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John Derbyshire: A Good And Brave Man [Updated Below]

07 April 2012 @ 14:30

[NOTE: I’m sticking this post to the top of the Dispatches column for the next day or so, so please check below for newer postings.]

I am not ready to comment as of yet on the controversy being generated by John’s recent piece* over at Taki Magazine on what he would advise his children about dealing with Black people — I’m still gathering all of my thoughts [which regular readers of these Dispatches know is a slow process].

However, I wanted to state for the record a few things immediately:

1) John Derbyshire is not a raaaaacist.  He is a good and honorable man.

2) Unlike so many others on the Right, John has a testicular fortitude that they only wish they had.

3) Don’t buy into the Leftist Narrative being crafted to divert your attention away from the Left’s vile behavior in the Trayvon Martin shooting and their attempt to bring down another intrepid soul on the Right.

While you’re awaiting my brain to kick in, please check out these insightful postings:

Jeff Goldstein’s

Dan Riehl’s

David Weigel’s [!]

Stacy McCain’s

* The Taki servers are overwhelmed, so the link may not
work. Twitchy has a screen capture of the article here, but
the links John provided, of course, won’t work in that
UPDATE at 1441…
I was able to get the article to come up
over at
Taki, so I copied it, including all of John’s links,

and have published it on a TCOTS page here.

  1. 07 April 2012 @ 14:45 14:45

    GMTA Bob, I just read this, and the man makes ALOT of good common sense. I can see the libs and pander’s heads exploding right about now.

    I bet this guy wishes he had read it too.
    These horrid ppl in the video are slime, where is o and all the other baters on calling for justice here?

    I’m SICK of the double standard. When armageddon starts, it will all be o’s and his cronies fault.
    On a lighter note, (hee hee)
    HAPPY EASTER & Blessed Passover to you and yours!

    • 07 April 2012 @ 15:19 15:19

      Well put, Bunni, and thanks for the link to the Baltimore story.

      Happy Easter to my favorite Easter Bunni!

  2. theebl permalink
    07 April 2012 @ 15:26 15:26

    An observation and some advice to conservatives…

    I give John Derbyshire credit for his bravery (some would call it foolishness) and honesty. He had to know what would result from this and he took it on. I do not agree with all his points. But I know people of all races, sexual orientations, political persuasions, and socioeconomic classes say stuff like that all the time in private (usually after a couple of drinks).

    It will be revealing to see the reaction to all of this. Hypocrisy, thy name is faux outrage. And it will be, sadly, very predictable.

  3. Voted for Goldwater permalink
    07 April 2012 @ 18:03 18:03

    There is no use in arguing whether or not anything or anyone is “racist”. Once you do that, you have accepted the left’s rules of debate, and implicitly, their more general worldview. This has been a problem of the right for decades. Many are so afraid of being perceived as politically incorrect that they do things like discuss the issues on the left’s terms.

    Ask not whether Derb (or whoever else) is “Racist” or whatever other smear term. Ask whether he is right. Pretty much everything his article says is common sense; that we even perceive it as somehow controversial or worthy of debate just goes to show how politically correct this country has become. At no point does he insult or wish harm on anyone. He merely notes that not all individuals or groups within society are the same. Not too long ago, this would have been called stating the obvious.

    • Adobe_Walls permalink
      07 April 2012 @ 20:41 20:41

      To the sane it’s still called stating the obvious. No controversy here move along.

  4. 07 April 2012 @ 20:00 20:00

    I wrote my own little take on this article by Derbyshire. I was finally able to access it.

  5. Darin permalink
    07 April 2012 @ 22:02 22:02

    Well, what there for you to consider, before you weigh in? Derbyshire wrote that he tells his children: not to help a black person in distress; to leave a place if black people arrive, etc. etc. But beyond that: he *admitted*, years ago, to being a racist:

    What thoughts could you possibly have to take your time gathering?

    • Voted for Goldwater permalink
      07 April 2012 @ 22:54 22:54

      Of course he is a *racist* according to contemporary standards. Just like he “admits” to being a so-called “homophobe” in the same interview. He is being tongue in cheek. I can’t say I agree with all of Derb’s views, but he is spot-on here. What he is saying is that everyone not onboard with the left’s view of social issues is a thought-criminal, whether they call it “racism”, “homophobia” or whatever. His wife is not white-isn’t that prima facia evidence that he isn’t exactly in the running for grand dragon?

      While I disagree with Mr. Derbyshire in some areas, notably religion, he is an honest, honorable and intelligent man. It’s a sad sight to see that so-called conservatives are ready to throw him under the bus because he stands up for what would have been taken for granted in the Eisenhower years. I can’t believe that folks who claim to be on the right are prepared to tar and feather this kindly mathematics historian on account of his refusal to bow to the left on social issues.

      • 07 April 2012 @ 23:01 23:01

        Good points and basically the same answer I gave to him on my blog.

  6. Adobe_Walls permalink
    07 April 2012 @ 23:14 23:14

    While a little harsh and perhaps a little too safe side all of his points on personal safety are perfectly reasonable.

  7. theebl permalink
    07 April 2012 @ 23:41 23:41

    So why does Marion Barry still have a job? Check out the comment I copied from The Atlantic. Amazing.

  8. 08 April 2012 @ 01:23 01:23

    While not all things that Derbyshire said in this article are racist, many of them are. For instance, “Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.” I know to keep out of Oakland ghetto, but this is just wrong. I went to see Prince a few years ago, for instance. Most in the audience were black, as expected. I felt safe.
    Or “Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.” Again, wrong. Scrutinize all politicians, though look for different things. It doesn’t matter if some other things he said might be sound caution. This is not “truth-telling,” it’s bs. If NR want their criticism of Obama to be taken seriously, they had to let him go.
    Also, there is no honor in appearing under the same marquee with Jim “pedophiles are a-OK” Goad. Some “conservatism”.

    • Voted for Goldwater permalink
      08 April 2012 @ 12:17 12:17

      Although one might disagree with Mr. Derbyshire there is no reason to “excommunicate” him on account of anything he said. If I understand you correctly, we must wash our hands of him because he might offend the left. Again, this is the problem the right never seems to get right:this idea everyone has to stay in the left’s good graces to be “taken seriously”. Even if someone disagrees with every last point Derb made, there is no reason to feign outrage and insist that he went beyond the pale in order to score points with people who haven’t a single conservative bone in their body..

      The irony here is that Derbyshire tends left on some issues. To provoke actually the ire of the conservative commentariat, he had to take a stand that irritated the left. Does anyone really think that Derbyshire said anything that appalled people in the heartland? No, he angered the NPR and soy latté sipping crowd. Why on Earth is the conservative establishment more concerned about the opinion a bunch of leftists in Blue cities and college towns than the views of right wingers in Anytown, USA? I have a hard time believing that a random conservative in Nebraska or Kentucky is up all night frothing at mouth because of what John Derbyshire said.

      The poet Robert Frost once said “A liberal is a man who won’t take his own side in an argument.” By that definition, I fear we all might as well all be liberals now.

      • 08 April 2012 @ 12:58 12:58

        “If I understand you correctly, we must wash our hands of him because he might offend the left.”

        Um, no, that’s not the plain meaning of Missy’s words. She simply pointed out the particular statements that she herself felt were racist, using her very own brain and experiences as the standard. She didn’t say anything about “might offend the left” being the standard.

        “Even if someone disagrees with every last point Derb made, there is no reason to feign outrage”

        Um, no, there is no outrage in Missy’s words, whether feigned or real. I read her blog regularly, and she is always low key. Wry and deadpan is Missy’s forte, and part of why I like her style so much.

        PS I didn’t read the article at issue, for the link is too busy right now. I did read your link over to Dan Riehl’s, and his take sounds fair enough.

        Happy Easter and Passover to all

        • Adobe_Walls permalink
          08 April 2012 @ 23:44 23:44

          The charge of raaaaacism connotes outrage. perhaps prejudice would have been a better choice of words tho even that is grounds for drawing and quartering nowadays. In the present PC quagmire we find ourselves one cannot accuse someone of being raaaaacist, thinking raaaaacist thoughts, writing or saying raaaaacist words without condemning that person as unfit to exist among “decent” people. To call someone raaaaacist has become a call that persons social, political and in this case journalistic demise. To call someone a raaaaacist is a charge from or kowtowing to the left.

        • 09 April 2012 @ 01:35 01:35

          “Um, no, there is no outrage in Missy’s words, whether feigned or real. I read her blog regularly, and she is always low key.” Am I?
          I can’t say I’m outraged, but I do think it’s bad advise, and that NR had to fire him. They are under no obligation to keep him on the their payroll if they think that the essay reflects poorly on their brand. Anyhow, I always hated his column at NR; it was usually something about him eating his sandwich. I’m looking forward to better quality writing.
          Happy Easter, my friend!

        • Adobe_Walls permalink
          09 April 2012 @ 12:57 12:57

          What part about you can’t use the word raaaaacism without expressing outrage are you not comprehending? If one doesn’t want the person they’re writing about banished from society they cannot use the word raaaaacism or raaaaacist in any form.

      • 08 April 2012 @ 13:00 13:00

        I find Derbyshire a bit statist. 😉 Never understood his appeal anyway.
        No, we shouldn’t excommunicate people because they offend the left. And in any event, everything offends the left. What Derbyshire wrote goes beyond street smarts and spills into racism. This is just wrong regardless of the left taking an offense.

        • Voted For Goldwater permalink
          08 April 2012 @ 14:26 14:26

          I fear that we may be talking past one another. I reject “racism” as a concept. That which is commonly called racism is essentially a tool the left uses to stifle legitimate debate or to cast aspersions on people or institutions it doesn’t like. I’m from a generation which would merely shrug at the notion. Those of us who grew up reading R.G. Collingwood, Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Edmund Burke, Richard Weaver, Michael Oakeshott or any other number of conservative thinkers were not taught to deal in the racket of sniffing-out so-called racism. That is the stock in trade of the left; it is not something that arose naturally out of what I thought to be the conservative tradition.

          As for actual bigotry, I see none of it Derbyshire’s writing. At worst, his suggestions are overly cautious. He wishes no harm upon anyone. He merely believes it safer to err on the side of caution. There are reasonable arguments for and against his views in this article. The problem with his opponents is that they aren’t merely saying that they disagree, but that his perspective is not even within bounds of acceptable discussion. He is married to a Chinese woman. He’s written several articles against antisemitism. I can’t accept that this man is genuinely small-minded or hateful. This is a bit like the 1960s radicals who called their opponents fascists, despite the fact that many of said opponents had actually fought against the real fascists.

          Sometime ago, Derbyshire admitted to being “mildly anti-catholic”, yet the right seems not to mind. You can find it in his “God & Me” article on the internet. However, expressing his thoughts on the present matter have curiously made him the designated target du jour.

        • 08 April 2012 @ 17:07 17:07

          I don’t want to say that Derbyshire is racist against black people because I don’t know that. However, the things he said in that essay were racist. I’m not sure why he said them, and I’m not interested in picking his brain.
          I understand erring on the side of caution. I am a very anxious person, actually. But he suggested so much caution, that, frankly, his street smarts look more like street stupids because he’s giving his children wrong ideas about what kinds of people to avoid. Add to it the fact that he doesn’t just suggest to avoid bad neighborhoods (great many of which *are* black, and whites and Asians do stick out) but also black-run municipalities and black politicians. I don’t understand why a parent needs to have a talk in with his child to explain that blacks score lower on IQ tests.
          It’s the grand total of the ideas expressed in his essay as well as the tone that makes it indefensible.

        • 09 April 2012 @ 16:31 16:31

          Don’t tell me I’ve been misreading your tone all this time, Missy, LOL. Well, except maybe for when you posted about Ron Paul.

        • 09 April 2012 @ 17:09 17:09

          Oh, I dono… I’m a pretty high strung *person*, but I try to write in a more subdued and sarcastic way.

  9. M. Thompson permalink
    09 April 2012 @ 09:24 09:24

    The biggest issue I have is with the no Good Samaritan clause. It would have been better to say, don’t intervene in situations where you don’t feel safe. But that’s neither here nor there.

    And what he said about government jobs is true. Even in the military. No one wants the toxic guy who claims raaaaaacism keeps him down (and can’t show up on time) to work for them. However, the IWSB’s do quite well.

  10. 09 April 2012 @ 16:47 16:47

    Missy Sandbox and Mr. Goldwater have added plenty of value to this discussion, but other than vouching for Missy S I cannot b/c I’m unfamiliar with Derbyshire and not gonna catch up at this point.

    I do like a semantic argument, though. Adobe Walls, I agree that perhaps “prejudice” is the better word. I disagree that mere use of the word “racism” constitutes “kowtowing to the left.” One could just as easily argue that accepting the left’s definition of “racism,” with all their connotations of outrage, excommunicating, and drawing and quartering etc, is the actual act of kowtowing.

    How about we don’t allow the left’s hijacking and misuse of the term (as their tool to stifle legitimate debate or to cast aspersions) to cloud our reading of Missy Sandbox when she uses the term in an objective manner in an honest debate?

    best to all

    • Adobe_Walls permalink
      09 April 2012 @ 20:11 20:11

      This is not a semantic argument, you do not have the option of using the word raaaaacist in any of it’s forms without all of the negative connotations and judgements I mentioned above. You do not have the option of using that word and have it mean something other than what the left wants it to mean that option has long been taken away from you by political correctness like it or not that’s a matter of fact. It really is that simple, when was the last time you heard or read the word “gay” in any other context other than referring to homosexuality?

      • 09 April 2012 @ 21:38 21:38

        • Adobe_Walls permalink
          10 April 2012 @ 01:08 01:08

          Proving my point on a couple of levels.

        • 10 April 2012 @ 11:16 11:16

          This is proof you are right, that mere use of a word which the left has hijacked is an act of kowtowing to the left? And not proof that allowing the left to deprive us of the term is the real act of kowtowing?

          Actually it’s neither. Both are abstract opinions, subjective and not provable. But if you must win the argument, well. Okay. I give up.

          The left’s practice of hijacking and misusing terms ends up tainting those terms. This makes everyone’s subsequent use of such terms very difficult indeed. It might even make stubborn people argue too long over a fine point.

          cheers all

  11. Hout Bosques permalink
    09 April 2012 @ 18:34 18:34

    “John Derbyshire is not a raaaaacist.” – Bobbelvedere.

    “I’m a racist” – John Derbyshire.

    Not exactly high on the list of World’s Greatest Condumdrums.

    • 09 April 2012 @ 18:52 18:52

      There’s a new thing out called ‘sarcasm’ – you might want to learn about it, Clyde.

  12. 09 April 2012 @ 21:27 21:27

    The word “racist” has specific definition. It refers to people who believe that cultural differences displayed by various ethnic groups are biologically predetermined. With the “DMV lady” comment Derbyshire ventured into that territory — albeit he left room to walk it back because IQ is known to change over one’s lifetime. Beyond that, the grand total of his supposed Talk with his son ammounts to self-segregation, which is understood to be a racist thing to do.
    On the other hand, telling one’s children to stay away from questionable neighborhood and watch out for thugish-looking people (Derbyshire didn’t do the second, btw, he never distinguished between a church-going granny and her good-for-nothing 22-year-old grandson) can be mildly contriversial with particularly touchy individuals but is not racist.
    I agree that the word “racist” is overused and had lost much of its meaning, but in this particular case it’s appropriate.
    And btw, I hear the word “gay” used colloquialy to mean “tha’s lame” or “bad idea” as in “Oh, that’s hella gay!” Public schools around here are on a crusaid against this particular use. 😉

    • Adobe_Walls permalink
      10 April 2012 @ 01:21 01:21

      The reason the schools are on this crusade (the NC State radio station runs PSAs about it) is because they (correctly) consider this a knock on gays since most schools anti bullying programs top priority is tolerance of gays. On a lighter note why is self segregation raaaaacist and who exactly understands this to be so?

      • 10 April 2012 @ 02:07 02:07

        Well, while the gay leadership understand this to be homophobic, I think for most students who use this word it’s a kind of edgy, un-pc way of express themselves. I doubt anybody feels bullied.
        Self-segregation as in “OK, I want to be around people who share my interests” is fine. Self-segregation in a “Run: black people” way is… hilarious. I don’t Derbyshire feel this way and he ever had that Talk with his son. I understand the temptation to go bombastic on the issue that everyone is supposed to tip-toe around, but, I suspect, his teenage son has more sense than that. American project is a melting pot; out of many — one and all that.

  13. 10 April 2012 @ 19:37 19:37

    Thanks all, for your comments. Insightful.


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