Ta-Nehisi Coates mines the deep vein of racism at the National Review. In particular, a column by Victor Davis Hanson who tries to counter President Obama’s talk on race and racism by basically telling us that it’s not outrageous for white folk to be afraid of black men because one tried to steal his bicycle once.
Let us be direct — in any other context we would automatically recognize this “talk” as stupid advice. If I were to tell you that I only employ Asian-Americans to do my taxes because “Asian-Americans do better on the Math SAT,” you would not simply question my sensitivity, but my mental faculties. That is because you would understand that in making an individual decision, employing an ancestral class of millions is not very intelligent. Moreover, were I to tell you I wanted my son to marry a Jewish woman because “Jews are really successful,” you would understand that statement for the stupidity which it is.
It would not be acceptable for me to make such suggestions (to say nothing of policy) in an enlightened society — not simply because they are “impolite” but because they betray a rote, incurious and addled intellect. There is no difference between my argument above and the notion that black boys should be avoided because they are overrepresented in the violent crime stats. But one of the effects of racism is its tendency to justify stupidity.
As he also notes, this is not the first time NR has dabbled in this sort of benign racism. Last year they had to let John Derbyshire go for writing basically the same sort of thing, and historically the magazine, even under the tutelage of William F. Buckley, looked upon African-Americans with that sort of country-club racism that tut-tutted the outrages of the Klan but wouldn’t mind toasting a marshmallow if they happened to see a burning cross.
You can dress up your racism in the best Brooks Brothers tweed, but you’re still going to sound stupid.