Know what? John Derbyshire’s kind of a repulsive jerk…

Commentary » Blog Archive » A Response to John Derbyshire

This belief about inherent human dignity does not mean that America can solve every problem in the world or that we shouldn’t focus most of our energy and treasure on America itself. But if the United States is able, at a reasonable cost ($25 billion over five years), to help prevent widespread death, that is something we should be proud of it. (A recent Stanford study found that PEPFAR was responsible for saving the lives of more than a million Africans in just its first three years.)

Derbyshire seems to take an almost childish delight in advertising his indifference to the suffering of others, at least when the others live on a different continent and come from a different culture. Back in February 2006, when more than 1,000 people were believed to have died when an Egyptian ferry sank in the Red Sea, Derbyshire wrote:

In between our last two posts I went to Drudge to see what was happening in the world. The lead story was about a ship disaster in the Red Sea. From the headline picture, it looked like a cruise ship. I therefore assumed that some people very much like the Americans I went cruising with last year were the victims. I went to the news story. A couple of sentences in, I learned that the ship was in fact a ferry, the victims all Egyptians. I lost interest at once, and stopped reading. I don’t care about Egyptians.

Cultivating what Adam Smith (in The Theory of Moral Sentiments) called “sympathy” and “fellow feeling” is a complicated matter. Suffice it to say that very few of us care about the suffering and fate of others as much as we should. Yet most of us aren’t proud of this fact; we are, rather, slightly embarrassed by it. Not John Derbyshire. He seems eager to celebrate his callousness, as if it were a sign of manliness and tough-mindedness. I haven’t a clue whether this is a pose, done for shock value or some such thing, or real. All we can do is judge Derbyshire by his public words. And they are not only unpersuasive; they are at times downright ugly.

 


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Categorized as Miscellany

By CK MacLeod

Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

5 comments

  1. I’m not a fan of Wehner, but after reading Derbyshire’s post, he’s made his point. Derbyshire’s damned, dismal and too much of a dutz to know it, let alone feel it.

  2. Derbyshire, is kind of a misanthrope, a real life version of ‘Marvin the Android, he’s a conservative, but not particularly sympathetic to religion, someone more along the line of Quellist Kate’s recommendation

  3. I posted this a) because Wehner had Derbyshire dead to rights with a moral case for conservative progressivism, and b) because it’s amusing to see a member of the self-styled serious rightwing commentariat lifting up his civility slip to expose a little exasperation, while reaching a conclusion in 2010 that others already considered old news a long time ago.

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