My name, and a review I did of Kevin MacDonald's The Culture of Critique back in 2003, make a cameo appearance in the latest push-back against that March 29th article about the Alt-Right by Milo Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari. I mentioned that article, and VDARE.com's response to it, in last week's podcast. Just to remind you, Yiannopoulos and Bokhari, writing at Breitbart.com, gave a sympathetic, or at any rate not unsympathetic, description of the Alt-Right, characterizing them as, quote, "young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies," end quote. That was the March 29th article that generated, and is still generating, a lot of commentary.
So here is journalist Cathy Young [Email her] who writes commentary from a position somewhere in the borderlands where libertarianism meets neoconservatism. Her response to Yiannopoulos and Bokhari went up on the Federalist website this last Thursday. Title: You Can't Whitewash the Alt-Right's Bigotry.
We know where we are right away from that title. The word "bigotry" is only ever used nowadays by enforcers of the multiculti, ethnomasochist narrative. In the stylized diction of these enforcers, it's standard to precede the word "bigotry" with the adjective "ugly." Sure enough, the first occurrence of the word "bigotry" in the actual text of Cathy Young's article is preceded by "ugly."
This is a writer who thinks in clichés out of the leftist phrasebook. Unless, of course, she thinks that beautiful bigotry is a possible attitude. If she doesn't think that, then the word "ugly" is redundant, isn't it?
She's very particularly concerned with antisemites on the Alt-Right, of which there certainly are some, along with plenty of Jewish writers and anti-antisemites like myself. Is Ms Young herself Jewish? Yes she is. Of all the people reading her article and nodding along in agreement, is the majority Jewish? I very seriously doubt it. There, once again, is your problem, according to me.
It's in that context — of antisemitism, I mean — that Ms Young mentions me and my MacDonald review. Quote from her, after a paragraph and a half mocking Kevin MacDonald, quote:
Interestingly, back in 2003, MacDonald's book "The Culture of Critique" was the subject of a scathing review in The American Conservative by John Derbyshire, currently another VDARE stalwart, who described its main thesis as not only anti-Semitic but "silly."
Reading that, I frowned. I didn't think my review was "scathing." I thought it was balanced and thoughtful, with plenty of compliments. Nor did I remember describing Kevin's main thesis as "silly." I pulled up the review and went searching for the word "silly." There is just one occurrence of that word in my review. Here it is, towards the end of a longish quote. Quote:
I think that the evolutionary psychologists are probably on to something, but some of their more extreme claims seem to me to be improbable and unpleasantly nihilistic. Here, for example, is Kevin MacDonald in a previous book: "The human mind was not designed to seek truth but rather to attain evolutionary goals." This trembles on the edge of deconstructionist words-have-no-meaning relativism, of the kind that … MacDonald himself debunks very forcefully in Chapter 5 of The Culture of Critique. After all, if it is so, should we not suppose that evolutionary psychologists are pursuing their own "group evolutionary strategy"? And that, in criticizing them, I am pursuing mine? And that there is, therefore, no point at all in my writing, or your reading, any further?To be fair to Kevin MacDonald, not all of his writing is as silly as that. The Culture of Critique includes many good things.
So I applied the word "silly" not to Kevin's main thesis, towards which I expressed only some diffident and qualified doubts, but to one particular thing he said in a different book.
Sloppy journalism there, Ms Young. There are other sloppinesses too, logged by our own James Fulford here at VDARE.
The refreshing thing about that original Yiannopoulos and Bokhari article was its willingness to treat the Dissident Right as a legitimate object of inquiry, with a calm discussion of its ideas and its sociology. The far more usual approach by outsiders looking at the Alt-Right is just to point and sputter and reach for the Cultural Marxist phrasebook.
Yiannopoulos and Bokhari did their homework and pondered what they had found without, if you'll excuse the word, prejudice.
With Cathy Young, we're back to point'n'sputter.