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Over at the Corner, Maggie Gallagher (no stranger to controversy herself) wades into the Derbyshire affair, writing forcefully in favor of clear, absolute, and binding moral lines against racist sentiment in conservative precincts:

I don’t know in the post-web era if “respectable” opinion exists or means anything anymore. I do know the conservative movement I joined is profoundly pro-individual, pro–human rights, and ideologically opposed to racism. For NR to kowtow to outside pressure would be weak, but drawing the moral lines we are willing to stand on as a movement is leadership. [ . . . ]

But the views expressed by John Derbyshire in this one piece are in fact, racist, if that word means anything. Who are we as a movement? Does the U.S. conservative movement include genuine honest racism, openly (however politely) expressed?

That’s the question. Not us vs. them, but who are we? Only we can answer that.

Her piece more than speaks for itself, though I will add the lament that, for many on the American right, this “question” seems unfortunately enduring. It flared up in the 1950s, when the founder of the magazine Gallagher writes in felt the need to forcefully disassociate his movement from racist cranks, and again in the late 1980s, when Fr. Neuhaus’ desire to repudiate racism and antisemitism in religious and cultural commentary became a major impetus for the founding of this journal.

Obviously, while there are always political calculations involved in any kind of internal argument, the bedrock of our approach to these elemental subjects must never be anything less than a clear-sighted view of every human being as created  imago Dei .

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