Around 1 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, while I was working on my VDARE.com column about Victor Davis Hanson’s column about Obama’s speech about the George Zimmerman trial (oh come on—you didn’t really want to read more about the thing, did you?), I got an email from an editor at Cultural Marxist website Gawker.com.
Gawker had done a surprisingly fair interview with me last year after my dust-up with National Review. This time they wanted to know if I would care to be interviewed about the Hanson piece. They particularly wanted to know whether I thought that Prof. Hanson’s piece was racist.
I politely declined, saying that I was writing a commissioned piece for VDARE.com and was naturally reluctant to give away for free what I could get paid for. I offered them a brief token quote, since they were so professional last year, and because it never hurts to be nice, and left it at that.
Gawker recorded this little exchange on their website. When my column appeared at VDARE.com on Thursday, they provided a link, which I thought was nice of them. (Same page, scroll down some.) They didn’t have to.
End of story . . . except that my attention always gets snagged by that word “racist.” Do I think Prof. Hanson’s column was racist?
In matters like this, it’s always best to consult an authority. Let’s pull in Dr. Shakti Butler, who makes a living—a pretty good one, I’m told—lecturing about racism and allied topics. She is in fact, according to her website, “a dynamic educator in the field of racial equity.” You can’t get more authoritative than that. So what does she have to say about the word “racist”?
A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e. people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality.
—University of Delaware Office of Residence Life, Diversity Facilitation Training, August 14 & 15, 2007, presented by Dr. Shakti Butler
I feel sure Prof. Hanson identifies himself as white. His people were Swedish; you can’t get any whiter than that. It follows ineluctably that Prof. Hanson is a racist, according to this well-credentialed professional authority.
That’s not quite dispositive. We must be open to the possibility that Prof. Hanson, although a racist, might have written an unracist essay—in a fit of absent-mindedness, perhaps, or guided by spirits from the next world, or under the influence of some psychotropic potion, or from some subtly malign motive we cannot fathom.
Perhaps Dr. Butler, should her eye fall upon this, would favor us with a ruling. Can a racist person produce unracist material? Or is everything produced by racists, as defined, tainted with racism, and therefore racist in itself?
It’s possible that Dr. Butler, like me, only offers opinions when paid to do so; but from what I know of her lifestyle, such a rigor of reticence is hardly necessary.
(Dr. Butler shows up in my recent book From the Dissident Right, p. 83ff.)