Over at NRO, John O'Sullivan, former editor of National Review and former speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher, has a piece up analyzing the John Derbyshire affair. The piece is long--quite a lot longer, for that matter, than the Derbyshire article that started it all--but full of good sense and close reasoning. I can't say I agree with every conclusion--in my view, John at several points lets Derbyshire off too easily--but every last word is worth reading, and pondering. (That's John O'Sullivan to the right, btw, and John Derbyshire below to the left.)
I fear that Mark Steyn is right in saying that Derb’s departure will further narrow the already narrow limits of acceptable debate in American intellectual life. The tumbrils are already rolling, with Elspeth Reeve at the Atlantic Wire denouncing Victor Davis Hanson on obscure grounds and calling for a campaign to drive “racist” writers from their jobs. Driving people from their jobs, causing them to lose health insurance, bringing distress to their spouses and children — this seems a curious ambition for a young journalist of (presumably) liberal bent. Fifty years ago liberals denounced McCarthy for driving people from their jobs because, as Communists, they were supporting a state that was genocidal at the time. They raged against “guilt by association.” Are they now anxious to have their own witch-hunts against racists? But who will define “racist”? Will it be Ms. Reeve? Or a committee of public safety? Set up by whom? And will Ms. Reeve herself have to appear before this tribunal, having written several times for Taki’s Magazine and being therefore a colleague of Derb’s at one remove and so guilty by association? To get the nasty and vicious flavor of this enterprise, read the comments from the Internet Left where perhaps the most common theme is that National Review fired John because we are racists attempting to conceal our racism that he made uncomfortably explicit.