Amanda Marcotte discovers that even John Derbyshire has a place in the Plan of Divine Providence. He is to be mocked:
Amanda Marcotte: I was feeling a little low, like the level of wingnuttery I've been reading lately isn't entertaining enough to mock. The Disco Ball must have heard my cries of woe because an angel sent to me in the form of Jill alerted me to the fact that John Derbyshire has a review of [Vladimir Nabokov's] Lolita up at National Review....
Everything Amanda writes is good. I note that Derbyshire reaches the quintessence of wingnuttery when he takes murderer, pedophile, and rapist Humbert Humbert's views on moral order as authoritative. You see, Hummbert Humbert mocks:
the rules of those American ads where schoolchildren are pictured in a subtle ratio of races, with one--only one, but as cute as they make them--chocolate-colored round-eyed little lad, almost in the very middle of the front row.
And Derbyshire then chimes in:
He would have been horrified to see how this how these silly but harmless and well-intentioned courtesies have swollen into a monstrous dreary tyranny, shutting off whole territories of speech and thought, acting as a sheet anchor to hold back our commercial and intellectual progress, corrupting our constitutional jurisprudence, turning unscrupulous mountebank attorneys into billionaires, and making art like Nabokov's incomprehensible.... That we are stupider, coarser, duller, lazier, narrower of mind, more fearful of strangeness, more abject, and more craven than the Americans of 1958 is bad enough... our civilization is, and richly deserves to be, on its way out...
Nabokov's intent is not that we identify with Humbert's racism--his "poke[ing] gentle fun" at the "harmless and well-intentioned courtesy" of treating Black people as Americans. Nabokov's intent is that we see Humbert Humbert's racism as a (small) part of what makes him loathesome. Derbyshire doesn't get it--it doesn't occur to him that he should separate Vladimir Nabokov the author from Humbert Humbert the narrator. That Humbert Humbert would be horrified by something is an argument that that something is good, not that it is bad.
Stupidest man alive.