A reader raises a point of order on my piece about the firefighters:
“Liberals, with their usual coarse stupidity, naturally assumed it was just a matter of spending more money on schools.”
While I’m temperamentally inclined to agree with the insult there, I really must strenuously object to the impulse both in myself and in your article. While it might be appropriate to mine, I’d suggest that it’s below the dignity of National Review, which has always been noted as much for its civility as its intellectual rigor.
While I disagree with most “liberals” on almost everything, and certainly know there are many among them that are both coarse and stupid … you know as well as I do that they are not as a group always (or even usually) coarse or stupid. So that’s really a factual error as well as a stylistic one and the right thing to do would be to issue a retraction.
Please note, that I bother to object at all is a sign of respect for you as a writer and the publication you’re presently representing.
[Me] I normally bristle at demands that I issue a retraction for something or other. On thoughtful consideration, though, I think this reader has a point. This is one of those WWWFBD moments: What would WFB do? Would he call liberals in general “coarse and stupid”? If, in a moment of irascibility (he had them) he did so, would he thereafter retract?
I’ll cheerfully take correction here from colleagues who knew WFB better than I did, but I’m pretty sure the answers are “no” and “probably.” I therefore retract the slur, while noting — as my critic concedes — that a great many liberals are coarse and stupid. Just not all of them. But still, a lot of them. An awful lot. Many, many.