Everyone knows that conservative magazine National Review is not racist. Sure, it used to publish John "avoid concentrations of blacks" Derbyshire — 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?

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. One common cry from the right was, "None of this would be happening if Ronald Reagan were alive."

Surely, he's not just using an offensive ethnic slur just for the sake of alliteration? Not according to one commenter: "It looks to me like Mr. Nordlinger used the w-word to be ironic," he (or she) explains. "Nothing offensive about it in this instance." Ohhhhhhh. It was ironic racism, which is always okay.

National Review was founded by a segregationist and has employed and provided a platform for racists for several decades, but Nordlinger was being ironic, in his use of a deeply offensive word to illustrate the thought process of some of his ideological comrades. Note how he uses similarly beyond-the-pale and exaggerated language in his list of Reagan's perceived failures. Never mind — totally cool.

(As another commenter on the column points out, National Review Online has a comment filter that blocks the word "wetback." It may want to introduce one for its writers, too.)