John Derbyshire Gives Blogger Heart Failure


I hear your two questions: “Who the fuck is John Derbyshire?” and “Which blogger?”

This blogger. Me. And this is John Derbyshire. Everybody say “Hi, John!” Yes, I’m asking you to say hello to a conservative columnist. A cheery hello, at that. Even though he’s a homophobic racist hypocrite (as he admits himself), we can extend a cautious hand of welcome. After all, for a conservative, he is, as he says, “a mild and tolerant” racist homophobe, which is damned near miraculous for a National Review Online columnist.

He immigrated illegally from Great Britian before he became legal and started hating on all the brown immigrants, so that likely explains why he’s the kind of conservative who can give me heart failure for being rational, reasonable, and uplifiting.

I found him on The Panda’s Thumb. He’s one of the rare few conservatives who’s been quoted as saying non-outrageous things about evolution. I still hesitated before clicking that “Continue reading A Blood Libel on Our Civilization at the National Review” link. I mean, it’s the fucking National Review. It’s fuckwit central. But I like to think I have courage, and at times even an open mind, although that’s been hard to keep open after the abuse it’s taken from the neocons. So I steeled myself and clicked.

His article has a promising start. Right under the title, it asks, “Can I expell Expelled?”

Absolutely, John. You most certainly can. By all means. I’d be delighted to hold the door open while you boot them in the arse, even.

Things then became a bit rocky, but I soldiered on:


What on earth has happened to Ben Stein? He and I go back a long way. No, I’ve never met the guy. Back in the 1970s, though, when The American Spectator was in its broadsheet format, I would always turn first to Ben Stein’s diary, which appeared in every issue. He was funny and clever and worldly in a way I liked a lot. The very few times I’ve caught him on-screen, he seems to have had a nice line in deadpan self-deprecation, also something I like. Though I’ve never met him, I know people who know him, and they all speak well of him. Larry Kudlow, whose opinion is worth a dozen average opinions on any topic, thinks the world of Ben.

Oh, deary, deary me. He loves Ben. No good can come of this.


So what’s going on here with this stupid Expelled movie? No, I haven’t seen the dang thing. I’ve been reading about it steadily for weeks now though, both pro (including the pieces by David Klinghoffer and Dave Berg on National Review Online) and con, and I can’t believe it would yield up many surprises on an actual viewing. It’s pretty plain that the thing is creationist porn, propaganda for ignorance and obscurantism. How could a guy like this do a thing like that?

Easy, my dear John. Ben Stein is an opportunistic assclown. He’s snookered you into thinking he has a frontal lobe. I am so sorry you had to find out the truth this way.

Heh. You said porn. Hur hur hur.

So far, not so bad. Gingerly, I continued picking my way through the piece, convinced that at any moment, I’d get my legs blown off by a sudden claymore landmine of neocon fucktardedness. There were moments where I’d stop, breathless, convinced I’d just tripped a wire:


The first thing that came to mind was Saudi money. Half of the evils and absurdities in our society seem to have a Saudi prince behind them somewhere, and the Wahhabists are, like all fundamentalist Muslims, committed creationists.


Awshit. Just when it was all going so swimmingly, here we go with the Islamofascists are responsible for everything bad!!1!1!!! spiel. What a fucking disappointment… holy fuck, what’s this?


This doesn’t hold water, though. For one thing, Stein is Jewish. For another, he is rich, and doesn’t need the money. And for another, the stills and clips I have seen are from a low-budget production. Saudi financing would surely at least have come up with some decent computer graphics.


Ye gods. Logic! Tortured, twisted logic, true, but considering we’re dealing with a conservative mind writing in the National Review, that’s pretty damned impressive. Most of them just leave it at “Islamofascists didit, blow them all to bits, the end.” The man questioned his assumptions. He tried applying reason.

This is where the heart attack happened. Clutching my chest, I continued to read:


It is at any rate clear that [the producers of Expelled] engaged in much deception with the subjects they interviewed for the movie, many of whom are complaining loudly. This, together with much, much else about the movie, can be read about on the Expelled Exposed website put up by the National Center for Science Education, which I urge all interested readers to explore.

Total. Heart. Failure. He, John Derbyshire, a conservative writer for the National Review, just referred his readers, nay, urged them, to visit ExpelledExposed.com, not to debunk or sneer but to learn.

I’d say “be still, my heart,” but you’ve stopped, so that’s redundant at this point.


My own theory is that the creationists have been morally corrupted by the constant effort of pretending not to be what they are. What they are, as is amply documented, is a pressure group for religious teaching in public schools.


My heart stopped already, right? Can it stop again? He even freely admits that these fuckers are trying to pass religion off as science!


One of my favorite comments came from “Pixy Misa” (Andrew Mazels) who correctly called Ben Stein’s accusing Darwin of responsibility for the Holocaust “a blood libel on science.”

I would actually go further than that, to something like “a blood libel on Western Civilization.”


Wow-e-wow. Just… wow. I know I’m dead, now. Conservatives in our country just don’t say things like this. I must have ended up going down the wrong leg of the Trousers of Time this morning. Total alternate universe. Has to be.


Western civilization has many glories. Ther
e are the legacies of the ancients, in literature and thought. There are the late-medieval cathedrals, those huge miracles of stone, statuary, and spiritual devotion. There is painting, music, the orderly cityscapes of Renaissance Italy, the peaceful, self-governed townships of old New England and the Frontier, the steel marvels of the early industrial revolution, our parliaments and courts of law, our great universities with their spirit of restless inquiry.

And there is science, perhaps the greatest of all our achievements, because nowhere else on earth did it appear. China, India, the Muslim world, all had fine cities and systems of law, architecture and painting,
poetry and prose, religion and philosophy. None of them ever accomplished what began in northwest Europe in the later 17th century, though: a scientific revolution. Thoughtful men and women came together in learned societies to compare notes on their observations of the natural world, to test their ideas in experiments, and in reasoned argument against the ideas of others, and to publish their results in learned journals. A body of common knowledge gradually accumulated. Patterns were observed, laws discerned and stated.

Glories! Yes! “Spirit of restless inquiry,” even so! Science, “greatest of all our achievements,” absolutely! I’ll even forgive you that little sneer at other countries for not having a scientific revolution, because by your narrow definition of a scientific revolution, you’re right. They didn’t have one. But you understand the glory and importance of science, John, and that…


…brings to us a feeling for what the scientific endeavor is like, and how painfully its triumphs are won, with what sweat and tears. Our scientific theories are the crowning adornments of our civilization, towering monuments of intellectual effort, built from untold millions of hours of observation, measurement, classification, discussion, and deliberation. This is quite apart from their wonderful utility — from the light, heat, and mobility they give us, the drugs and the gadgets and the media. (A “thank you” wouldn’t go amiss.) Simply as intellectual constructs, our well-established scientific theories are awe-inspiring.


This, my darlings, is where I began to cry. Because John Derbyshire, a conservative, stated precisely how I feel about science. He expressed perfectly my own sense of wonder, my awe and appreciation, my love. His passion and mine recognize each other joyously. This is what draws us together over the divide. This is what makes those differences in ideology solvable. A conservative gets it. He understands, and respects, science. This is hope, people. This is fertile middle ground, this is. He can’t be the only conservative in this country who feels this way.

And how does he feel about Ben, now?


And now here is Ben Stein, sneering and scoffing at Darwin, a man who spent decades observing and pondering the natural world — that world Stein glimpses through the window of his automobile now and then, when he’s not chattering into his cell phone.


Ouch. And Intelligent Design?


The “intelligent design” hoax is not merely non-science, nor even merely anti-science; it is anti-civilization. It is an appeal to barbarism, to the sensibilities of those Apaches, made by people who lack the imaginative power to know the horrors of true barbarism. (A thing that cannot be said of Darwin. See Chapter X of Voyage of the Beagle.)

And yes: When our greatest achievements are blamed for our greatest moral failures, that is a blood libel against Western civilization itself.


Very ouch.

All that’s needed now is for more true conservatives like John Derbyshire to get so disgusted with the neocons and theocons that they wrest back conservatism from the assmonkeys destroying it. It can be done. That middle ground that I was pining for a bit ago, it can be created again. We’ll all be freely mingling in it, visiting from our respective ends of the political spectrum, cheerfully ribbing each other over what we consider each other’s silly ideologies, but able to debate rather than degrade, talk rather than shout.

That’s what this article has shown me. It’s still possible. The divide is not yet an impassable chasm. There are some people on both sides busily building bridges and caulking the cracks. They’re making it possible for us to reach each other.

And when we get there, won’t we ever have a delightful time bashing the IDiots? Once I get my heart started again, anyway.

Comments

  1. says

    I think your essay is excellent. I also happen to agree with your conclusion, Dana, that the gulf between conservatives and liberals can be bridged. But I think it might be a matter of isolating the religious right and neocons from the conservative movement — not an easy thing to do.