The Corner

Off Message

A concerned reader:

“Dear Derb—We generally love you, but I have to ask — are you truly a conservative, or just a foil for all the other NRO writers? I mean I don’t expect you to be in lockstep with all things conservative, but come on! By my reckoning you are now:

“1) Against teaching ID;

“2) Against the space shuttle;

“3) Against the war in Iraq (although you may have come around on this); and

“4) Against prohibitions on embrionic stem cell research.

“My memory of your columns is failing a little right now, but I think you’re “against” even more traditionally conservative things as well. What’s up?

“I’d hate to lose your analysis and wit to the other side.

“Wanting you back in the fold,


[Derb here] To take the reader’s points in reverse order:

4) I can’t recall ever expressing an opinion about embryonic stem cell research. And that figures, since I don’t have one. I have close to zero interest in anything to do with embryos. I know a lot of people differ, and think that taking positions on embryos is the very heart and soul of modern American conservatism, vastly more important than all that fool stuff about war, economics, science, education, culture, etc. Good luck to them; I disagree. When I get through thinking about all the problems in the world of actual sentient human beings, I’ll give some thought to embryos. I promise. OK?

3) So I’m not a good conservative unless I think the the most important task facing our nation, and the most pressing duty of our armed forces, is

sorting out the affairs of a fifth-rate Arab despotism?

2) So I’m not a good conservative if I express hostility towards a colossally expensive feddle gummint program of no practical value to the nation whatever?

1) So taking sides with the 99.3 (I think it is) percent of credentialed working scientists who are fine with Darwinism, against the 0.7 percent who have philosophical issues with it, is going to get me drummed out of the conservative movement?

Where’s the door?

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

Most Popular


The Democrats Made Two Joe Biden Miscalculations

I think it's safe to say that there are many, many progressive Democrats who are more than a little surprised -- and a lot chagrined -- at Joe Biden's polling dominance. Look at FiveThirtyEight's polling roundup. Aside from a few high and low outliers, he leads the race by a solid 20 points (at least). Even ... Read More
National Security & Defense

The Warmonger Canard

Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is — a crawl to peace, maybe — America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame ... Read More