Racism: ‘Wetbacks’ Is An Acceptable Word Today At Right Wing ‘National Review’

Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at the conservative, right wing publication National Review (NRO), today in a blog post at The Corner -- the NRO's blog -- wrote disparagingly that President Reagan in the 1980s was "welcoming wetbacks."

Truth is, some conservatives lamented that he had indeed "grown" in office. He had gone out of his way to accommodate liberals and moderates, and to accommodate the Kremlin. He was raising taxes, spending like crazy, welcoming wetbacks, pursuing arms control.

The slur, "wetbacks," is "a derogatory term used in the United States for a person of foreign nationality, historically a Mexican citizen, who is an illegal immigrant in the U.S.," according to Wikipedia.

Jay Nordlinger's biography, also at Wikipedia, notes:


Jay Nordlinger is an American journalist. He is a senior editor of National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955. He also writes a column for the magazine's website, "National Review Online," called "Impromptus." Nordlinger covers a wide variety of topics, including human rights. He has written a great deal about China and Cuba.

In the last month and a half of the 2000 presidential election campaign, Nordlinger took a leave of absence from National Review to write speeches for George W. Bush.


In 2001, Nordlinger received the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism. This is an annual award given by the News Corporation, in honor of its late editorial-page editor. The award is meant to go to a journalist who demonstrates "love of country and its democratic institutions" and "bears witness to the evils of totalitarianism."

Regular readers will remember other racist problems at the National Review, where National Organization For Marriage co-founder regularly writes. John Derbyshire ultimately was "fired," or, technically, asked to leave, after several racist screeds, including "The Talk: Nonblack Version," came to light.

One commenter on the Nordlinger's National Review blog post put it well:

I had to read the paragraph three times before I finally believed that Nordlinger of all people wrote the disgusting term "w#[email protected]" [How telling that NRO won't even allow a comment to be posted with the term that Jay used--it blocks any post containing that term. Apparently NRO needs the same filter on its employees' posts, to save them from their inner prejudices being made public!] It would be one thing if he had put it in quotes, and was clearly belittling the people who used that phrase as bigots. But that's not what he did, and it's not how it reads. Instead, it reads as if that is a term that Jay is all too comfortable with. I am as conservative as they come, and I am as anti illegal immigration as most conservatives, but I am certainly not a racist or bigot, and thus I would never use that ugly term (unless, as here, I am specifically calling out a bigot for doing so). Very disappointing.

Max Read at Gawker adds:

Everyone knows that conservative magazineNational Review is not racist. Sure, it used to publish John "avoid concentrations of blacks" Derbyshire â€” but it's also treated race with sensitivity and restraint, as in this column about how President Obama isn't really black and this all-white symposium on black unemployment. So why is writer Jay Nordlinger using the ethnic slur "wetback" in his column today?

Sometimes, it's just time for a venerated institution that never really was what it was thought to be, to be shut down.

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