A Conversation with a Russian Immigrant
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August 22, 2001, 05:00 AM
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Recently, one of my readers, an immigrant from Russia whom I will call Vladimir, phoned me. Polished into readable text, our conversation went something like this:

Vladimir: Mr. Sailer, I read all of articles you write and like them.

Me: Well, thank you. That`s most kind.

Vladimir: But, I want to ask you question. I come here from Russia, you know, and I look around me at people in America. I see things, I see patterns. I watch sport shows on TV, too. I notice patterns there, too. Then, I read newspapers. Nobody writes about patterns I see with my eyes.

Me: Like …?

Vladimir: You know, like race stuff. I watch basketball, I watch Eyewitness News on TV, I go to beach.

Me: Oh, yeah. Definitely.

Vladimir: Then I find you. You write about patterns I see every day. You tell truth.

Me: Thanks.

Vladimir: How come almost nobody write like you?

Me: Well, when I was starting out a writer, I was looking for a market niche without much competition, so I settled on telling the truth. Turns out, though, that the reason the truth is in short supply is because there isn`t much demand for it from editors.

Vladimir: Okay, here is question I worry about lot since I come to America. Take average writer who works for big fancy newspaper. What in world is he thinking? Does he not notice things like I notice things?

Me: Oh, like …

Vladimir: Like take racial profiling. Don`t writers at New York Times or big magazine notice that black guy more likely to commit crime than white guy or Chinese guy? Don`t they see this with own two eyes?

Me: Oh, I get it. No, they have two eyes in their head, same as you do. They see what you see. When you talk to a nice white liberal about his personal life, he`s far more realistic in what he tells you than in what he writes for public consumption. When you ask him why he lives in his beautiful crime-free suburb, or why he sends his kid to a private school, or why he fought so long to get his kid into a magnet school, or why he wants his kid to specialize in soccer rather than basketball, he`ll tell you exactly why. He`ll generally use code words so he won`t have to mention race specifically, but that`s precisely what he`s talking about.

Vladimir (audibly relieved): You mean, he`s hypocrite?

Me: Yeah, exactly. It would hurt his career to write for the public what he thinks in his private life.

Vladimir: Thank God!

Me: Huh?

Vladimir: Hypocrite I understand. I grow up in Soviet Union. Lying to save your job, that`s life. No, I was very worried smart people in America weren`t hypocrites. You know, this country is supposed to be land of free, home of brave. I was scared that smart Americans weren`t hypocrites, but instead were hallucinating. I am very happy to hear they`re just hypocrites. Hypocrisy much less scary than mass hallucination.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

August 22, 2001