Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

April 6, 2000

Spy plane downing provokes racist rants

Today [Thursday morning] Matt Drudge used the "H"-word for the first time in a headline: POWELL HAS HOPE FOR 'LITTLE SITUATION' WITH CHINA, Matt notes with apparent disdain, darkly adding: HOSTAGES ENTER 6TH DAY OF CAPTIVITY. How long before Dan Rather opens his newscasts by solemnly intoning that it's "Day [pick a number, any number] of the Hainan hostage crisis"? Over in Oak Harbor, Washington, where 14 of the 24 members of the spy plane's Navy flight crew were stationed, they're already wrapping everything in sight with yellow ribbons. The Washington Post reports that "no one is voicing anger at the Chinese for their behavior – yet." "But if it drags on," a local resident is quoted, "you will." Of course, a few are out in front – waaay out in front.


As a virtual compendium of every warmongering trick in the book, National Review Online has it all: the good, the bad, and the exceedingly ugly. NRO editor-in-chief Jonah Goldberg's latest adventure in tastelessness sets the tone for what may loosely be termed their coverage of the spy plane issue. Responding to Chinese President Jiang Zemin's demand that the US perform an acceptable act of contrition, Goldberg quips: "Well, I will be in favor of apologizing the moment they apologize for all of those menus they keep leaving outside my front door." Pretty funny stuff, if you equate the death of a Chinese pilot with litter left on your doorstep. But don't think that this self-described "Gen-Ex P. J. O'Rourke" is your typical knuckle-dragging xenophobe: "In fact," he avers, "I've got considerable sympathy for the Red Chinese – despite the fact that if my dog were a member of the American crew [,] Jiang Zemin would have eaten him by now." A Japanese friend of mine howled with laughter at Goldberg's joke: but, then again, this same friend absolutely and unabashedly hates the Chinese, and is a ready audience for this kind of deprecating race-based humor, no matter how crude, unfunny, or just plain mean. Goldberg's brand of humor is all three.


Whatever "sympathy" Goldberg feels for these eaters of dog-burgers, it is not enough to make him admit that the US government just may be in the wrong. Yet he displays a rare intellectual honesty – rare not only in Goldberg, but in National Review (both online-and- off) – in admitting that the China "threat" is being vastly overblown: "China has a bad government," he writes. "They do bad things to their people. They cause mischief abroad. They put MSG in everything. But they are not the Soviet Union, despite what some of my friends at the Weekly Standard sometimes suggest."


Goldberg may not have a clue about who's "causing mischief abroad" – I don't recall hearing about any Chinese spy planes buzzing the California coast – but he's dead right about the war-mad neo-cons over at the Weekly Standard. Speaking of which: this [Thursday] afternoon, Drudge ran a top-left leader headlined: "CHINESE PAPER BLASTS USA: 'Gangster logic of hegemonism won't work... You shouldn't be so arrogant on the strength of your might...'" Now, just who are these "hegemonists" the Chinese keep talking about?


While this terminology may seem abstruse to the ordinary American, who might speculate that it is some archaic Commie jargon necessarily mysterious to the modern mind, the truth is, there are "hegemonists" afoot. Indeed, it often seems, with their frequent references to the term, that the Chinese leaders are conducting a debate with William Kristol, the elfish editor of the Weekly Standard and chief ideologist of the self-described "hegemonist" school of foreign policy mavens. In a 1996 article in Foreign Affairs, that became the foreign policy manifesto of the Weekly Standard and its "national greatness" school of conservatism, Kristol and policy analyst Robert Kagan complained that conservatives were "confused" if they thought the end of the cold war meant they could come home and solve their own country's serious domestic problems. This was a "lukewarm consensus" that was "bad for the country," and conservatives "should not accede to it," lest they find themselves locked out of power, and "unable to govern." Instead, Kristol and Kagan averred, what's needed is "a more elevated vision of America's international role." Elevated, that is, to a level of grandiosity that is frankly pathological:

"What should that role be? Benevolent global hegemony. Having defeated the "evil empire," the United States enjoys strategic and ideological predominance. The first objective of U.S. foreign policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance . . . The aspiration to benevolent hegemony might strike some as either hubristic or morally suspect."

Or quite possibly both, I hasten to add. "But a hegemon is nothing more or less than a leader with preponderant influence and authority over all others in its domain," Kristol and Kagan continue. "That is America's position in the world today. The leaders of Russia and China understand this. At their April summit meeting, Boris Yeltsin and Jiang Zemin joined in denouncing 'hegemonism' in the post-Cold War world. They meant this as a complaint about the United States. It should be taken as a compliment and a guide to action."


And it is being taken as a guide to action, now that the factional battle within the Bush administration is being resolved in favor of the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz "hegemonists" over Colin Powell and the State Department. Paul Wolfowitz, deputy SecDef, is the author of a classified Pentagon memo written in 1992 that, in less self-consciously grandiose language, perfectly expresses the Kristol-Kagan thesis in the form of concrete policy recommendations. According to Wolfowitz, the operative principle of US foreign policy in the post-cold war world must be to maintain an overwhelming global dominance so as to prevent "potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." The crushing of any possible rival must be the "dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and require[s] that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia." This view, what we might call the Wolfowitz Doctrine, is fast gaining the upper hand in the highest circles of the US government. It is a mad policy doomed to failure, and for the same reason Icarus was plunged into the sea, yet this militaristic doctrine is driving our Eastasian policy and is the direct cause of the spy plane incident. Who else but a self-conscious "hegemon" would claim that a military spy plane, having landed in the airport of the spied-upon country, has the status of a commercial flight "in distress"? How high and mighty can you get?


This hegemonism, to the Chinese, evokes the ghost of their colonial past, as if the US is now bidding to take up the white man's burden just as the British in Hong Kong have finally put it down. Indeed, there are elements of ethnic and racial rivalry, not only in the Chinese resentment but in its object: those bellicose and insufferably arrogant Americans. Leave it to National Review to exemplify this arrogance, not just in the juvenile borderline-racist jibes of Jonah Goldberg, but in the cold-blooded comments of John Derbyshire, who contemptuously criticizes the Admiral of the Pacific fleet for saying that the downed spy plane is now beyond our reach, and frankly calls for war:

"With all due respect, Admiral: The hell you say. The US could have prevented the Chinese from boarding the plane very easily, by destroying it. The administration should still do this as speedily as possible, to show the Chinese how seriously we take the theft of our property. That plane should be destroyed, without any regard whatsoever to Chinese sensitivities, or indeed lives and property. The only question worth serious discussion is that of technique."


Who cares about the lives and property of those little yellow men? If this repulsive "cane the wogs" mentality seems outright un-American, that's because it is: Derbyshire was born in England, but moved to New York and now divides his time between writing novels and poems, while advocating the worst war crimes in absolutely deadpan prose. Derbyshire also has some pretty exotic racial theories, which he related in an article on VDARE opposing Chinese immigration to the US – not because they would be a burden to the state, but because they are too smart! As he puts it, on the one hand, there may be some superficially good reasons to admit this "model minority" to our shores:

"But there are some contrary indicators. In the first place, Asian immigrants are exceptionally bookish, and much more likely to attend college than any other American group except Jews. This is generally considered to be good news – better they should end up in boardrooms and research labs than stewing resentfully in a ghetto. However, the correlation between educational level and political good sense is considerably mysterious; it may very well be negative."


What fodder for the knuckle-draggers – out with them, they're too damn intelligent! Deriving a political position based on such blatant envy would of course be impossible in a society less inculcated with extreme egalitarianism. That might work in his native England, but, thankfully, it won't work here. Derbyshire has some pretty exotic racial theories, not unconnected to his warlike stance. In an email sent to a right-wing news group, Derbyshire responded to someone who wrote of "the feminization and negrification of America":

"They are the same thing. It has often been observed (e.g. by Steve Sailer & Philippe Rushton) that masculinity/femininity cut different ways in different populations. At one extreme, East Asians tend to be physically 'feminine': small bones, lightly-muscled and hairless bodies, great manual dexterity, graceful. Typical Olympic event: diving. Mentally, however, they are very 'masculine' – good at problem-solving, pattern recognition, spatial visualization, math and computer science. East Asians do have a strong military tradition, but a rather odd one: the heroes (like ZhuGe Liang) are clever strategists who win by out-foxing the enemy. I don't think ZhuGe ever lifted a sword in anger."


Oh, those sneaky Asians – they may have outfoxed us by getting their hands on our spy plane and crew, but Derbyshire has a solution: an air assault, and perhaps an outright invasion of Hainan island. Force, after all, is all these "feminine" yellow people understand: you have to show them who's boss. As an interesting sidelight, here is Derbyshire on the question of whether blacks are inherently less mentally agile:

"At the other end of the spectrum, W. African blacks are physically very 'masculine': big bones, high muscle-fat ratios, sexually vigorous. Typical Olympic event: sprinting. Mentally, however, they are "feminine": good verbal skills (half the neologisms in US English come up from the black underclass), great at arguing, trash talking, emoting, preaching, lawyering, salesmanship. Hopeless at math, as the recent AMS tables (math Ph.Ds awarded, by race, Notices of the AMS, vol.48, no.2, Feb. 2001) show."


Presumably the white "race," according to this theory, embodies the masculine in both its physical and mental aspects, thus entitling whites to their globally dominant status. Mixed with Goldberg's glibly superficial racism, Derbyshire's more serious – indeed, deadly earnest – racialist theories make one big poisonous cocktail.. A more unpleasant concoction has never been brewed. Imbibed by conservatives, it can lead only to a drunken orgy of warmongering – and murderous hate. As the crisis drags on, and the war hysteria builds, how long before Chinese-Americans are targeted by violent nutballs out to avenge the nonexistent "honor" of their rulers? These same hysterics are now calling for a boycott of all Chinese products – as if the poor peasants of China had any say in the fate of the captured American crew. From there it is not too far to travel before anybody with yellow skin is seen as the Enemy: in making sick jokes about Chinese "dog-eaters," and publishing earnest screeds advocating immediate military action, National Review is openly and knowingly appealing to the ugly underside of the American psyche.

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