October Diary
On China, tyranny, and unique Hong Kong.


John Derbyshire

Who’s afraid of Herman Cain? Well, the lefties are, obviously, to judge by the quantity of vituperation they’ve been unloading on him. I haven’t yet seen “lawn jockey” or “house [n-word]” deployed, but it can only be a matter of time.

All of which goes to show a thing we already knew: The political Left is the Race Party. Race means everything to the lefties. Out here on the right, it means next to nothing; witness the popularity of Cain among conservatives.

I get into trouble sometimes for taking a realist position on race, i.e., it exists, it’s a feature of human life on earth, and it sometimes needs to be taken into account when talking policy — in education, for example, or law enforcement, or immigration. Failure to take it into account yields up preposterosities like No Child Left Behind, federal judges running city fire departments, the delegitimizing of rational police work, and a preference for creating new assimilation problems to over solve, or at least cope with, existing ones.

I take individual human beings as I find them, though, and strive, so far as is humanly possible, not to let race get in the way of personal relations. To do otherwise would be bad manners. Given the huge racial overlaps in distribution of every conceivable human trait, it also wouldn’t make much sense.

Policy makers have to deal with people in quantity, and that’s when the law of averages kicks in, and the statistical differences between big old inbred human populations become relevant. In our personal exchanges, though, or in one-on-one adventures like choosing a president, we can be individualists. We ought to be; we should be; we on the right mostly are; they on the left mostly aren’t.

“Amazing Grace.” Cindy Adams on Herman Cain in America’s Newspaper of Record. Herm tells Cindy he sings gospel songs. Then: “This man in rimless glasses, expensive tie, custom blue suit in the Plaza’s Palm Court then sang ‘Amazing Grace’ to me.”

Look, I know I’m a bore about this, but for crying out loud, you American Christians: Don’t you know any other hymns? “Amazing Grace” is nice enough in its way, but there is a whole glorious treasury of hymns in English, many of them much better musically, lyrically, and theologically than AG. I’m an unbeliever, yet I can sing twenty or thirty lovely hymns, sight unseen. Can’t you faithful branch out a little?

Useful work.  I occasionally look at comment threads, including those attached to pieces I have written. I apologize here to sensible, thoughtful commentators, whose opinions are precisely the reason I look. Thoughtful critics are a writer’s mirror, his Wei Zheng. Unfortunately they’re a minority on comment threads, most of which are dominated by axe-grinders, boors, and lunatics.

Also by people with petty minds. Several times I have spotted people scoffing at me and my opinions because I once worked as a mainframe-computer programmer. One such turned up this month, though I forgot to bookmark it.

Programming mainframe computers is deeply unfashionable work, even in the computer business nowadays, which has long since moved on. But yes, I was thus employed for several years. It enabled me to marry and support a family. It helped several companies (and even, gulp, a government department or two) to operate more efficiently, to the general good.

I’m supposed to be ashamed of this? Feugh! I don’t know that I was ever a model employee — too easily distracted — but I always did my best for the people who employed me, and I take pride in having done useful work for fair wages. If someone wants to scoff at that, let them tell me what they have done to help the humdrum world keep going round.

(I’ll say this for comment threads, though: They have taken over from hate e-mail. Ten years ago, when I started writing for the internet, I used to get a lot of hate e-mail. There was one guy who hate-e-mailed me three or four times a year, always with precisely the same message: “You look like a child molestor [sic].” Haven’t heard from him for ages. Now I get almost no hate e-mail. The bile all goes into comment threads, which I don’t have to read. I’m fine with this.)