National Review's John Derbyshire was fired this weekend for publishing a racially incindiary column in another magazine -- a column in which he wrote, among other things, that he had taught his children to avoid helping or working for black people. NR's Andrew McCarthy, weighing in on the firing, did a good job explaining why it needed to happen:
It is important that research be done, that conclusions not be rigged, and that we are at liberty to speak frankly about what it tells us. But that is not an argument for a priori conclusions about how individual persons ought to be treated in various situations -- or for calculating fear or friendship based on race alone.
Elizabeth Scalia, though writing on a different subject altogether -- the Trayvon Martin killing and the inflammatory rhetoric of the press, including NBC's selective editing of the 911 tape -- suggests a solution for the kind of racist thinking Derbyshire displayed:
. . . I wonder if part of the press’ problem is that they don’t see human beings, anymore, as individual persons before them; they see identity groups into which persons can be fitted andtoward which narratives can be spun, but fixating on identifiers is like not seeing a tree, for the forest. It misses the fact that groups are just individual people, and people — more than anything else in the world — want to know that they — their individual, unique selves — matter; that their loveableness is seen by someone and appreciated. People like Mother Teresa know this instinctively; the rest of us often have to be reminded. . . .
The class-warfare rhetoric and race-baiting is all around us and it’s an election year, which means it’s probably not going away anytime soon. . . . Actually seeing the human person placed before us, not as a "type" or as a member of some "group", but as simply another human being with a common need to be acknowledged, can defeat all of that.