Why Is Christopher Caldwell Such A Useless Debater?
August 23, 2009, 01:49 AM
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Listen here to Christopher Caldwell, author of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, being torn to shreds by a liberal NPR radio host called Tom Ashbrook, the intellectual equivalent of being savaged by a rabbit.

Caldwell's performance is so pitiful that even Newsweek's Christopher Dickey, brought on to provide "balance", intervenes to protect him.

Needless to say, this phenomenon is intensely frustrating to VDARE.COM's Editorial Collective, any one of whom could have done better. How come Caldwell didn't at least say, when asked to give an example of how Muslim immigrants threaten Western culture, that they make support of Israel more difficult? What NPR host could handle that?

But, curiously, Caldwell also shrinks from being associated with the neoconservatism of his Zionist employer, the Weekly Standard, protesting feebly that the London Financial Times, where he does a column, is anti-neocon.

My theory: Caldwell has made an absolutely conscious decision not be confrontational, even though he's written a confrontational book. We've noted this tactfulness in his writing elsewhere. And people/ pundits/ talkshow hosts are even more sensitive about losing arguments in person—which is why the Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore has been declining to debate me for the last few years.

There's a whole species of conservative pundits who keep a toe-hold in the Main Stream Media by avoiding hot-button issues - you could call it "George Willism". And immigration turns out to be pretty well the ultimate hot-button issue.

Of course, this puts Caldwell in an absurd situation. But no more absurd than Mark Steyn, who, as View From the Right's Larry Auster has been pointing out for years, has been banging on about the danger of Islam without ever making the obvious connection with Muslim immigration.

Now Steyn has actually admitted that

For a notorious blowhard, I can go a bit cryptic or (according to taste) wimpy when invited to confront that particular subject head on. On the CBC last year, I was tap dancing around various socio-cultural generalities when the host, George Stroumboulopoulos, leaned in in that way he has and cut to the chase: �You mean [pause and knowing glance to camera] immigration?�

I thought of bolting for the nearest exit, but, at such moments, I usually take refuge in the formulation that a dependence on mass immigration is always a structural weakness and it would be prudent to address it as such. But in the end my line’s a bit of a dodge.

Steyn still doesn't say why he has been indulging in this "dodge". But I guess this curious balancing act (why raise these subjects at all?) has worked for him, and for Caldwell.

I am not sure, however, that it is working for the West.

Read Larry Auster's typically devastating critique here.