The New York Daily News seems to think he was joking; of course he was not, as he regularly spouts racist screeds like the one he wrote for Taki. Dave Weigel blamed those who fight racism for racism, for if they would just shut up all this racism nonsense would simply go away.
If a simmering racial controversy simmers long enough, the likelihood of someone using it to justify racism rises dramatically. We're a month into the Trayvon Martin story, which makes it time for John Derbyshire to weigh in with a column about the frightening qualities of black people in groups.
There's a sort of micro-movement building to shame National Review into firing Derbyshire. Why would they? Derbyshire is saying something that many people believe but few people with word-slinging abilities know how to say: There are differences between the races, and whites should watch out for blacks. One popular Internet hobby of the moment is grabbing dumb blog comments or tweets and assembling them like a Pinterest page, to show what racists think. Derbyshire isn't stupid and he isn't being caught out. If someone wants to publish this, someone should.
All that said, I don't think I've taken much of this column's advice.
His post was so half-hearted that criticism forced him to follow up with another post downplaying Derbyshire's actions.
There's been some tsuris about my Friday post on John Derbyshire's Taki magazine essay "The Talk: Nonblack version." It was written in a pretty dry way, so I never ended up saying the obvious: People, the essay was disgusting.If only Slate would fire Weigel.
the new Taki essay doesn't have any new science or research in it. It's an argument to warn nonblacks that black people are threatening. How much to fret about this? Well, the publication matters here. Derbyshire published in Taki magazine, which is the latest iteration of a rich man's controversialist web site. He's not talking this up on a cable news network. He doesn't have the cover of Time magazine. This isn't like the (successful) campaign to boot Pat Buchanan from MSNBC. It's a public shaming of a stupid article on a fringe site. And if you're going to have anti-black sentiment, would you rather have it dumb and exposed or would you rather have it subtle? The authors of stories about how Trayvon Martin looked really scary in his fake grill and tweets don't add oh, and this is because black youths are scary. Even if they're unarmed. Derbyshire came out and did it.
He might have done permanent damage to the whole "human biodiversity" project. It usually thrives on criticism. Those "shrieks of horror" are the whimpers of people who hate science and ignore reality. Not this time. The alleged value of Derbyshire-style analysis of race is that it's honest about human differences. You're explaining the thin-slice bias of the basketball coach who'd rather put a tall black kid on his team than a shorter white kid, something like that. But in this essay, Derbyshire tried to validate the fear of the nonblack person who -- oh, totally random example -- might decide that a tall black kid in a hoodie is a threat to his gated community. It's useful to have that out in the open.
Matt K. Lewis at The Daily Caller is upset that Derbyshire makes conservatives look racist; no doubt Derbyshire immediately and retroactively will no longer be considered a conservative.
Derbyshire’s screed (which was actually written at Taki’s Magazine) is, of course, incredibly harmful to conservatism because it reinforces a bogus stereotype that conservatives are inherently racist.
In one fell swoop (actually, Derbyshire has a history of flirting with this sort of thing, but it has finally caught up with him), he has done more harm to the conservative cause than any liberal ever could.
Too often, conservatives reflexively defend anyone attacked by the left, presumably based on the logic that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I’m happy to see his colleagues are instead standing on principle.
I believe in free speech — especially unpopular speech. But that doesn’t mean National Review has to subsidize it. And it certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn it.
Some people aren’t worth the fighting for. Some things are indefensible. This is one of those cases.
Nobody believes conservatives are inherently racist; babies and small children are not racist and either are fascinated by the differences of others or barely notice them. They become racist because they are brainwashed by their parents or choose to take out their frustrations in life by blaming others.
The rest of the morally imbalanced crew at NR have plenty of racism of their own but of a much less showy sort, and they are canny enough to know when they are at risk. Rich Lowry has already denounced Derbyshire; we have to give him credit for having the sense to realize that for once Derbyshire will not go unnoticed.
Other NR writers tweeted their disapproval and at Forbes, Josh Borro, a National Review contributor, said Derbyshire must be fired as his racism spills over on the rest of National Review. We wouldn't want anyone to think that the magazine that offers for sale the most racist children's literature it can find, the better indoctrinate the kiddies, is racist.
Tod Kelly at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is also concerned about the reputation of conservatism, so wrongly pegged by those liberals as racist.
It seems so clear to me that if the right as a whole is going to shed the reputation it absolutely has (and by and large does not deserve) on these fronts, it needs to be willing to stand up and be counted when lines are crossed, or at the very least to not defend them.It is now inherent in conservatism to impede progress, and for conservatives, improving the lives of others is considered progress. Authoritarians must have an Other; the define themselves by who they are not. And they must have an enemy, the better to experience the cohesiveness and sense of belonging that comes from being part of a group. Hatred of the other is endemic in authoritarianism. People hate those whom they fear, and they fear those whom they have wronged. John Derbyshire is far from alone, and his conservative brethren are just as guilt as he, if not as brazen.
ADDED: Rich Lowry regrets to announce that John Derbyshire is no longer welcome at National Review.
Anyone who has read Derb in our pages knows he’s a deeply literate, funny, and incisive writer. I direct anyone who doubts his talents to his delightful first novel, “Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream,” or any one of his “Straggler” columns in the books section of NR. Derb is also maddening, outrageous, cranky, and provocative. His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways. Derb has long danced around the line on these issues, but this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation. It’s a free country, and Derb can write whatever he wants, wherever he wants. Just not in the pages of NR or NRO, or as someone associated with NR any longer.