Quote# 93961

[From an article called "Why Isn't Racism Cool?"]

Part of the fun of being young used to be the feeling that you were struggling for world mastery against a cohort of closed-minded old farts with a mentality hopelessly stuck in the past. (What Orwell called “pedants, clergymen and golfers.”) Well, if it’s that old-fart cohort you’re looking for, check out your local Ivy League university or cable TV studio. Those places are stuffed to the rafters with them. 1963 is in the past, isn’t it?

And these protesting youngsters believe every single thing the old farts believe! Their transgressions reach no further than their awful beards. The white American middle classes of today may be the most conformist population that ever lived, banking and turning in unison, old and young together, like a school of fish.

Even if these young protestors wanted to be transgressive, they wouldn’t know how. Let’s face it: Being transgressive isn’t what it used to be. Every time I encounter it nowadays, it turns out to be dismally lame.

As an opera fan, I wondered for a while whether I should explore the transgressive delights of Regietheater (“director’s theater”). Then I read Heather Mac Donald‘s survey and decided this was something I could skip without any esthetic loss:

An American tenor working in Germany remembers another Fledermaus with a large pink vagina in the center of the stage into which the singers dived.

Zzzz. That director wasn’t even trying. You want transgressive? I got transgressive.

• A production of Shakespeare’s Othello in which the Moor, to his squealing masochistic pleasure, gets chained to a post and thrashed with a bullwhip by Desdemona.

• A play about feminist icon Virginia Woolf in which she dumps her drab husband, lesbian lover, and intellectual friends to go keep house for an alpha male philistine who kicks her when she’s late putting his dinner on the table.

• A remake of The Birdcage is which it turns out that the acceptably gay Robin Williams character has been kidnapping little boys and buggering them in the club’s basement.

To any youngsters seeking to get political transgressivity on the move again, here’s a suggestion: Try racism. What could be more guaranteed to make mom swoon and dad go purple with rage?

No, no, not burning crosses on people’s lawns. The word “racism” long since overflowed that little pond and inundated the surrounding lowlands. I’m talking about racism as defined in Ed West’s excellent new book that I just finished reading. Location 925 in the Kindle edition:

Today the term racism has come to mean almost any recognition of race…and of difference (or average differences) between groups.

It sure has. The last time I got called a racist (Yes! It happens!) was when I overheard someone say that the decline of Detroit was caused by liberalism. “No it wasn’t,” I said, “It was caused by blacks.” Perfectly true, but apparently racist. Pretend not to notice!

Since racism as defined is transgressive, why isn’t it cool? A number of answers come to mind.

• Racism can’t possibly be cool because it is the most evil and depraved system of thought ever to be countenanced by sentient beings in the entire 13.82-billion-year history of the cosmos. Except that…

• Racism is considered cool when it’s directed against white people. I bet Tim Wise (“Old white people have pretty much always been the bad guys, the keepers of the hegemonic and reactionary flame”) gets invited to all the coolest parties. I bet the coolest kids on campus are the ones running Dr. Shakti Butler’s ethnomasochist boot camp. (“The term [i.e. ‘racist’] applies to all white people.”) When Jamie Foxx boasted on Saturday Night Live that he got to kill all the white people in his new movie, the super-cool audience of young urban sophisticates burst into applause. The coolest Chief Executive to ever grace our republic is the one who sat in the pews for twenty years listening to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright babbling about how “white folks’ greed runs a world in need.”

I suspect, though, that as with most questions about human nature, the correct answer to this one can be found in biology:

Anti-racism is a mating display. It says: “Look at me! I have such earning power I can live where I like! I don’t have to worry about feral underclass blacks or Salvadoran gangbangers! I can strike a pose of lofty indifference to matters of race! Drop your knickers right now!”

John Derbyshire, Taki's Magazine 39 Comments [4/25/2013 1:54:48 PM]
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You John Derbyshire, are the pathetic slime that holds America back. The so called educated racist. That makes your racism infinitely worse in that you bloody well should know better. The radical religious right continues to grow (and grow into a drooling self parody), prejudice politicians continue to come into major offices, and to make matters worse people like yourself continue in your crusade to make prejudice not only socially acceptable, but the social norm. Your premise is flawed, and you should feel flawed.

Besides, even if tolerance were the complete norm, being transgressive against it would not make racism right. Simply put tolerance is good because all men (meaning humans) are created equal after all, and you have no right to judge others based on their race, religion, gender, wealth, or orientation. Let a man be judged upon their merits, not upon their birth. As you have shown your "merits" I judge you to be slime, a parasite, and obviously suffering a persecution complex. May whatever god you believe in help your soul.

Now get the fuck out of our opera house, opera fans don't want to hang out with you.

4/25/2013 3:16:48 PM

Raised by Horses

What was it that Tom Lehrer used to say? 'Irreverence is not wit'.

Thank you, John, for providing us with ample evidence of this.

4/25/2013 4:42:15 PM

Filin De Blanc

What the fuck

4/25/2013 4:54:19 PM

Seeker Lancer

What you're actually noticing is that your racist beliefs are in the minority in every single age group, because normal people are not racist twats.

4/25/2013 5:12:23 PM


So, when you were a youth, your only reason to object to anything was that it would piss your parents off and/or be cool?
Maybe it can satisfy a 12 years old, but at university level, you usually make more long-sighted statements.

And if you really want big reactionary works to be done, why don't you put your money where your mouth is, assemble a troop, write a play, sell tickets, play it and fend off critics with accusations of politically correct hive mind yourself, instead of daring people who think your ideas are stupid to do it in your place?
Yeah, that would require work and reflexion, and you're not too big on that, but it's feasible in theory! Then you'd be too busy to babble on the net for a while.

4/25/2013 7:31:10 PM

J. James

Let's put a pin in your little theory that anti-racism is inspired by horny guys wanting to attract a mate. And by "pin," I mean impale the idea on a rusty pole and leave it to rot in the dirt.

4/25/2013 7:51:49 PM

Except the things you're advocating aren't transgressive, they're regressive. These are not new ideas, they're ideas that fell out of favor a long time ago.

4/25/2013 9:57:55 PM


it's these kind of people who twist my hatred valve.

Completely sure of their meager intellect and zero perspective.

Life sure is good when you are at the top, seeing nothing to complain about. Watching all the folks that used to be enslaved or exploited in the past rising up and poking fun at you sure hurts, right? Boohoo!

4/25/2013 11:09:44 PM

New face of rev

Oh i see, when attempting to create a list of things that would be cool and hip, you reference Shakespeare, Virginia Wolfe, and Robin Williams? Got anything more recent then 1985, gramps?

4/26/2013 5:05:06 AM

New face of rev

And am i getting hints of pent-up sexual fury at the end there, John? Normally I dislike making psychological judgements about people, but when it's that in your face?...

4/26/2013 5:13:22 AM

Boy, you are so up yourself.

4/26/2013 5:33:11 AM

Hasan Prishtina

No, no, not burning crosses on people’s lawns.

It's been done. If your idea of 'transgression' is nearly a century old, then you're not doing it right.

What ought to be cool now, then? Prohibition? Denying women the vote? Oh, I see.

4/26/2013 7:49:14 AM


@1531582: I'm sorry, but the dichotomy you're setting up here is a false one. Transgressiveness carries no connotations of being correct, new or politically progressive; rather, it simply denotes that a certain idea or action violates a socially-established boundary. Thus, to some extent, Derbyshire is indeed correct that racism is transgressive; where he's playing dirty pool is in trying to piggyback on the popular but wrongheaded notion that transgressiveness is inherently a good thing. Overall, though, I feel this whole discussion to be a sideshow, distracting us from Derbyshire's more substantive points. I actually do think that he's on to something with his assertion that many anti-discrimination advocates are in it for self-seeking reasons, as well as his implied point that we have scant few orthodoxies left to transgess against, so would-be transgressives have gotten more and more extreme, often at the expense of community and social order (which see: the pulling of a fire alarm by radical feminists at the University of Toronto in order to shut down a peaceful MRA event, Arun Smith's destruction of Students for Liberty's free speech wall at Carleton University, the continued predations of Anonymous and countless others).

4/26/2013 12:34:32 PM

Rabbit of Caerbannog


An MRA event was shut down?

4/26/2013 12:41:44 PM


@Rabbit of Caerbannog: I'm certain the police officers and firefighters whose attentions were diverted from more pressing affairs would have a different take on the matter. More to the point, though, may I hazard a guess that you would have some...choice words for similar expressions of nonchalance for the suppression of a feminist event? Beyond that, though, the sort of casual disregard for others' safety it takes to even consider falsely pulling a fire alarm for any reason whatsoever must be stamped out with the utmost prejudice. If you claim to stand for justice, you need to start by always acting justly in your own right; the ends do not justify the means, especially if those means place others at risk of real harm for quite possibly no real gain.

4/26/2013 2:23:03 PM

Rabbit of Caerbannog

"I'm certain the police officers and firefighters whose attentions were diverted from more pressing affairs would have a different take on the matter."

Which wasn't what I was referring to. I just don't care about whether or not MRAs are or are not allowed to speak at a university. I'm astounded they were allowed to speak there in the first place : P

4/26/2013 3:28:10 PM


@Rabbit of Caerbannog: My point was that the two events were inextricably linked, since they had the same cause (the fraudulent pulling of the fire alarm). Besides, whether you care or not, the MRAs had entered into a contract with the university that they would have use of the space in question in a largely untrammeled manner. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the protesters should not have been permitted to get close enough to the event that its attendees could hear them (if you watch the video of the event in the seconds prior to the pulling of the alarm, you can clearly hear protest chants coming from outside the room). Given my druthers, the protesters would have had one chance to move voluntarily; if they refused, then necessary force would be used to make them move.

4/26/2013 7:05:33 PM

Rabbit of Caerbannog

I get what you're saying and all, and I disagree with anyone pulling a fire alarm for non-emergencies, but I'm saying I have no sympathy for them personally. At least I have no more sympathy for them than I would have speakers from, say, the Klan or the Family Research Council. So pulling the fire alarm is bad form but I'll play the world's smallest violin for the MRAs.

4/27/2013 7:51:09 AM

Deep Search

So what's old should be new again? Because there's nothing older than hate, ignorance, and prejudice. Nothing new or "cool" about it. Thankfully more and more people are turning away from ancient prejudices as much as possible. And acknowledging that white privilege exists. But hate is still alive and well.

Seriously, who the fuck says "it's the blacks fault" and doesn't understand it's racist? About as dumb as blaming "the liberals." Talk about having duck shit for brains.

CC13: Oh no, those poor men had to hear some protesting chants. While in the US a religious asshole can hold a "women deserve rape" sign at a Take Back The Night rally and it's fine. Men are not a minority group and if a disenfranchised group that is harmed by their ideology protests them, why should they be forcibly moved? People still have to fight for their rights and you are incorrect in your assertion that activists are getting more extreme because there's just not enough extreme stuff to protest about or some shit. And I'm not saying that triggering a fire alarm was hunky dory in that situation, but that you should stop to think *why* it happened and why feminists are threatened by this group instead of simply jumping to the conclusion that they are radical feminists who protest too much.

4/27/2013 11:03:31 AM


@Deep Search: They should have been made to move because they were disrupting a lawful, peaceable gathering that the University of Toronto had seen fit to give use of its space (please note that this was an indoor space, not an outdoor area of the campus which could credibly be called a public space). Also, I was not asserting that social justice activists had no legitimate targets of protest left; rather, I meant to say that with the big, obvious targets that essentially everyone agrees we're better off without have been largely dealt with, fragmentation of the victorious movement into radicalized subfactions was probably inevitable. On a related note, why is everyone so eager to change the topic to the protesters' motives? It's perfectly understandable that feminist groups wouldn't approve of what was being said at an MRA event, but they must take care to measure their response, lest onlookers dismiss them as, at best, frivolous. Pulling a fire alarm might be acceptable as a method of helping to stop a violent crime in progress, but speech admits only of more speech as remedy or response.

4/27/2013 4:01:54 PM

The decline of Detroit was caused by General Motors, who was such a major employer that the city was almost entirely dependant on their industry, shutting down it's plants and leaving the formerly well paid workers high and dry.

The fact that modern Detroit is a majority black population is not a cause, but an effect. After the plant shutdown the better-paid, more senior white workers had substantial enough savings that they could afford to pack up and seek greener pastures while those who lived paycheck-to-paycheck had no such luxury.

Ignoring blatant institutional racism for a moment, American society is conditioned to view the poor and unemployed as parasites regardless of how they end up that way and as a result few employers would be willing to set up shop in what quickly became a ghetto thus crushing any hope of revitalizing the area.

4/27/2013 5:51:11 PM


Sadly, there are people in this world that actually take the blatherings of John Derbyshire seriously.

4/28/2013 1:00:09 PM


This is what gets me about this site, sabotaging the meeting of somebody they disagree with is laudable apparently, and yet if an MRA group was pulling the fire alarm at a feminist meeting there'd be hell to pay.
I also agree that many anti-discrimination advocates are in it for self-service, many seem to care little for doing anything about discrimination, but are very careful to ensure they are *seen* opposing discrimination, something that is rather offensive actually, jumping on the back of a genuine cause in order to make yourself look like a certain type of person for the positive effect it has on others is a special type of detestable.

4/29/2013 12:25:31 PM

No, it's not laudable and it's been pointed out as an uncivil, wasteful, dick move that inconveniences fire departments who have better shit to do.

The act bothers us, some of us at any rate, but the resulting setback to the cause of MRA's is barely shrugworthy when we consider that those who bother with such gatherings tend to be the likes of Worthless Fuckhead Price of The Spearhead.

4/29/2013 1:11:41 PM


That's not really for you to judge, it's quite reasonable to say that all feminists should not be judged by the words and actions of the rabid, loudmouthed minority who use feminist as an acceptable-sounding label for what is essentially misandry, but that reasonable standard must also be applied to MRAs, the majority of them should not be judged by the ravings of bitter misogynists who hate women for their own failings.
You can't tell me that there are no people involved in MRA movements who have reasonable motives, like lobbying for more equal treatment of mother and father in child custody cases, for example.
This is the thing, both groups are identical in practice, the majority of both of them have reasonable goals and would probably agree with a middle ground that treats both sides equally.
Problem is, it's become fashionable to attack the MRA people because of the stupid things their loudmouth elements tend to say, but when stupid loudmouth feminists say stupid things they "aren't representative of the majority" and as a result the wider movement isn't required to do anything to keep the hardline elements in check.
It seems to be acceptable here to attack and stereotype anybody who you perceive to be prejudiced, to the point where the prejudice displayed towards anybody who doesn't fit the category of American Liberal is FSTDT-worthy in itself.
We're not all American, and American Liberals are not the sole arbiters of truth, justice, and equality. In the rest of the world we have our own issues, and in some places the MRA people are addressing a legitimate discrepancy, the example that springs to mind is child-custody laws in the UK, which is what the MRA people here confine themselves to, and where a mother would get custody by default despite being a crack-addicted hooker if her lawyer managed to prove that the father got a parking ticket ten years previously.

4/29/2013 2:23:25 PM

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