Trayvon Martin

Goodbye, John Derbyshire

02106c7f42aae2b7418b05930fc1f692John Derbyshire's career is over.

The polemecist, novelist, and National Review writer -- who long ago made the admission that he was a "homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one" -- last week published a not-at-all mild or tolerant article in the online journal Taki's Magazine entitled "The Talk: Nonblack Version." The article is a response to the dozen or so other articles published since the killing of Trayvon Martin in which black American parents discuss "the talk" they must have with their children about dealing with white authority figures. (The talk goes something like this: Do as you're told servilely, even if you think you're being treated unfairly, or else you might wind up in trouble far greater than your alleged misdeeds would warrant.)

Writes Derbyshire:

There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.

Among your fellow citizens are forty million who identify as black, and whom I shall refer to as black ...

As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type ...

... and because of this variance, Derbyshire explains, it is important for his children to treat each individual black person with the same courtesy and kindness accorded to strangers of any hue.


As you go through life ... you will experience an ever larger number of encounters with black Americans. Assuming your encounters are random -- for example, not restricted only to black convicted murders or to black investment bankers -- the Law of Large Numbers will inevitably kick in. You will observe that the means -- the averages -- of many traits are very different for black and white Americans, as has been confirmed by methodical inquiries in the human sciences. ...

Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior ...

A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.

Which is why Derbyshire wishes his children to avoid "concentrations of blacks not known to you personally," black neighborhoods, beaches and amusement parks frequented by blacks, concerts and other events frequented by blacks, and depart public events at which large numbers of black people show up. Which is really five ways of saying the same thing, which Derbyshire nevertheless thought necessary to separate into bullet points. Perhaps he ran out of things to say.

But no! Derbyshire continues:

Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

Most of the rest of Derbyshire's screed deals with the alleged relative stupidity of black people. Nevertheless, Derbyshire admits the existence of "intelligent and well-socialized blacks," which he abbreviates as "IWSBs," and about whom he writes:

You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.

... Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets: boasted of by upper-class whites and wealthy organizations, coveted by the less prosperous. To be an IWSB in present-day US society is a height of felicity rarely before attained by any group of human beings in history. Try to curb your envy: it will be taken as prejudice (see paragraph 13).

The reactions from Derbyshire's fellow conservatives and National Review collegues were swift and brutal. (Even though a perusal of their own published opinions suggests that they agree with most or all of Derbyshire's points, if not with his method of expressing them.) Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism, called Derbyshire's article "fundamentally indefensible and offensive." National Review editor Rick Lowry decried Derbyshire's "appalling view." Asked if he wanted to associate with such "racist trash" as Derbyshire, National Review writer Ramesh Ponnuru tweeted "I know I don't." And in the article containing these very condemnations, Matt K. Lewis, of the right-wing, Daily Caller wrote:

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.

The National Review announced Derbyshire's firing in a post on Saturday night, and it seems unlikely anyone other than Taki's Magazine will ever publish his polemics again. It's a shame, in a way, that we'll never know what kind of conversation he might have had with his children about gay people. Though we may obtain hints here, and here, and here.

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  1. Oops. He expressed openly what most of his right-wing colleagues think. Dog whistles, Derby, dog whistles!!!!

    Posted by: Mike | Apr 8, 2012 1:55:10 PM

  2. HA! the best part are the "rebuttals"

    these poor fools are basically saying "Oh, NO! He said what we all believe in public view! You're supposed to keep that hush-hush until you get to a good old boys townhall meeting!"

    seriously. a bunch of dunderheads running around saying "Buddy! you're not supposed to let THEM know what we think!"

    too bad nobody with a brain is fooled.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 8, 2012 1:56:08 PM

  3. Here's my two cents on The Derb and the entire neo-fascist (aka. "Conservative") movement (including Patient Less Than Zero):

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 8, 2012 1:56:59 PM

  4. Sadly, there's a good chance that exactly this type of in-duh-vi-dual will be elected in November because too many of us liberals are too busy 'voting our conscience' to consider the consequences.

    Posted by: enough already | Apr 8, 2012 2:18:24 PM

  5. A disgusting human being...... God, I'd hate to be his wife. Or his kids for that matter. Pieces of crap like him should go crawl in a cave and scowl the rest of their life away.

    Posted by: scott | Apr 8, 2012 2:26:44 PM

  6. Derpyshire isn't worth the words necessary to finish this sen

    Posted by: Johnson | Apr 8, 2012 3:50:27 PM

  7. As an essay it's not bad. Rather clever to take the flip side of "The Talk" and invert white/black behavior. Points out the prejudice of the black parent, and at the same time, the practicality of the points of view expressed, and show the white side of the same prejudice and the flip side of practicality.

    Maybe a bit tongue-in-cheek. Maybe too close to the truth. Makes people uncomfortable, but I can't say any of his points are wrong. Good practical sense, especially say fifty years ago when going into a black neighborhood would be a big mistake for whitey. I remember, as a white, that going into a poor white neighborhood was an even bigger mistake.

    Posted by: thinking about it | Apr 8, 2012 3:52:45 PM

  8. John Derbyshire is anything but tolerant.

    In fact, his attempts to brand himself as "mild and tolerant" make his outrageous pronouncements on black skin, female genatalia, and male same-sex desire even more dishonest.

    John Derbyshire projected his own lack of conscience as if his way of thinking was truth, simply, and did not need to stand up to scrutiny of proof or evidence. A John Derbyshire = a mere apologist for white, straight male privilege--to which he clung as if it was his sacred birthright.

    But I'm sure he'll still manage to write more anti-black, anti-gay, and anti-female tomes.

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Apr 8, 2012 4:20:24 PM

  9. I wouldn't go into a black neighborhood. Not because I am white, but because I am gay. Here in Ca., the blacks voted for prop. 8 at 70%. I wouldn't want to hide my sexuality and I wouldn't feel safe amongst such a hate-filled group.

    Posted by: H8Str8s | Apr 8, 2012 4:20:48 PM

  10. There are, as with all races, individuals who are racist . . . but there is nothing substantial, THINKING ABOUT IT, Derbyshire has to say as counter point to the talks Black parents have with their children.

    Sometimes I wonder if straight people come on Towleroad in disguise to rattle our cages, but then I remind myself that gay people can be cops, firemen, soldiers, mechanics, world-class athletes, Mormons, republicans, and bigots.

    It is painful to have to instruct an adult on what one would think should be the obvious difference between the talk a concerned black parent has with their children about the realities of being Black in America: where to sit on the bus, which fountains to drink from, to keep close track of your eyes lest a white man accuses you of looking at a white woman, and to never-ever, however unjust, talk back to a white man, and the sham trials for rape and murder, where even something as innocuous as walking down the street, or driving in your is fraught with danger . . . white cops riddling you with 28 bullets . . . or even fifty bullets . . .

    AND the talk a concerned white parent has with their kids about the potential anger Blacks may have that they were held cruel enslavement, and their civil rights denied them into the 1960's, with persistent questions to this date on said civil rights.

    Now, of course, if you are a racist, who does not acknowledge the crimes perpetrated by White America against Black Americas, or that there was anything for which we ought, as a country, to feel ashamed, and seek to eradicate from the American way of life, you will instruct your children exactly as Derbyshire suggests . . .

    But the more sensible parent, the one who does espouse racist attitudes are going to instruct your children on the art of giving and getting respect.

    It is just another ugly perspective of racism that would suggest that the effects of racism has been as equally hard on White Americans as it has Black Americans . . . and an insult to our collective intelligence that the conversation of a white racist parent rearing their children in their racist attitudes is, in tone, the same conversation a non-racist (or even a racist Black parent for that matter)Black parent has with their child to ensure that child returns home safely.

    There is nothing to think about in this regard, THINKING ABOUT IT.

    Posted by: Ricco | Apr 8, 2012 4:36:50 PM

  11. RICCO, you need to realize that it's actually white homosexual man who are coming on here to "rattle cages". insecure white men whose bigotry toward blacks, women, and liberals is....well...... just look at Derbyshire's nonsense.

    this is whom they're sucking up to.

    i dunno. i grew up in toronto. one of the most multiculturally diverse cities in the world. my highschool? whites were the minority. and i came out in high school.

    what we're gonna see on here RICCO, over and over again, are people who ignore the anti-gay prejudices of their own communities because focusing on "the blacks" is an easier distraction than dealing with the reality that they're sleeping with the enemy.

    this is their pattern, and likely for life. insist that _______ is the problem rather than the people they're choosing to be doormats to.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 8, 2012 4:45:07 PM

  12. I didn't see anyone suggest the effects of racism has been equally hard on White Americans as it has on Black Americans. Are you saying it is safe for a white person to travel into all-black neighborhoods? In "liberal San Francisco" there is the Bayview/hunter's point neighborhood where if you are white and you stumble in you will not come out - and that is what the blacks living there brag. I had a friend who had a friend who lived there tell him this. It was not a threat. It was very matter-of-fact. Whites in that neighborhood have a target on their backs. It is good advice to a white child to stay out of there.
    Not to mention the homophobia and misogyny.

    Posted by: H8Str8s | Apr 8, 2012 4:54:53 PM

  13. @Littlekiwi
    You are serious aren't you? You actually believe there is more homophobia amongst whites than there are amongst coloured minorities? I imagine you do, because you are not big on facts. Prop. 8 poll returns.

    Posted by: H8Str8s | Apr 8, 2012 4:57:41 PM

  14. i believe there's more homophobia amongst Conservatives. Even Gay Republicans are so p*ssy-whipped by the prejudices of htie Chosen Allies that they don't have the balls to actually promote, champion, or advocate for actual LGBT Equality.

    this is not because of black people, but because they're terrified of losing favor with the White Christian Conservatives whom they're still desperately seeking approval from.

    and i'll say again, which trolls will ignore, the sad fact that closeted white homosexuals are coming on here to spew anger toward "blacks" is pathetic and obvious.

    you hate straights and blacks. congratulations. what an empowered man you must be.

    now move along, troll. you bore me.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 8, 2012 5:12:33 PM

  15. LOOK AT HIS PICTURE. That angry, cruel, vicious face. The phrase, "A picture speaks a thousand words" rings true with this nutter. The grimacing, the down-turned mouth. It's all there. A man filled with so much cruel, hateful thoughts that it manifests itself in his physical form. Oh God we are living in such a sick, twisted, upside-down world. It's very disturbing.

    Posted by: TheCatGuardian | Apr 8, 2012 5:18:13 PM

  16. @Littlekiwi,

    I'm pretty sure that our friend Rick has acquired yet another Towleroad identity.

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 8, 2012 5:20:40 PM

  17. LittleKiwi - you are such a sad, little cliche of what's wrong with the far left: the conceit that only liberals care and care correctly. Step outside your cave. There's a big, wonderful and complicated world out there, and it is not painted in just 2 colors. Love, a moderate independent.

    Posted by: Manotaur | Apr 8, 2012 5:29:17 PM

  18. Doesn't he look a bit like Jeff Dunham" Walter Blooper?

    Posted by: Joel | Apr 8, 2012 5:34:41 PM

  19. prove me wrong, "Manotaur"

    show me what specific work you're doing. i call your bluff.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 8, 2012 5:35:03 PM

  20. And this is fatuous garbage: "Even Gay Republicans are so p*ssy-whipped by the prejudices of htie Chosen Allies that they don't have the balls to actually promote, champion, or advocate for actual LGBT Equality."

    It must be a very comfortable, myopic world you have created for yourself.

    Posted by: Manotaur | Apr 8, 2012 5:35:19 PM

  21. only in the USA would I be labeled "far-left". back in Canada I'm considered a centrist.

    it is a very comfortable world i live in. im openly gay and stand up for what's right. comfort comes when you don't have the weight of sacks of bull s**t on your shoulders :D

    prove that what i said is "fatuous garbage" - show me the specific pro-Equality work that you and your chosen "independent" allies are doing.

    i call your bluff. so prove me wrong.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 8, 2012 5:39:32 PM

  22. H8STR8S . . . that is the "inference" I got from THINKING ABOUT IT's post when he said that NONE of Derbyshire's points were wrong . . . the inference being that racism has been as tough on Whites as it has blacks.

    You people are on here talking about Black neighborhoods that are unsafe for Whites.

    Derbyshire did not just mention the obvious, dangerous Black neighborhoods (and it must be stated here that many Black teens have been murdered by Whites in their neighborhoods . . . so the turf stuff goes both ways) that it would be ill-advised to go into when you are white, but he also said "beaches and amusement parks frequented by blacks, concerts and other events frequented by blacks, and to depart public events at which large numbers of black people show up."

    I lived in Chicago and knew the dangers as a white man of going to the South Side, particularly after dark, but did just that for eight weeks when I attended a truck driving school on the South Side, and took the El there from Uptown in the early morning, and back after sundown.

    We all know there are places that one ought to avoid, whatever ones color of skin, or if one is gay.

    And as for those prop 8 returns H8STR8TS . . . a larger number of those returns reflected white homophobic voters than Black Homophobic voters . . . and you cannot have forgotten that it was the Mormon church that financed Prop 8.

    Comprising only 5% of the Mormon church membership how many Black people do you think are Mormons? And up until 1978 Blacks were not allowed to hold leadership positions in the Mormon church . . . so lets not pretend that the bulk of people who voted for Prop 8 were Blacks.

    There are a lot of homophobic Blacks . . . but a whole lot more homophobic whites.

    But I have to say that it is quite off point to bring up Prop 8, and dangerous neighborhoods when the conversation was generated by a racist's rant that speciously compared the concerns of racism a White practicing racist parent would feel with the concerns of racism Black parents feel.

    Posted by: Ricco | Apr 8, 2012 5:41:57 PM

  23. Ricco, you just cast pearls before a pitiful creature that i cannot even label "swine", as pigs are actually intelligent and compassionate animals.

    you can't reason with a cranky miserable old racist with a handle like "H8STR8S".

    there's a reason white conservative homosexuals say "blacks voted for prop 8!" and the reason is this: their white family members voted for it, too. and they don't want to acknowledge that.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 8, 2012 5:47:29 PM

  24. "LittleKiwi" - if you are considered a "centrist" in Canada, then I pity your country.

    As far as fatuous garbage, simply look at what you are saying (an analysis of your text): it's personal invective and hyperbole, for one, and factually in error, for two, in that, didn't Log Cabin spearhead the lawsuit to repeal DADT? They're a gay republican org, if I'm not mistaken.

    Posted by: Manotaur | Apr 8, 2012 5:49:13 PM

  25. So, has Fox News offered him a multi-million dollar contract yet?

    Posted by: Tim in TN | Apr 8, 2012 5:49:21 PM

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