The Corner

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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,

“[Name]“

[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.

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