The Corner

Malcolm Gladwell Retracts

He made a nasty error in a New Yorker piece. Here’s his correction. Another will be in the magazine. I often enjoy reading Gladwell, though I’ve got some criticisms of his work, but the error (he basically said Charles Murray wants to round up dumb people. He doesn’t) is totally in line with the way liberals and the left treated Murray. I discuss this quite a bit in my book.

It should tell you something that the most famously fact-checked magazine in the English language saw Gladwell’s charge against Murray and never thought to double check it. It just made so much sense. 

The basic problem liberals have a hard time grasping: Murray is a soaked-to-the-bone libertarian. He doesn’t think the government is qualified or entitled to do much of anything. But whenever liberals hear conservatives or libertarians talk about race they automatically leap to images of Nazism or Fascism when virtually all serious or mainstream rightwing thinkers endorse, at most, benign neglect AKA colorblindness.  You can take exception to such arguments, even passionate exception, but it is outrageous to suggest that Murray or Bill Bennett (remember his Freakonomics hypothetical?) or pretty much any other  conservative or libertarian worthy of the label wants to use state power to oppress or eliminate minorities. It is a slanderous projection of liberal biases onto conservatives and it has been with us since the days when Herbert Spencer was demonized for being a radical liberal. 


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