An analogy I’m fond of using to describe my efforts is of a ferryman, taking people from one side of the river to the other side of the river. On one side are the political, social and moral arguments based on the blank slate. On the other side are the arguments based in biological realism. When people finally grow dissatisfied with the failure of the blank slate arguments to properly explain observable reality, the ferryman takes them over the river to the other side. What they do from there is their business. I just take them over the river.
Now, this way of stating things wildly overstates my role and influence, but it is useful in describing the whole body of writers, bloggers, podcasters and so forth, making the sorts of arguments I make here. The analogy serves another purpose. It helps frame the intellectual conflict in our current age. The people on our side know all the arguments on the other side. We were there once. The people on the other side, however, are wholly ignorant of what is happening over here. They don’t know what they don’t know.
This came to mind when perusing National Review the other day. I was sure they would have some posts slobbering over the Black Panther movie. No group is as enthusiastic for anti-racism as the modern conservative. They turn into a puddle of emotional goo whenever they see an even a mildly successful black person. It’s why CPAC was just a long line of white people taking selfies with the four black people at the event. Instead, I found this review from Jim Geraghty with a very promising headline.
It was the subhead that got my attention, because the last thing I would expect to see at National Review is the mention of human nature. The place is stuffed to the brim with foaming at the mouth blank slaters. Normally, I’d skip past a Jim Geraghty post, because he is the sort of dullard who brings shame upon the dullard community. Of course, his movie review was his normal banal nothingness. Even by the standards of movie reviews it is bland. What was striking though is there is no mention of human nature.
I re-read the thing a few times thinking I may have skipped over a line about race realism or even the reality of Africa. Nope. The closest he gets is a throw away line at the end about governance being about trade-offs. Unless you were in a coma for the month leading up to the release of Black Panther, you had to know the movie was explicitly about race. Somehow, Geraghty missed that and never mentions race once in his review. He does not even bother to acknowledge the massive marketing of the film on racial lines.
Thinking about this, it occurred to me that the so-called conservatives have turned a strange corner. Back in the olden thymes, the paleocons were sure that their wussy compatriots knew the score, but were just too frightened of Lefty to be honest about human nature, especially with regards to race. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but listen to some of the senior men in our thing, many of whom worked for outfits like National Review, and they used to talk about these things with the wuss-right types.
Maybe it is isolation, maybe it is a platonic form of assortative mating, but the remaining husk of Buckley Conservatism is stocked with people lacking the cognitive toolkit to understand the human condition. It is no longer about avoiding taboo subjects with these guys. They are now true believers in the blank slate, so whole swaths of knowledge are no longer available to them. Like Progressives, they are forced to conjure solutions from a very limited inventory of information about the human condition.
I mentioned this in one of the podcasts, but it is worth repeating. Sometime ago, I was chatting with a young woman and the topic of Somalia came up for some reason. I mentioned that Somalis have some of the lowest IQ’s measured and they clock in at an average of 69. Her question was “Is it the schools or how they are taught?” In other words, “nature” was no longer in her set of possible answers. Like so many, she had fallen so far down the rabbit hole of nurture, it is all she knew. It’s all their is.
This also helps explain why so-called conservatives are baffled by what is happening to them. They moan and groan about Trump, using language that resonates with their fellows, but it sounds rather silly to the rest of us. They can’t see that. They don’t know what’s on the other side of the river, the side we’re on, because they don’t know there is another side to the river. For them, biology is the edge of a vast ocean that can never be crossed, because they believe there is nothing on the other side, not even monsters.