIO, al Qaeda -- part of my short list of institutions that qualify everyone associated with them for automatic hatred.


  1. Geez, until the end I thought that you might have something to say....

    But no, just another crank with a good vocabulary.

  2. What is it about right wing bloggers that impels them to use pompous french expressions?

    Bon vivant. Raconteur. (In Douthat's case) a frisson of regret over Independencce for England.

    Do you guys listen to yourselves?

  3. But he's still Harvard, so I still hate him.

    Please, please tell me you're being sarcastic.


  4. RSM:
    Great to see this blog. It's J. Scriven (formally from CUC, now living in France).

    As you know, I don't agree with much you say, but always fun to read a 'friend's' opinions.


  5. These guys concentrate on precisely the wrong issues to win blue collar voters.

    The GOP needs to emphasize Nanny-state issues, stuff that pisses blue collar guys off, like friggin' seat belt laws, lower speed limits, restrictions on internet gaming and gambling in general, and affirmative action quotas.

    Blue collar guys are essentially libertarians, not looking for a government hand-out as these two New England Nerds would like to suggest.