Left: VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow and Steve Sailer. Right: Berkeley Springs Castle
VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow writes: I regard Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire as the two authentic geniuses (genii?) we have published at VDARE.com, in terms of their apparently inexhaustible flow of new ideas, insights and arguments over a mind-boggling range of subjects. We were honored to host Steve at the VDARE Summer Conference at the Berkeley Springs Castle, WV, where he gave this keynote address on Saturday July 17. We will post the video as soon as possible.
Update: Here it is!
Steve Sailer at the VDARE 2023 Conference: “The Secret History Of The 21st Century”
“Did Black Lives Matter Get All Those Black Lives Murdered? Yes. Yes, It Did.” - @Steve_Sailer https://t.co/IB7bj1NcCZ pic.twitter.com/rAKh9b9ZGT
Steve Sailer at the VDARE 2023 Conference: “The Secret History Of The 21st Century”
My title tonight is “Taking Diversity Seriously,” or “The Secret History of the 21st Century: How It’s Been Hiding in Plain Sight All Along.”
I’d like to thank everybody for coming to what is my first public speech in over a decade.
I’d especially wish to thank Peter and Lydia Brimelow for their imaginative solution to the worsening problem of political violence against freedom of speech and the decline in institutional courage in the hospitality industry.
I don’t know how many times over the last decade I’ve been booked to speak at a conference at some resort during their “shoulder season” only to have the threat of Antifa smashing up the place causing the contract to be cancelled.
The last time I was allowed to give a speech was at an early 2013 VDARE.com event in a Boston hotel in which I analyzed in depth the exit polls for the Obama-Romney election—that was a long time ago.
Admittedly, one reason it’s been so long is that I’m not, as you’ll perhaps come to notice, a terribly galvanizing orator. I like to go on and on about statistics.
But that also makes it curious why I’m such a controversial figure. Or, to be precise, I’m not actually a terribly controversial figure. I’m seldom denounced in the press, much less argued with, much much less invited to debate my positions.
I’m more this semi-legendary figure whose insights show up in diluted form in the work of the edgier name pundits like Tucker Carlson, Matthew Yglesias, Ross Douthat, Scott Alexander, and Elon Musk. But my name, it appears, should never be mentioned.
I’m not exactly sure why I have this odd status.
It’s perhaps related to my fundamental belief that all truths are connected to other truths.
In contrast, lies, wishful thinking, and ignorance tend to be dead ends.
I’m not a particularly methodical thinker or much of an ideologue. And I’m not big on making predictions, because it’s very easy to be wrong. I’m more focused on explaining: What Just Happened?
I’m less a forecaster than a historian of current trends.
Most of my writing starts out not from any grand scheme of mine, but by looking at the newspaper and seeing what people are talking about today. But I can usually come up with some connection of today’s headline to something else of interest, which in turn is connected, perhaps more surprisingly, to something else again.
Indeed, that’s one excuse for why my essays often seem to end abruptly without me wrapping up all I have to say on the topic in one ringing Gettysburg Address–like conclusion. Because connected ideas never really reach an end, they just go on and on. So when it gets along toward dawn, I say, “Enough” and I stop writing… for now.
A bigger career problem with my all-truths-are-connected view is that it’s not very prudent. Many pundits enjoy fine careers by telling many truths… but not all truths.
It’s worth pointing out that I, despite sometimes being labeled, perhaps inaccurately, a contrarian or iconoclast, tend to take the conventional wisdom seriously.
For example, it’s widely stated that Diversity is important, that Diversity is a defining aspect of our age.
And I think that’s true. The increase in Diversity has all sorts of important ramifications. So Identity Politics are worth thinking hard about.
But taking anything seriously means assuming that it has both pros and cons, which you definitely are not supposed to do with Diversity. In polite society, Diversity, instead, is Good, with a capital G.
Over time, American discourse has become literally more childish. Just like in a Marvel movie, where there are the good guys, whom you can distinguish from the bad guys because they wear slightly different sets of tights, in contemporary thinking there are increasingly the Good Guys, whom you can pick out by whether their identities are those considered to be the Good Guys, and then there the Bad Guys, for whom nothing more needs to be said.
(That reminds me: I’m got an anthology of my articles from the last 30 years coming out in a number of months. The tentative title is Noticing.)
The weird thing about my secret history is that it’s been hiding in plain sight all the time. My thesis tonight is that in response to the growth of Diversity, the two major parties promoted pro-Diversity programs and ideologies that have had massive consequences, sometimes unfortunate.
Let’s start on September 11, 2001. I sat down that evening and wrote a news article that began:
Ironically, in an attempt to appeal to the growing number of Arab-American and Muslim voters, exactly eleven months ago George W. Bush called for weakening airport security procedures aimed at deterring hijackers.
On Oct. 11, 2000, during the second presidential debate, the Republican candidate … said …, “Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what’s called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we got to do something about that.” … Bush went on, “My friend, Sen. Spence Abraham [the Arab-American Republican Senator from Michigan], is pushing a law to make sure that, you know, Arab-Americans are treated with respect. So racial profiling isn’t just an issue at the local police forces. It’s an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we’re going to have to deal with it more and more.” [UPI, not published until several days after September 11, 2001.]
There was nothing out of character about Bush’s attack on airport security profiling in the name of pleasing a growing immigrant group, which he tasked Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta with launching a few months before 9/11. The brains of the Bush operation, Karl Rove, often publicly declared that Republicans in 2000 would emulate Republicans in 1896, when William McKinley beat William Jennings Bryan by getting more immigrant voters.
“I said to myself, ‘If this guy doesn’t look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does.’ Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, it’s not nice to say things like this,” he said. … “I got an instant chill when I looked at [Atta]. I got this grip in my stomach and then, of course, I gave myself a Politically Correct slap.”
But of course nobody outside of this room noticed any of this at the time, much less remembers it now. It just doesn’t fit within anybody’s worldview. To Democrats, George W. Bush was a racist and to Republicans he was a hero, so nobody can learn anything from events, even events as memorable as 9/11.
There’s another aspect to the 21st Century’s obsession with Diversity. Not only is it always becoming more important, it also is not important when it comes to bad things. Consider the Iraq War.
Rather than tighten the borders after 9/11 to, you know, keep foreigners from killing thousands of Americans, the Bush Administration concluded that because we must invite the world, therefore we must invade the world.
Granted, Iraq didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, but, the Bush Administration argued, we were doing it for their own good: America would democratize Iraq, just like it democratized West Germany and Japan after WWII.
But what if Iraq and Germany are… diverse?
Well, responded the Bush Administration, they can’t be. Because that would be racist. You sound like a racist just for asking that question.
I then pointed out a fact that virtually nobody in America knew about Iraq—that roughly half of Iraqi married couples consisted of first or second cousins, with more of them first cousins than second cousins. And Iraqi cousin marriage made American nation-building in Iraq highly implausible.
Muslims, especially Arabs, are so much more loyal to their families than to their nations in part because, due to countless generations of cousin marriages, they are so much more genealogically related to their families than Westerners are related to theirs.
Why? If your son-in-law is also your nephew, then your grandson will also be your brother’s grandson. That solves a lot of potential sibling rivalry problems within the family over who gets to inherit the goat herd. But it doesn’t encourage Iraqis to cooperate with their fellow citizens who aren’t blood relatives.
Not surprisingly, the Bush plan to reform Iraq did not work. Iraqis went on being Iraqis, not Germans or Japanese.
A few years ago, a reporter for the New Yorker called me up to get the inside story of why the intellectual Right had split up in the early 2000s. Was it over race? Immigration?
Nah, I said, it was over Iraq. The respectable Republicans wanted to invade Iraq, and us deplorable bad guys didn’t want to start a pointless war. The New Yorker reporter was deflated by this news. This was not the story he wanted to hear, so that quote never appeared in his article about how us bad guys are Bad.
The Bush Administration’s devotion to Diversity, while denying it could mean anything culturally unfortunate, also was involved in its most significant domestic disaster, the housing bubble that led to the 2008 economic crash.
The housing boom, which was centered in the Hispanic-heavy “sand states” of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, was in sizable part due to a push by Bush in 2002 to 2004 to increase minority homeownership by gutting traditional mortgage credit standards, such as down payments and documentation of income, in order to sell more houses to immigrants, including the undocumented.
Republicans in Congress usually try to keep a wary eye on Democratic Presidents’ tomfoolery regarding mortgages for minorities. But when their own side is pushing it as part of Karl Rove’s plan for a political realignment by turning Hispanics into Republican-voting homeowners, nobody who is anybody objects. The Democrats like more lending to their voters, the Republicans like less government regulation of lenders, and high-rolling big lenders like the no-longer-existent Countrywide Financial strongly endorsed Bush’s project to get federal regulators off their backs so they could lend more to Latinos.
When researchers later looked at the popping of the mortgage bubble, Hispanics keep showing up in strikingly disproportionate numbers, with default rates three to four times the white rate, and for surprisingly large amounts. Because Hispanics tended to live in expensive places like Southern California, the average Hispanic’s home price was higher in 2006 than the average white’s.
This is not to say that the world economy wasn’t out of balance in general by 2008, but it is to say that the direct cause of the Great Recession was the Bush Bubble, much like the direct impetus for American entry into World War II was Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor was hardly the only reason the U.S. got involved, but it definitely mattered. And, we thought hard about preventing another Pearl Harbor for a long time, and did a pretty good job of not being subject to sneak attack for another 60 years.
Enough about the Republicans. What about the Democrats? Over the first decade of this century it became clearer that the grand strategy of the Democratic Party is to capitalize on the growing Diversity. So Democrats try to intensify Diversity by importing more of it and by encouraging Americans to adopt ever more diverse identities, such as the ever-growing number of stripes on the gay flag.
Democrats like to talk about how they stand up for the marginalized, although it’s a little questionable just how marginalized you can be right now when you have one major party, the media, academia, and increasingly business celebrating you loudly at all turns.
It’s probably more accurate to say that the Democrats are comprised of a coalition of the margins of American culture, the fringes of the American story, people who identify less with the fundamental history of America, people who are kind of sick and tired of hearing about how great George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Tom Jefferson were, whether these margins be blacks, gays, liberal Jews, intellectuals, Muslims, lesbians, immigrants, Middle Eastern and North Africans, and so forth and so on.
For example, one of the founders of Berkeley Springs, where we are gathered today, was George Washington, who made this town his summer White House even before there was a winter White House. To most of us who are proud to identify with America’s founders, that’s pretty cool. But to others, it’s an annoying reminder that somebody else’s ancestors got here first.
When I crunched the exit poll numbers after the 2004 election, and then again after 2012, what stood out was how the more likely you are to be like Washington or Franklin in terms of identity—white, married, male, home-owning, native-born, etc.—the more likely you are to vote Republican. (Of course, that raises the question of why Republicans don’t focus on making family formation affordable, but that topic is for another night.)
Today, the less you are like the Founding Fathers demographically, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. The Democrats thus have an obvious incentive to gin up more Diversity through immigration, which can be dismissed as the Great Replacement “conspiracy theory” or celebrated as the Emerging Democratic Majority. But also, more imaginatively, through fostering bizarre new gender identities in naïve children.
The Democrats thus have the demographic wind at their backs, but they also face an obvious problem: their Coalition of the Fringes doesn’t have many positive things in common with each other. What do they have to come together over? How do they avoid becoming a circular firing squad?
The answer, so far, has been that the one thing that can unite the margins is resenting and hating core Americans.
Over the course of this century, it’s become clearer that stoking fear and loathing of generic Americans is essential to the success of the modern Democratic Party. Thus the tearing down of statues and the promoting of hate hoaxes like Jussie Smollett and the tall tale told by Rolling Stone magazine about a fraternity initiation ritual gang-rape on broken glass.
An interesting question is how much do these recurrent patterns of Democratic anti-core behavior represent an overt conspiracy? Why do Democrats decide to do things that are in the interest of Democrats? There are multiple plausible explanations.
It’s not hard to trace it back to the Obama Administration’s 2013 “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges about how the federal government demands that they crack down harder on fraternities under the guise of fighting “rape on campus.” The Obama White House then teamed up with leading media to start a moral panic about rapist fraternities (and simultaneously, rapist soldiers).
Why? Fraternities, in which young men build lifelong friendships, tend to give Democrats the willies.
So, when Rolling Stone climaxed a long series of hate articles in the prestige press about the fraternity menace with a massive story about a coed being gang raped on broken glass for three hours as a traditional part of the annual initiation, barely anybody in the media for a week raised the slightest doubt. After all, they’d all been running just slightly less lurid stories in response to the White House campaign, so they publicly endorsed it on Twitter even if the basic idea of seven frat pledges getting down on their hands and knees and then exposing an even more sensitive part of their anatomy to all that broken glass is stupid.
But that’s not the point, the point is that Core Americans are bad.
There are, however, several dangers facing the Democrats. The first is believing their own propaganda.
But controlling the Main Stream Media still has huge advantages. There’s little need to lie when you get to decide what is and what isn’t news. For example, the Rolling Stone hate hoax inspired campus Leftists to stage their own night of broken glass and smash the windows of an innocent fraternity house. But that isn’t news. Emmett Till, on the other hand, is news. Emmett Till is always news.
Another danger for the Democrats is that their coalition of the fringes naturally competes among itself for power by being the marginalest of them all. Their ideology tends to give top honors to the most dysfunctional group, blacks, and the most crazy, transgenders.
Finally, this system doesn’t even work for its winning beneficiaries as we’ve seen statistically demonstrated during the “Racial Reckoning” that followed the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
This should not have come as a surprise. After Michael Brown’s death at Ferguson in August 2014, there was a Ferguson Effect in which the police, having been informed by the Establishment that blacks were suffering from too much law and order, retreated to the donut shop. We saw homicides go up first in the St. Louis area, and then in other cities where Black Lives Matter triumphed over the cops, such as Baltimore in April 2015 and Chicago in November 2015.
In contrast, the even bigger Floyd Effect was national and virtually immediate, with blacks shooting blacks soaring all across the country.
Was it Black Lives Matter getting all these black lives murdered?
Yes. Yes, it was.
The social science smoking gun is that both times blacks also quickly started to die by car crash in record numbers. As the cops got the message that blacks were not to be pulled over as often for bad driving, much less searched for illegal handguns or called in for outstanding warrants, blacks started driving worse and packing more heat. This combination is one of the clearest effects known to the social sciences.
Let’s look at three graphs and a table:
First, here’s a graph I created two years ago from statistics published by the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Racial Reckoning on the Roads, by Steve Sailer, TakiMag, June 8, 2021
Black deaths in car crashes soared 55% from June 2019 to June 2020. For the last seven months of 2020, black traffic fatalities were 36% higher than in the last seven months of 2019. The rest of the population was dying more too, but up only 9%.
Second, we can also drill down to the weekly level to see whether COVID (the vertical yellow line) or George Floyd (the vertical black line) mattered more. The CDC makes available cause-of-death statistics by week since 2018. We can see that black deaths by homicides (the red line—mostly due to blacks shooting each other, of course) soared immediately after George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. For instance, the most murderous single day in Chicago’s entire infamous history of homicide was Sunday, May 31, 2020, with 18 murders.
Nationally, black motor-vehicle accident deaths (the blue line) ramped up almost as sharply over a few weeks as awareness grew that cops weren’t pulling over as many bad drivers due to the Racial Reckoning.
How big a role did COVID play in the 2020 increase in black deaths by homicide and auto accident? First, there weren’t huge increases seen in foreign countries, because they didn’t have America’s Racial Reckoning. Second, the black response to the Racial Reckoning was larger and faster than any other group’s, although, unfortunately, the message seemed to get through to Hispanics more in 2021 that the cops weren’t on the prowl as much anymore.
My guess, though, would be that if COVID played a major role in the Floyd Effect it was via stimulus checks and the rent moratorium putting more cash in the pockets of the underclass, which encouraged them to act out more during the depolicing era. I call murders and crashes “Deaths of Exuberance.”
Back in 2015, Angus Deaton was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Many ask whether Economics is a real Nobel, but in this case the award proved highly beneficial, because a few weeks later when Deaton and his wife Ann Case published a landmark study of the increase among the white working class in “Deaths of Despair”—suicide, cirrhosis, and opioid overdose—the press finally paid attention.
The explosion in black homicides and traffic fatalities during the George Floyd era is a mirror image of Deaths of Despair. Getting yourself shot at a block party because you dissed the wrong guy or driving into a bridge abutment at 105 mph are “Deaths of Exuberance.”
Third, the scale of the increase in black deaths is huge by historic standards. The CDC makes available on its WONDER website causes of death going back to 1999 by month. The top graph is homicide victimizations (not perpetrations). You can see 9/11 on the left side. Amazingly, for African-Americans, 9/11 is dwarfed by their self-inflicted victimizations during the multi-year Floyd Effect.
One obvious point that gets covered up by the media is that year in and year out, blacks die by homicide (almost all at the hands of other blacks) vastly more than other groups. And even more so lately.
I’m not sure if there is a more stunning graph in all the social sciences than the one above.
Unless it’s this data table, which considers four separate tests of the hypothesis that the Black Lives Matter movement, during its two eras of triumph (after Ferguson and after George Floyd), helped get huge numbers of extra blacks killed in two different ways: homicides and motor vehicle accidents.
(For the record, about 1,297 whites were also lynched in the same period.)
During the Ferguson Effect, black homicide deaths increased 27% from 2014 to 2016 and black motor vehicle deaths were up 24%. During the Floyd Effect, black homicide victimizations surged 44% from 2019 to 2021 and car crash deaths were up 39%.
Overall, black Deaths of Exuberance were more than 10,000 lives more in 2021 than in 2014. Just in 2021 alone, the 10,353 incremental black homicide and auto accident deaths were three times than the vastly publicized 3,446 lynching deaths of all blacks in all American history.
Heckuva job, Black Lives Matter.
But virtually nobody knows this. The media won’t publish the two graphs together. It simply doesn’t fit with our era’s naïve worship of Diversity.
And it would make them look bad. At least after the Ferguson Effect, they should have known better. But instead, The Establishment fell hook, line, and sinker for Black Lives Matter a second time, with the Floyd Effect’s incremental death toll much worse.
Embarrassment, self-interest, partisanship and ideology explain a lot about why virtually nobody has publicized my finding about the cause of the huge surge in Deaths of Exuberance, which is likely the most important in American social science since Case and Deaton’s 2015 discovery of Deaths of Despair.
But there is another reason: because I discovered it and I’m not to be mentioned. Why? Because I Notice things. Or something.
Okay, in conclusion, here’s my offer. I’m so sick of unneeded increments of my fellow American citizens dying suddenly by murder and car crash that I don’t need credit for noticing the dual Floyd Effect first. Anybody who wants to publicize this huge problem that depolicing leads to both more murders and more road wrecks should do so, and feel no obligation whatsoever to mention by contribution to science.
I don’t need the credit. I just want my country to learn an unwelcome but life-or-death lesson for once.
Thanks for listening.
Steve Sailer (Email him) has writings available on VDARE.com, on Unz.com, on TakiMag.com, on Twitter @steve_sailer, and in book form in .America's Half Blood Prince: Barack Obama's “Story of Race and Inheritance“