Monday, March 06, 2017

Zombie Justice and Middlebury

Aside from being an honest and exemplary researcher and author with invaluable insight, Charles Murray has done everything right. He's played by the rules. He opposed Donald Trump for all the right reasons; his opposition has been unrelenting. According to one of his tweets he was opposed to Donald Trump before he was born, or before Trump was born; I don't recall. Whatever the case Charles Murray has declared himself Oceania to Donald Trump's racist Eastasia.
He opposes Trump despite the fact--not lost on his tormentors--that Donald Trump is the only candidate to seriously address the social and economic degradations Murray has waged a lonely lifetime campaign documenting.

Not good enough.

At least no longer. Before Donald Trump it would have been enough to condemn Donald Trump. And condemnation of Trump is a shibboleth for passing the gates of respectability. But the election has expanded the Pale of political correctness, not just by including all Trump voters as white nationalists, but by netting all of them in a web of intersectionality, whereby they are guilty of all trangsressions against the progressive order. Not just racism and "Islamophobia", but sexism, "transphobia" and, new one, Russo-philia. Trumpism is the sin that contains all sins.

Can't say they're wrong. These pieties make up an integral whole. What holds them together--whether it makes sense, is good or bad--is beside the point. They reign, and, before Trump, reigned with sleeping confidence. We see that in the panic and chaos that's accompanied its waking. There are a great many, and many of them young, among Trump supporters who see and oppose the same whole. My racism is related to my transphobia for the same reasons it is in the minds of my opponents: I see anti-racism and trans rights as separate fronts in the same war.

Before Trump Murray had established a sort of detente with the opposition, whereby he was allowed to speak and, more importantly, others were able to hear him, as long he submitted to a sort of heckler's qualifier:

Absent an adequate disciplinary response, I fear that the Middlebury episode could become an inflection point. In the twenty-three years since The Bell Curve was published, I have had considerable experience with campus protests. Until last Thursday, all of the ones involving me have been as carefully scripted as kabuki: The college administration meets with the organizers of the protest and ground rules are agreed upon. The protesters have so many minutes to do such and such. It is agreed that after the allotted time, they will leave or desist. These negotiated agreements have always worked. At least a couple of dozen times, I have been able to give my lecture to an attentive (or at least quiet) audience despite an organized protest.

The condemnations of his work as "racist" were always about assertion in the The Bell Curve. But as transgressions go it was the Big One, the Ground Zero of political and cultural sin, leveled against a group that is the original model and well-worn template of the ever-growing complex of hierarchical victim identities, by which our notions of racial equality are still measured and judged: black America. The sanctity of black intellectual equality with and moral superiority (as evidenced by their lack of material equality) over white America will not be questioned.
It makes cynical sense that each new group added to the hierarchy of grievance should adopt the template that's worked so well for black Americans. It works. And it's destroying us. That Islam is a "religion of peace" will not be questioned. That there are an infinite number of genders will not be questioned.

But Murray's distanced himself as much as he can from those conclusions and he has done everything expected of him by his detractors: he downplayed the significance of those findings, he's ignored the implications and opposes any political movement that frankly acknowledges them. Not good enough. His first, cardinal sin--doing honest scholarship--cannot be erased by the venal sins of prevarication and silence in the face of catastrophe.

And Murray's detractors are right. It isn't enough for Charles Murray to genuflect. It isn't enough for him to ignore his own findings, findings for which he's already paid a price in appeasing their long fury. If it's the progressives who want to hold Murray to account so be it. There's no one else to do it.

It's not fair. It's never been fair. Charles Murray should have been allowed to publish his work without calumny. His invaluable contributions to our understanding--The Bell Curve outlined for us years ago the economic stratification that lead to the Donald Trump revolution-- For this he's been pilloried, contained and now driven from public. So to lament that interregnum between stages of physical insecurity, to detest me, to detest Donald Trump more than the mindless, mentally disturbed thugs who silence you is, now that things have changed, not good enough, Professor Murray.

No comments: