These two were not fired for suddenly revealing some hitherto unknown and successfully buried racist attitude — these were not out-of-left field outbursts, like Michael Richards’ onstage meltdown — but for beliefs they had always had and had always expressed. This is what makes it a purge — a decision that this sort of modern “racialism” is no longer considered an acceptable mainstream Conservative attitude.
That’s good! Though it took a while. The National Review’s rejection of the overt racists is actually a fairly new phenomenon. Joan Walsh recently wrote of how the magazine was a strong supporter of racial segregation in its early days, and while that support didn’t last long, prejudice against black Americans and crank “racialist” beliefs were welcome in the magazine long after the 1960s ended.
In September of 1997, the magazine published a lengthy attack on Steven Jay Gould by white supremacist psychologist J. Philippe Rushton — another “American Renaissance” conference speaker — in which he argued that “Mongoloids average about a cubic inch more [brain mass] than Caucasoids and over three cubic inches more than Negroids.” This, again, was in 1997, not 1897. In 1997 the magazine also published a lengthy attack on interracial marriage by Steve Sailer, who’s made a career out of pseudo-academic nativism. (He is, I believe, still the “film critic” at the American Conservative.) Sailer also penned the National Review’s not particularly warm obituary of Gould, in 2002.
When, in 2007, stalwart conservative Linda Chavez complained in a National Review Online piece about rampant bigotry against Hispanics by a few NR contributors, including John Derbyshire, they allowed her targets — and numerous other contributors not named in her piece but still offended by it — to respond. And most did, at great length, by accusing her of hurling the dreaded label “racism” at them unfairly, arguing that there’s nothing wrong with jokingly referring to all Mexican-Americans as “Aztecs” (Derbyshire) or attacking “Hispanic family values” by claiming that “Hispanic immigrants bring near-Third World levels of fertility to America, coupled with what were once thought to be First World levels of illegitimacy” (Heather MacDonald). Perfectly legitimate political arguments, right?