“Dear Mr. Derbyshire—Here’s the thing [Proceeds to quote from my Tuesday
column]: ‘The wreckers loose in our own society are stronger, more
confident, and more numerous. It is those wreckers that most concern me: the
arrogant judges, the academic deconstructors, the teacher-union
multiculturalists, the media guilt-mongers, the love-the-world pacifists,
the criminal-lovers and family-breakers, the inventors of bogus rights and
destroyers of cherished traditions, the haters of normality and scoffers at
restraint, the enterprise-destroying litigators and pain-feelers.’
“Here’s the question: With this kind of rhetoric, can you be surprised that
the nation finds itself divided? Do you actively seek such divisions?
Would you stand up and say these things in public or only hurl them onto the
web? As a member of, I guess, one or two of the groups you list above, I do
not object to your right to express whatever it is that you think you are
expressing. However, I find your tone aggressive and threatening. Is this
your intent? To bait? To offend? To rile up? If not, I think you ought
to be more careful. If so, I think you ought to be more careful still.”
Fiddlesticks. Of course the nation is divided. There are major
disagreements on major issues. There always have been: in 19th-century
elections, they fought on the streets. Division, spirited argument, angry
rhetoric, insult and abuse, are the very stuff of our democracy. What my
reader, and the regrettably large number of people who think like him, wants
is for no-one ever to feel offended by anything said in the public sphere.
He wants this to be, in Florence King’s great phrase, “The Republic of
Nice.” Personally, I can’t imagine anything more horrible. (I suspect that
what he *actually* wants is for no *liberal* ever to be offended…)
The answers to his questions, in order, are: No, no, yes, yes (aggressive)
but no (threatening), yes, yes.
Note, by the way, the threatening tone in his last sentence. The overall
cast of mind of these types is: “You must be nice, gentle, accommodating,
sympathetic, understanding, non-combative, inoffensive… OR ELSE WE WILL
SMASH YOU TO PIECES!” There is nobody more bloodthirsty than a pacifist.