The Corner

A Voice From The Republic of Nice

“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.


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