David French and the Conservative Case for Hereditary Bloodguilt
A prominent "Never Trumper" argues that the sins of the fathers must be visited upon the sons.
In early 2019, I published a short book that, gingerly, argued that the inevitable end-point of leftist arguments is that some demographic categories are simply born bad while others are born good; that all bad things that happen to the good people are the result of the bad people; and therefore the bad people must be punished in perpetuity.
I use the adverb “gingerly” because, back then, nobody spelled out exactly what the plan is. As I put it,
the Left knows that it is in a difficult rhetorical position. The heart of its argument is that some people are inherently innocent and good while others are inherently guilty and bad and must be treated accordingly. To ears insufficiently attuned to the new understanding of justice, this can sound unjust. Tying moral worth to circumstances of birth? Not treating people equally? Punishing the living for the sins of the dead? Why all this is—contrary to appearances, logic, and common sense— “just” requires considerable explanation. To the extent that people “get it,” they will sharply divide between those who say that the “advantaged” have it coming and those who object “No, I don’t.”
The problem for the Left, therefore, is that while its message is very effective at egging on its own side, it can be equally effective at alarming and rousing its targets. The ideal solution would be to come up with a public message that rallies the Left while lulling its targets, but this turns out to be very difficult, if not impossible.
The next best thing is to forbid the targets from speaking up – with “speaking up” understood to include simply repeating the Left’s rhetoric. Thus a commonplace contretemps of our time runs according to the following script: some leftist condemns an entire demographic group, often including a wish that harm befall it; she receives loud applause from the Left and from the ambient culture; a non-leftist repeats what she said and is denounced. The denunciation ensues whether or not the non-leftist adds any critical comments. His real offense is noticing, or more precisely noticing without celebrating. It’s OK to notice if noticing takes the form of acknowledging justified anger and welcoming as deserved punishment whatever comes next. But noticing is very bad if it suggests even a hint of moral condemnation or—worse—the beginnings of organized opposition.
We may sum up the typical response of a leftist caught red-handed thus: “You’re completely paranoid. That’s not our plan at all; and even if it were, you’d have nothing to fear. Still, the fact that you’re worried shows that you have a guilty conscience and deserve whatever it is we promise we’re not going to do to you. Your talking about what we say is evidence of your badness. Stop talking about us, lest you force us to do to you what we insist it never even occurred to us to do.”
The Left allows only three responses to its rhetoric: silence, agreement, or denial. As to this last, long experience has taught leftists that, whenever they blurt out what’s really on their mind, they can count on “conservatives” to grope for ways to excuse or provisionally understand their hate speech—nothing to worry about! harmless hyperbole!—or, that failing, to assert moral equivalence with the president’s tweets. (Meanwhile if an obscure yet genuine conservative merely says “If attacked, I will defend myself,” he is denounced—by “conservatives” at least as vociferously as by leftists—as Literally Hitler.)
It is an odd feature of the current year that calling an avowed enemy a liar—publicly insisting that her plain words could not possibly mean what they plainly say—not only fails to provoke an angry denial but is welcomed by the alleged liar herself. Anything to keep leftism’s targets somnambulant for as long as possible. The more Americans who wake up and realize that contemporary leftism is a revenge plot with themselves as its targets, the more will object and try to stop it. This is what the Left, at present, most fears and is trying to prevent.
That seemed about right at the time but now feels passé. More and more, the bad guys are saying the quiet part out loud.
And no one, recently, has screamed the quiet part quite so loudly as alleged “conservative” David French.
I try to ignore French. Honest. In part because I find him loathsome, in part because I don’t want to expand his airtime. But he has just written something so extraordinarily evil that attention must be paid.
French’s latest cri de cour has already been tagged by others much more involved in the fight against critical race theory than I. The irreplaceable Chris Rufo, especially, has demonstrated French’s
hypocrisy, er, “evolution” into his warm embrace of anti-white racism. But, to my knowledge, no one has pointed out the worst aspect of the piece.
As everyone knows, French likes to use Scripture to wrap himself with the robes of God and tar his enemies as, basically, Satanists. He has now taken that practice to a whole ’nother level.
In the course of extolling critical race theory, which French was against before he was for, he cites the Biblical passage 2 Samuel 21. I’ll let him take it from here:
During the reign of King David, Israel was afflicted with three years of famine. When David “sought the face of the Lord” regarding the crisis, God said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house.” (Saul had conducted a violent campaign against the Gibeonites, in violation of a covenant made with the Israelites many centuries before.
Saul was king before David, and God was punishing Israel years after Saul’s regime because of Saul’s sin. It was the next king, David’s, responsibility to make things right. And so David turned to the remaining Gibeonites and said, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?”
The Gibeonites’ request was harsh—to hand over seven of Saul’s descendants for execution. David fulfilled their request, and “God responded to the plea for the land.”
I leave to theologians to justify the principle of visiting the sins of the fathers unto the sons. I will, however, note that in the Biblical passage French cites (and others), it is very explicitly GOD either doing or commanding the visiting. This is, however, not a practice the Almighty requires or even recommends that men take up on the basis of their own judgement.
French on the other hand is explicitly calling for this principle to become the basis for law and public policy.
What we have here is a frank, explicit call for “reparations” (aka expropriation), by a supposed “conservative,” on the ground that America is evil and that one class of its citizens bear the bloodguilt of past generations. In other words, French-the-“conservative” is explicitly endorsing the most divisive anti-American, anti-white, and (let’s be honest) anti-Christian rhetoric and agenda, plus all its underlying presuppositions.
French is quick to point out that he’s not calling for, you know, actually killing anyone. He merely wants to take wealth from one race of people and give it to another. His “conservative” side laughably comes out when he objects to the expropriation being done via “central planning.” As long as it’s done via “vouchers” and other pro-freedom measures, A-OK!
If there were a better way to shatter an already fractured country than to make people of one race permanent second-class citizens, guilty because of their ancestry, whose wealth must be taken to atone for sins they didn’t commit, and who must work to support the people of another race, I can’t, off the top of my head, think of one. “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it,” Abraham Lincoln said was the very definition of tyranny. It’s hard to see much of a difference (if there is one) between that and this latest Frenchism.
I have little to add to the many genuinely conservative eviscerations of such a policy and its groundings. My purpose here is rather to point out, for all to see, what a corrosive, malevolent figure French has become. He IS the racist he claims to oppose; he just hates whites. Except, of course, himself—the only virtuous white man in America.
To David French, the rest of us are all guilty. Will we always be? That he declines to clarify. But he is crystal-clear that race-based hereditary bloodguilt should be the new principle of American “justice.”
In a sense, I suppose we should thank him. The Left rarely makes so utterly clear that this is the plan. Although anyone with a rudimentary understanding of logic should have figured out years ago that such is, inevitably, where Leftist presuppositions lead. In Lenin’s chilling, but accurate, words, “He who says A must say B.”
Speaking of which, though French generously declines to call for our executions, one wonders: what limiting principle stops him? After all, if his inspiration-justification for his new policy is God Himself, well … the Lord didn’t halt at expropriation. French may wave away this objection with accusations of straw-manning—“it will never get that bad here,” etc.—but a few short years ago, the country did not appear to be on the precipice of the kind of mass expropriation that French now demands.
Indeed, French’s own trajectory illustrates the very “slippery slope” argument that he would, presumably, reject. A mere three-and-a-half years ago, he called critical race theory “racial poison” that “leads to sheer cruelty and malice.” Now he endorses it root and branch. Why should we expect him—or anyone to his left (not that there’s a lot of room there)—to stop there?
More to the point, others do not stop there. There is, to be blunt, a sinister and violent faction out there which will not be satisfied with mere expropriation. French no doubt disavows them, or, more likely, denies their existence. But they exist whether or not he wishes to admit it, and this vile argument, cloaked in the authority of scripture, gives them rhetorical aid and comfort.
The only thing I can think to say in favor of French’s argument is that Lincoln in a sense agreed that the whole nation deserved punishment for slavery, but concluded that the punishment had been administered:
If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
If, as French would surely respond, there is also a debt to be repaid for Jim Crow, has it not already been repaid—and is still being repaid—by the War on Poverty, racial preferences, and many others policies designed to “close the gap”? French writes as if all these things, and more, never happened, or at very least that they were, and are, not nearly enough. What, and when, would be enough? He doesn’t say. When all outcomes are “equal”? If so, what separates French-the-“conservative” from the radical racialist grifter Ibram X. Kendi?
A new study finds that the black-white wealth gap closed dramatically in the first decades of the civil rights era, then stagnated for twenty years, and has been growing in this century—all while massive redistribution has been taking place. If all that hasn’t been able to close the gap, which has instead widened, why would more of the same close it? Or is one class of people simply supposed to keep giving until all their wealth “shall be sunk”? There is no reason, on the basis of anything French writes, to be reassured that such is not the plan.
David French not only shares your enemies’ presuppositions and world view, he is actively working with them to harm you. He wants you to become a second-class citizen in your own country, to be defined in law as guilty because of your race, and to force you to fork over your hard-earned wealth to others to salve his own irrationally guilty conscience.
Worse (much worse), to use a Biblical passage to support nation-destroying policies that elevate one race and target another—a passage that, to boot, culminates in the execution of innocent men—is, not to put too fine a point on it, evil. I no longer think much of Jonah Goldberg. I used to be friendly with Steve Hayes and am, as far as I know, still on good terms with him (though I fear this piece will end that). Yet whatever my disagreements with them, I never thought they would stoop to publishing something this sinister and corrosive.
But, again, clarity is useful. Now there can be no confusion about what the “conservatives” believe, what they think of you, what they think you deserve, and what they want to do to you.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.