Memo To: Brent Staples, NYTimes editorial writer
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your “I-told-you-so column” on Glenn Loury
Your blast at Harvard professor Glenn Loury on Sunday’s editorial page demonstrates his wisdom and enterprise while revealing your own insecurity and youth. Here you are, two of the most prominent intellectuals of the era: you, the black commentator on the Times editorial board, a key outpost of the liberal plantation; and Loury, an author and academic operating out of Harvard Yard, another key outpost of the liberal plantation. In the last 15 years, while Loury ventured off the plantation to explore the possibilities elsewhere, you have remained safely inside the compound, warning him that he would be sorry and would find the conservative plantation even worse than the liberal farm. I thought of the critics of Christopher Columbus, who warned it would be a waste of money to travel west looking for India, and undoubtedly criticized him upon his return for having failed in his mission -- instead only finding some crummy island named Hispaniola.
A week ago, I wrote a note to Professor Loury commending him for standing up as he has in noting the rightward cultural drift of the Republican Party. In the same way, I left the Democratic Party 20 years ago when I became discouraged with the sterility of ideas therein. There was a significant outflow of one-time liberal intellectuals to the GOP that took place for the same reason. Irving Kristol, a socialist in his formative years, was a central navigator in that neoconservative adventure. The world changed because of our exodus, but there were no serious complaints from the liberals that we were betraying them. They were happy to be rid of us. Now that our ideas have successfully energized the Republican Party -- and I have no doubt that it would still be dead as a doornail were it not for the neo-cons -- the GOP has decided it can go back to being what it was before we got there. I’ve made a nuisance of myself for the last three years in complaining about the worst aspects of this rightward drift. Jack Kemp, who I have advised for 21 years, in 1995 decided not to run for the GOP presidential nomination partly because the party had moved away from his economic issues to the cultural issues.
In the last several years, I have read a great many of your signed comments in the Times and tried unsuccessfully to communicate with you. Are you so comfortably ensconced in the old world that you do not even wish to be tempted by the thought of exploring the frontiers of the white plantation for a way out? Only the courage of men like Loury and Tom Sowell and Shelby Steele and Bob Woodson to cross the line will eventually produce a solution to the racial divide. Think of Loury as an explorer and you will realize how unfair you have been to him.