I fear that Chilton Williamson’s column in the June issue (“Neither ‘Gay’ Nor ‘Marriage,’” What’s Wrong With the World) loses its point about a third of the way through—and conveys an uncharitable impression of the author that I know to be untrue. While the gay issue often provokes conservatives to have an instantaneous emotional reaction, perhaps we can dispense with the scattershot polemics and disentangle the various threads of his complaint.
To begin with, it is somewhat disconcerting to find an off-the-cuff defense of polygamy in the midst of a defense of traditional marriage: “The basis of the marital relationship,” we are told, “what makes marriage marriage, is a relationship with a member (or, in polygamous societies, members) of the biologically opposite sex.” I’ll leave it to others to defend the traditional Christian conception of marriage against the Williamsonian assault. I’ll also leave alone his disapproval of the Special Olympics, confident in the belief that people in wheelchairs have enough problems, of which Williamson’s views on their athletic abilities are but a minor footnote.
Getting back to gay marriage, the author asks “how far the liberal impulse behind it will go,” and posits a regime whereby “heterosexual couples [could] possibly be compelled to surrender a percentage of their offspring to gay couples.” While leaving it to the readers of Chronicles to judge whether this is a real possibility, I think I can confidently predict that, should it occur, this attempt to offload a generation of juvenile delinquents on the gay community would be sternly repulsed.
I find it hard to believe Williamson is really attributing the campaign for gay marriage to a “Jewish” effort to “subvert” society with “left-wing, countercultural, and multicultural projects from the mid-19th century to the 21st.” What evidence does he provide for the existence of this conspiracy? Well, it seems Chilton read an article in the New York Times—“page one above the fold”!—detailing the financial support given to the gay-marriage campaign. The donors, we are told, “included a list of prominent Jews in the entertainment business and in finance”—although, oddly, Chilton doesn’t mention a single one by name.
The Times piece, Williamson writes, “fits easily” with the crackpot theories of one Kevin MacDonald, a psychology professor at a minor California state college, who holds that this is all part of “a group evolutionary strategy pursued by the Jewish people throughout their history to subvert and weaken the host societies” in order to ensure “Jewish survival and success in gentile lands.” While writing that MacDonald’s thesis is “insufficient” to explain these subversive trends, Williamson also notes the professor is not a Christian, and therefore may have “simply overlooked a subject [the crucial importance of the Christian Faith, sincerely held, to Western civilization] in which he has no particular interest.” Well, yes, that’s one way of putting it. For if Judaism, which gave birth to Christianity, is merely a “survival strategy,” then what does this makes Christianity? Surely not “a living system of belief,” but just another variant of a “survival strategy.” Or is Christianity now bereft of the Old Testament? And what of Jesus, a Jew—was He merely acting out a “survival strategy”?
One would have a hard time reconciling the humanistic values of Christianity with the scientistic soulless “grand thesis” of a committed materialist and crude bigot such as MacDonald—which is why I was quite surprised to see Williamson cite him as an authority. While averring that MacDonald’s views are “insufficient” to explain fully the cultural decay he deplores, the author nonetheless gives the unfortunate impression that he endorses this psychopathology masquerading as “science.”
Although I am not a good enough person to be a Christian, I do have enough knowledge of what the doctrine entails to wonder whether simultaneously disdaining the disabled, the sinners, and the Jews in such harsh terms is in itself sinful. I’ll leave it to the experts to decide, but my own view is this: It is one thing to scorn the “Church of Nice,” as Williamson puts it; it is quite another to convert to the Church of Nasty. The latter is as much a heresy as the former—and one that, I’m sure, Williamson would reject on sober reflection.
Mr. Williamson Replies:
Such a basket of evasive red herrings flopping about in a state of oxygen depletion! One hardly knows where to begin first, so I’ll address Mr. Raimondo’s points in order.
The reaction of conservatives (and of many nonconservatives) to gay marriage is not “emotional.” It is the natural and moral one.
I was not making a “defense” of polygamy, simply acknowledging its existence.
Nor was I defending the specifically “traditional Christian” conception of marriage, but the traditional concept generally. The two adjectives are easily separable from each other, though Mr. Raimondo hopes the reader won’t notice this inconvenient fact.
Where does juvenile delinquency come into the matter? (Why should the “requisitioned babies” of heterosexual couples be future delinquents?)
I was not attributing the gay-marriage push to Jewish subversion, but associating the two. (The Times gives plenty of names, but what would have been the point in my listing them? The reader can check the source for himself.) I detect from here an attempt by Mr. Raimondo to distract attention from antihomosexuality to antisemitism, the prototypical indefensible charge. (An example, perhaps, of a homosexual victory strategy?) Raimondo has put my emphasis between homosexuals and Jews the wrong way round.
Kevin MacDonald’s position as professor of psychology at California State University-Long Beach is at least as respectable as the editorship of an antiwar website. Moreover, his theories, right or wrong, are certainly no more crackpot than libertarianism.
I distinctly made the point that Judaism is quite obviously not a strategy merely, but a bona fide religion. As for Christ as a Jew, it is obvious that, to the extent that Judaism is a survival strategy, the Jews of His time would have seen His teaching and His actions as subverting that strategy, not “acting it out”—with the predictable historical result.
Whether MacDonald considers his work as science or not, I read his books as plausible social and intellectual history, carrying on (in part) from John Murray Cuddihy’s The Ordeal of Civility, which I reviewed for The New Republic 30 years ago.
Nobody is a good enough person to be a Christian—which is precisely the point of Christianity.
If I were tempted to found a church, it would be neither the Church of Nice nor the Church of Nasty, but rather the Church of Unsentimentalism.
I am flattered by the attention given in the June issue to my recent disagreement with National Review. My thanks to Thomas Fleming, Tom Piatak, and Taki Theodoracopulos.
Justin Raimondo, however, in his column (“One of Them,” Between the Lines), committed flagrant journalistic malpractice: “When I think about ‘white nationalism’ and Derbyshire’s advice to his children to ‘stay away from blacks in groups,’ I think of my long-ago friends in this warehouse for lost children.”
The plain implication of that second pair of quotation marks is that I said or wrote the thing quoted therein. I did not.
Long Island, NY
Mr. Raimondo Replies:
My humble apologies for putting quotation marks around a phrase Mr. Derbyshire did not write. What he did write is that one should “avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.” He also advised his readers to “stay out of heavily black neighborhoods,” and this was followed by similar warnings, such as what to do if a beach or amusement park is “swamped with blacks,” if a public event is “likely to draw a lot of blacks,” or “the number of blacks suddenly swells,” which is to “leave as quickly as possible.” If Derbyshire isn’t advising us (or his children) to stay away from blacks in groups, then the English language is not subtle enough to express what he thinks he did write.