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The Talk: Nonblack Version
April 7, 2012 6:27 AM   Subscribe

National Review's John Derbyshire Goes Full-On Racist National Review is generally considered to be a haven for intellectual conservatives. John Derbyshire is a columnist for the magazine and a regular contributor to its much-read blog, The Corner. But even hard-core conservatives were shocked when Derbyshire penned The Talk: Nonblack Version, a set of rules white people should tell their kids about African Americans. Appearing on the website Taki's Magazine, the personal magazine of Greek "paleoconservative" Taki Theodoracopulos, the piece has garnered intense scrutiny and calls for National Review to fire it's author. The rules are, needless to say, quite controversial:
"(9) 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. "

"(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving. "

"(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. "Life is an IQ test."

The piece appears to be near-universally condemned, with National Review calling it "appalling."
posted by Ironmouth (274 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
!
posted by andreaazure at 6:33 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


That a pleasant way to start your Sunday.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:35 AM on April 7, 2012


Unreconstructed indeed.
posted by y2karl at 6:36 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


William F. is smiling down approvingly from his Whites-Only heaven.

The central question that emerges…is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.
posted by Trurl at 6:37 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even back when I liked NR, I thought Derb was an asshole. That site is getting pounded at the moment - Google doesn't seem to have cached it, but it is coming up sporadically. I grabbed it and dropped into pastebin here in case it vanishes forever.
posted by jquinby at 6:39 AM on April 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


First and fourth links don't work.

This person is a discredit to the human race. I apologize for his existence.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:39 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, at least its all out in the open.
posted by infini at 6:40 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Derbyshires gonna Derbyshire.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:40 AM on April 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I mistakenly read it last night before bed, and man, it was an even worse idea than the night i read Kafka to fall asleep. The vitriol and bilious comments spewing out below made the whole giant cockroach nightmares thing seem pleasant. What a repulsive thing.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:40 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) 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."

I consider myself to be a decent writer. Not amazing or anything, but nominated for an award or two. But this... I may go another decade before I come across a paragraph that does such a fantastic job of setting a mood, describing a scene, moving the action, and generating an emotional response from the reader.

Well done, Derbyshire, well done.
posted by andreaazure at 6:41 AM on April 7, 2012 [37 favorites]


National Review expects its racists to dress things up a little better than this. Derbyshire's always been overtly racist and a vile human being, so I don't see how they can credibly act too surprised.
posted by Mavri at 6:42 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Derb has been caaaarefully treading the thin border of "too racist for the mainstream conservative press" for over a decade now; I'd been wondering when he was going to cross it. And how long it'll take before he's invited back.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:42 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Non-Brits should know that Taki has a lot of form for this.

"It seems almost obscene to be sitting in bucolic Gstaad rubbing it in ... but boy, oh boy was Enoch - God rest his soul - ever right!"

"only a moron would not surmise that what politically correct newspapers refer to as 'disaffected young people' are black thugs, sons of black thugs and grandsons of black thugs".

West Indians, he continued, had been allowed to immigrate after the war and "multiply like flies". "The rivers of blood speech by Enoch was prophetic as well as true and look what the bullshitters of the time did to the great man."


and(!)

Taki’s racism is of the decidedly non-casual variety. In his Spectator columns New York Puerto Ricans have been described as “a bunch of semi-savages … fat, squat, ugly, dusky, dirty”, Kenya (with echoes of Clark) as “bongo-bongo land”, and black people referred to as “Sambo”.

Unsurprising company for both men to keep, frankly.
posted by jaduncan at 6:43 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


"(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) 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."

My god. You mean the black friends are sometimes real?
posted by jaduncan at 6:44 AM on April 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


cached version, if you must (original site appears to be unavailable at the moment)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:44 AM on April 7, 2012


Lee Atwater must be rolling in his grave.

"You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites."

This is exactly what he was talking about. But then again, if Taki and Derbyshire were capable of learning from history, they probably wouldn't be racist conservatives.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:46 AM on April 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


That reads like the kind of thing my friend's elderly father-in-law sends as email forwards. I've met more than a few older white guys who really do think this way; to me it's like a window into the world of mid-twentieth century America, a world where George Wallace was speaking for a significant percentage of the population. I'm sure there are younger people who think that way, too, but happily I never seem to meet them (or they stay under cover around me, which comes to the same thing in the end).
posted by Forktine at 6:50 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hope I didn't take it down.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:51 AM on April 7, 2012


From the article: "(15) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs [intelligent and well-socialized blacks] 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."

Thas right! You mofo's should be payin' a brotha some licensin' fees to hang 'round here! Don't be pulling that "I'm not a rich white person" shit either. Ya'll can pool money or save up.

The sad thing is there's a small kernel of...something in what's Derb has written, i.e. some broad social differences between black and white culture in America and how those differences can be produce misunderstandings. Bu that's hard to talk about, let alone write on the internet, so there's just a huge mess here.

But back to those licensing fees...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:51 AM on April 7, 2012 [31 favorites]


The link is up for me. NR will have to fire him.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:52 AM on April 7, 2012


What a total load of crap. It makes me wonder what planet they live on.

The fact that my family and I (who are white) live in an overwhelmingly black area, and have for many years, proves beyond doubt that this man's statements are just fucking made up.

People are people. We have waaaaaay more commonalities than differences. End of story.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:53 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is the first time I've heard it referred to as "the Talk." Is this a genuine, ongoing thing?
Is it anything like this talk?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:55 AM on April 7, 2012


(original site appears to be unavailable at the moment)

It is up and down. Takes forever to load.
posted by lampshade at 6:55 AM on April 7, 2012


Racists gotta race.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:55 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Derbyshires gonna Derbyshire.

I see a new net-lingo phrase forming.
posted by lampshade at 6:56 AM on April 7, 2012


I don't have room in my backpack for his amulet. Can't I just be friends with the people I already know, instead of competing for the attention of his chosen ones?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:57 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do we need us some memes?
posted by infini at 6:58 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is from about 150 years ago, right?
posted by Solomon at 6:58 AM on April 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


So, this is the guy who's been ghost-writing all the user comments at the Fox News site?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


This is from about 150 years ago, right?

Certainly not; who'd allow black people on the same beach back then?
posted by jaduncan at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2012


True story: John Derbyshire once appeared in a Hong Kong grindhouse film. Also true: he has not only disclosed but boasted that his sex life in his marriage does not include oral sex. Citations needed? Yes, I know, but I'll have to pick through a lot of poisonous nonsense before I find them.

I know these things because I used to read the National Review. I'm profoundly ashamed that I ever enjoyed NR. I believe that in the distant past I agreed with John Derbyshire about something, but God help me, I couldn't tell you what it was.

Instead of burning up with hatred, or gushing with self-serving liberal guilt-love for my friends of other races, I will just content myself with the knowledge that he is an extreme outlier, and will die of old age soon, hopefully in great pain.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


"In our next issue: The Nuremberg Laws, why aren't our local Commerce Chambers enforcing them and how to explain the issue to your kids."
posted by Iosephus at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


This reads very much like a colonial primer on the study of some foreign population where they are not treated as equals but rather as peculiarities. Honestly, someone could type this on a typewriter from 1870 on yellowed pages and it would nearly pass for Reconstruction-era discourse.

On preview- What Solomon said except with more words.
posted by Saydur at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and the Fields Medal is some sort of limus test? I'm looking at the list of winners here and I only see one representative of the poor, benighted Middle Kingdon (writing under the psuedonym Giles "Matthews").
posted by jquinby at 7:01 AM on April 7, 2012


People get fired over nonsense like this when the money trail stops going to their employer.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sure the NR will be "shocked" and "saddened" about being forced to fire Derbyshire, despite the fact that he's been writing straight up white supremacist shit about "ethnically pure Arctic nations" for years.
posted by theodolite at 7:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Instead of burning up with hatred, or gushing with self-serving liberal guilt-love for my friends of other races, I will just content myself with the knowledge that he is an extreme outlier, and will die of old age soon, hopefully in great pain.

Instead of your hatred you hope he dies in great pain?

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong.
posted by jaduncan at 7:03 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


"(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) 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."

"(15) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs [intelligent and well-socialized blacks] 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."


Look, you rich asshole racists can't ALL be friends with Clarence Thomas, it doesn't work that way.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:04 AM on April 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


So I'd heard about this on a few blogs in my newsreader, but I had just skimmed them. But reading it now, my response? "What the fuuuuuck?!?! Did he ... What the fucking hell?!! That ... Holy shit. Wow. Fucking fuck."

Obscenities aside, I'm truly gobsmacked. Blame it on the privilege, but I just haven't seen stuff like this really set out so clearly and so awfully. And realistically, it's not a matter of TNR just firing Derbyshire; if he thought it could get away with publishing it then there's clearly no doubt where his fellow conservative thinkers fall – regardless of the crocodile tears they cry while claiming he did wrong.

It has seemed to me in the last few years that the fight against racism has turned out to be a 80/20 sort of split. That is, 80% of racist attitudes – the most explicit, the worst, the most open and overt – took the initial 20% of work (which, admittedly, took hundreds of years). But now the last 20% of racist attitudes is going to take the remaining 80% of work. And this last 20% is the soft core racism, the ironic ha-ha racist jokes on TV shows, the things you hear otherwise left-leaning people say that make you go "... what?!", etc.

And then something like this comes along and you remember: damn, we haven't even really beat that first 80% either.
posted by barnacles at 7:04 AM on April 7, 2012 [40 favorites]


When I first read this, I assumed it was either parody or was reprinted from a 1950 newspaper reader submission.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:05 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sentence manages to manifest so many disgusting attitudes:

[intelligent and well-socialized blacks] are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets

Unalloyed racism, a view of friendship as a commodity to be consumed conspicuously, and a bizarre sense of entitlement to said commodity.

What a terrible person.
posted by phrontist at 7:06 AM on April 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Instead of your hatred you hope he dies in great pain?

Yes, but of purely natural causes! Assisted by the best in medical technology!

. . . okay, you got me. It's still an ugly thing to say. I'm sorry.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:06 AM on April 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Unfortunately that list is pretty spot on if one was raised in a racist household. Fearbased racism is more pernicious than hatebased ....because there is more self-justification. Doesn't make it right.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:07 AM on April 7, 2012 [22 favorites]


Tried to post this last night and got shot down so fast my head spun. cortex informed me that I "hadn't taken the pulse of this community" adequately. I hope he thinks this post has, since it's a really important issue that needs to see more daylight.

The whole conservative reaction to Trayvon Martin's murder is really fascinating. The right has gotten so used to the tu quoque defense that it's gotten lazy. Hell, it's the foundation of Mitt Romney's appeal to the electorate, at this point. Derbyshire is just too stupid or too arrogant to deploy it effectively. I'd like to think that demonizing a kid murdered in cold blood is a bridge too far, but I'm not optimistic on that point.

In this case, rather than allowing the possibility that stand your ground laws and unrestricted access to firearms could have played a part in this tragedy, the right needs to distract and demonize. Derbyshire isn't even subtle about it here. The idea that black parents need to educate their children to keep them from getting murdered by police and self-appointed citizen vigilantes is a sign that our social contract is badly frayed. But rather than discussing, like mature adults, how to strengthen it, Derbyshire has to parody "the talk" so as to rob it of its impact. If his fellow travelers are horrified, it's because he's saying openly what they're trying to signal subtly.

This is a low, low moment in our history. The elected of Obama and his better-than-adequate governance hasn't healed our racial wounds, it's given racists cause to open new ones. Shame on us.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:07 AM on April 7, 2012 [35 favorites]


I love it when racists sit down and actually try to write out the validation of their fucked up premises and present it in a coherent, scientific manner. It's so much fun that anyone can play.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:07 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look, you rich asshole racists can't ALL be friends with Clarence Thomas, it doesn't work that way.

You can tell that's true, because of the way that he so roughly interrogates any rich white racists who attempt to get a ruling reinforcing their right to strip search people/elect Bush without a recount/etc during Supreme Court appearances before falling asleep and concurring with Scalia.
posted by jaduncan at 7:10 AM on April 7, 2012


Tried to post this last night and got shot down so fast my head spun.

This is a better post. Feel free to go to MetaTalk if you need to discuss mod policy or that deletion. Otherwise we'd love to see this thread not turn into a MeTa problem and everyone can help with that.
posted by jessamyn at 7:10 AM on April 7, 2012


I read the National Review all the time. I wouldn't say I enjoy reading it, exactly, but I do think it's important that I read what 'the other side' is saying.
posted by empath at 7:12 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a big mistake to think that this article sounds like it's from the 19th century, or even the 20th century. Plenty of otherwise modern and polite people think like John Derbyshire, and Derbyshire himself is only a more outspoken and offensive version of someone like Steve Sailer. I bet more people agree with this article than we'd ever like to know or admit. Cordoning off these views to the past does the present a disservice.

It's easy to think that these modern racists have much in common with the Klan or George Wallace or whomever, but that comparison misses the mark: their relatively soft-pedaled prejudices make them about a hundred thousand times more dangerous. That this article went over the top in terms of overtness and tone is the aberration, not the actual racism the article contains.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:13 AM on April 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


Unfortunately that list is pretty spot on if one was raised in a racist household.

I would say his list is an accurate representation of what I had drilled in to my head growing up by my parents and grandparents.
posted by empath at 7:13 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


In answer to an above question, I think he's calling it "the talk" because a lot of black parents (at least that I know) have been talking about "the talk" they have with their sons about the dangers they face as young black men who are assumed, simply by existing in the public space, to be violent. Recent vigorous and fairly public discussion of "the talk" has been spurred by the Treyvon Martin tragedy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:15 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fwiw: Needless to say, no one at National Review shares Derb’s appalling view of what parents supposedly should tell their kids about blacks in this instantly notorious piece here.
posted by empath at 7:16 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Check out these quotes from an earlier article by Derbyshire:

It is instead an activity favored, encouraged, and committed pretty exclusively by radical Muslims who have been admitted to Europe in ululating multitudes by the same lunatic multiculturalist immigration policies that gave London its riots.

Far from being a discredited 19th-century relic, the ethno-state has been the very foundation of Europe’s long post-WW II peace. The multiculturalist assault on ethno-nationalism will return Europe to strife, conflict, and national instability.

Cultural diversity within a nation causes nothing but trouble—what could be more obvious?

In that future world, nations that had the sense to remain ethnically intact and which had “Arctic” distributions of intelligence, behavior, and personality—China, Japan, Korea (presumably united by then), Finland maybe, Israel if she survives, just possibly Russia, some outlier oddities such as, perhaps, Hungary—will have steamed ahead of those who inflicted the multi-culti blight upon themselves.
posted by phrontist at 7:20 AM on April 7, 2012


Also, is it a thing, white parents having "a talk" about black people with their kids?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving. "

When I was fourteen or so, I was on my way to an after-school dentist appointment and running a little late. A white woman* was walking toward me and I stopped to ask her the time. Before I could finish my question, she smiled and hurried past saying, "No, I'm sorry I don't have any change." I finished my question just by momentum, even though I had stopped walking and was sort of dumbfounded.

The thing is, she heard the rest of my question, turned around and said, "Oh, you wanted the time. It's half past four." And went on her way without another word. To this day (18 years later) I still remember how utterly dismissable that woman made me feel, just for being a different color and trying to communicate with her.

These rules are terrible, terrible things to put out into the world.


*I dislike using race to describe people, but in this case it is necessary to point it out. I am non-white.
posted by sundaydriver at 7:20 AM on April 7, 2012 [73 favorites]


You can tell that's true, because of the way that he so roughly interrogates any rich white racists who attempt to get a ruling reinforcing their right to strip search people/elect Bush without a recount/etc during Supreme Court appearances before falling asleep and concurring with Scalia.

Thomas is no more Scalia's puppet than Souter was Ginsburg's puppet or Roberts is Alito's puppet, or vice versa for any case.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:20 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given the context provided by Eyebrows McGee, is it at all likely that Derbyshire is attempting a parody of "The Talk"?

Just to take the charitable view. 'Cause one would have to be monumentally stupid, as well as monumentally racist, to publish* that.


---------------
*NR's editors just let that slide, too?
posted by notyou at 7:21 AM on April 7, 2012


Also, is it a thing, white parents having "a talk" about black people with their kids?

Not where I'm from. Never heard of it. I think this guy is just trying to co-opt and take the power away from the various "the talk"s that have been circulating since the Trayvon Martin case.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:22 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, I believe you're referring to Donna Britt, who is the author that wrote about The Talk African-American parents are having to give their sons. I think I first read about this on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog, but I can't find references (quickly) there now.
posted by barnacles at 7:23 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This kind fearmongering has no place in our civilization. Black people are sometimes culturally different from whites. One has to accumulate a bit of culture to recognize that. They are sometimes disadvantaged. One has to own up to their treatment in our history to understand how that disadvantage continues to reverberate.

Something funny I overheard once in a Bed Stuy barber shop: The television news was on - Anders Behring Breivik. A couple of men were saying, "Did you hear about this? Some crazy-ass white person." No one can blame them - white people seem to have a thing for freaky mass murder - but it was a little sad to see this misunderstanding of race happening from both sides of the fence.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:23 AM on April 7, 2012


Also, is it a thing, white parents having "a talk" about black people with their kids?

Yes.

If you're not racist, it involves discussing the historical legacy of slavery and the damage to a community that broken promises and ongoing prejudice cause. It affirms the fundamental dignity of all human beings and the need to be vigilant in respecting the dignity of others, regardless of skin color. It's about teaching your children to be respectful and kind.

If you are racist, then it's about gangsters, drugs, and guns.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:24 AM on April 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


Thomas is no more Scalia's puppet than Souter was Ginsburg's puppet or Roberts is Alito's puppet, or vice versa for any case.

The comment was a little tongue in cheek, you know.
posted by jaduncan at 7:25 AM on April 7, 2012


Reall, R. Schlock? Your parents sat you down and were like, "Ok, let's do this. We need to talk about black people."?? Maybe my family was weird.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:26 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know if I ever had a 'talk' about black people with my parents, more that they locked the doors when black people were near the car, walked on the other side of the street from black people, told me never to go to neighborhoods where there were tons of black people, etc.. it was just a constant drilling into me of fear and contempt.
posted by empath at 7:28 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reall, R. Schlock?

Hm, awkward.

In my case it was more like, "this is why we don't ever, ever say the word nigger..."
posted by R. Schlock at 7:28 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


True story: John Derbyshire once appeared in a Hong Kong grindhouse film

A "Hong Kong grindhouse film"? You're underselling things. He got his ass kicked on camera by Bruce Lee.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:29 AM on April 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


  1. I had never heard of this Derbyshire person before.
  2. Now I am suddenly aware...
  3. Now I am suddenly aware that I never want to hear of this person again.
posted by netbros at 7:29 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


#13 from the Pastebin link is total Machiavellian brilliance; it's the root of the "but I have black friends" defense
posted by Renoroc at 7:31 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're not racist, it involves discussing the historical legacy of slavery and the damage to a community that broken promises and ongoing prejudice cause. It affirms the fundamental dignity of all human beings and the need to be vigilant in respecting the dignity of others, regardless of skin color. It's about teaching your children to be respectful and kind.

If you are racist, then it's about gangsters, drugs, and guns.


And if you're a girl, it's about never dating a black man. My parents were really worried I would do this. My dad also once, in somewhat vague terms, described some friends of his who "took care" of a black guy who had "attacked" a white woman in his small segregated town in the 50s. If I had ever dated a black guy (weren't that many in my school) they might have disowned me. As a naive Sesame-Street-raised youngster, it was just baffling; as an adult it's distressing that this bullshit still has currency.
posted by emjaybee at 7:31 AM on April 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yes. If you're not racist, it involves....

This may be age-dependent. For me, born in the sixties, there was definitely a talk about why racism is totally not okay, why a lot of people have strong feelings about this sort of thing, some history stuff we wouldn't be getting until much later in grade school. And also yeah, never ever making racial slurs and not really tolerating it with other people.

It's about teaching your children to be respectful and kind.

Yeah mostly about respecting people's differences but understanding that there were people who made a bigger deal about them, why that was, what we should know. My parents were a little hardcore about that sort of thing. We had black and white dolls growing up, and my parents went out of their way to make sure we were exposed to and interacted with different cultures even though we grew up in a small rural fairly homogenous town.
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, to be clear, I think he thinks he's be satirical about "the Talk" black parents have with their children about racism and the physical dangers to life and limb it can present, by saying, "White parents have to have a talk with their kids about how dangerous blacks are!" But I'm pretty sure he doesn't understand satire (or statistics). If he comes back with a, "See, you're reverse racist for getting upset that I did the same thing you do!" to defend himself as his career deservedly falls apart, I will literally vomit. But I will not be surprised.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, to be clear, I think he thinks he's be satirical about "the Talk" black parents have with their children about racism and the physical dangers to life and limb

Taken alone, maybe. When you examine the larger body of his writing, though...
posted by jquinby at 7:38 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee: "If he comes back with a, "See, you're reverse racist for getting upset that I did the same thing you do!" to defend himself as his career deservedly falls apart, I will literally vomit. But I will not be surprised"

Let's be (unfortunately) realistic here: in this polarized time we live in, this ain't gonna kill his career. If anything, he just scored himself a couple book deals.
posted by barnacles at 7:38 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


(I think he's hella racist, I just think he thinks he's scoring a point while being hella racist.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2012


in this polarized time we live in, this ain't gonna kill his career. If anything, he just scored himself a couple book deals.

Maybe. On the other hand pretty much everyone on the even halfway respectable right is busy disavowing him. If he's going to get book deals, it's going to have to be with people who sell to the Stormfront crowd; it's not going to be the sort of thing that gets touted on Fox News. They like their racism with a much bigger admixture of plausible deniability than this.
posted by yoink at 7:43 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


. . . If anything, he just scored himself a couple book deals.

Not long ago, I read a book about the pace of human evolution, The 10,000-Year Explosion, that was blurbed on the back by John Derbyshire. I'd picked up the book in the library, just by browsing and then flipping through the front pages, so I didn't realize it was there. If I had noticed that Derbyshire blurbed the book, I would have put it right back on the shelf and told it to go sit next to The Bell Curve. It's certainly a better book than that, for all its issues.

I wonder what its authors think about Derbyshire's name on the book jacket now? It's certainly not their fault, or pertinent to their issues, but it can't help.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2012


If he comes back with a, "See, you're reverse racist for getting upset that I did the same thing you do!" to defend himself as his career deservedly falls apart, I will literally vomit. But I will not be surprised.

"Reverse racism" is just another truly shitty concept from the white right. If you are the overwhelming majority in a democratic society, then this is an argument you (assuming you're sane) should never even contemplate using. It reeks of privilege, stupidity, and an unwillingness to play well with others.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I haven't heard bullshit like this since I was in high school in a very racist town in Northwest Indiana in the '80s. We had real live Klansmen who burned down a few houses rather than let black people move in.

I know quite a few whites from that time and place who were incredibly racist back then, but even they don't even talk like this anymore, even in private. That may be because I won't tolerate that kind of talk in my presence, though that never stopped them back in the day. I know that racism is alive and well in America, but it has been driven underground with the n-word and other insults and lies replaced with dog-whistle words that everyone understands to mean the same things.

I had a black friend tell me many years ago that he preferred the south to the north because the southern racists were overt while the northern racists would smile, shake his hand and then throw his job/mortgage application in the trash as soon as he left. Being white, I can't imagine what it would be like to constantly have to guess who your enemies are. I assume that overt racism is no fun either.

I wish that racism and all other forms of bigotry would just dry up and blow the fuck away in the wind but given the ever-widening idealogical divide in our nation, it seems like that goal gets closer and yet further away from coming true with each passing day.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:47 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't know if this is the place to point this out, but Derbyshire is a wise and humane writer about mathematics. I don't know how to square this with what I read here. I guess it's just to say that life is complicated, and that I suppose I wouldn't want trade publishers to reject his next math book on the grounds that he's a giant racist.
posted by escabeche at 7:47 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


According to his homepage, his wife is Chinese. Make of that what you will.

There too he gives the results of his Project Implicit test. Much other curious data there for the curious.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe. On the other hand pretty much everyone on the even halfway respectable right is busy disavowing him. If he's going to get book deals, it's going to have to be with people who sell to the Stormfront crowd; it's not going to be the sort of thing that gets touted on Fox News. They like their racism with a much bigger admixture of plausible deniability than this.

Yes, I think part of the kick people get from a lot of deniable racist (other isms may be inserted here) stuff is being just on the edge of open racism so nobody can absolutely prove that you didn't mean the extremely convoluted other explanation and you get to kick them again for being offended/finding things to be offended by/I didn't mean you/all of the other things on Derailing.

Do that, you've got a book deal and will be called edgy. Don't manage to do that and you'll be radioactive because you've pulled back the curtain and the wizard controlling both sets of statements can be clearly seen.

TL;DR: "No, what he said is completely different to what you think I very heavily implied!"
posted by jaduncan at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Reverse racism" is just another truly shitty concept from the white right.

As Wanda Sykes said, "It's not reverse racism you're worried about. It's karma."
posted by jonp72 at 7:49 AM on April 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


I'm with St. Alia, this list is a reasonably solid and well written construction of what so many white people actually think. Growing up in the middle of DC as a diminutive and fluorescently white kid, a decade before gentrification somehow became cool, I got to see a lot of white people show me their racism.

I've gotten to watch with my friends all the white people clear out of establishments when we arrived, how spontaneously segregated the local Six Flags is by going on school trips and then other ones, but what has really amazed me has been the things white people have confided in me about their racism. Its all the adults over the years who saw me in my neighborhood, decided it was not safe enough for me, and offered to drive me home. It is the amazement that would wash across peoples faces when I told them I lived in a neighborhood they would never walk near. It is how EVERY SINGLE TIME I got in any trouble with anyone else, I always received orders of magnitude less consequences or nothing. I once got into a completely co-created fight over milk in a lunch line at the middle school I bussed to in a white neighborhood, just a reasonably simple WTF misunderstanding neither of us were willing to back down from. When it was broken up, we were both equivalently bruised, both equally at fault, and both pretty quickly sorry when we figured out what had actually happened. I got to wait fifteen minutes after school as a kind of pathetic timeout, while he ended up with two weeks suspension and told that if anything else happened he'd be expelled and sent to the black middle school with stabbings we were both in boundary for.* Most of the white people I have ever seen given a chance to demonstrate racism have, in some way or another.

*This was plainly racist, but what has always stuck with me was the explanation I was given for why this was the case. I was told by my principal, still a liberal hero in DC, that there were many differences between the other student and I; that I was a better student, that I was more serious about my education, that I hadn't been in as much trouble before, and that I was fitting into the middle school better. I knew none of this was true. He was a C student where I was struggling for Ds, he worked damn hard to get himself away from the middle school DC's boundaries destined us both for while I had never needed to take anything seriously, I was a worse trouble maker than he ever was, and I had few friends while he had many.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:50 AM on April 7, 2012 [44 favorites]


Reall, R. Schlock? Your parents sat you down and were like, "Ok, let's do this. We need to talk about black people."?? Maybe my family was weird.

I know your joking but the best way to raise non racist kids is to actually talk to them about race. Their have been actual studies and stuff. You* don't have be all "Now, its time to talk about black people" but you should talk about it when the opportunity arises.

*Not you specifically, general you.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:51 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


It seems like someone needs to pen a "talk" for children, for which there is a Derbyshire version, and a version for all children who may come in contact with Derbyshire and his descendants - a "non-Derbyshire" version, if you will.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:53 AM on April 7, 2012


You don't have be all "Now, its time to talk about black people" but you should talk about it when the opportunity arises.

I'm not saying that method is wrong. I am saying it never happened to me and that I would find it awkward. Then again I grew up in a very Midwestern "let's never ever talk about things that are uncomfortable" type of home. My parents did discuss race and such with me but it was never framed as being a "talk" or "the talk". Plus, generational differences might be coming into play here, too. I grew up in the 80s/90s, not the 60s/70s.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:56 AM on April 7, 2012


It seems like someone needs to pen a "talk" for children, for which there is a Derbyshire version, and a version for all children who may come in contact with Derbyshire and his descendants - a "non-Derbyshire" version, if you will.

Call me a simplistic parent, but a major part of my response to my child reading the Derbyshire list would be "Ah. But you see, this list was written by a complete dick. Let us roll our eyes together."
posted by jaduncan at 7:57 AM on April 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, I didn't say it would be a long talk.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also related, Victor David Hansen being a terrible excuse for a human being
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's starting to become clear to me that whether or not Trayvon Martin's killing and its peculiar non-investigation by the police was racist, a lot of racists definitely think it was. Because hoo boy, they sure have gotten more comfortable letting their racist flags fly now that they think enough people agree with them, haven't they?
posted by KathrynT at 8:04 AM on April 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


John Derbyshire, laying out "the talk" racist parents give to their children... that necessitates "the talk" that black parents give to protect their children from people who think like John Derbyshire. And, so it goes.
posted by Keter at 8:07 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately that list is pretty spot on if one was raised in a racist household. Fearbased racism is more pernicious than hatebased ....because there is more self-justification. Doesn't make it right.

Yes. Exactly. It is easy to ignore your friend's racist dad, or your crazy uncle who screams about "those people". It is much harder to shed the more subtle racisms like this, because while they are patently false, they fit a logical pattern. Even though you know them to be false, even though you don't believe or identify with a word of it, or anything like it, their patterns creep into your sub-conscious and still have an effect.

What I also despise (and pity) about these fear-racists is that because they are so afraid of the other, they have to force themselves to be nice to "them" when they have to interact. And they hate themselves for it. They wish they could have the balls to proclaim their hate like dear ol' daddy, but they don't. Which makes them fear "them" so much more, because "they" somehow have the power to prevent the fearers from being haters.

It is so very sad. But, the good news, I think, is that the prevalence of this type of racism means we are one more generation closer to eradicating it. Lynchers beget haters who beget fearers who beget non racists. More or less.
posted by gjc at 8:12 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unsurprising, since the entire conservative response to Obama is that of William J. LePetomaine in Blazing Saddles.

"Don't you know that man is a ni-?"

It is refreshing they've stopped trying to hide it. The dog whistle approach must have been too subtle.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:12 AM on April 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Forktine: That reads like the kind of thing my friend's elderly father-in-law sends as email forwards.

Why people stay in contact with racist fuckwits is beyond me.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:12 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The rules are not only controversial, they're just wrong.

I lived for about four years in a very poor, very black neighborhood. The only troubles I ever had were:
  1. A burglary conducted by someone from a different city who knew of some jewelry I'd bought at auction
  2. My one white neighbor stupidly picked a war with the local drug dealers and got me involved not because I was the other white guy, but because he realized he was being followed one day and decided to lead the bad guys to me instead of his family
  3. The cops, who decided that the drive-by shooting which resulted from #2 must have somehow been my fault.
Meanwhile, I never felt anything other than perfectly safe around my other neighbors, partly because I didn't act like an ass toward them. That's the lesson Derbyshire needs to learn.
posted by localroger at 8:13 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Unsurprising, since the entire conservative response to Obama is that of William J. LePetomaine in Blazing Saddles.

"Don't you know that man is a ni-?"

It is refreshing they've stopped trying to hide it. The dog whistle approach must have been too subtle.


Explains the last three years.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:18 AM on April 7, 2012


I have a feeling that Derbyshire's problem, whatever it is, is global, not local -- that is to say, while it's manifesting itself as deranged racism in this instance, his malfunction is probably a more generalized inability to play right with the other kids of all races. I say this not to excuse his racism -- which is obviously deplorable and so extreme as to be almost comical -- but as the result of me thinking about how the fuck, exactly, one could write such a thing and think that it would go over at all well in the 21st century. The explanation, to my mind, is that this is someone so out of touch with normal people as to be absolutely fucking without a clue, and that kind of cluelessness is just never restricted to dealings with a single race.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:20 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've met a couple of Fields Medal winners. They were interesting people to talk to. I don't think that there has been a female winner yet.

Shall we draw some conclusions about that as well?
posted by sciencegeek at 8:22 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I grabbed it and dropped into pastebin here in case it vanishes forever.

Thanks for that, though, reader beware, the pastebin link doesn't include all the hyperlinks Derbyshire put into his article as evidence, or smug winking punch-inviting counterpoint, or what have you.
posted by fleacircus at 8:22 AM on April 7, 2012


On the other and if this guy was talking about the Irish....



//Kidding.
posted by humanfont at 8:25 AM on April 7, 2012


jsavimbi beat you to it, humanfront.
posted by fleacircus at 8:29 AM on April 7, 2012


As a naive Sesame-Street-raised youngster, it was just baffling; as an adult it's distressing that this bullshit still has currency.

What emjaybee said hits particularly close to home. I've noticed a number of people raised in the late seventies/early eighties have similar stories. Both my parents are racists, my dad more overtly than my mom, and in their own way, they communicated Derbyshire's points completely. I totally got this sort of information from my parents implicitly. There were a few conversations about how it's just not good to mix with other types of folks (black folks was implied) and how there's no need to be rude or anything, but don't hang out with black people.

At the same damn time, I was getting the Muppets/Sesame Street doctrine that everybody is equal and colors don't matter and just be cool and be friends with everyone. And my parents were backing it up, telling me everybody was equal and we weren't better or worse than anybody else.*

So imagine their surprise when I took it to it's logical conclusion that this racist bullshit is just straight up stupid and makes no sense and just started actively ignoring everything they say. My dad particularly was confused when in my research I started focus in the African American experience in the Civil War. He just couldn't understand why I was so angry and needed to understand the horrible things that happened. No matter how many times I explained that it was so the evil shit that people do to each other doesn't slide past me, explained away as "tradition" and "okay."

*When I finally asked about it, my mom said they were thinking more along the lines of don't be mean to poor people and don't think rich folks are better than you just because you were rich. She went on to say that they were shooting for a young lady with a little backbone, but they never thought I'd turn out so damn independent.
posted by teleri025 at 8:39 AM on April 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


My white parents didn't have any version of The Talk with white me, negative or positive. Pretty much the only thing I remember was when a black family moved into our neighborhood and my dad answered somebody who was concerned about it that they were a helluva lot better than some people in our neighborhood. I had my own even more radical thoughts, though, and I was a babyactivist. I was a babyactivist until at 14 I moved with my family, and I was going to be going to a new public school in the '70s (in Florida!) that was "modern" and experimental – and also about 65% black... and there was all sorts of Talk and rumor and fear and terror in the [white] community about the riots that regularly happened at that school.

I was babyactivist, but then I was also kind of scared. Riots? What does one even do? There was a lot of Talk about how all the rioters would cut the electricity whenever this happened, and because the school was a neo-architectural donut shaped sort of thing, the inner hallways which were nearly much the sole means of getting from one place to another were totally blacked out... and atrocities happened.

I was a babyactivist, but I was more than a little scared on my first day of school. I spent the first few days imagining catastrophic scenarios and memorizing places to hide. I went to that school for three years. Aside from the basic requirements, I learned Spanish, archery, riflery, tennis, and sundry other electives, as well as accumulating enough credits that when we moved to another state just before my final year of high school, I already had enough credits to graduate, less one, and my whole last year of [95% white] school in [other state] was mostly completely gratuitous and also amazed me about how terribly backward and behind they were compared to my former school.

What I didn't learn at my former school was one single goddamn thing about riots, because that was total scare-tactic racist bullshit that never happened.

And that's my experience, not with "The Talk," but with the Talk. I'm sorry and disbelieving that we have to hear the any of the same tired, stupid, braindead bullshit Talk all these years later when we should be in an entirely new age.
posted by taz at 8:40 AM on April 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Is it just me or does he accuse black people of inventing race and then inflicting it on white people?
posted by TheKM at 8:42 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Why people stay in contact with racist fuckwits is beyond me.

Because they're your family. At some point in my 20s, I decided to stop worrying about offending them and just told them not to say that shit to me ever again. They're still racist as shit, but I don't have to hear about it, at least.

My mom now likes to tell me about nice black people and gay people that she meets, because she wants me to think that she's not a bigot or something, but its as if every single time she interacts with a black person that doesn't mug her, it's an event worth remarking. My favorite story of hers was when she went to Dupont Circle for a co-workers birthday party. She was stunned at how nice the neighborhood was (which basically means she didn't see any black people), and then at the end of the story, she added that she thought that he might be gay (in Dupont Circle? Noooo...), but that she was okay with that, as long as he didn't kiss any men in front of her. This was her idea of being the height of tolerance.

I don't really know what I'm supposed to do about it. My parents are provincial. They live in the suburbs, they only eat at chain restaurants. They don't travel. Hell, they barely leave their house, except to visit me and my sister. The only thing I can say is that while they're pretty racist, they don't really have much power to discriminate, so at least they aren't doing very much harm, besides doing their best to inculcate their racism into the next generation (something that didn't take for either me or my sister).
posted by empath at 8:43 AM on April 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


but its as if every single time she interacts with a black person that doesn't mug her, it's an event worth remarking.

Once my grandmother was telling me a story about a coworker of hers, a fairly mundane story, when she stopped, raised her eyebrows, leaned over and said to me in a lowered voice, "...well, and she's BLACK, you know!" The woman's race had nothing whatsoever to do with the story, but my grandmother told it to me like it was the Most Important Thing you could know about a person. And also somewhat shameful, I guess.

Like all hateful things, racism has a high quotient of the absurd. If only it didn't do so much harm, you could laugh at it.
posted by emjaybee at 8:57 AM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thas right! You mofo's should be payin' a brotha some licensin' fees to hang 'round here! Don't be pulling that "I'm not a rich white person" shit either. Ya'll can pool money or save up.

Brandon, you're a luxury good. In this economy...
posted by straight at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is my droll analysis of the matter
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:01 AM on April 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


>(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

Whew. You'd think that a conservative party with a Christian/Christianist base would see through the idiocy of this one. I'm not Christian, but I know that that the Parable of the Good Samaritan is about going the extra mile and helping people who are different. See, the Samaritans were on bad terms with the Jews, and the kernel of this parable is that you should help people--to the extent of offering clothing and housing--not despite, but because you're on the outs with them. So, if you don't like African Americans, you need to make a special effort to help them if they're in need. That's the meaning of the parable. Derbyshire turns it on its head.

But that's not surprising. I remember reading a comment by Derbyshire in which he said, apropos to his arrival in the States from England, that the first remark he made to his real estate broker was, "we want to live in a neighborhood with no blacks." So that's the wholecloth he's cut from.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Derbyshire is as wrong as all the other racists posing as columnists and activists in this country. Fortunately, he's white so we all feel perfectly comfortable condemning his words and tactics. But all racists are stupid and evil and make me want to vomit, whether their names are Derbyshire, Duke, Sharpton, or Jackson. Fortunately their time is passing. Good riddance.

Derbyshire's stance seems to be based on anecdotes similar to experiences I've had.

Anybody ever heard of Freaknik? The (black) leadership of Atlanta finally had to put a stop to this Spring Break gathering of black colleges in Atlanta. This was basically a rolling party based in the streets of Atlanta, with hundreds and hundreds and thousands of tricked-out vehicles clogging the streets and occasionally and randomly stopping to do dance numbers, have sex, or fight. Drivers who complained were treated with great aggression.

This was obviously not a black thing. It's easy to say, if you transferred the Daytona Spring Break experience to the streets of Atlanta, similar chaos would result. Fair enough. Suppose, however, the city had been, say, Chattanooga, Tennessee, with a white power structure and much smaller black community. The tactics used by the Atlanta administration to quell the Freaknik chaos, and even the rhetoric they used, was given the "you must not be down with the black folks" treatment (filtered through the, "You're just pandering to those scared white folks" filter) before the speakers realized how stupid they sounded or, more likely, were told to hush up by the administration. The Chattanooga administration would surely not have received such consideration and we'd probably all still be smugly condemning them for it.

I myself have been a part of a crowd and witnessed the sudden swelling of numbers of blacks, which was followed by chaos in the streets here in Atlanta. This occurred during a fourth of July celebration and several people including my family were forced to seek shelter in an office building as roaming groups of black youths attacked cars in traffic and ran around in groups.

I know they were just having fun. No serious damage was done. The people in those cars, stopped at a traffic light in heavy event traffic, whose vehicles were suddenly being jumped on and pounded on by a crowd of people they didn't know, might even agree with me in the light of years of hindsight.

However: what rules should those people observe when deciding what kinds of events to attend?

I see this as a cultural/class difference, not racial. White kids raised the way these black kids were raised would probably do the same thing. Look at the soccer yobs in London from a few years back (does this still happen?) Terrifying groups of white kids running around smashing things and terrorizing bystanders. However, in the US, there simply aren't (yet!) large numbers of white kids raised in the cauldrons of multi-generational public housing...are there? When you are heading to an event in an area of the city that's ringed by public housing it's smart to be aware of that fact.

That July Fourth night I was forced to shepherd my family into an office building, I was watching the situation very coldly and calculatedly. I heard the yelling laughter from blocks away (we were parked in those blocks!) that happens when kids start acting up in groups and recognizing that they're getting away with it. Their blackness had nothing to do with it. The security guard that opened the door to let me & my family (and several others of all ethnicities) into the lobby to take shelter was black. Derbyshire's error is in labelling the participants in this kind of terrifying event. Had he reframed the rules in terms of class, I suspect we would still be having this identical conversation simply because class and cultural observations / differences in the US naturally spiral into racial observations. I think that's a tragedy and I think Derbyshire is a fool for coming out of the gate with the racial...not that he could have forestalled what's happening to him, and yes, I *do* think Derbyshire's piece reveals a racist old fuck who should not be paid to write for nice people.

The Atwater quote above gets my back up. *Any* observation that ultimately describes Black people or can be reframed by a hostile interlocutor is dismissed as racist, and meanwhile the observation's truth or falsity is not considered. You say, "I went to an event in the city and a bunch of kids started running around scaring the shit out of people and I'm never doing that again." If you're in London, somebody might say, "Hear, hear." In the US, ultimately somebody's going to say, "You just must not be down with the black folks, racist." Fuck you and the white liberal guilt high horse you rode in on, if you say that. You don't know me.

It's not my fault that in the US, class and culture fault lines also, because of our history, largely describe a racial line as well. It's our duty to recognize that when we're looking across a perfectly harmless and natural racial line, we should make no assumptions about the cultural or class lines that might separate us. But there is a corresponding duty not to make the hand-waving assumption that attempting to discuss cultural and class difficulties is automatically racist.

When somebody says, "I hesitate to go to the city since I had to take shelter from gangs of youths running around terrorizing people," somebody else is eventually going to bring up race and throwing it in my face. I shouldn't have to defend against that. That somebody else is tacitly acknowledging a problem in the black community and transferring the problem onto me, as if my attitudes and feelings caused the night of terror. It's dumb and insulting and inevitable. So what do we do about it?

Thanks for reading.
posted by Infinity_8 at 9:07 AM on April 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


I think he's calling it "the talk" because a lot of black parents (at least that I know) have been talking about "the talk" they have with their sons about the dangers they face as young black men...

From the front page of today's Boston Globe: After Trayvon Martin, It’s Time For ‘The Talk’ -- "The shooting death of the Florida teenager is prompting some black parents to talk with their sons about 'proper’' carriage in the presence of authority figures."
posted by ericb at 9:13 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Needless to say, no one at National Review shares Derb’s appalling view

"Rich -- we need to post something immediately about how it goes without saying that of course we don't agree with Derb or people are gonna think that of course we agree with him!"
posted by straight at 9:16 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder how the Jade Dragon Dowager Countess of Derbyshire feels about this.
posted by Renoroc at 9:24 AM on April 7, 2012


The sad thing is, I expect most of the National Review editors probably don't agree with him, now or throughout his history of racist views. They just don't see it as a disqualification,mgiven how much else they agree on. It's just an eccentricity, like you have a coworker who's great at his job, but brings up how much juice cleansing has changed his life every time you see him in the break room.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:25 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


one of these days, I'll write an article like this about junkies, and maybe venture capitalists -- loathe as I am to generalize about any identifiable sub-group of humanity.
posted by philip-random at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2012


I believe you're referring to Donna Britt, who is the author that wrote about The Talk African-American parents are having to give their sons. ...

As well, New York Time's op-ed columnist Charles Blow, a parent of two boys, alluded to such concern, in his article: The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin.
As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.

That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line.

... And that is the burden of black boys, and this case can either ease or exacerbate it.
He also spoke about this [at 05:58 of 08:32] on Real Time With Bill Maher.
posted by ericb at 9:31 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reading through some of the comments here about Talks and such, I was reminded of Maniac Magee, and some crazy racist family in that story; something about fearing a riot of some kind, having pillboxes and guns stashed in their house, and so on.

It's weird to think those people might be real.
posted by curious nu at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2012


Boy, this magazine is just chock full of entertaining tidbits. For example, The Hunger Games sucks because it was written by an illogical woman. Also, J.K. Rowling tricked an innocent boy into reading a female-authored book. I feel like I just waded through a sewer (and not in a cool, Ninja Turtles way).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


This being the same John Derbyshire who suggested the Virginia Tech victims were cowards for not trying to make a run at the shooter.

Clearly I need to redraft my last e-mail to him.
posted by dw at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting.
Under the influence     I guess I should apologize for not having made much of a showing in the Corner recently. Nor, for the eagle-eyed crew who pick through our print magazine’s The Week section guessing which editor contributed which paragraphs, have I had anything to say in those pages.

The fact is, I have been under the influence of bendamustine. (Trade name Treanda; though that always looks to me like something I’d see on the name tag of a check-out girl at the local discount store. “That’ll be $14.95.” “Here you go.” “Thank you, Sir. Have a nice day.” “You too, Treanda.”)

The nature of the influence is that my IQ seems to have dropped about 20 points, and my life processes have slowed to a crawl. Was there really a time when I simultaneously plotted and wrote books, conducted major home repairs, kept up a busy journalistic schedule, paid attention to my wife and kids, and took frequent breaks for travel? It seems incredible. This last few weeks, by the time I’ve roused myself from bed, got through necessary ablutions, checked my e-mail, and eaten a boiled egg, it’s 10:30 p.m. and time to go back to bed.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:46 AM on April 7, 2012


A blog associated with the Miami New Times (which looks like a Village Voice affiliate) says that armed neo-Nazis are patrolling in Sanford. Now, the NSM has never been a viable political force in the US, but that's pretty scary even if it's just, like, 10 losers with guns...purely because it says that it's safe to bring that kind of violent racism out into the open.

People need to get it into our heads that times are changing for the worse right now. The things that are going on - between the populist right and the security-state-elite - are just fucking terrifying. Bit by bit, the apparatus of a fascist state is being built, and even if there's no one to helm it at the moment, you don't want that sort of thing sitting around. And there's a critical mass of populist right [let's call it like it is] white people who think this sort of thing is just fine, while the rest of us white folks are sitting around like it's 1990 and there's still some civil society left to have a discourse with.

White folks who are not committed to racism need to take this stuff very seriously indeed. We need to figure out how to fucking shut down the Derbs of the world and how to make it so that little White Citizens' Patrols don't spring up in every city in the land. [ha ha, we've got them already, they're called 'cops'...okay, yes, but that's only half true]. This is our frog-in-the-pot moment. Committed racists are trying to mobilize vaguely racist whites because they sense that this is the time.

We did not demolish the social and material causes of racism before, and now overt white supremacy is rising again.
posted by Frowner at 9:48 AM on April 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Here is my droll analysis of the matter

That's really not called for; haven't you heard invoking derp eyes is able-ist and only funny to people whose eyes point in the same direction? Have we learned nothing from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?
posted by radwolf76 at 9:50 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Page view troll is successful.
posted by michaelh at 9:52 AM on April 7, 2012


IndigoJones: "According to his homepage, his wife is Chinese. Make of that what you will."

Well, of course you know that Asians are intelligent like whites. I mean, come on! Look at the IQ tests!

This is just an explicit version of the "I'm not racist, but..." racism that has driven such a huge backlash against Obama, that is still so prevalent like all of the other ignorant prejudices that continue (I’ll use IPTC as an ad hoc abbreviation.) I can already hear the tentative, careful defense of this from the right, "yes, that was terrible, but..."
posted by Red Loop at 9:54 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


He got his ass kicked on camera by Bruce Lee.

As if the world needed another reason to like Bruce Lee.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


Whew. You'd think that a conservative party with a Christian/Christianist base would see through the idiocy of this one.

I don't think John Derbyshire is a Christian, nor does he make much attempt to appeal to Christian sensibilities. He's saying that acting the Good Samaritan is foolish. He prizes protection of self over putting oneself on the line, and I'd guess he wouldn't hesitate to say he disagrees with Jesus on this one.

A lot of people, Christian or not, have internalized the values taught in the story of the Good Samaritan so thoroughly that it's shocking to see it so blatantly contradicted. I know it was shocking to me, when I read this after it was posted in the Trayvon Martin thread... I remembered Derbyshire's writing as borderline racist, but this is so over-the-top I got most of the way through it before realizing it wasn't satire.
posted by torticat at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2012


I think it is possible for people currently oppressed by racism to be racist themselves, but there's nothing "reverse" about it. They have to pick on some other racial/ethnic group. They can't pick on "White People" because that's not a real race--when you come by a White Person in the checkout line, you don't wonder if they're going to steal anything, or even if they're going to buy your house out from under you. They're blank. They don't look like anything. That's what "white" means. Although I guess at one point black people might have done some race hatred unto Irish people or something. Maybe.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:03 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who believes (11) should be beaten with their own cudgel.

You know what? Be an ignorant racist fuck all you want. It's your sad life and your own sad opinions.

But don't pretend that "intelligence", either your notion of your own inflated intelligence, or the supposed lower intelligence of your target, has anything to do with your racist agenda. There is not one shred of evidence that intelligence (however you want to measure that slippery subject) has *anything* to do with the phenotype of the person carrying around the brain in question.

The moment someone reaches for the term IQ to excuse their rancid behaviour, I know they've lost the argument, and I can continue to ignore them as ignorant fucks. You would be better off arguing with a piece of furniture -- at least you'll get a more nuanced and factually based opinion.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:05 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by caddis at 10:11 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the interesting nuggets in the article is the link to this study. You can practically hear him saying "It's not racist, it's scientifically proven!" based on this, which is a shame, because a great study could help us allocate the help to where it's needed rather than painting (or avoiding as the author suggests) entire groups based on a single data point.

I wish studies like that would have ALSO looked at class/wealth, which I feel is one of the most overlooked, and biggest injustices in our society. I believe a wealthy minority individual is likely to be less violent than a poor white person - when society takes everything away from you, it seems you are far more likely to lash out using physical means (which is all you have left).
posted by IronYuppie at 10:14 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whew. You'd think that a conservative party with a Christian/Christianist base would see through the idiocy of this one.

I don't think John Derbyshire is a Christian, nor does he make much attempt to appeal to Christian sensibilities. He's saying that acting the Good Samaritan is foolish. He prizes protection of self over putting oneself on the line, and I'd guess he wouldn't hesitate to say he disagrees with Jesus on this one.

A lot of people, Christian or not, have internalized the values taught in the story of the Good Samaritan so thoroughly that it's shocking to see it so blatantly contradicted. I know it was shocking to me, when I read this after it was posted in the Trayvon Martin thread... I remembered Derbyshire's writing as borderline racist, but this is so over-the-top I got most of the way through it before realizing it wasn't satire.


I think the way many modern Christians interpret this story is the following:

1. Donate to the church's helping the disadvantaged pledge drive.
2. ???
3. "I'm a good Samaritan".

A cynic might say that corrupt (from a Christian standpoint) preachers encourage this mindset because it helps them gather cash to dole out to further their own agenda. Regardless, it allows people to ignore any suffering they actually see because they have "done all the can" by donating to the mission fund.
posted by gjc at 10:15 AM on April 7, 2012


As I was thinking about this, I realized that if we want to shut this stuff down, we have to operate both at the small and the large level. My neighborhood association, for example, has this one solidly racist dude in it, and he's always trying to get support for crypto-racist stuff, and using crypto-racist framing. Because the neighborhood association does not have the know-how or the resources to be a truly open organization, it is majority white in an overwhelmingly POC neighborhood. And many of the white people involved are not consciously racist, but do not have the habit of deconstructing the racist dude's crypto-racist talk. I hate neighborhood associations because they're always full of nutters and zealots and people who just can't let anything go, so I have not been attending. But as I think about all this neo-white-supremacy that we're seeing now, I realize that these little clusters of white organizing (which is de facto what the neighborhood organization is) are political building blocks - even if they themselves don't turn into larger organizations, they are the places where white political organizers learn their ideas and their habits. Groups like my neighborhood organization need either to be changed by involvement or overridden by the creation of new, better neighborhood groups.

The thing is, if white folks don't want Derb and his ilk to have meaningful power, we need to look at where social power comes from. How do people get organized? Where do whites learn their ideas and behaviors? How can we change this?

I don't think it's enough to denounce this stuff on the internet - as much as I approve of that! - because the social relations that create power are more than just on the internet. The internet is important in certain ways, but all it can do in terms of racial ideology is create a spurious appearance of non-racism, under which racism still pullulates.
posted by Frowner at 10:17 AM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Although I guess at one point black people might have done some race hatred unto Irish people or something.

Irish and Italians and Poles and Germans and...

Historically this lasted about one generation. Then the accents fade away and you have to work a lot harder to figure out who was who and the current fashionable-to-look-down-on wave of immigrants would shift to a new group.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:19 AM on April 7, 2012


I am sure Derb experiences life according to the model he describes. But I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, when he explains he was only explaining what *other* people think, as a rhetorical device.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:22 AM on April 7, 2012


Yeah, more than a few in my family, both sides, might not necessarily agree with all of that (some of them), but they would definitely to themselves and amongst each other agree with most if not all of those prescriptions.

Unfortunately, I don't think racism will ever go away. The most we can do is make it illegal and socially unacceptable in polite society. We can also work to ameliorate the effects of past racism, but it will always, always be an ongoing battle.
posted by JKevinKing at 10:28 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reaction from the Right since Treyvon was murdered has been like turning over a rock and seeing what slimes out. It was always there, just not readily apparent. Personally I've had a couple of eye opening examples of racism in the last few weeks, where people say stuff to me assuming that I agree with them, being all white and middle-aged. It's something I hadn't heard in a while (maybe the company I keep) and it's made me pretty sick.

This is a kid's life. I got a kid a little older who goes around attempting to look as bad-ass as his skinny white ass can. He's successful enough at appearing like a thug to get police attention regularly, but then white enough and polite enough to never have anything stick. I am fully aware that if he was black, he'd be in jail or dead over his many, minor teenage transgressions.

Anyway, I am sick and disheartened. I belive really racist beliefs are held by a small minority of white people. But the fear and demonization of the young black man is much more widespread. It's almost like two different problems to me.
posted by readery at 10:34 AM on April 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wow, that was like reading something that might have been written for a young Scarlett O'Hara.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:34 AM on April 7, 2012


And that family? They're not racists. They're just be realistic. Don't dare call them racist!


posted by JKevinKing at 10:41 AM on April 7, 2012


Regarding the "Good Samaritan" bit: Not only is John Derbyshire emphatically neither Christian nor Christianist, he's one of the founding members of "Secular Right", a website dedicated to anti-Christian conservatism. Further proving that there are fewer and fewer of "the good ones" out there, by which I mean conservatives.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:43 AM on April 7, 2012


"ethnically pure Arctic nations" for years

Inuits don't make a big deal about ethnic purity, actually.
posted by spitbull at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


According to his personal site, which someone linked to above, Derbyshire has a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old. It's a real shame they're hearing this stuff (and no doubt, how he's being attacked for it) round the dinner table.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2012


Well, of course you know....

So I've heard. In case you misunderstand, my point was that his entire site is a very curious agglomeration of personal this and that, and should be thrown in the mix for the armchair psychologists among us. Or even the professionals.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2012


. The explanation, to my mind, is that this is someone so out of touch with normal people as to be absolutely fucking without a clue, and that kind of cluelessness is just never restricted to dealings with a single race.

I've heard this kind of stuff from many of his class/educational background.
posted by infini at 10:59 AM on April 7, 2012


"According to his homepage, his wife is Chinese. Make of that what you will."

Well, of course you know that Asians are intelligent like whites. I mean, come on! Look at the IQ tests!

This is just an explicit version of the "I'm not racist, but..." racism that has driven such a huge backlash against Obama, that is still so prevalent like all of the other ignorant prejudices that continue (I’ll use IPTC as an ad hoc abbreviation.) I can already hear the tentative, careful defense of this from the right, "yes, that was terrible, but..."



A neighbor of mine has an extremely local weather station so I visit his website periodically. He also has a link to his very conservative christian church. I decided to take a look one day and the pastor's teaching was " Is inter-racial marriage biblicly sanctioned?"

There was a listing of bible verses that seemed applicable and they weighed (there were a few more pulled randomly) on the side of YES, it is OK to marry someone of a different race.
The accompanying picture was of a dorky white guy with his hot young asian bride. THEREBY PROVING THE TOTAL LACK OF RACISM.
Good to know.
posted by readery at 11:00 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it really true, though, that people like Derbyshire are dangerous? As infuriating as they are to us, I think the most damage they can do is if somebody presumes to judge all White people's attitudes (or all Conservatives', for that matter) by what he's written. How likely is that, really?

Neal Boortz, a conservative, did a smart thing, I thought (stick with me for a second :) When the National Black Panthers supposedly put out a bounty on George Zimmerman, Boortz said, basically, "Look, don't go thinking Black people approve of this kind of thing just because a Black movement figure did this. Do you want us to be judged by the pronouncements of, say, David Duke?" (This was before Derbyshire's latest.)

I thought that was wise.
posted by Infinity_8 at 11:02 AM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


(OH, and I do wonder what his Asian wife is thinking now that he's explicitly stated that having Black friends is good as a shield against accusations of racism when you make pronouncements about people of color.)
posted by Infinity_8 at 11:03 AM on April 7, 2012


Tulsa’s black community was on edge Saturday after police said the same attacker or attackers were behind a series of shootings a day earlier that left three people dead and two more critically wounded.

Officer Jason Willingham said Saturday that police are searching for a white man driving a white pickup, which was spotted in the area of three of the shootings. At least two dozen officers are investigating the case, along with the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, Willingham said.

The craziness is getting crazier.
posted by futz at 11:07 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to his homepage, his wife is Chinese. Make of that what you will.

HP Lovecraft was a pretty undiluted antisemite. His wife was Jewish.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:15 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Trurl: "William F. is smiling down approvingly from his Whites-Only heaven."

Fascinating aside: in Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn, Gary Pomerantz describes that during Segregation, whites and blacks used to take separate elevators up but shared elevators down, because whites and blacks would go to separate heavens but the same hell.

FWIW, I lived in Atlanta for ten years and was unable to confirm this anecdote.
posted by workerant at 11:22 AM on April 7, 2012


The thing is, if white folks don't want Derb and his ilk to have meaningful power, we need to look at where social power comes from.

Or where it goes.

General apathy probably takes care of about 66% of social power across racial lines. Add a little bit of effort to disenfranchise anyone who might look like meaningful power on the other side and you can coast. Once entire social strata feel like they're screwed from the get-go their willingness to participate in a meaningful way is going to pretty much evaporate. After that, keep feeding your nutters and zealots a diet of the right kind of bullshit and the handful of rational people who still have the mental strength to try to do something will be spending all their energy trying to rein them in and you can pretty much do whatever you want.

So, now that you're problem is defined, what do you do about it? Bringing a few people at a time into your neighborhood association is going to expose them to your solidly racist dude and they're going to fall back into that sense of disenfranchisement in a hurry. If you want to make things happen you need to get a group of people together, not for the purpose of fighting the good fight, but to do something small but meaningful. Meetings and the internet are the stock in trade of the zealots and nutter you describe. Something outside where you repair or create a thing gives you the kind of immediate satisfaction and sense of community that you want to create.

Other tips: Eating is a social act. Doing a pot luck meal, or having some people with an idea of how to feed a large group, or just passing the hat and calling out for pizzas will build long term bonds.

Seeking donations from area businesses and support from the city can make a lot of things happen - this is easy to sell if you're dealing with something the city would likely have to deal with eventually.

Involving local leaders - businessmen, clergy, whatever. It will tend to lend credibility and inspiration.

OK, now do it again. And again. Now, all of a sudden, your little group is an empowered political building block. Use the power for good.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:26 AM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is it really true, though, that people like Derbyshire are dangerous?

As individual racists, probably not. However every time they get published, supported or otherwise basically not given a "Hey man not cool" response to their racist statements, I am concerned that it will turn into some "The lurkers support me on email" situation. Like, i look at that photo of Ron Paul with the white supremacists and I'm not so much icked out by Ron Paul doing that [he's a pandering politician with questionable morality anyhow] but that the white supremacists may think that this in any way condones or implies their shitty behavior.

I mean this is the tricky flip side of free speech in the US anyhow. You're legally allowed to be a creepy asshole and talk/write about it. But that doesn't mean you have to be given a commercial outlet for your creepiness (as Rush Limbaugh is slowly learning) or that you deserve "equal time" for your nonsense. We're still at the point in the US anyhow where isolated racist people do shocking things that harm and injure specific people and that's a problem. It's also a problem that isolated criminals do criminal things generally.

It's an open question if you think society should come down harder on racist criminals than criminals generally. However I think there is a danger to letting people's unfettered racist ideas just hang out there as if it's just free speech and there's not some sort of civil response that is also justified. And it gets tiring because often the creeps can wait out the non-creeps but I think it's important, really important, that people don't just say "Eh, what's the harm" and keep walking. As Kid Charlemagne says, there are things we can do as a society that don't even have to be about fighting racism explicitly but just have more to do with humanizing everyone that are very helpful.
posted by jessamyn at 11:30 AM on April 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Should coin a new phrase, as in "s/he's gone Derbyshire!"
posted by Vibrissae at 11:32 AM on April 7, 2012


By the way, speaking of Segregation, my favorite story about its end (or the beginning of its end) comes from my father. He was raised in Birmingham in the 40's and 50's (it took my birth and my congenital respiratory problems, which were exacerbated by steel mill pollution, to get him out of the city.) However, Dad loved everybody and never once said anything racist that I heard...unlike his parents and even my own mom.

Anyway, he had been attending a church in the '50's and there was a push to integrate the church, to show acceptance of the civil rights pioneers thereabouts and to attempt to move things forward. However, change was slow to come.

On the day before the official "day of integration," a Black family approached the church. They were greeted outside by a White member who told them, "Oh, no, I'm sorry, you can't go in now. We're having fellowship."

Dad used to tell that and laugh and laugh. :)
posted by Infinity_8 at 11:33 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


The first time I heard about the Derb was when he was going on about how all men really want young women and that really, once they hit fifteen girls are over their peak and how this was all scientific and true because the veldt.

It's no surprise that he's a straight out racist and stupid enough to make absolutely clear to anybody that really, he doesn't like Black people at all, save as some form of living accessory (and let's not dwell on the appropriateness of talking about a group of people as property in a country that used to enslave them), to the point that even the Bell Curve pushers have to disown him. You can't see a Jonah Goldberg (too lazy) or a Sullivan (marginally too bright to do more than hint that he doesn't like Black people) doing that.

I'm not sure which kind of racism is "better"; at least the Derb's version is honest and easier to combat, but it may also be a kind of progress that you can't have people saying in public that they don't want Obama in the White House because, well, you know, but rather have to gussy it up with nonsense about birth certificates.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:36 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why people stay in contact with racist fuckwits is beyond me.

I grew up in black and Hispanic neighborhoods as a white kid, went to a majority-minority schools all the way through high school, and these “rules” would have been second-nature to my father, who was an overt, unapologetic, unreconstructed Lester Maddox-loving racist. He was also a virulent homophobe, which was rather inconvenient for an incipient homosexual like me.

And you “stay in contact” with people like that because they’re your family, or because you have no choice (where else was I going to go as a kid and a teenager?). Why that’s so difficult to understand I don’t know, but oddly enough, you don’t choose the family you’re born into, even though lots of people sure do love to make groundless assumptions about you based on it. My father died before I graduated from high school. Had he lived, my staying in touch might never have changed his racist views -- I have no way of knowing. But it’s pretty certain that my not staying in touch would never have changed those views either.

My own view is that being born into a family like that (and having the experiences I did growing up in the neighborhoods and schools that I was in) were a damn good and damn direct way for me to learn how to live with and maybe even understand different people of all kinds -- black, white, Hispanic, straight, gay, and even, God forbid, racist. Pretending that racists/racism don’t still exist doesn’t really solve much of anything and kind of discounts that racism is pretty much baked into the history of the United States from its inception. The idea that we are somehow "beyond all that" and that white racism is a "defeated idea" is one of the biggest myths out there, no matter how much Shelby Steele wants it to be so.
posted by blucevalo at 11:38 AM on April 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


sciencegeek: "I've met a couple of Fields Medal winners. They were interesting people to talk to. I don't think that there has been a female winner yet.

Shall we draw some conclusions about that as well?
"

Barbie says, "Math is hard"
posted by Bonzai at 11:39 AM on April 7, 2012


I don't know if this is the place to point this out, but Derbyshire is a wise and humane writer about mathematics. I don't know how to square this with what I read here. I guess it's just to say that life is complicated, and that I suppose I wouldn't want trade publishers to reject his next math book on the grounds that he's a giant racist.

Oh, I do. Let some non-racist mathematician get a nice book contract, not this douche. Besides which, if somebody is a crackpot in one aspect of life, he's bound to be a loon in other subjects as well.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:39 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was a 17 year old high school student living in Denver back in 1968, I was visiting my sister who'd run away to San Francisco 6 years before, wandering around the city as randomly and carelessly as I've always done wherever I've gone since I was a little kid, and I happened to spend much of one late afternoon in the Fillmore district.

My parents were Southern white racists, and I'd had many battles with them about their attitudes toward my black friends-- whom I'd mainly met playing baseball-- and black people in general (I told the uncle I was named for, and who was a federal judge, that he was "a drunken bigot and not fit to sit on the bench" at Thanksgiving dinner when I was twelve, causing a rift in the family that never healed), and I thought I was usually pretty comfortable around black people.

But that afternoon in the Fillmore, I was about the only white person around, apparently, and it seemed like I was getting quite a few lambent glances followed by acting like I wasn't even there; when I got on a bus with a black driver and exclusively black passengers, everyone turned in unison to look at me for an uncomfortably long moment before going back to whatever they were doing. I asked the driver where I should get off for a connecting bus, and he took so long to answer I thought he was just going to ignore me, and then his voice was deep and vibrant. The rest of the bus was so silent I was getting nervous.

I got off thinking 'man, racial tension is so much worse out here; I don't really think I'd like living in this city.'

It wasn't until I got back to my sister's house that I found out Martin Luther King had been assassinated earlier that day.
posted by jamjam at 11:42 AM on April 7, 2012 [35 favorites]


readery: "Reaction from the Right since Treyvon was murdered has been like turning over a rock and seeing what slimes out. It was always there, just not readily apparent."

Yeah. Kind of a mini-Katrina in that sense.
posted by brundlefly at 11:49 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Upthread where you link the Tulsa shootings of random black men apparently by a white man....Tulsa is the city that had one of the US's worst race riots in 1921 and the whole thing was pretty much hushed up until a few years ago. As usual, it was a trumped up case where a black young man was accused of sassing a young white woman based on rumor - but that was only the proximate cause. The underlying issue was the wealth and success of the black community of Tulsa, the locations of "the Black Wall Street". Several hundred black people were killed, that whole part of town was burned down - it was just appalling.

These things persist, buried and secret.

The reason Derbyshire is dangerous is because he - and people like him - create a consensus among racist whites that it is totally acceptable to be openly and publicly racist, and from there it's only a step to patrolling Sanford with a gun in your hand, or being the politician or cop who tacitly allows the patrols, and then we're all pretty much fucked. Once there's a large majority of racist whites who see themselves as a political formation - who consciously think of their racism as a political identity that they can espouse openly - then they can elect openly racist politicians, organize openly racist groups and events, publish openly racist articles....and then it snowballs. Americans don't have much sense of community or developed ideology, so many people are very vulnerable to the whole identity-plus-torchlight-parades routine.

No doubt the white supremacy of the 2000s will be different from the 1920s - there will probably be more exceptions made for rich people of color, and more attacks on Muslims of all colors, and more misogyny and homophobia, and probably the rhetoric will be a little more circumspect. The Derbs of the world will have to disavow the crazed racist murderers if they want to keep their speaking engagements. There will be a lot of wink-and-nod, and people who name racism, or who assert that there's a link between the Derbs and the murderers, will be denounced as crazy socialistic partisans. But we're not that far off Tulsa 1921.
posted by Frowner at 11:55 AM on April 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Tulsa is the city that had one of the US's worst race riots in 1921 and the whole thing was pretty much hushed up until a few years ago.

Few? We were taught all about them when I was in school in the late 80s, and it wasn't really "hushed up" much after the Civil Rights movement. There's a lot we still don't know about it, but few != 35-40 years.

What happened last night, though... I'm not even sure what to say other than goddamn. It could be some racists coming out the militia camps up in the Ozarks. It could be some yokels from south Tulsa and Jenks thinking killing n----rs is an awesome idea for a Friday night. One way or another, Tulsa's always been a divided city, and much of the white part thinks everything Derbyshire said is true because They Have Lived It or something.

The perception of Tulsa by the suburbanites is Derbyshire in action. They believe that the part of town I grew up in -- with middle-to-upper-middle class houses and decent schools -- is mostly black and Hispanic. The truly dangerous part of Tulsa is maybe 1/2 a square mile of north Tulsa and a few blocks in west Tulsa. The "perceived" dangerous part of Tulsa to them is "anything inside the city limits." And that's why they vote straight Republican, and that's why they think Derbyshire, crass as they may perceive his rhetoric, is onto something.

That said, it wasn't some Patrick Bateman type doing the shootings driving between his banker job and the Stormfront meetup. It was probably some poor white who's never heard of John Derbyshire thinking he's doing right by his twisted beliefs.
posted by dw at 12:12 PM on April 7, 2012


maybe this will make people feel a bit better
posted by Bwithh at 12:13 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe it wasn't hushed up at the more local level - but it was a big news story at the national level a few years ago, and it certainly wasn't mentioned in any of the things I had read about pre-civil-rights/1920s history, something I made an effort to read up on in high school. The Tulsa riot wasn't in the widely available stuff that was floating around in an affluent library system outside Chicago in the 1990s, which given the gravity of the event is pretty surprising.
posted by Frowner at 12:15 PM on April 7, 2012


Derbyshire represents an insidious resurgent form of racism- "race realism" and "human biodiversity." Both attempt to make prejudice respectable by couching it in psuedoscientific sociology and statistics. I don't really understand why paleoconservatism ("radical traditionalism) has hitched its cart to the horse of racial bigotry, but publications such as Taki's Mag and Alternative Right showcase this line of thought.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:15 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand why paleoconservatism ("radical traditionalism) has hitched its cart to the horse of racial bigotry

Because sooner or later any strain of conservatism is all about the racism, sexism and bigotry?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:17 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not neoconservatism.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:19 PM on April 7, 2012



That said, it wasn't some Patrick Bateman type doing the shootings driving between his banker job and the Stormfront meetup. It was probably some poor white who's never heard of John Derbyshire thinking he's doing right by his twisted beliefs.


Of course it's not. The elites generally don't do this stuff - look at the paramilitaries in Weimar (or in Chile, for that matter). It's just that racist violence by poor or lower middle class people is accepted and only infrequently prosecuted - so that the assailed communities go in fear. Banker and judges and so on profit by exploiting labor and redlining and usury and so on; it's just that racist violence helps keep their victims in line.

Bateman is a satire - it's not that bankers do that shit (generally), it's that their ideology supports that shit, that there isn't too much lived difference between profiting off of violent racism and actually enacting it. Except that maybe it's worse to make money and gain power without actually getting your hands dirty.
posted by Frowner at 12:20 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because sooner or later any strain of conservatism is all about the racism, sexism and bigotry?


Racism, sexism and bigotry is a convenient tool for maintaining financial and political control of the country, but it's not the point in and of itself.
posted by empath at 12:22 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


if somebody is a crackpot in one aspect of life, he's bound to be a loon in other subjects as well.

Issac Newton was into alchemy and eccentric interpretation of the Bible.
posted by phrontist at 12:26 PM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Racism, sexism and bigotry is a convenient tool for maintaining financial and political control of the country, but it's not the point in and of itself.

Yes, but conservatism itself is the tool you describe, rather than the end.
posted by howfar at 1:14 PM on April 7, 2012


(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

That would be a hard rule for me to follow since it would mean that I couldn't go home. I'm always amazed at people's attitudes about black and/or mixed neighborhoods; they seem to get all of their knowledge from '80s movies and the 11 o'clock news. I have met people who seriously think that I must be dodging bullets daily just to make it to the supermarket and are amazed that I don't keep a Glock in the glove box (just in case).

There are a bunch of tourist attractions near here (stadiums, the casino, The Warhol) and it's a pretty common occurrence for an obvious out-of-towner or suburbanite to pull up to me and ask me directions to the casino or science museum and it's always obvious that they've picked me because I was the only white guy on the sidewalk. You see this "OMG, I'm lost in the ghetto" look in their faces and relief that they found a white person to talk to. Never mind that they were in far more mortal danger driving on the damn parkway to get to my little corner of the city than they are walking around here.

I'm not really sure how to change people, I'm afraid that this Darbyshire asshole isn't really an outlier, there are many people still in the US who think that way and no empirical evidence will every cure them of it. Makes me sad.
posted by octothorpe at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


What does it mean to be a "humane mathematician?"
posted by Navelgazer at 1:38 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]



I'm not really sure how to change people, I'm afraid that this Darbyshire asshole isn't really an outlier, there are many people still in the US who think that way and no empirical evidence will every cure them of it. Makes me sad.


Exactly. I'm not even shocked by this stuff anymore, haven't been for years. Hell, I expect this sort of racism. I've lived on the east coast, the west coast and the south. It's the same everywhere. As a black man who could easily pass for white, I have witnessed quite a lot of racism that people would normally cover-up in front of black people. It's truly depressing. Sometimes I just wanna get off this boat and let the assholes deal with each other . . .
posted by anansi at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am a non-white person, (mixed), raised by white people in mostly white communities. And obviously I never heard any of these "rules" explicitly stated, but I recognise quite a few of them from implicit attitudes of friends, parents, friends' parents, other authority figures and relatives. As much as I disapprove, at least his opinions are open and honest.

It's almost worse to always feel like somehow, there's something wrong with you, but nobody will tell you exactly what it is... when people are so secretive about their own racism that even they don't recognise it, you just know that for some reason, you have to straighten your hair so that you don't "look black", you try to convince people that you're not black but some other race that's not "as bad", you have to be extra polite, you can't do bad things that all of your white friends can, because
somehow it's worse if you do it. Because there's something wrong with you, and what's wrong with you is that you're black, and being black is somehow bad.

That is why this shit is dangerous. Because it's an attitude that's incredibly unhealthy and extremely prevalent. And because it's implicit, it's harder to fight.
posted by windykites at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Derbyshire is guilty of writing an unfunny parody in poor taste. The real intolerance is the mob mentality displayed in this thread. The same mentality that gets Juan Williams booted from NPR, or prompts ABC to drop Bill Maher. The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race.
posted by iconjack at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Derbyshire is guilty of writing an unfunny parody in poor taste. The real intolerance is the mob mentality displayed in this thread. The same mentality that gets Juan Williams booted from NPR, or prompts ABC to drop Bill Maher. The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race.

No. This is not parody. Derbyshire actually is a racist. Don't believe me? Believe him:

I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one,

There is freedom of speech in this country. What some people want is freedom of consequence from their own speech. That impinges on my freedom of speech. I am allowed to call out any racist I damn well please and tell any company I want that I will not patronize them if they support racist attitudes. This is my first amendment privilege.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on April 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


Derbyshire is guilty of writing an unfunny parody in poor taste. The real intolerance is the mob mentality displayed in this thread. The same mentality that gets Juan Williams booted from NPR, or prompts ABC to drop Bill Maher. The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race.

So are you actually writing one of those weird, trolling, racism-excusing posts about how the "real intolerance" is people objecting to intolerance? Or just an unfunny parody of one of those posts, in poor taste?
posted by Nibbly Fang at 2:21 PM on April 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Derbyshire is guilty of writing an unfunny parody in poor taste.

"ThinkProgress reached out to Derbyshire to verify that the column was not meant to be satire. “I’d call it ‘social commentary,’" he said."
posted by lalex at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Derbyshire is guilty of writing an unfunny parody in poor taste. The real intolerance is the mob mentality displayed in this thread. The same mentality that gets Juan Williams booted from NPR, or prompts ABC to drop Bill Maher. The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race.

So what should the American public be doing, giving Derbyshire a pat on the head and a smack on the wrist? My god, it's as though they're being treated as - good christ - racists. Why is the effort undertaken to combat racism more offensive than racism itself?

And good god man what definition of 'parody' are you using
posted by zennish at 2:25 PM on April 7, 2012


The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race.
Care to point out the parts of Derbyshire's weak-minded dross that made any contribution to a meaningful debate?
posted by Abiezer at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


iconjack: "The real intolerance is the mob mentality displayed in this thread. The same mentality that gets Juan Williams booted from NPR, or prompts ABC to drop Bill Maher. The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race."

Of course you shut them down. We don't need a meaningful public debate, because there is no debate to be had with racists. They are dead wrong.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:29 PM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh god, the tagline for that website- "Cocktails, Countesses and Mental Caviar".

That's not mental caviar. It's a big pile of rabbit droppings.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:36 PM on April 7, 2012


Pretending that racists/racism don’t still exist doesn’t really solve much of anything and kind of discounts that racism is pretty much baked into the history of the United States from its inception.

I guess the thing that concerns me about this line of reasoning is that it flattens history - there have always been racists in the US, there has always been institutional racism, and racism is basically the foundation of the US itself, that's very true. But racism has been varying degrees of respectable and varying degrees of violent at different historical moments - what's more, it's had different kinds of institutional support, and there have been different channels for opposing it.

The things that concern me right now are these (and granted, I'm white, so take my thoughts with a big old grain of salt):

1. White racism is becoming a respectable political identity again. That is, non-fringe figures can organize their politics around open, direct racism with very little need to dog whistle. This gives white racism greater organizing power.
2. Because of the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11; the power of the prison industrial complex; and the defunding of various (weak and limited) oversight bodies such as police civilian review boards, the state has much more power to restrict protest and organizing. Given that white racism is becoming a more respectable political identity, this isn't so great.
3. Because of the entanglement between companies like the Corrections Corporation of America and our political system, and because of the loss of restrictions on corporate lobbying, people who depend on racism to make money are able to influence law-making even more directly than before. (The CCA has been lobbying states to build immigrant detention centers even as it's been lobbying for laws like SB1070, for example.)
4. The truth of racism hasn't made us free in the way that I think a lot of activists had hoped. Instead of being shocked and angered into action by the murder of Oscar Grant which was captured on fucking video, a lot of white people just shrugged their shoulders. We've got even more documentation of racist violence than we had before the LA riots, and it has not been mobilizing of white people. If anything, it's forced white people to justify their indifference with actual racism - where before people would have ignored shit, now they actually have to make up a line about how Trayvon Martin was dangerous or whatever.

To me these things are pivotal. You have only to look at histories of states where the right was ascendant to see that there's a long period of awful where it's possible to say "oh, Weimar has always had paramilitaries" or "oh, the Allende government has always had to battle the rightwing judiciary and the large landowners"...and then there's a slide into the abyss, a moment where things go from bad to disastrous. I believe that there have been disastrous moments in American history, and that we need to see them and be prepared for them as much as possible.
posted by Frowner at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2012 [22 favorites]


Late to this party, and this is from way upthread, but:

I know quite a few whites from that time and place who were incredibly racist back then, but even they don't even talk like this anymore, even in private.

What you have to understand is that they are very, very resentful that they can't talk like that anymore. Whenever you hear them invoke the term "political correctness," in part what they're saying is - I can't say the "N" word, society as a whole frowns on that term but I think some/many/all blacks are "N"s and it pisses me off that I'm not allowed to say it.
posted by kgasmart at 2:59 PM on April 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The real intolerance is the mob mentality displayed in this thread.

Hell yeah I'm intolerant of racism. If anything, I don't think I'm intolerant enough, and need to be a better ally by being more willing to call out this sort of shit.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:06 PM on April 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Racism, sexism and bigotry is a convenient tool for maintaining financial and political control of the country, but it's not the point in and of itself.

I have to disagree with that one, at least on an individual level. People hate because they were taught it, and/or are too stupid or un-self-aware to change their minds.

Perhaps when individual racism grows into institutional racism it morphs into what you say, but on the ground, it's just haters.
posted by gjc at 3:20 PM on April 7, 2012


The flames of individual racism are fanned by institutions.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:35 PM on April 7, 2012


"goes"? Doesn't that imply he hadn't been there? If someone felt free to write this, I'm guessing they said a bunch of offensive shit in the past.

I remember hearing his name before, I couldn't remember exactly how but based on a vauge recollection I did a google search for "Derbyshire palestinians" and came up with this from 2002. Which is pretty racist:
Everywhere you look around the Arab world you see squalor, despotism, cruelty, and hopelessness. The best they have been able to manage, politically speaking, has been the Latin-American style one-party kleptocracies of Egypt and Jordan.

...

When I say “the best option,” I don’t mean “best for the Palestinians”. I don’t think they have any good options. Being Arabs, they are incapable of constructing a rational polity, so their future is probably hopeless whatever happens. Their options are the ones I listed above: to be ruled by gangsters, or Israelis, or Jordanians, or welfare bureaucrats. Or to go live somewhere else, under the gentle rule of their brother Arabs. Would expulsion be hard on the Palestinians? I suppose it would. Would it be any harder than options 1 thru 4? I doubt it. Do I really give a flying falafel one way or the other? No, not really.
Of course he could conceivably say he was talking about "culture" and not "race", but still pretty disgusting.
posted by delmoi at 3:45 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's fired, according to Rich Lowry:

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.
posted by jquinby at 3:53 PM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


aaaaand...National Review is now parting ways with Derbyshire.
posted by lalex at 3:54 PM on April 7, 2012


Apparently John Derbyshire has lymphatic cancer and has been undergoing chemo. I don't know what his prognosis is, but I wonder if he doesn't even care about being fired by NRO at this point.

I'm not really sure how to change people, I'm afraid that this Darbyshire asshole isn't really an outlier, there are many people still in the US who think that way and no empirical evidence will every cure them of it. Makes me sad.

I've always been amazed when I live in mixed neighborhoods by how many people decline invitations to come over or go somewhere in my neighborhood. I like to think it's because these neighborhoods also tend to have worse transportation, but, for example, parts of Harlem and The Bronx have good transportation and are actually quite safe. But people just hear "Harlem" and they don't give it a chance.
posted by melissam at 4:16 PM on April 7, 2012


"Derb."
posted by stargell at 4:16 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


or a Sullivan (marginally too bright to do more than hint that he doesn't like Black people) doing that.

That's really unfair to someone who has distanced himself from the NR crowd. Naive about racist pseudoscience sometimes. But not comparable in any way to Goldberg, Lowry, Murray, or Derbyshire.
posted by spitbull at 4:30 PM on April 7, 2012


Naive about racist pseudoscience sometimes.

Don't insult Andrew Sullivan's intelligence. He knows exactly what he's doing, and is clever enough to do it in a manner coy enough to deflect charges of overt racism ("We need open debate on the differences in intelligence between the races!")
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:32 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


a meaningful public debate about race

Okay, let's do this. You start by telling us which of Derbyshire's rules you included when you gave your kids "the talk".
posted by robcorr at 4:38 PM on April 7, 2012


I'm struggling to come up with anything meaningful to say about this, but even arguing against this kind of vitriol just seems like legitimizing it in some small way, which is why I initially liked Lowry's dismissal of it as basically comically batshit. Then I understood better (I think) why Lowry responded that way.

When the birth control mandate was forcing the GOP on the wrong side of women, republican leaders had the issue framed in a very careful way as being about religious freedom (even if that didn't make any real sense.) Then Rush Limbaugh jumped into the fray and forced the misogyny out in the open, and the GOP couldn't really do anything about it because hey, it's Rush. He's too powerful for them to dismiss, so they had to follow his lead.

But John Derbyshire is mostly just some guy. So while republican leaders are trying to gently spin the Treyvon Martin murder as something other than Florida refusing to prosecute the hunting of black kids for sport, essentially, here comes Derb, saying what they're not supposed to be saying out loud. And Derb isn't Rush. Nobody will cry for him.

In other words, had someone with more clout written this trash, NRO would be sticking by it. Derb is expendable, so it's easier for them to cut him off.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:39 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I saw this earlier, an "analyst" or something, Liz Trotta on fox news was complaining about how TV networks were putting black anchors on the air to talk about their own personal experiences, because that made them seam "biased". She was like offended by it. Pretty unreal.
It's starting to become clear to me that whether or not Trayvon Martin's killing and its peculiar non-investigation by the police was racist, a lot of racists definitely think it was. Because hoo boy, they sure have gotten more comfortable letting their racist flags fly now that they think enough people agree with them, haven't they?
No, the sudden outpouring of sympathy for the kid and his family has surprised them, and they find it threatening. Now they're freaking out because they fear that people like them might no longer be the 'silent majority'

All their lives they have thought that they were in the majority and that everyone thought the same way they did. Now, it seems like society "as a whole" is engaging in moral panic over them.

But, whatever, they're dinosaurs.
Derbyshire represents an insidious resurgent form of racism- "race realism" and "human biodiversity." Both attempt to make prejudice respectable by couching it in psuedoscientific sociology and statistics. I don't really understand why paleoconservatism ("radical traditionalism) has hitched its cart to the horse of racial bigotry
Well, they are racist, and they like science, so they have to figure out a way to make science and racism reconcile.
The problem with all the "science" is they don't make any effort to control for racism. I remember hearing one study about the children of American GIs and german women after WWII. The race of the father made no difference. Same DNA, in a totally different environment, and the effects disappear.

Anyway, it's the equivalent of global warming denial or creationism. Total bullshit science.

Also, people were mentioning Andrew Sullivan upthread and he was definitely associated with these people in the 90s.
Issac Newton was into alchemy and eccentric interpretation of the Bible.
Alchemy as opposed to what? There was no other theory of the structure of matter at the time. The first book on chemistry was a book about trying to apply the scientific principle to what alchemists had been doing for centuries.
As far as the eccentric interpretation of the bible, well, everyone was religious, everyone believed in god. It was basically taken as a given. Newton believed that by studying physics he was trying to see the structure of the mind of god.

The important thing to understand is that before Newton, people had no idea how the universe worked. Newton explained the solar system, he was the first person to ever explain why the planets orbit in ellipses, using concepts we experience in everyday life (namely, gravity).

And he didn't really do it with experimentation, it was really all math. So it's not surprising that he would want to try to probe deeper mysteries using a pure mental/mathematical approach rather then a purely experimental approach, I guess. I assume he probably did some experiments as well, I don't know.

Nowadays we have lots of "open questions", but we have lots and lots of questions that have been answered. Basically everything anyone experiences in every day life in the physical world can be explained using science. But back then we knew, like, one thing. Even figuring out what to look at next would have been a difficult problem.
posted by delmoi at 4:45 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


And Derb isn't Rush. Nobody will cry for him.

I wouldn't be sure about this. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of Rush come to his defense.
posted by kgasmart at 4:46 PM on April 7, 2012


My father taught me that when I see a white guy in Brioni walking towards me on the street I should avoid eye contact, keep one hand securely on my investment portfolio and cross the street as soon as was safely possible to avoid trouble. I still think that this was good advice.
posted by Blue Meanie at 4:47 PM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


When the birth control mandate was forcing the GOP on the wrong side of women, republican leaders had the issue framed in a very careful way as being about religious freedom (even if that didn't make any real sense.) Then Rush Limbaugh jumped into the fray and forced the misogyny out in the open, and the GOP couldn't really do anything about it because hey, it's Rush. He's too powerful for them to dismiss, so they had to follow his lead.

That's just it. It's been apparent for some time that the real goal of the anti-choice movement has been not just overturning Roe v. Wade, but also overturning Griswold v. Connecticut. Rush flushed the true nature of the right-wing discourse around reproductive rights into the open, exposing its assumptions about sex generally and women's sexuality in particular. Incidents like Trayvon Martin's murder are having the same effect on right-wing discourse on race. It's profoundly ugly. But there is something salutary in seeing things made plain.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Derb."

Herp derb.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:06 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


But there is something salutary in seeing things made plain.

better living through trolling
posted by LogicalDash at 5:24 PM on April 7, 2012


Apologies for pursuing a derail, everyone....

If you're interested in European intellectual history c. Newton's time, delmoi, I must recommend that you do some reading, because your account is pretty inaccurate. May I suggest Henry's The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science and Westfall's Life of Isaac Newton? Both are slim and quite accessible.
posted by mr. digits at 5:30 PM on April 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


The important thing to understand is that before Newton, people had no idea how the universe worked.

That's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it? Newton mostly just refined work started by others.
posted by empath at 5:31 PM on April 7, 2012


That's not mental caviar. It's a big pile of rabbit droppings.

See, you're getting smarter already.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:39 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're talking about elliptical orbits, for instance, you have to go at least as far back as Kepler, but in all honesty it's been some time since I studied these developments and the physics-heavy areas were never my strong suit.
posted by mr. digits at 5:40 PM on April 7, 2012


When the birth control mandate was forcing the GOP on the wrong side of women, republican leaders had the issue framed in a very careful way as being about religious freedom (even if that didn't make any real sense.) Then Rush Limbaugh jumped into the fray and forced the misogyny out in the open, and the GOP couldn't really do anything about it because hey, it's Rush. He's too powerful for them to dismiss, so they had to follow his lead.
Or maybe it says something about the differences between sexism and racism in society? Regardless of the actual prevalence of racism, it's a taboo. On the other hand, people spout sexist bullshit all the time. How often do you hear the word "slut" on TV compared to the n-word?

I don't know if Derb has any writings on gender, but if I was going to make a bet I'd say he does and that they are pretty regressive. He wouldn't have been fired for saying what Limbaugh said.
That's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it? Newton mostly just refined work started by others.
The had a description. Kepler figured out that planets orbited in ellipses. But one had any idea why. What newton did is made the connection between something we see on a day to day basis, stuff falling towards the earth, and explain the heavens using the same rules. Before newton, people had know idea what the planets were. Gallaleo had seen mountains on the moon, but after newton people knew how much the planets weighed, which would have made it clear that they were made of the same kind of stuff that earth was, rather then being hollow or whatever.

In other words, Kepler came up with the rules for heavenly bodies. Newton figured out that everything followed the same rules, and the obvious implication is that they're all made out of a similar kind of stuff.
posted by delmoi at 5:43 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must admit that I was talking out of turn, delmoi -- I read your initial post and thought that you were making much more sweeping comments than you were. My apologies.
posted by mr. digits at 5:45 PM on April 7, 2012


aaand here we go: National Review’s John Derbyshire: Women Should Not Have The Right To Vote
posted by delmoi at 5:45 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


a meaningful public debate about race

Okay, let's do this. You start by telling us which of Derbyshire's rules you included when you gave your kids "the talk".


I didn't make that original comment, and am perhaps giving too much of the benefit of the doubt, but I can see at least one way in which something as insane and backwards and hateful as Derbyshire's "rules" can help a more productive discourse on race relations.

Specifically, I've been reading this thread and the one about the cyclist recklessly killing the elderly man in San Francisco, and I just came to an uncomfortable - but to me important - epiphany. I will openly admit that I carry around some unconscious prejudices that I don't like. I'm a white guy, and have no hatred towards any race or people, but I will notice myself doing things like, (at best) being overly friendly and polite to African-American strangers, or at worst tensing up when a group of young black men enter a store or restaurant I'm in (more on this in a moment.)

Now, I'm also a motorist, and while I respect that bikes are better environmentally, and are generally a healthier way to get around an urban setting, I've learned to avoid threads like the one I mentioned above, because if I linger on the subject too long I get angry and rant-y about cyclists. They take up space meant for cars. They don't follow traffic laws. They behave unpredictably. Hell, I've even been struck straight-on by a cyclist while crossing legally at a crosswalk. But logically, I know that bikes are a good thing, and so I give them tons of space on the road, watch carefully before opening my door when I park, etc.

Tonight I realized that while this may seem silly or trivializing, my prejudices in both these cases are essentially the same: I get nervous around unpredictable situations. Which is a nice way of saying I fear them.

Cars are far more dangerous than bikes, but I personally can almost always know what a car is about to do. I can respond instinctively, and passively. Logically, I can realize that a cyclist is paying tons more attention to what's going on around them, as exposed as they are, but when I'm driving near one, my attention is focused on making sure that I can respond to them, and that tenses me up. And then I take care to notice every time one runs a light or anything else, so that I can justify that I'm right, cyclists are reckless, why won't you listen to the stories I could tell you?

Now, for the analogy to racism, I want you to remember the lead-up to the riot in Do The Right Thing. Sal's is closing, but Sal, feeling in high spirits and a state of community with his place in Bed-Stuy, lets in the four black youths to get a last slice of pizza. A minute or two later, Buggin' Out and Radio Raheem come in and everything goes to hell, but even before that, you can feel the tension rising, and it's one of Spike Lee's most brilliant moments in what has to be seen as the most essential film on American race relations.

Basically, the kids who come in are just so damn loud and cacophonous. (Lee also starts throwing in some dutch angles here, to heighten the effect.) They're not doing anything actually threatening, because they're just kids hanging out and getting some late night pizza, but Lee nails down how it appears to Sal, and at least to a white viewer how it feels to them: unpredictable.

This is the feeling I can get in similar situations. If I'm in line at the 7-11 and a group of young black men come in shouting over one another, I tense up. A second later my higher brain will kick in and remind me that they're just having fun, and that if a similarly loud group of white dudes came in, well, I wouldn't like it, but I'd be slightly more comfortable due to a greater ability to assess the situation. I'd know the slang and context of verbal cues and body language a little better. I'd be able to tell if they were drunk or just aggressive, etc. I'd have enough familiarity to unconsciously judge the situation and move on.

Now, I got The Talk, in various ways, growing up, from parents who were insistent on teaching us not to judge based on race, that "nigger" is the ugliest, worst word in the world, that I must see people for who they are. As a teenager, I got similar talks about homophobic speech, even though my parents are from a time where they still obviously have latent homophobic tendencies but try to work past them now because they know they are wrong. So I was brought up learning to catch myself being racist or homophobic or what have you. I just wasn't brought up around many black kids.

I never tense up around Latinos, because I grew up in Houston, went to school with them, etc. And I've lived nearly my entire adult life in mixed or minority neighborhoods in New York, or New Orleans, or around DC, and so I'm slowly, slowly getting better, but I'm an adult now, and these things get better more slowly as one gets older, I fear.

Basically my point is that we know that Ignorance leads to Fear, and Fear leads to Hate. But I think it's important to understand the paths from one to the next. Ignorance breeds fear when our lack of knowledge makes something unpredictable, hits right in our lizard brain and puts us irrationally on edge. Fear leads to hate when we start justifying our fears with anecdotal evidence or bullshit "science" or what have you. As silly as it may sound, tonight I realized that if cyclists were a race,m I'd be flagrantly racist (though I'm trying to get better about this) and also that it's really, really difficult to talk about this sort of thing without having that kind of analogy.

Zimmerman shot Martin because he was a black kid walking through a neighborhood. But that came from fear of black kids walking through the neighborhood, and that came from an ignorance, for real, of the idea that a black kid could be simply walking through the neighborhood, going home from the convenience store. Derbyshire's rules come from a similar place. As does much of modern racism, if not most or all of it.

Early 20th-century Jews are insular. Gentiles don't know what to expect from them. But everyone has been victimized by bankers, in one way or another, so that cements the fear into hatred. American Asians in the same time-period are foreign and odd. We don't understand them. The U.S. is attacked by Japan, so the fear cements into hatred. Modern American Muslims act in ways which don't mesh with the predominant Judeo-Christianity. Bin Laden attacks the WTC. etc.

Perhaps this is all obvious, but I'd never really understood before tonight the way that unpredictability, founded in ignorance and a fundamental inability to imagine oneself in another's shoes at the moment that one tenses up, is truly the seed of all of this.

Sorry this was so crazy long.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:05 PM on April 7, 2012 [36 favorites]


delmoi writes "here we go: National Review’s John Derbyshire: Women Should Not Have The Right To Vote"

Wow, this guy is as loony as a fruit bat.
posted by Mitheral at 6:13 PM on April 7, 2012


I wonder what Mr Derbyshire's luxury goods - er, 'black friends' - think about this.

Probably the same thing his flying monkeys and his pink elephants think.
posted by koeselitz at 6:24 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


But there is something salutary in seeing things made plain.

better living through trolling


Sorry if that came across as trolling. Bitter sarcasm is difficult to convey on a keyboard.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:40 PM on April 7, 2012


Previously?
posted by Danila at 6:56 PM on April 7, 2012


And it looks like he's been fired now.
posted by haykinson at 7:29 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll add (why not) a story about my time on the Georgetown Law Weekly, when I was assigned to cover a little talk to the Federalist Society by a woman from UPenn. I don't remember the title of the discussion, but it may as well have been, "How Minorities are Statistically Different from Whites, and Why that Makes Them Inferior."

Seriously, it was an hour of her just rattling off statistics on things like teen pregnancy rates, divorce rates, etc, going by racial demographics. That's it. No discussion of policy (until the very end, I'll get there.) No discussion of history or context. Just stats, presented as "Whites are just better." The one line I remember verbatim, because it made me almost chortle and give myself away as an intruder, was, "if I'm leaving Asians out of the discussion, just know that for all statistics, Asians are White, but more so."

There was also free pizza there.

We'd been getting hit with editorials from FedSoc members whenever we wrote about any political event no matter how even-handed we were, so I made my article basically nothing but quotes, to let it stand as it was. At the end of the lecture, there was one question, from the FedSoc guy leading the group for that hour. "Do you think that higher education is exacerbating the problem by making students more liberal?"

"Yes," she said (though I'm paraphrasing now), "the culture of higher education fosters a tolerance for lifestyles which are at odds with American values, yes."

So there it was. A t-14 law student and law professor stating that racial issues could be solved with less education and understanding. What drove me the most crazy about this was that the FedSoc chapter president at that time was a friend of mine, and a black woman. She wasn't at the event, but when I brought it to her attention she shrugged the whole thing off. It wasn't her event, she figured. Drove me crazy.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:42 PM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


That story is shocking to me, Navelgazer.
posted by sweetkid at 8:13 PM on April 7, 2012


The one line I remember verbatim, because it made me almost chortle and give myself away as an intruder, was, "if I'm leaving Asians out of the discussion, just know that for all statistics, Asians are White, but more so."

Zero judgement on Navelgazer here, but that's the point where I'd have thrown my hands up and vacated the talk as loudly as possible. Hopefully while dropping a doozy of a juicy fart, or at least that wonderful raspberry noise, as I left.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:16 PM on April 7, 2012


The Atlantic is reporting that on Friday several of Derb's colleagues and editors at The National Review condemned his essay. The following night, The National Review fired him. The editor wrote:
"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 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."
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:20 PM on April 7, 2012


That story is shocking to me, Navelgazer.

Yeah, it was really, really creepy and weird. Georgetown is known as a pretty damned liberal law school (and I was on the board of the American Constitution Society at the time of this lecture, a group which, while now national, was started at Georgetown explicitly as a liberal counter to FedSoc.) It was like Mensa having a Klan rally, is the only way I can describe it.

I regret not making more hay out of it. I was the features and humor editor. I hated any "news" assignment I was sent on (and this was the second of only two.) I had hoped by just publishing nothing but quotes, it would get picked up.

Sadly, no. I would handle it differently today.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:44 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


That reads like the kind of thing my friend's elderly father-in-law sends as email forwards.

Compared to everyday speech on the topic which I, as a child, heard spoken by respectable people in the little town in southern Idaho where I was born, that reads as indirect, overly euphemistic and extremely liberal. You have no idea of what people were capable of saying then.
posted by y2karl at 8:59 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should put as an addendum to my massive post above that it's not like I didn't grow up not knowing black kids, or having black friends, but that they were enough in the minority that there wasn't any sub-culture. My black friends were always the black kid in a white group.

And growing up with that does prepare one to not make judgments the same way those who grew up truly monoculturally might, but doesn't prepare one to be enveloped in another race's culture. Just another point about how hate and fear can be separated, but still bleed into one another.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:09 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks Navelgazer for describing something that has baffled me. I have lived in diverse neighborhoods for my whole life and really didn't get the the fear until you just described it. I have been quietly fuming at a relative that was supposed to visit the aunt I am guardian of. She kept putting it off as she had to wait for her son to be free to bring her. I could not understand what she was getting at and thought she was being selfish. No, she needed her son to be with her to come to my 20 - 25% black neighborhood. It's a perception thing. Young black men stand on the street waiting for a bus, she finds it unpredictable and scary. I'm still pissed, but I get it a little better.

God am I tired of this bullshit. Can't we all just get along?
posted by readery at 9:15 PM on April 7, 2012


Y'know, Rich Lowry is pretty much in the dictionary under "scumbag", has flirted with the racist speech almost as much as Derb, and is obviously bullshitting when he says this particular column was somehow worse than everything else Derb has written. But credit where due, the guy can write. That's the most compact, smooth, and least mealy-mouthed "We're firing this person for being too obviously racist" note I've ever seen.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:16 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Male-male buggery has been proscribed in every society that ever existed. I am inclined to think that there are good reasons for these universal prohibitions. To say the least of it, male homosexuality is very unhealthy–much more so than, for example, cigarette smoking. A lot of the people who howl “Homophobe!” at me whenever I write anything about this topic are people who have to swallow a bucket of pills eight times a day just to stay alive. Is it any wonder I have trouble taking them seriously?
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by yeoz at 10:08 PM on April 7, 2012


His press photo looks like he just sat in something wet.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 PM on April 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I was fourteen or so, I was on my way to an after-school dentist appointment and running a little late. A white woman* was walking toward me and I stopped to ask her the time. Before I could finish my question, she smiled and hurried past saying, "No, I'm sorry I don't have any change." I finished my question just by momentum, even though I had stopped walking and was sort of dumbfounded.

With all the racism that's been in the media and national dialogs lately, I've been thinking about something that happened to me many years ago and what it meant to the person on the other side.

I live in Seattle. This incident happened maybe 8 years ago. Seattle is a cold and nasty place about 7 months out of the year, sometimes more. But something magical happens when the weather turns good, just like on the East coast and probably the midwest. The city becomes flooded with people who are so excited that the weather isn't absolute shit.

The other thing that goes with this are the "For The Children" people downtown. If you live in Seattle you know what I'm talking about. They wear red shirts (this is important to the story) and accost you on the street soliciting donations for charity. Now, I like donating to charity, but when you work in an office on a corner where these guys work, you get accosted basically 20 times a day. So I dismissed them every time. I can't donate 20 times a day to charity to everyone who asks, otherwise I'd be broke.

So one morning I'm walking from the bus stop to work. Random summer morning. And a guy in a red shirt comes up and says "Hey! Do you have a minute?" Now, I'm a white male and he was a black male, and I bring this up because this sets the tone for the rest of the exchange.

I see the red shirt and immediately think "Jesus Christ, another college student asking me if I have time FOR THE CHILDREN." So I say, "Sorry man, I'm in a hurry." And I keep walking. Then he says, "DO YOU KNOW WHERE PIKE STREET IS?!?!?!" And I say, "OH! You're right next to it, its two blocks that way!"

Then he says "Thanks... You know... You don't have to be afraid of me!"

And that broke my fucking heart. This society is so broken. I dismiss someone because I *think* he's doing his summer job with the non-profit and I don't have the time for it, and instead I inadvertently open these wounds and he thinks I'm looking at the color of his skin, but really I'm just looking at that red shirt.

That shit broke my fucking heart.
posted by braksandwich at 11:18 PM on April 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


Derbyshire represents an insidious resurgent form of racism- "race realism" and "human biodiversity."

Nah, he's just an old-school blimpish darkie-hater. The "race realists" are much more weasely about the fact that they start with the assumption that black and brown people are inferior and spend all their time cherry-picking stats to make graphs about it. They're equally weasely about their aims, when old-school racists had greater latitude to say that non-whites would just be happiest knowing their place and fetching Master his dinner.

I'm only surprised he's been booted from NRO because the dogwhistling racists there surely didn't mind having him around for plausible deniability: "no, this is our house racist, we sound completely different, move along."
posted by holgate at 11:19 PM on April 7, 2012


Apparently John Derbyshire has lymphatic cancer and has been undergoing chemo.

I hope that for the sake of moral and intellectual consistency he's declining all treatment and care from any doctor or nurse who is black (or, reading further through the thread, of Arab descent.).
posted by reynir at 3:34 AM on April 8, 2012


(Comments have been disabled on all the posts about Derbyshire on the NR website, btw).
posted by empath at 4:29 AM on April 8, 2012


Here's what they would probably look like, though, if they allowed them.

Ladies and gentleman, your republican party.
posted by empath at 4:32 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


You might want to take a gander at all the shit that Charles Johnson has been stirring up at LGF, too.

The US is headed for bad times this election. The racists aren't even bothering to hide it any more. I'm glad I'm leaving the country at this point.
posted by empath at 4:39 AM on April 8, 2012


46% of Mississippi republicans want inter-racial marriage banned.
posted by empath at 4:55 AM on April 8, 2012


When people start talking about "dog whistles," I see that as an indication the discussion has slipped the rails into name-calling and not very sophisticated name-calling at that. When you take someone's position on economic, social, or political issues and proclaim it's a dog whistle for people who hate, you're refusing to engage on economic, social, or political terms and just calling them racists. That's the death of dialogue. That could very well be your intent, for all I know. It seems a weak position to take: I do not wish to engage your ideas because RACIST.

You might very well be able to demonstrate a disproportionate effect on minorities implied by those ideas, if you cared to bother; you might learn that the holders of those ideas are aware of those effects and believe that other considerations (aside from HI HO RACISM) outweigh those effects, or that they have not considered those effects. Calling them names is not going to cause that to happen.

Suppose it is demonstrated that Black women undergo a significantly disproportionate number of abortions compared to the rest of the population. You support abortion. Given the rules that are operating hereabouts, shouldn't a Republican say, "It's a dog whistle -- you just want Black babies to die?" Would that be fair? How is that different from what you're doing with your other dog whistle tropes?
posted by Infinity_8 at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Suppose it is demonstrated that Black women undergo a significantly disproportionate number of abortions compared to the rest of the population. You support abortion. Given the rules that are operating hereabouts, shouldn't a Republican say, "It's a dog whistle -- you just want Black babies to die?" Would that be fair? How is that different from what you're doing with your other dog whistle tropes?

That's not what a 'dog whistle' means.

A dog whistle is a policy or bit of rhetoric, the purpose of which is to signal an allegiance to an fanatical but unpopular group, rather than to express support for the policy itself. "States rights" as code for racism, "teaching the controversy" as code for teaching creationism, and so on.

I think a liberal equivalent might be 'separation of church and state' to express allegiance with non-Christians, for example.

infinity, nobody is saying that Derb is dog whistling. He did the exact opposite. He just flat out made racist statements. And you're not dog whistling either.
posted by empath at 7:09 AM on April 8, 2012 [6 favorites]



. . . okay, you got me. It's still an ugly thing to say. I'm sorry.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:06 AM on April 7 [9 favorites +] [!]

You just flunked out of wingnuttery 101
posted by notreally at 7:14 AM on April 8, 2012


Yeah the deal about dog whistles is that only dogs can hear them. So you can make a coded statement and the people who agree with "things that you've maybe already talked about but that you can't really say out loud" will hear what you've said and get that it's a silent nod in their direction and everyone else hears nothing other than the words you're saying. And "states rights" is the perfect example. It's been so co-opted as a dog whistle by racist types since the sixties (first for civil rights stuff, people who wanted to deny black people civil rights went all "states rights!" about it as Faint of Butt mentions above, and lately for the weird racist stuff in Alabama and Arizona) that basically no one on the conventional left will touch it, even though in some cases it's a decent explanation for whatever it is they're talking about. This is not just a US thing apparently.
posted by jessamyn at 7:48 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Suppose it is demonstrated that Black women undergo a significantly disproportionate number of abortions compared to the rest of the population. You support abortion. Given the rules that are operating hereabouts, shouldn't a Republican say, "It's a dog whistle -- you just want Black babies to die?" Would that be fair? How is that different from what you're doing with your other dog whistle tropes?

Fair? What? A dog whistle is a coded phrase that the casual reader, viewer or listener is unaware of--not concern trolling. Second, I'm not going to treat the bullshit arguments of a Republican party insane with racism and homophobia and for whom lying is like breathing, “fairly” in the sense of “let's give this idea of avoiding events where a lot of African-Americans show up a fair hearing--there might be something to it.” No, they made their bed with these racists and I will proceed to make them pay.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:13 AM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suppose it is demonstrated that Black women undergo a significantly disproportionate number of abortions compared to the rest of the population.

Actually, just to speak to this very briefly, I was at a one day conference last week talking about the digital divide and health equity. The conference was put on by the National Library of Medicine's local branch and was called Health Information Equity Program and spoke, sort of, about the things you describe, racial inequality of use of health care services and in health outcomes.

More to the point, it talked about health outcomes and the difference between equality of care/services and equity of outcomes. One of the main points that the morning speaker brought out is that people often make racially-based judgments about people without really understanding the facts and figures that go into things, the entire environment that these choices and decisions take place within. So people will focus on something like abortions and race and not control for something similar like poverty, existing children in a family, access to other health care, whatever else is going on. And often the people who are pinpointing race as the issue, the people who have a problem with race, this serves their often-racist conclusions.

The fact that this woman who is a public health investigator and educator in Massachusetts brought up was that one of the race-based distinctions that they do find helpful is looking at black women and white women and the birth weight of their babies. It turns out that after you've controlled for things like poverty, access to prenatal care, health of the mother, living/family situation, all the other things, black women still wind up having lower birth weight babies than white women who have all the other equivalent lifestyle indicators.

This should not be happening. And it's a statistic that you could use in a lot of different ways. Racists will point to it and say that it says something ... racist, that black people are different, in a bad way, and that this "proves" it. People who are working to achieve better health equity outcomes, to actually solve the problem, look at this and say "Okay what are we not seeing here?" and one of the things they found was that the stresses on pregnant black women were higher, that dealing with low level misapprehensions and misunderstandings and all the bullshit that comes with being black in America (where people have all the weird stereotypes of black mothers) has a measurable affect on the babies they have.

The 24 hour news cycle increases and exacerbates this sort of thing where people are encouraged to toss around poorly researched factoids and present them to people who lack the reasoning capacity to see these sorts of callouts "Hey black women have more abortions!" as appeals to people's latent racist desires to want to believe that there is some sort of real difference that isn't from anything other than decades of institutionalized racism in health care and social services generally and the way they've been used to great effect by pandering politicians.
posted by jessamyn at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2012 [21 favorites]


Okay, this is kind of a derail, but it's been brought up, and it's more interesting than reiterating the obvious fact that Derbyshire is a blatant, no-dog-whistle-required racist who the National Review supported for a long time.

The 'states rights' dogwhistle is actually kind of complicated. On the one hand, every white supremacist in American history has yelled about 'states rights'. It's a bit like hearing a German talk about 'living space'---they might really just want to add a wing to their house, but the history is so ugly it's hard not to wonder. What's more, this connection isn't just historical, it's also ideological: American libertarianism tends to be not to much a philosophy of freedom as an endorsement of local bullies who wish to deprive minorities of their freedom.

But... The U.S. has a lot of very different people living in it, and the whole point of organizing by states was to accomodate that difference. We abandoned states rights in the battle over civil rights, deciding (I think quite rightly) that individual rights are more important than states' rights, and if the latter interfered with the former, then the federal government had to step in. But the increasing imposition of one standard on the nation has brought us to the culture war that we're suffering through today, and I sometimes wonder if the only solution isn't mutual cessation of hostilities.

As Dan Savage said, the best thing to do may be to accept that different states are different, let Florida turn into a hellhole while Vermont becomes a paradise, and encourage people suffering in Florida to come north. After all, if we really did have a more focused, even more 19th-century conception of states rights, the blue states would have had gay marriage, medical (maybe even legal) marijuana, and a host of other goods long ago. It's hard on children, obviously, but being raised by scumbags is hard on children no matter what, and it may ultimately be a lot easier on the rest of the country.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:05 AM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


What an asshole.

If I hear another person complain about the term "African-American", I'm going to snap my own neck.
posted by Pope Xanax IV at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2012


After all, if we really did have a more focused, even more 19th-century conception of states rights, the blue states would have had gay marriage, medical (maybe even legal) marijuana, and a host of other goods long ago.

That's not really true though, since even in the 19th and early 20th centuries, "states' rights" never meant the rights of states to have whatever laws they liked, even liberal or progressive ones. People advocating "states' rights" have pretty much always meant "the rights of states to have oppressive laws."

In the 19th, states weren't allowed to actually prohibit slavery within their borders. Slaveowners could bring their slaves into free areas with no consequences whatsoever -- no emancipation, no criminal trials for enslaving others, nothing. Just the ability to hold people in bondage in spite of a law that said otherwise. And into the early 20th, the federal government was always quick to find some national/federal liberty that even state laws pushing progressive goals somehow violated.

"States' rights" has always meant "oppression," and if we'd somehow adhered to the actual notions of states rights, all we'd have is more oppression. The same people who are on the wrong side of the culture wars today would still have found a way to (try to) force other states to remain backwards as well.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:46 AM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


they found was that the stresses on pregnant black women were higher, that dealing with low level misapprehensions and misunderstandings and all the bullshit that comes with being black in America

Embedded racial discrimination no matter how subtle is dispiriting and no different from being in a constantly abusive situation. I made this observation to a friend after returning from Finland. Its insidious and I imagine, less figurable outable if you've always lived immersed in the environment but the difference was palpable for me not having grown up as persecuted minority.
posted by infini at 9:52 AM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah the deal about dog whistles is that only dogs can hear them. So you can make a coded statement and the people who agree with "things that you've maybe already talked about but that you can't really say out loud" will hear what you've said and get that it's a silent nod in their direction and everyone else hears nothing other than the words you're saying. And "states rights" is the perfect example. It's been so co-opted as a dog whistle by racist types since the sixties (first for civil rights stuff, people who wanted to deny black people civil rights went all "states rights!" about it as Faint of Butt mentions above
The problem though is that people may hear people they like mention the dog whistle, and assume that it's an actual principle that they think is important. Like, some kid might grow up hearing politicians talk about "states rights", without ever having it used as a defense of racist policies. So, later on they says they support states rights and people call them a racist.

I think the response would be to assume those people are insane, and at the same time put less credence into accusations of racism in the future.
"States' rights" has always meant "oppression," and if we'd somehow adhered to the actual notions of states rights, all we'd have is more oppression. The same people who are on the wrong side of the culture wars today would still have found a way to (try to) force other states to remain backwards as well.
Does that include medical marijuana advocates out there? Or people using "states rights" arguments against federal anti gay-marriage laws?
posted by delmoi at 9:55 AM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


46% of Mississippi republicans want inter-racial marriage banned.

This seems to be the elephant in the room in discussions that try to explain the vehemence of the hatred against Obama. In recent history, the typical objections to interracial marriage were usually a variation of "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!," about how interracial marriages are fragile and how the children of interracial unions would suffer from the community censure directed against their parents. But now with Obama, you not only have the offspring of an interracial child who, despite intrafamilial turmoil, ended up as president of the Harvard Law Review, a two-time best-selling author, and now President of the United States. Obama is a living refutation of these crypto-racist "Think of the children!" arguments, and numerous opponents of Obama are blowing a gasket as a result.
posted by jonp72 at 10:48 AM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the 19th, states weren't allowed to actually prohibit slavery within their borders.

ROU, that's obviously not historically accurate. The Dred Scott decision was specifically about state's ability to not only prohibit slavery in their borders, but also to declare that any slave who entered their state became a free person. At the time, many abolitionists argued that this was a state's rights question---it was the collapse of that argument that put us on the path to the Civil War.

And delmoi is quite right: Many marriage equality advocates have used states rights to push for gay marriage on a state level, arguing (quite rightly) that marriages have always been state level. This is even more true of medical marijuana---I've actually been a little surprised that the California authorities haven't brought a commerce clause suit against federal raids (anyone more informed know why?)

Like I said, states rights has long been the argument of bigots and bullies. But there's no inherent reason it must be so, and I wonder if a liberally-constructed version of the argument couldn't bring about a much better country than we have today.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:23 AM on April 8, 2012


I don't know if Derb has any writings on gender

Oh, does he ... "Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman's salad days are shorter than a man's — really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20."

This latest surprises me not at all. NR has been publishing Derbyshire for, what—25 years, or so, at least? Imagine him after a few drinks at the office Christmas party.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:14 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Dred Scott decision was specifically about state's ability to not only prohibit slavery in their borders, but also to declare that any slave who entered their state became a free person.

If you have to allow people to own slaves in your state, you haven't prohibited slavery.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:29 PM on April 8, 2012


The Talk: What Parents Tell Their Children About John Derbyshire
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I expect that people will now comb through Derbyshire's past columns for all the other horrible things he's written and which NR was happy to ignore or endorse. I remember when he opined that he had no interest in provocative pictures of then 36 y/o Jennifer Aniston because women are only sexually attractive between the ages of 15 and 20. He has also written many, many despicably homophobic things (and not just "I am a proud homophobic"), but somehow Rich Lowry was fine with all that, though now he feigns outrage over The Talk.

Dear NR: Fuck you.
posted by Eyebeams at 1:25 PM on April 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


NR readers have been commenting in this thread since they turned off comments on the Derbyshire threads.
posted by empath at 2:55 PM on April 8, 2012


They seem so scared that the PC Police will come in and bust in their heads with rifle butts for 'telling it like it is'.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2012


I find it hilarious that he's trying to use statistics to prove something about the superiority/inferiority of specific races. You'd think he'd know that thing that everyone's always saying, wouldn't he? You know, that thing that's been really popular to say. It might even be a meme at this point. What is that thing again? Oh right. Correlation does not imply causation. What's the other one? Something about how you can manipulate statistics to prove anything?
posted by windykites at 3:53 PM on April 8, 2012


And that broke my fucking heart. This society is so broken. I dismiss someone because I *think* he's doing his summer job with the non-profit and I don't have the time for it, and instead I inadvertently open these wounds and he thinks I'm looking at the color of his skin, but really I'm just looking at that red shirt.

I used to have asshole neighbors who thought I hated them because they were of a different race than me. In a better world, they'd've known I hated them because they were assholes. I felt this weird obligation to be nicer to them than I would have been to assholes who were white because of it.

People like John Derbyshire give non-racist misanthropes like me a bad name is what I'm saying.
posted by winna at 3:54 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Acting nicely because people might misinterpret your meaning and motivation is typically referred to as "being polite". Own your own asshole, winna, Derbyshire's already carrying enough for two.
posted by howfar at 6:56 PM on April 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


NR firing the Derb is kind of meaningless when Charles Murray (author of The Bell Curve) still writes for them.

The Talk: What Parents Tell Their Children About John Derbyshire

10e. Around hacks, never relax.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:33 PM on April 8, 2012


Wow... this was unpleasant to read. Was he deliberately trying to be controversial? I almost hope so, because t's less troubling then thinking he thought comparing black people to luxury goods was a good idea.

It's sad that people in this day and age are writing stuff like this.

Gallup Poll of Percent of People Opposing Interracial Marriage in the US

I take heart from the above at least.

In 1967 it was 72%.
By 1994 it was 50 50.
In 2007 it was 23% opposing.

I think explicit racism will likely hit 1% to 2% in my lifetime in America. More subtle prejudice will be harder to get rid of, but will also continue to diminish as well.
posted by gryftir at 11:40 PM on April 8, 2012


I agree with those who feel that the quality of responses in this thread is, uh, lacking. With only a couple of exceptions, it's all variants of:

1. I can't believe what I'm seeing.
2. I am offended.
3. Heads should roll.

What's disturbing is the evident inability of the crowd here to deal with Derbyshire on the level of facts.

I once asked Harvard's Roland G. Fryer (an official black guy!) the following question, after pleading with him not to take it "the wrong way":

"Roland, . . . if blacks, across the board, consistently score lower than whites in all tests: scholastic, aptitude, and IQ, etc., even when variables are switched around and recombined. . . then what is the source of our belief that blacks are the mental equals of whites? What scientific basis does this have?"

To which Mr. Fryer responded with something you guys apparently can't: an answer that speaks to the effin' data!

"No worries. I do not take any question any way! I am a cold-hearted data guy. So, to answer...

"1. If you look at the genetic make-up of human beings, biologists have long known that there are no "races," genetically.
2. When Steve and I control for just a few background variables, we eliminate the racial difference in kindergarten test scores.
3. Racial differences in test scores have been declining significantly over
time -- genes just do not evolve that fast. Where the convergence will end -- only time will tell.

"So, there just really are no confident a priori conclusions either way.
But, we are on the case!!"
posted by gnossie at 6:25 AM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


This article makes me so sad.

I'm friends with a few people from SE Texas (the Port Arthur/Beaumont area for those of you following along on your maps at home).

Facebook has confirmed something I've suspected ever since first making their acquaintances: they are deeply conservative and/or libertarian. They hate pretty much every social safety net program, and they think that there aren't enough prisons and prisoners. There is very much a racial component to many of their core beliefs: they hate the idea of welfare, but they really hate black people on welfare. They hated Bill Clinton, but they really hate Pres. Obama. And so on. They would deny this racial aspect -- "I was raised to treat everyone with respect!" is a common refrain -- but even a casual review of their statements reveals that it is there.

Yet I know these men consider me a good friend. I know that they respect me. I know that they love my little kids. There is no doubt in my mind that if someone were dumb enough to call me nigger or otherwise behave in an overtly and noxiously racist way toward me in their presence, they would hit that person rapidly and repeatedly before I could even react.

But I am utterly convinced they would read (and possibly already have read) Derbyshire's article and nod knowingly at each of his "points." They'd allow as how I'm an "IWSB" -- "lord_wolf's not like the other ones. If more were like him, race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be out of business"-- and they'd point out that they and Derbyshire aren't calling for blacks to be lynched, enslaved, or de jure segregated, just that, for some strange reason they can't quite put their fingers on, most blacks don't measure up well against most whites in terms of IQ and socialization; and, hey, it's not their fault, so why they should be held accountable specifically or generally as white men?

Racism to these men is broad, clearly visible stuff: white hoods, epithets, burning crosses, etc. Unconscious biases, economic actions, and cultural ghettoization are not indicative of racism, they're just indelible properties of human interaction.

So this kind of thing makes me sad and it makes me scared for myself and my kids. There's a direct line between Derbyshire's article and the "black males are always a terminal threat to white people's safety" mindset that kills Amadou Diallos, Oscar Grants, Sean Bells, and Trayvon Martins. But because Derbyshire and his ilk don't organize into klaverns, hurling coarse insults, and instead wear suits and use language that appears prima facie to be evocative of intellectual rigor, many otherwise good-hearted people play right along with them.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2012 [23 favorites]


Another National Review writer, Andrew C. McCarthy, has written a post on NR's blog, The Corner, supporting the decision to fire Derbyshire:
We believe in the equal dignity and presumption of equal decency toward every person — no matter what race, no matter what science tells us about comparative intelligence, and no matter what is to be gleaned from crime statistics. It is important that research be done, that conclusions not be rigged, and that we are at liberty to speak frankly about what it tells us. But that is not an argument for a priori conclusions about how individual persons ought to be treated in various situations — or for calculating fear or friendship based on race alone. To hold or teach otherwise is to prescribe the disintegration of a pluralistic society, to undermine the aspiration of E Pluribus Unum.

Yes, NR is a journal of opinion, and that entails vigorous disagreement about countless things. But that has never meant all opinions are equally entitled to exploit this platform — or, in Derb’s case, his connection to this platform. He is not being silenced: NR is not the government, I don’t believe the magazine is responding to any sort of government pressure, and what has happened here has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Derb remains free to express his views and he’ll surely find a market for them. But NR is equally free to say: Not here.

I am sorry to see it happen, but I don’t think NR can be blamed for emphatically distancing itself from opinions people here find more harmful than illuminating.
Unlike Rich Lowry's posts, this one is open to reader comments. The readers seem to generally condemn Derbyshire's article and support NR's decision.
posted by John Cohen at 10:52 AM on April 9, 2012


My relatives were not at all happy when my family pointed out that our ancestors from a photo ca. 1870 were clearly African-American.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:09 AM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's disturbing is the evident inability of the crowd here to deal with Derbyshire on the level of facts.

Does this mean ignore the racism? Because the racism of his statements is a fact. It's pure white supremacy, as in, white people are superior to black people. As far as I'm concerned the white supremacy and the widespread acceptance of same is the salient fact in this whole thing.

He wrote this as meanly as possible and it was quite intentionally done as he is a good writer. I'm sorry I just get sick thinking about it and reading all of the MANY comments around the internet that support these statements. The Trayvon Martin case has caused me to cut ties with people and websites I used to have regular contact with. The whole internet turned into Youtube comments.
posted by Danila at 1:06 PM on April 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


My relatives were not at all happy when my family pointed out that our ancestors from a photo ca. 1870 were clearly African-American.

Even more absurd, I got angry emails from relatives when I got some 23andme results back and revealed our maternal haplogroup J is from the Arabian Peninsula... 30,000 years ago.

Just wait until they hear that Jesus wasn't exactly "white" either.

On 23andme I've met some cousins who aren't white and a lot of them have told me that they get fewer sharing requests accepted if they use a picture that shows they are non-white.
posted by melissam at 1:36 PM on April 9, 2012


Dave Weigl gives us his email interview with Derbyshire:
Did National Review offer him any sort of severence package?

"Nothing," wrote Derbyshire, "but I wasn't an employee, only a freelancer with an 'understanding' they'd use my stuff when suitable. So there was no reason to give me anything and I didn't expect anything."

Did he get a chance to defend his position at the magazine?

"Not really. I exchanged 3-4 emails with [National Review Editor in Chief] Rich Lowry, but he wasn't listening."
posted by John Cohen at 2:22 PM on April 9, 2012


"Not really. I exchanged 3-4 emails with [National Review Editor in Chief] Rich Lowry, but he wasn't listening."

Cry me a river.

"I tried to explain that I hate black people because they're inhuman scum, but he just didn't want to listen".

GEE. REALLY?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:40 PM on April 9, 2012


What's disturbing is the evident inability of the crowd here to deal with Derbyshire on the level of facts.

There's no need to. Click a few of his links, see his contempt for accurate interpretation of statistics. Derbyshire is a fucking idiot who knows less about stats than I do, despite his maths degree. If the guy's a know-nothing moron, which he is, why should I engage with his mindless dreck in order to avoid disturbing you? Also, you seem to have failed to engage with the vast majority of what Derbyshire actually said. Do we need to wait for you to gather more anecdotes before you can save us from the rest of his "argument"?
posted by howfar at 7:46 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed this study: "The Motives Underlying Stereotype-Based Discrimination Against Members of Stigmatized Groups," and it includes reviews of many studies that show what motivates people to use stereotypes to justify discrimination. Stereotypes are employed to boost a damaged ego, or to support the existing system and defend against perceived "threats" to the established order. This latter reason also motivates self-hatred and ingroup bigotry amongst minorities. It isn't because they've learned from "experience" or are rationally applying statistical inevitabilities. There is nothing rational about racism. They may feel fear, they may feel threatened, but it's not for their personal safety.

One of the things I appreciate about the paper is that the authors make clear that they're examining whether or not bigots are actually trying to achieve accurate judgments. After all, if bigots really just wanted to use statistics to protect themselves and make decisions based on truth then they'd accept correction more readily. No, they need to hold onto these fears for reasons other than their safety or the pursuit of truth. Conversely, when people are trying to be as accurate as possible (e.g. it will cost them money if they judge incorrectly), they are less likely to use stereotypes. That's why it's pointless trying to argue on "the facts". It's never been about the facts. John Derbyshire and his sympathizers weren't perfectly "colorblind" proponents of equality who decided to discriminate because the facts led them to that decision.
posted by Danila at 8:10 PM on April 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


(an official black guy!)

Who officiates?
posted by caddis at 8:18 PM on April 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The kind of "shut him down" mentality that keeps the nation from having a meaningful public debate about race.

Which aspects of race, exactly, did Derb bring up that you want us to have a "meaningful public debate" about?
posted by en forme de poire at 8:14 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Derbyshire isn't entitled to some kind of rational rebuttal of all of his points. In fact, no-one who offers an opinion is entitled to such. However I do think such rebuttals are a good thing, for several reasons:

1. It's way less boring than reading a procession of sanctimonious blowhards trying to one-up each other by describing how nauseous/offended/ready-to-vomit/disgusted/depressed etc they were merely by reading Derbyshire's words.
2. It doesn't waste my time (see 1).
3. When someone writes an article like this that covers many points, it's good to know exactly what people object to, and why. If people just give blanket rejections of the entire article, then it creates an opportunity for people who secretly agree with a couple of Derb's points to claim that they disagree with him, when in fact they only disagree with one or two of his points and not all of them. This one of the the ways that the massive discrepancy between public professions and private belief and practise can be maintained. Rebuttals in detail give people no room to hide, and force legitimate issues to the fore. One such issue is the question of whether avoiding certain groups really reduces risk, and has been addressed by Danila's post above, which actually gets to the meat of the issue. Isn't it better to have access to that link than to just read someone lazily claim that racism requires no rebuttal?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:47 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another one 'bites the dust': National Review Drops Contributor Robert Weissberg Over Racism.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, Robert fucking Weissberg. I was going to link to his take on the Trayvon Martin case over in the Martin/Zimmerman thread, but I just couldn't do it. It was that awful.

I guess I'm glad that NR is cutting him loose, but I'm kind of surprised that NR is surprised. Weissberg has always been pretty open about his relationship with American Renaissance, and even though he still retains professor emeritus status at UI, he's pretty much been ostracized by the community for his white supremacist noise. Maybe Rich Lowry was genuinely shocked to learn this about Weissberg, but for the life of me, I can't understand how.
posted by bakerina at 11:40 AM on April 11, 2012


"Weissberg had talked about ways of "maintaining whiteness" in "Whitopias."
With restricted country clubs, presumably.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:43 AM on April 11, 2012


L.P. Hatecraft, to a certain extent I understand where you're coming from.

One of the problems with debating "the facts" is that arguments like Derbyshire's contain very little in the way of fact statements. He throws in a statistic here or there, but a statistic is not a fact in a social argument because it requires context. Yet even the use of actual statistics is rare. Most of the links were to news articles, YouTube videos and the like. A lot of the evidence was anecdotal and one would have to assume Derbyshire is in some way a reliable narrator in order to accept that type of evidence.

Another reason people don't debate "the facts": trying to debunk white supremacy as a non-white person is often an exercise in futility. Of course I don't think I'm inferior because I'm black. There is quite frankly nothing he could say that would ever make me think it's okay for someone to pass me by when I need help because I am black. Or to befriend me so I can serve as an "amulet" against claims of prejudice. And most of all, I will never think it is okay for someone to judge me because of what someone else who looks somewhat similar to me might have done. There are a lot of people walking around who don't "look" black but they have as much black ancestry as I do. Since they have that ancestry they too are supposedly violent, stupid and dangerous, right? But there's no test for "blackness", it's 100% socially constructed, so there's no way to find those dangerous individuals. It's ludicrous to me.

All that said, I do agree that something other than blanket condemnation is called for. The assumption underling Deryshire's argument is that prejudice and discrimination against black people is rational. I think this is "common sense" to millions of Americans. But "common sense" is not necessarily rational, in fact, it rarely is. I wanted to try to strip that rational veneer away. Quite frankly, if a white person wants to do their best to protect their children from becoming victims of crimes and they are being strictly rational about it using statistics and experience, then they should keep their kids away from people like them.
posted by Danila at 7:17 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


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