Can We At Least All Agree that John Derbyshire is Racist?

OK, I know that for supporters of the Right here that it’s a sign of either my intellectual dishonesty or my being an intellectual lightweight that I can hear even echoes of racism in hoodie-gate, the “food stamp president,” Newt’s telling white South Carolinians that what blacks need is to learn the value of a good day’s work, much of the illegal immigration rhetoric, concerns about birth certificates, whatever a “Kenyan anti-colonial worldview” is, and Niggerhead.

That being said, can we at least agree that this letter to his children by John Derbyshire is just a teensy bit racist?

(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…

Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black.

By all means, read the whole column – which attempts to be more of an anti-affirmative action/anti-anti-racist screed than anything else, but fails fairly miserably under the weight of its cringeworthy prejudicial thinking. (It’s occasional “But mind you, some blacks are honest, and even smart!” attempts at being “color-blind” actually make it worse.)

But my titular question is an honest one – can we all agree — right, left and libertarian — that this is racist?

I have long maintained that conservatives are not inherently more racist than liberals. I have simply known far too many quality conservatives (and far too many icky liberals) in my lifetime to believe such a thing.  I do think, however, that conservatives do an unbelievably bad job of policing their own when it comes to racism (or sexism). I think this is because, fair or not, racism (and sexism) is the political turf staked out by liberals, and for too many conservatives it is more important to have a united front in discrediting whatever liberals say than it is to say “Good Lord, what a horrible thing to say” about one of their own.

It seems so clear to me that if the right as a whole is going to shed the reputation it absolutely has (and by and large does not deserve) on these fronts, it needs to be willing to stand up and be counted when lines are crossed, or at the very least to not defend them.  (And I would argue doing so is in their best political interests as well.  Look at what refusing to condemn Limbaugh’s recent remarks about Sandra Fluke, obediently falling in line with items such as Virginia’s new invasive ultrasound law, or the refusal to agree that birth control might inherently be a women’s health issue has cost the party in poll numbers for 51% of the country.)

Besides, I am pretty sure that if Joe Biden had written the above the right would pretty much universally agree that what Derbyshire wrote was repugnant.

My hope is that this will not start a right vs. left pissing match, but that rather we can as a group at least establish a baseline where we all agree, “Oh, yeah, that was totally racist.  No Question.”

So… are we in agreement?

Please do be so kind as to share this post.

586 thoughts on “Can We At Least All Agree that John Derbyshire is Racist?

    • How so, exactly? I haven’t seen a response that shows how Derb’s article is wrong about its basic facts and observations. I’ve seen the far-left and the weak, TPer type right call the article names, but I haven’t seen any show it wrong about its basic facts and observations.

      Regarding the first paragraph, many aspects of the Birther issue are questionable. However, the “LSM” consistently misled about the *facts* of that matter. “Conservative” sites like that can’t and won’t point that out and use it against them.

      And, those complaining about immig. rhetoric do so about those who have no power at all and for corrupt reasons: they either want money or power. They’re also aiding the far-left while harming their own side. “Conservative” sites like this either don’t realize that or play along.


      • Since you do not believe anything in the Derbyshire article is racist, do you mind if I ask how you define “racist?”

        A serious question, whose answer I thank you for in advance.  I’m curious to know how much of the disagreement here is one of semantics.


      • I haven’t seen anyone show it’s right about its “basic facts and observations” either, and surely they’d have the greater responsibility to do so, since Derbyshire is putting forth sort of rules to live by and suggesting we teach them to our children. To take one example, he links to a horrid news item about a woman being beaten by her barbaric boyfriend and a fellow who jumped in to save her from that beating being, in turn, beaten to death by the boyfriend. From this, he extrapolates the rule, “Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress”, a general principle that, to put it mildly, doesn’t follow logically from his single example. To take the most horrible instances of human behavior and, from them, create rules about how one should avoid interactions with every member of an ethnic group seems to be a textbook example of racism and, as far as the correctness of his ‘facts’- yes, apparently, that news item really did happen; and yet, this “fact” does not prove his “observation” correct. Funny that.


  1. and for too many conservatives it is more important to have a united front in discrediting whatever liberals say than it is to say “Good Lord, what a horrible thing to say” about one of their own.

    Hallelujah brother!

    It seems so clear to me that if the right as a whole is going to shed the reputation it absolutely has (and by and large does not deserve)

    (murmurs from the crowd) “By and large”? I think I need to hear more about this. I’m willing to listen! It seems to me, tho, that these two statements can’t both be true. If the majority (granted, you said “far too many”, but do those ‘too manies’ present the face of conservatism?) of conservatives accept that presenting a united front opposing liberals is what motivates or defines them, then they do indeed ‘by and large’ deserve their reputation.

    More to the point, tho: yes, this is a clear case of racism.


    • “(murmurs from the crowd) “By and large”? I think I need to hear more about this.”

      I think this is another way of what I was saying earlier in the post.  By “”by and large” I trying to acknowledge that the I don’t believe the vast majority of the right are racist – or at least, racist beyond the extent that most human beings are not.  Instead, I think the right has a tendency to bite its tongue when people in its own ranks say incredibly racially insensitive things.  I think this has allowed those people that are more likely to think that its awesome to say racist things to self-identify with the right, and since the right rarely tells them to shut up they continue doing it.

      Plus, I think that in the same way liberals go overboard in their attempts to be “politically correct,” I think sometimes conservatives go overboard in their attempts to prove they’re not.  Part of the fallout of that mean that liberals are going to eventually earn a reputation (by its opponents) of seeing racism where there is none, and conservatives are going to eventually earn a reputation (by its opponents) of being racist.

      But as I say, I still don’t believe most conservatives racist in the way their own movement can make them look, in the same way I believe most liberals base everything on political correctness, int he way their movement can make them look.


      • A part of what distinguishes the conservative soul is a greater concern with in-group / out-group dynamics (at least, relative to liberals).   And so, I think you’ll always find that racism is something more common on the right.

        I say this acknowledging that liberals have some douchey tendencies as well.


      • Put simply: you are wrong.

        Spending any time around conservatives is going to lead to the conclusion that more of them are racist than are not. You went over some of the larger examples but it is the small parts that matter. Latino politicians, speakers and attendees getting “go back to Mexico” or other ethnic slurs chanted at them. The deluge of incredibly racist hate speech found in the comment section of any Fox News or Breitbart website.

        The modern conservative movement is based around hate. It’s the inevitable result of the old “southern strategy” on which they have relied for almost 50 years now. It’s “horrible when” someone is killed for being gay, or some poor boy gunned down by a racist merely for being black at the wrong time and place, but quickly the rhetoric goes right back to the conservative movement’s attacks on women’s rights, opposition to equal rights for gays, and trying to enact poll taxes like in my home state of Georgia to stop anyone of the “wrong” skin color from voting.

        You say “the right tends to bite its own tongue” when members say racist things, but from my experience, the right hears the racist things uttered by its members and actively cheers them on for doing so. Nowhere is it more apparent than all the birther pandering lately, and the latest round the holding up of a treasonous skinhead as a “martyr” for their cause while the military gives him a less-than-honorable discharge for publicly stating he would consider any order given by a black president “illegal” and that a black president “is the domestic enemy spoken of in our oaths.”


        • Black and Latino politicians are really no different in terms of The Talk.   It’s been my observation nobody hates the underclass so much as the previous generation of immigrants.   The Cubans are really awful about this and it’s no accident most of them are highly conservative.  Black culture has always been highly stratified, going back to New Orleans, where they stratified themselves.   Not all blacks were slaves and across the South and West, many blacks owned them, especially the Creoles.

          And let’s not rule out the American Natives, either.   The Cherokee took their slaves west to Oklahoma.   Now, they’ve decided those black people, who have lived with them ever since, are to be expelled from the tribal rolls.

          Racism can afflict anyone.   There is no Stupid Gene, or if there is,  it seems to be fairly evenly distributed across populations.  Marrying across cultural and race lines causes no end of grief: honour killings are fairly widespread across Hispanic populations, it’s not just the Arabs and Pak/Indians doing it.   There’s plenty of covering-up going on when the police try to investigate these crimes.   Black people are no less prone to getting upset about such marriages.

          We want to look at Derb as a white guy with race issues.   The tar can be spread around a little wider than just some unhinged British expat with some rum ideas about the human race.


        • You missed one: They’re busy finding the “real” racists.

          Usually it’s Obama somehow.

          Although I find it rather amusing that the institutional memory of people is so small. All it would take is a jump into the NR Derbyshire archives to find toxic race comments for anyone paying attention for the last 10+ years, but few pundits/bloggers read NR really except for a laugh these days.


  2. Of course I think it’s racist:

    1. It is.  Obviously so.
    2. I’m not attacking anyone who’s a friend or ally by saying so.

    But Derbyshire apparently felt no compunctions about writing it, nor Taki’s Magazine about publishing it, nor, by Googling, have I found  any outcry (or even response) from Derb’s friends and allies   So, apparently it’s not the sort of thing that generates a consensus that this is too much.


    • Actually, as of this writing 2 other NR writers have come out against it:

      Ramesh Ponnuru:!/RameshPonnuru/status/188379574416056320

      Jonah Goldberg:!/JonahNRO/status/188399150042320896

      The 1-2 punch, in my estimation, dramatically increases the likelihood that NR will feel sufficient pressure to fire him. Not that I’m trying to cheapen this by turning it into a media-job-market-handicapping story, because I hate it when that ish happens. But I do think it marks a significant development.


      • Kind of surprised Goldberg came out with a straight out condemnation, given that he waffled previously on the “ethnic balance” statement when Podhertz came out and flat out (all but) called Derbyshire a racist. If NRO fires him, my guess is that some of the loonier portions will call him a martyr to the PC police.


        • But isn’t that the beauty of engaging in a Glorious Rebellion Against the PC Police? You’re a martyr no matter what you do. I mean, from their pov, liberals have effed things up so badly in this country that a decent, hardworking American can’t even say the word “n****r” in polite company without ruffling feathers.


      • Keep an eye on National Review.  Rich Lowry, the magazine’s editor, has already disowned it.  I’d say this won’t be the end of it.

        UPDATE: National Review cans Derbyshire.

        “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.”

        Toldja.  ;-)

        Editor 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.


  3. Derbyshire’s treatise seems to be taking a lot of heat from the right, even. Guess he finally crossed whatever line it is that conservatives draw.

    On Friday, fellow National Review contributor Josh Barro, writing for Forbes, is shocked that Derbyshire hasn’t been fired yet. In the last hour or so, more of his National Review colleagues, have been criticizing the piece. Responding to The Atlantic‘s Matt O’Brien’s question on Twitter, “Does want to be associated with someone who publishes racist trash like this?” senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru responded, “I know I don’t.” And Jonah Goldberg, the editor of National Review Online, tweeted, “For the record, I find my colleague John Derbyshire’s piece fundamentally indefensible and offensive. I wish he hadn’t written it.”


    • “For the record, I find my colleague John Derbyshire’s piece fundamentally indefensible and offensive. I wish he hadn’t written it. publicly what should only be said privately.

      I suspect this is really what he meant.


  4. Sorry, Tod, but I’m afraid we can’t establish a baseline.

    I simply thought the Derbyshire piece was refreshingly un-PC.

    You could further this conversation by defining “racist” and telling us precisely what and why you disagree with Derb.



    • If we need to be technical, and in this case, we probably do, then the post is racist, based on at least this comment,”Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black.

      It’s hard to argue that statement isn’t racist.  It clearly is.

      The real question to me though, is there such a thing as the white version of “the talk?’  I’ve never given one like this to my kids so I don’t know if anyone else does.


      • It’s hard to argue that statement isn’t racist.  It clearly is.

        If someone were to argue that it’s not racist, I’d like to hear what types of statements actually fit the bill.


      • That’s actually true. Or at worst outdated. The American Psychological Association acknowledged this in “Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns” (PDF), their response to the controversy over The Bell Curve:

        The relatively low mean of the distribution of African American intelligence test scores has been discussed for many years. Although studies using different tests and samples yield a range of results, the Black mean is typically about one standard deviation (about 15 points) below that of Whites (Jensen, 1980; Loehlin et al., 1975; Reynolds et al., 1987). The difference is largest on those tests (verbal or nonverbal) that best represent the general intelligence factor g (Jensen, 1985).

        If the black mean is one standard deviation below the white mean, that means that one-sixth of blacks are above the white average and five-sixths of whites are above the black average, exactly what Derbyshire said.

        Now, they went on to say that there was some evidence, not then conclusive, that the gap was closing, perhaps to around 2/3 of a standard deviation. I’m not sure what the latest research shows, so it’s possible that Derbyshire’s statement is no longer correct. But certainly some less extreme version of it is. We definitely would have heard if the gap had closed completely.

        To answer Stillwater’s question below, racism is a sort of statistical fallacy—taking information (or misinformation) about group averages and inappropriately applying it to specific individuals. For example, you interview a guy for a job, and you reject him because he’s black, and therefore must be stupid, even though he performed well on the interview. The law of averages only applies in the aggregate.


        • By the way, it’s not clear why the black mean is below the white mean. It’s likely that environment plays some role, but adoption studies have not been able to rule out a genetic contribution completely, as far as I know. There’s no compelling reason to assume that cognitive traits didn’t diverge along with physical traits following the diaspora out of Africa, but we really just don’t know yet.


          • The genetic diversity among Africans is far higher than that among or between any other group; in other words, there’s more genetic distance and difference between two randomly selected Africans than between a white person and a Chinese person, for example.  So trying to draw <i>any</i> genetics-based generalizations about black people is deeply unscientific.  Genetically, there are no races, just populations; white populations are genetically very similar and might be able to be considered a single population for the purposes of some studies, but the same is not true of black populations.  There might be a possibility that slavery and its mortality rate deliberately selected against intelligence, but it seems implausible that that would be significant.

            Given that there’s vast historical evidence and documentation about the ways in which black Americans have been disadvantaged, that strikes me as being a very plausible explanation for disparities in IQ tests, and – if you think intelligence is measurable and understanding its distribution is important – probably the better area for focusing investigation.  If there is indeed a gap, and it is closing, that also supports the hypothesis that long-standing economic and societal discrimination are the primary explanatory factors.



            • I didn’t try to draw any genetics-based conclusions. I very explicitly was not drawing any conclusions. My entire point was that there was no basis on which to draw conclusions.

              I don’t think the stuff about genetic diversity means what you think it means. I assume you’re referring to Lewontin’s research? I’m heading out now, but I’ll try to explain tomorrow.

              The problem with the historical disadvantage argument is that Jews and the Chinese have historically been disadvantaged, too, but they test as well as or better than gentile whites. You would expect them to test somewhere in between.

              As long as the gap continues closing, that’s evidence that some of the remaining gap (and all of the portion that’s been closed so far) is due to environmental factors. Apparently Murray has some recent (2006–7) papers claiming that the gap has stopped closing, but they’re gated and I’m cheap, so I can’t evaluate that claim.

              Look, I want the gap to be environmental, because that means it can be fixed without genetic engineering. I suspect it’s at least partly environmental, and I’m not at all sure that it’s not 100% environmental. But there’s simply no basis for ruling out genetic factors a priori, especially given the failure thus far to find any intervention that eliminates the gap in adult IQ.


                • Since BHO has never released his transcripts, “ President Obama’s example as a model student” is not a fact in evidence.  He may have been a fairly indifferent student for all we know.

                  This however, doesn’t stop journalists from writing such things.

                  The study has not yet undergone peer review

                  IOW, it may be true, it might not.  But again, that doesn’t stop a reporter from writing it, or the NYT from printing it.  What if there were a non-peer reviewed “study” that had negative implications re minorities?  Would the NYT write a feature on that?  Heh.

                  Just part of my formal objection about what passes for “journalism” and “news.”

                  That said, I have read of previous studies that attributed lower black performances on standardized tests to test-taking anxiety., and it’s a very appealing explanation.

                  Following the seminal work of the Stanford psychologist Claude Steele, the researchers suggest that the idea of ‘stereotype threat’ explains the differences in performance. “Stereotype threat is the phenomenon whereby the fear that if one performs poorly on a high-stakes test it will confirm a negative societal stereotype about one’s group (leading) to increased test anxiety among negatively stereotyped student groups — minority students and girls, for example — which in turn leads such students to underperform on such tests relative to similarly skilled non-stereotyped students.”


                  • “Since BHO has never released his transcripts, “ President Obama’s example as a model student” is not a fact in evidence.  He may have been a fairly indifferent student for all we know.”

                    That line forms to the left. You’ll see Mr. Trump at the head of it.


                    • Birtherism is not just an ugly thing, the adherence to it and willingness to dog-whistle it by right wing pundits and politicians is one reason I say that the right wing is most definitely racist.

                      It is an invalid argument put forth shortly before the next accusation (that the POTUS is a secret muslim), the one after that (that the POTUS is a not so secret communist), and the one after that (that the POTUS is half white but identifies as black and therefore is a racial traitor, not to mention a violation of conservative desire to reenact anti-miscegenation laws supported by over 50% of whites in states like Alabama).


              • I don’t think the stuff about genetic diversity means what you think it means. I assume you’re referring to Lewontin’s research? 

                It’s not an individual paper; there are whole databases of information on human population genetics.  The basic fact of it is that there’s no reason to believe any two randomly selected black people are more closely related than a randomly selected black person and a randomly selected white person.  So trying to draw any genetic conclusions about “black people” is unscientific.  If you want to test if there are genes for intelligence, and think IQ is a good measure, then use random selections of people who tested particularly high or low on IQ tests and look at the differences between them.


                • Katherine’s right, and it has nothing to do with the ideologically motivated Lewontin.  Humans originated in Africa and so have been evolving in that continent longer than anywhere else. Small–and therefore probably quite homogeneous–groups drifted out of Africa in comparatively more recent times and so have had less time to diversify genetically than have those whose ancestors remained in Africa. See one popular report here.



                  • No, I don’t doubt that she’s right about the greater diversity, for the obvious reason you state—that non-African populations have undergone an evolutionarily recent population bottleneck. But then again, so have black Americans, most of whom are the descendants of slaves taken from the central portion of the west coast of Africa. But that’s beside the point. My objection is to the inference she draws from this.

                    That is, this simply doesn’t rule out the possibility that there are specific alleles or combinations of alleles that increase intelligence, and that these are more common in non-African populations. Possible ways this could have happened include:

                    1. Self-selection in the migration out of Africa.

                    2. Adaptation to conditions not found in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, such as harsher winters.

                    3. Adaptation to advancad civilization, in which intelligence leads to wealth, which confers reproductive advantage.

                    There don’t need to be specific alleles that are common all over Africa—there just need to be alleles that are rare in Africa and common in some other populations. And of course such alleles exist: The ones that code for things like straight hair, non-black hair, lactase persistence, to give some obvious examples. It would be astounding if there were not alleles controlling cognitive function that were more common in some non-African populations.


                    • It would be astounding if there were not alleles controlling cognitive function that were more common in some non-African populations.

                      To which I should add, it doesn’t mean that the net effect of all such alleles would be to increase genetic capacity for intelligence. But there’s no way to rule that out a priori.


              • Brandon,

                The difference in IQ between races in AMERICA is largely based on Class. Think it through. Chinese get to America no different from Jew gets to America – by being wealthy enough to bribe someone (or otherwise afford). Black gets here from being a shmuck , a shnoo, who gets captured by (mostly) another black. Lower class, and it goes the whole way back.

                Peasants are rather dumb, and we tend to self-segregate.


            • In the who-slept-with-whom world of connections, what Derbyshire said reflects on Mitt Romney.

              Derbyshire himself is a “legacy” National Reviewer, b. 1945, a Brit, one of the Buckley-era guys, and not in the NR mainstream.  He’s run up to the line, but never crossed it [in NR’s view, anyway].  But he’s not Main Street National Review, more the loyal opposition.  For instance, Derbyshire is also anti-religious, see  National Review itself is highly theistic, and maintains founder William F. Buckley’s affinity for Roman Catholicism.

              But National Review is one of Derbyshire’s employers, and the best known, and their rep is clearly on the line as well.  NR definitely sees itself as representing the mainstream of American conservatism, and although an occasional critic, is firmly with the GOP as well.


              This explains the significance of my linking to it, for those who came in late.  Hardly some random conservatives.  Now National Review is on the hook for one of their outlier contributors.  We shall see.


              Beliefs and disagreements with fellow National Review writers

              Derbyshire has differed from his fellow writers at National Review on many subjects. For example, Derbyshire supported Michael Schiavo’s position in the Terri Schiavo case, ridiculed George W. Bush’s “itty-bitty tax cut, paid for by dumping a slew of federal debt on your children and grandchildren”,[4] has derided Bush in general for being too sure of his religious convictions and for his “rich-kid-ness”,[5]dismisses small-government conservatism as unlikely to ever take hold (although he is not unsympathetic to it), has called for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (but favored the invasion), opposes market reforms or any other changes in Social Security, is pro-choice on abortion, supports euthanasia in a fairly wide range of circumstances, and has suggested that he might (in a time of international crisis) vote for Hillary Clinton as president.[6]

              Derbyshire’s views on the Schiavo case attracted criticism from fellow writers at National Review Online such as Ramesh Ponnuru.[7] The Derbyshire-Ponnuru dispute arose again over Ponnuru’s recently published book, Party of Death. Derbyshire reviewed the book harshly in the New English Review,[8] and Ponnuru replied on NRO with a strongly worded rebuttal.[9]

              Though Derbyshire broadly agrees with many other writers at National Review Online on immigration, he encountered strong opposition from former NRO blogger John Podhoretz, who described Derbyshire’s comments on restricting immigration to maintain “ethnic balance” in severe terms: “But maintaining ‘ethnic balance’ is not fine. It is chillingly, horrifyingly not fine.”[10] In response, fellowCorner contributor Jonah Goldberg, who described himself as philosophically “in the middle” of the two, noted:

              I should say that I think JPod is getting too hung up on the phrase “ethnic balance” as a codeword for all sorts of unlovely things. It seems to me that if you’re going to sit down and have any immigration policy at all, it’s unavoidable that you’re going to address the issue of ethnic balance in one way or another, no matter what you call it. Ultimately, you have to choose where people come from if you have an immigration policy, even if you emphasize other factors like skills or family unification. So you can either look at it directly or you can skirt around it. But you can’t avoid it.[11]

              He wrote about American schooling in his book We Are Doomed, “Education is a vast sea of lies, waste, corruption, crackpot theorizing, and careerist log-rolling.” He further argued that people “had better brace ourselves for the catastrophe” coming as a result.[12]


          • Mike made an erroneous claim. I corrected it, with references. It’s kind of what I do.

            And you responded with content-free snark. Which is kind of what you do.


      • Mike:

        I’m white and my dad who was a cop gave me the “talk.”  He told me to only say yes or no sir to cops. He told me to keep my mouth shut and to do whatever they told me to do, i.e. if they say get out of the car and get on the ground to do so.  He told me to keep my hands on the wheel if I got pulled over and tell them I was going to get my wallet out of my pocket.  People seem to think that cops won’t shoot white folks and he told me that it just isn’t true.


    • I’m pretty indifferent to charges of racism, so sure, let’s talk about the meat of the article.

      It’s ridiculous. Never mind racist, it’s ridiculous and infantile. The Derb expresses a fear of black people that would be ridiculed by his compatriots if it were anything else (except Muslims, maybe immigrants). Anyone who looks at a bunch of black people and thinks that they have nothing better to do than violence isn’t being edgy, politically incorrect, or just mean. They’re dumb, cowardly, and paranoid.

      It doesn’t suddenly become brave because you’re being politically incorrect. That’s like a 12 year old patting himself on the back because he has discovered cursewords. And he has the courage to use them in places that will make people upset. Courage!

      If you’re going to pat yourself on the back for saying something politically incorrect, save it for something that is insightful and not just ignorant.


      • Yours is my favorite comment so far, Mr. Blue.

        The Derbyshire piece was repulsively racist. I mean, I think I understand what he was attempting, but if he wanted to say that he found black people giving their sons “the talk” to be an act of prejudice against white people, then he could simply have gone ahead and said it.

        Almost no one would have flipped out over that, I don’t think.

        The problem with conservative intellectuals writing on race is that they have to inhabit two very different worlds.  In one world, it’s dealbreaker to be a racist.  In the other world, sending out racist signals wins votes.  Still.

        In a double bind like that, it almost doesn’t matter what you really believe in your heart of hearts.  What you end up putting on the page is hateful nonsense like this.  Often it’s better veiled, but then the veil sometimes slips, like it did just now.


          • Oh, you’re definitely right.

            I was just trying to come up with what might have been the nicest thought process that I could imagine behind the article.  I don’t think I succeeded at coming up with anything too reasonable, however.


      • Couldn’t be.  He’d have to make allusions to the Holocaust and then put a youtube video of a wonderful Bach piece in there.  It’s like his DNA signature.


    • “You could further this conversation by defining “racist” and telling us precisely what and why you disagree with Derb.”

      I suppose I define a racist as someone who makes who makes negative prejudicial assumptions about someone based on their race.

      As to Mr. Derbyshire, I’m not entirely sure what your definition of racist would have to be to have this screed fail to be racist. Defining racists as “all black people are inferior?” Maybe, but I don’t know anyone who defines it that way.


  5. I’m going to get a bit meta here and possibly a bit contentious so, if I undermine the point of this post, I apologize in advance…

    An issue I would have with unanimous agreement on this issue is that it would focus on an individual.  We’d label Derbyshire a racist (though I’d personally prefer to label what he said virulently racist and reserve assessing him as being wholly racist until I knew a bit more about the man), but we would probably stop short of genuinely labeling any larger group, movement, or ideology that he associates with as being racist.  Yea, some libs are going to stand up and say, “See?  We told you all those conservatives/GOPers/white folks/whatever are racist” but, meh, those people are genuinely interested in the type of conversation that Tod is seeking here.

    To paraphrase an oft-held saying, members of majority/empowered groups succeed as a group and fail as individuals, while members of minority/marginalized groups succeed as individuals and fail as a group.  In a nutshell, what this means is that when a black person does something stupid/wrong/criminal, people are more likely to frame it as or believe it to be representative of blacks as a whole.  When they do something smart/right/remarkable, they are celebrated individually, with their success not being generalized to the group.  On the flip side, if a man does something stupid/wrong/criminal, he isn’t necessarily seen as representative of all men.  When he does something great, it tends to affirm the existing sense of male supremacy.  (Obviously, there are exceptions… let’s not quibble over what we know to be a general observation and not an absolute rule.)

    I wonder if our focus on Derbyshire follows similar lines.  Tod himself went out of his way to say that he DIDN’T think this was representative of all GOPs or conservatives or right-wingers or whatever.  And I think he is right: it is unfair to say that all folks to the right of center are racist.  But isn’t it also unfair to say, “Derbyshire exists in a vacuum and his views have nothing to do with his placement within groups right of center?”  Why don’t we examine Derbyshire in the context of movement conservative or whatever larger ideology he represents and determine whether his believes represent and/or were informed by a wider racialized viewpoint within that group?  Why tiptoe around whether or not there is a real issue amongst the right on issues of race, beyond simply being against what the left has laid claim to?  I do believe that anti-anti-racism is a thing, but so is racism, and excusing the former in favor of the latter is a problem if done reflexively.

    I don’t know enough about Derbyshire to answer these questions.  I am not seeking to offer answers, but instead am encouraging the asking of questions.  Yes, what Derbyshire said is racist.  I am hopeful we can all agree to that.  But let’s not leave it at that.  Why don’t we look at the broader context.  We can do so without painting with the sort of broad strokes that lead to nonsensical things like, “Everyone over THERE is a hooded racist bigot.”


    • The first problem (of there being unexpected pushback when earlier bloggers have said “well this is racist so let’s talk about ensuing issue X” gets responses that it’s not racist) and the second problem (of conservatives not criticizing racists) are linked – if conservatives don’t guard against racism, then racists will proliferate amongst conservatives, and their eventual appearance and numbers will be surprising.

      i.e., the macroscopic issue of where race sits in the ideology is very much driven by the microscopic issue of where conservatives are willing to enforce a baseline. Unattended, it just moves further and further away from the mainstream.



      • That’s a really good point. Let’s suppose there’s a completely hypothetical counterfactual conservative-type politician who panders to racism. If there is no pushback from the constituency, then other politicians will be inclined to pander to racism on the expectation that they’re gaining cost-free support of racists without losing support from others who might have found it offensive. Hmmm. Interesting view you have here…

        Of course, the reluctance of non-racists to pushback against the racial dog-whistle constitutes evidence of something. Not necessarily racism, but perhaps the desire of conservatives to define themselves as being merely opposed to liberals.

        Either way, things don’t look good for them.


        • Enforcing a baseline is difficult. If it were just about politicians cheerfully pandering to whatever buyers there are on the marketplace of ideas, it wouldn’t matter so much – the moment the market turns on them, the politicians will drift along merrily. The problem is infiltration by undeclared racists, who may have unexpected beliefs when the issue suddenly arises for whatever reason.

          And then you actually have to sit there worrying whether this politician or these supporters are actual racists or just opportunistic etch-a-sketches, and it’s too late to really tell so you just have to make painful choices. Recall all that libertarian agonizing about Ron Paul’s shady fling with paleolibertarianism?

          There are really only two ways out – either keep self-criticizing and raising the issue to deter racists from ever showing their heads to begin with, as the academic left likes to do, or be prepared to have to make politically self-destructive choices when push comes to shove. Without either of these, there’s no baseline, and you may as well put down the welcome mat.


          • “Recall all that libertarian agonizing about Ron Paul’s shady fling with paleolibertarianism?”

            Not really, no.  I do recall a lot of other people being really upset about it, though.


            • There were a lot of libertarian and partly-libertarian blogs, Ordinary Gentlemen included, having post after post after post of libertarians discussing whether The Newsletters or whatever might affect their support for the good Representative from Texas. Google for them. Steve Horwitz turns up a bit. So do’s earlier pieces from 2008.


      • I think that’s exactly it, and moreover, I think he thinks it’s true. That is, that all non-blacks really feel the way he does, they’ve just been scared into hiding their feelings by the PC police. Can I say how much I hate when people think they’re saying the unpleasant truths that everyone else is afraid to say?

        I wonder what he’d have to say about someone who has a racist thought, but tries with the better angels of their nature not to act on it….does he think that ever happens, or does he think non-blacks simply think this way freely and unashamedly?


        • That’s not what I was meaning, though I think what you say is true. I was making a point that it doesn’t matter how much conservatives denounce what is being said because their political opponents will say that they are only upset at voicing what most conservatives are actually thinking. David already did so above, it turns out.

          Yeah, though, that will also be the rally of the anti-PC people who think verbal diarrhea takes courage. In my response to Acres, I likened them to a twelve year old who has discovered cuss words and thinks he’s brave in his willingness to use them.


    • Doubt so. He’s almost certainly of the rather strange new revised school of eugenics that pops up on the Internet a lot (see: Sailer, Steve), who hold that white people, Jewish people, and Chinese people have superior intelligence and everyone else can go burn.

      Here is Derbyshire, in 2007. The codeword is “human biodiversity”, which spans from the intelligently careful apologists like Razib Khan to some rather less careful and more obviously repellent bloggers. The pretense that it’s a geopolitical, demographic sort of concept rather than an ethnic one was discarded in a more recent post:

      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.

      Intelligence, behavior, and personality – by ethnicity. I suppose the patent racism was only brought home when Derbyshire made the mistake of personalizing it at home rather than wailing about Islam invading Europe.


    • Hey Chinese people are racist too.

      Quite a few Chinese say that Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwanese (non-Chinese Taiwanese) are “derivative” ethnic groups. Tibetans have been Chinese since 1300’s in this framing.



    (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.

    From where does he get these “cohort” data? He’s just made this stuff up out of whole cloth and attempted to plant the baseless idea in his kids’ minds that blacks innately resent whites even if they’re, apparently, too “passive” to realize it.


    • Or:

      A small cohort of [whites]—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to [blacks] and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm [them]. A much larger cohort of [whites] 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 ‘blacks] have it coming.


      • Here is my problem with that paragraph:

        If I had heard that an African-American parent told such to his/her African-American child, I wouldn’t have a problem with it… even though the numbers strike me as being a bit high.

        As such, my response to the paragraph is that it might want to be cleaned up a bit but it strikes me as something that a parent would *WANT* to tell a child.

        Now, if the paragraph is true (or true enough, anyway), the “why is this new paragraph true” discussion is a very, very disturbing one.


  7. “(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.”
    Thats right… Proactively get a “black friend” (the ‘right kind’, of course) so no one can call you racist.

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

    Now you see why I put “black friend” in quotes up there… They aren’t REALLY a friend… Just a commodity, like a chair or plane or sla… No, no… Surely he doesn’t think THAT…


    • well-socialized blacks

      Of course we should all be well-socialized, but when you start talking about “well socialized ‘ethnics'” it smacks an awful lot of “non-uppity and don’t go off the plantation.”

      And of course it treats non-well socialized ‘ethnics’ as the norm, in contrast to us whites, where proper socialization is implicitly the norm.


  8. But really knowing some of the shit Derbyshire’s peddled over the years, how are we surprised? And why does it take  this much blatant racism before he’s called out on it by his fellow commentators?


  9. Yes, this is blatantly racist.  But if this is where our line is located (i.e.: anything less abhorrent and blatant than this shouldn’t be termed racism) then we’ve set it in entirely the wrong place.  I agree with the perceptions expressed in your first paragraph, Tod, though they only scratch the surface.


  10. Well, I’m sure Buckley is spinning in his grave. I mean, why is a NR contributer writing his best stuff elsewhere?

    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 in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.


    National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way, and the society will regress; sometimes the numerical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.

    The fiend who set off the bomb does not have the sympathy of the white population in the South; in fact, he set back the cause of the white people there so dramatically as to raise the question whether in fact the explosion was the act of a provocateur – of a Communist, or of a crazed Negro. Some circumstantial evidence lends a hint of plausibility to that notion, especially the ten-minute fuse (surely a white man walking away form the church basement ten minutes earlier would have been noticed?). And let it be said that the convulsions that go on, and are bound to continue, have resulted from revolutionary assaults on the status quo, and a contempt for the law, which are traceable to the Supreme Court’s manifest contempt for the settled traditions of Constitutional practice….



      • If I remember correctly, there were basically three parties in the USA at the time.

        The northern Democrats were largely “liberal” and pushing for equal rights. The Republicans were trending “conservative” inasmuch as they didn’t really like the result of so many blacks moving to cities like Chicago and Detroit. And then there were the southern “Dixiecrats”, who were the party of Jim Crow.

        Following the passage of civil rights legislation, the Dixiecrats and the “blacks are fine just not in my home town” Republicans joined up to create the modern Republican Party. And rest, as they say, is history.


  11. If the pushback really threatens his livelihood he could just use the traditional wingout way out — it was just a joke.  “I was ridiculing the liberals’ idea of what we conservatives think. They never recogmize satire, do they?”


  12. He ony put into words the things that the majority of whites, including anti-racist liberals, do. Would someone perform an anti-racist census to see where every enligthtened and progessive individual lives?

    It has always been interesting to me that many of the problems black face are said to be economical, yet nobody has ever taken me up on my offer to go and have lunch in Compton, CA and spend some money in that local economy. Would that not help?


    • Happy to join you, Spokker, though I’m on the East Coast. Does my time and money spent in Harlem, Washington Heights, U Street, Columbia Heights, Roxbury, and Dorchester count?


      • Harlem has been getting gentrified for a long time. Hardly impressive. I doubt we need to add to that. Come to think of it, Compton isn’t majority black anymore either. We’ll brunch in Detroit I guess.


        • Spokker-

          Are you speaking of Morningside?  Or Harlem?  125th St or 145th St?  I’ve hung in both areas, FWIW.

          I grew up in a town that, while not majority black, had a very large black population (about 1/3).  My high school was “majority minority”.  I frequented many black-owned businesses in that time.

          I also lived in downtown Yonkers (AKA “the black part”, as opposed to “the Irish part” and “the Italian part”) and frequented all of our local shops.

          Outside of college, where I live now is the “whitest” area I’ve ever lived in.

          As to your point about gentrification, one way to combat gentrification (if you view it as wholly bad and worth combatting… I look at it on a case-by-case basis and find it largely a mixed-bag) is to frequent the locally owned shops in those neighborhoods.


        • We’ll brunch in Detroit I guess.

          Oh, snap! Dude I have been in Detroit–not brunch, but dinner. I don’t know if you’re a racist, but you are a small-minded person willing to make judgements on very little evidence.


      • Jazzy, we’ve lived in many of the same places!

        Actually, it occurs to me that I haven’t lived is a majority white neighborhood in 18 years. Not Compton, but usually majority minority.


        • See my comment above, Rose.  I’ve tended to be in white majority neighborhoods, but always with extensive diversity.  It is one of my biggest qualms with where we are now, to be honest.


          • What Scott is saying is the U-Street (and probably also Columbia Heights) is no longer a “black neighborhood” (w/ scare quotes) with all the hipsters and yuppies that have moved in there.  In contrast to say, Anacostia or Congress Heights.


          • Tod:

            Personally I don’t consider it a “black” neighborhood.  Yes, once upon a time it was but with all the commercial redevelopment and immigrants, no so much these days, kind of like Adams Morgan. If you want to see a scary “black” neighborhood get on the Metro’s Green Line and go to SE DC, maybe Anacostia, and see how long a  white person lasts.


            • I’ll ask because I don’t want people to read into your comment what isn’t there…  This is just a point about the demographics of the one neighborhood Jason was talking about, and not an argument that black neighborhoods are inherently scary – yes?


              • Tod:

                I saw Jason’s comparison of U Street to Compton (in Spokker comment) to be ridiculous.  U Street is not a black neighborhood and I would go there anytime of day to eat but I would never go to Compton to eat .


                • What about Columbia Heights?  It is 43.5% African-American as of 2010; the next largest group is Hispanics, at 28.1%.  Whites make up 5.4%.
                  And while U Street has seen some demographic shifts, to deny it as a black neighborhood is an insult. The U Street Corridor (and greater neighborhood of Shaw) are important spots in African-American history in DC.  Simply because they don’t feature gangland drive-bys and the types of blacks that Derbyshire imagines almost all blacks to be doesn’t make it any less of a “black neighborhood”.

                  This is such specious reasoning…

                  “Don’t go to black neighborhoods.”

                  “X is a black neighborhood and I go there routinely without incident.”

                  “X isn’t a real black neighborhood.”


                  “Because it is not the type of neighborhood I’d tell you to stay out of.”


                  •  Simply because they don’t feature gangland drive-bys and the types of blacks that Derbyshire imagines almost all blacks to be doesn’t make it any less of a “black neighborhood”.

                    Come now, Kazzy, my old friend, don’t you know that the defining characteristic of blackness is violence?  Fortunately, some blacks are sufficiently white that they can be properly socialized, and if you collect them into a neighborhood, it becomes white.

                    You’re the true racist because you can’t see past skin color in recognizing who’s black and who’s not!


                  • For the sake of understanding what someone is trying to say, it’s probably often safe to assume that when someone says “black neighborhood” they mean “dangerous, black neighborhood.”

                    The fact that this assumption is safe, and that we can assume that the speaker equates black with dangerous and that he assumes that we do the same, is a significant problem. This is where yes, saying these thoughts out loud is a whole lot worse than thinking them privately, because you’re perpetuating the stereotype that contains more false positives than actual positives. The only way in which saying it is better is that people can be called out on it. So saying it out loud, and then complaining about being called out on it, makes zero sense.

                    Even someone who is petulantly anti-PC should be able to see this. Even someone like me – who will be called a racist around here before too long if I stick around – can see it.


                • Help a yuppie hipster out, will ya?  I just don’t know what to do anymore.

                  Because if I avoid black neighborhoods — which is what conservatives do proudly, and what liberals do secretly and hypocritically — then that’s bad.  Bad, bad, bad!

                  But if I go to a black neighborhood a lot, if I buy from black businesses, if I move in because I like it so much there… well, that’s gentrification, and that’s terrible too.  (And thanks for mentioning it:  I used to live in Southeast DC.)



                  • Sorites.

                    If you like it so much that you fix up a place and move there, good for you.

                    If so many well-off people do the same that the people who made the neighborhood what it was can’t afford it anymore and have to move away, much less good.  Not just for them, but for you.


                  • Jason, you vile hipster, what you don’t perceive is that you /are/ the problem.   I used to live in Old Town Chicago.   I drank coffee in an all night restaurant below a ratty old SRO called the Hotel Lincoln, chock full of disturbing (and disturbed!) people one step from a vacation to Anatole France’s park bench.

                    The next thing I knew, vile hipsters, very much like unto your self, began to move into Old Town!   Me, I was no vile hipster, I was just writing some software.   If I hung out at the jazz club up the street and availed myself of Trendy Haircuts on Clark, I had to, simply to avoid looking like a chump at Smart Bar.

                    But I have seen your kind, hanging around, slumming and spending money, not so secretly gentrifying Old Town.   I dare say you’re up to no good, even now, like as not you’re gentrifying your own area.  You even admit as much.   Do try to avoid patronising black businesses, you’re only damaging the financial ecosystem of the slum.   Soon enough, the landlords will raise the rent on those black businesses, driving them into some other godawful part of the landscape.   Worse, they might remain and start stocking Vile Hipster products.   Which will only accelerate the process!


            • Well, there is a bit of relativity here… “The talk” says to stay out of “heavily black neighborhoods”.  I know many people who consider more than a handful of black people a “heavily black neighborhood”.  And many of the immigrants in those areas are black (or more accurately identify as “African” but certainly present as being black).

              The point is that telling someone to stay out of a “heavily black neighborhood” is silly, given the great range of “heavily black neighborhoods”.  Pennsylvania Avenue is now a “heavily black neighborhood”… should his kids avoid that?

              There is nothing wrong with telling a child to avoid dangerous areas.  Telling a child that black = dangerous is silly.  Not only because there are plenty of “heavily black neighborhoods” that are safe AND have amazing opportunities to offer, but it also fails to alert them to the “heavily white neighborhoods” of which they should be weary.  I have never feared for my life like the time when I was in Moosehead Lake, Maine (a rural region of a 98% white state) and had to deal with two drunk locals cruising around in their pickup truck, shotgun rack full, using racial epithets.  That felt like a far more dangerous situation than any time I’ve been in a neighborhood (including some of the ones you mentioned in SE DC) that was heavily or almost entirely black.

              Furthermore, if you are simply going to disqualify any neighborhood with a strong black presence as not really being the type of neighborhood that he was referring to, than his comment ceases to have any meaning and is, again, exposed for the racist nonsense that it is.


              • Pennsylvania Avenue is now a “heavily black neighborhood”… should his kids avoid that?

                Well I did hear about this one guy who lives there who is ‘Commander in Chief’ of a lot of scary men with guns.


            • I had never heard of Anacostia before this but about ten seconds googling turned up this article, it mainly criticises another story I’m not familiar with but the take away quote for now has to be.

              White people are moving into Anacostia. So are black people. So are Asian people, Middle Eastern people, gay people, straight people, and every other mix.

              I’d also note that by his own description the author is a white person who has lived in that area and was working there at the time of writing (February 2011).

              Now if a Brit whose first hand experience of American culture is limited to 24 hours in Manhattan between flights can find that I have to ask if you’re even trying here.


              • Matty:

                Considering that I grew up in the D.C. area, we moved there in 1979, I know what the fish I’m talking about.  If all these new folks are moving into SE DC that will help the crime rate but they still let Marion S. Barry, Jr. represent them.  When I was growing up there, there weren’t any white faces in SE.  In the early 90’s I used to go to SE DC with some good friend to go to this gay dance club. The neighborhood was crap but you were safe right around the club.  Everyone knew not to stray too far away b/c you would get robbed.


            • If you want to see a scary “black” neighborhood get on the Metro’s Green Line and go to SE DC, maybe Anacostia, and see how long a  white person lasts.

              Dude, I take that trip several times a month by either Metro or bicycle to get to and from work. Guess what? Still here.


              • I used to take the green line everyday for many years never had any problems also lived H street NE before all the new restaurants and bars again I had no problems, ok no more than when I lived on capitol Hill in Denver when it was economically depressed


              • DD:

                If I could afford a nice house in a wealthy black neighborhood with good schools in PG County, MD I would be happy to live there. If you are in my socio-economic class I don’t care what your color is.


                • So the key question, Scott, is whether that wealthy black neighborhood is in fact a “black” neighborhood?  If it is, why would anyone warn their kids to stay out of it?


    • Spokker,

      One time, circa 1993 (about one year after the Rodney King riots), I had time to kill so I decided to drive from my work place in the Valley to downtown L.A. without getting on a freeway.  At one point I got lost and couldn’t pick out any landmarks to guide my way.  I also noticed that I was in an area hard hit by the riots–every block had at least one, usually more, buildings that had been burned out.  I was the only non-black person around.  So I rolled down my window at a stop light and called out to the young guys in the car next to me, “Hey, I’m trying to get to downtown, can you help me out?”  At first they looked startled, and then they said, “yeah go up about two lights, take a left, then look for something-or-other street, make a left there, etc. etc.”

      They didn’t kill me, rob me, flash gang signs at me, spit in my face, tell me to get the fuck out their neighborhood, or anything like that.  They just gave me accurate directions.

      That’s been my experience more often than not as a white guy wandering through black urban America….and I say that as someone who was once the victim of a serious racially motivated attack.  So if you really want to have lunch in Compton, let’s get together next time I’m in L.A. visiting my in-laws.


      • My Dad used to be a truck mechanic in Philadelphia, and he had pretty much the same experience.  When you’re driving through a run-down area and there’s crowds of people who are most definitely Not Like You staring at your truck, it’s pretty scary.  When you actually go and talk to these people, they’re pretty much just like any other group of people approached by a nonthreatening stranger; not exactly buddy-buddy, but not unfriendly either.


      • …and this is how we know that you haven’t been lost in some of the bad places. When you start seeing caltrops (or spikes on boards)…. then it’s time to skedaddle and ask no questions.

        (Most places ain’t that desperate. Most places are pretty nice. The ones that aren’t? Time to run).


    • “It has always been interesting to me that many of the problems black face are said to be economical, yet nobody has ever taken me up on my offer to go and have lunch in Compton, CA and spend some money in that local economy. “

      The obvious rejoinder to this would be:

      A. If that is really the case (never been to Compton, so don’t know), why would Derbyshire (and, presumably, you – but apologies in advance if I’m reading too much into your comment) not tell his children to avoid high crime areas? Why go with the “wherever black people live/gather?”  Your response to other commenters while defending Derbyshire, as they cite other black neighborhoods they live near by that they aren’t afraid of, seems to be along the lines of, “well those neighborhoods aren’t bad like Compton, they’re just fine” – which kind of undermines the whole argument that black neighborhoods are inherently bad, yes?

      B. We have a city in Oregon, Klamath Falls, that is mostly white that has fallen on some pretty hard economic times.  (Ex-timber town and all.)  No one from California ever offers to go there and spend money to improve its economy, but we Oregonians never say they shouldn’t be allowed to voice their opinions about X.  Why should I be required to drive down to Compton to spend money to be able to make a judgement about something anyone says about anything?  Or, to put it differently, how is this argument relevant to anything?


    • Shoot me a mail at jhlipton [at] yahoo.  I’m not that far away and would enjoy meeting another OG.  I’m one of the flaming liberals, but I try not to push too hard.


  13. (10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway

    I assume this Mr Derbyshire is not a Christian since going by the original parable he is advocating not being a good Samaritan at all.


      • Good point, I kind of got that the wrong way round but still, the parable is about helping and being helped by those you see as the enemy. It simply wouldn’t work if the message was ‘only help people just like you’.


        • The parable of the Good Samaritan was not so much about helping strangers as about /who/ helped the man on the road.   It was told in answer to the question “Who is my neighbour?”

          We must see this parable in context:  Jesus had been asked (by his enemies, the legalists) “What must I do to obtain eternal life?”  Jesus replies, “What does the law say?” The legalist responds “You must love God with all your heart, soul and mind.  And you must love your neighbour as yourself.”   That’s when this question “Who is my neighbour” emerges, a defensive and rhetorical question from the legalist.

          The parable ends with Jesus asking a question:  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

          The legalist, too circumspect to actually say “The Samaritan” replies in a sleazy and disingenuous phrase “The one who had mercy on him.”    Jesus says “Go and do the same.”


      • If we were to transpose the racial standards of the time of Christ onto our times, the Good Samaritan would be black.

        In fact in the musical The Cotton Patch Gospel, that is exactly how Jesus tells the story.


  14. I don’t think what he did was racist. I think it was satire, and it pretty much says that on page one of the article:
    There is much talk about “the talk.”

    “Sean O’Reilly was 16 when his mother gave him the talk that most black parents give their teenage sons,” Denisa R. Superville of the Hackensack (NJ) Record tells us. Meanwhile, down in Atlanta: “Her sons were 12 and 8 when Marlyn Tillman realized it was time for her to have the talk,” Gracie Bonds Staples writes in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

    Leonard Greene talks about the talk in the New York Post. Someone bylined as KJ Dell’Antonia talks about the talk in The New York Times. Darryl Owens talks about the talk in the Orlando Sentinel.

    Yes, talk about the talk is all over.

    There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too.

    From there, it gets blatantly racist; so over-the-top that it’s nonsense.

    I have to wonder about how you would feel about this were it to appear in The Onion rather than National Review.

    Personally, I think he’s making a salient point about race-based fear, and how we see that as acceptable on the part of minorities.


    • Will-

      I would be sympathetic to this point if he demonstrated even a passing knowledge of “the talk”.  He doesn’t.  Perhaps there is much to criticize about black or other parents of color giving “a talk”.  But he doesn’t do that.  If this is satire, it is based on a presumption that the experiences of black people in this country are equal and identical to those of white people.  Thus, black parents giving “a talk” makes it perfectly acceptable for white parents to give an equal but opposite “talk” of their own. If that is his presumption, he would do well to declare it explicitly, at which point we could have a conversation about the legitimacy of such a stance (I find it wholly illegitimate but am open to contrasting views).  If he wanted to discuss and even criticize “the talk” than he should have done that.  What he did doesn’t.  It is more white victimization whining of the “But black people do it!” variety, only without the substance of even naming or describing what it is that black people do, outside of a couple of quotes that offer no detail.

      If it was satire, it was piss poor on all fronts.  Satire is different than mocking.


      • Not to mention “The Talk” by black parents is about the police, not all white people in general, while Derbyshire’s racist rant is about all black people.


        • oooh!  OOHH!  I can dogwhistle!

          “When black people say ‘police’, there’s always an implied ‘white police’, because most police officers in America are white!”


            • I should clarify this, as it implies much more than I intended.

              I should have said… Talk to a person and they will likely tell you that abuse and mistreatment from police officers tends to be evenly distributed amongst officers of all races/ethnicities.


        • I had a passing conversation about “the talk” with some-of-my-best-friends-are-black and he mentioned the “work twice as hard to get half the recognition” portion. It’s not just about the cops.


    • You’re right, this thing would work in the Onion.  (esp the parts at the end about ‘some of my best friends are black’).

      Except, as copiously discussed in this thread, the strain of thought is not new to Derbyshire, and there’s ample precedent to show, No, He’s Not Kidding.


      • The comment isn’t satire.
        I admit, I didn’t click on any of the links in the piece, and I didn’t read it all.
        I don’t care to. I’ve seen enough.
        Maybe there’s more to it; in which case, the man would be pretty sick.
        But I see it as a satire piece, and a fairly over-the-top one at that.
        It makes no sense otherwise.


        • “But I see it as a satire piece, and a fairly over-the-top one at that.
          It makes no sense otherwise.”

          I don’t agree with this conclusion, but I greatly – greatly – empathize with the thinking behind it.


        • It actually does make sense, if you are willing to accept the conclusion that Derbyshire really is that racist.  It’s one thing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and another entirely to adopt a “see no evil” approach.


          • It’s not all that.
            There’s a difference between offensive and racist.
            Ted Danson’s blackface routine was offensive.
            Doesn’t make it racist.
            I see this as the same category.


              • I’ve already said that I think this is satire.
                For you to pull any single statement from the piece to say it’s not funny doesn’t alter my opinion.
                I have been the subject of enough racism and bigotry that I am very aware that it exists, although the existence of it in print doesn’t concern me so much.
                Print is easy to outrun.


                  • I’ve heard that, and I clicked on the link below, and I couldn’t find any statement.
                    And to be clear: I think that most people are a bit racist. Clannish, if you will. I that a lot, because I travel from place to place and I work with people from all over the country.
                    But if this guy is racist to that extent, then he needs to be called on it rather than censured.
                    At its base, racism is a form of ignorance. I think it’s inappropriate to presume stupidity where one encounters ignorance.
                    I would rather see him explain where he came up with these ideas.
                    From what I understand, from reading here, the writer is from England. It would be good to see if this is a view that is widespread among the English concerning American society.
                    It could just be the product of insularity or buying into media stereotypes.
                    From my view, rage is every bit as blind and unthinking as racism, and I want no part of it. I don’t see it as particularly productive.
                    If this is a blatant case of racism (and it’s beginning to look like it is), then there is still something to be gained from that, if we approach it in that manner.
                    And from the bulk of what I’ve read here (which was really my source for finding this story, as I’m not inclined to read National Review or any other thing Derbyshire has written), there is only a slim chance that any productive approach might be taken.
                    Rage wins.
                    Trade one form of insanity for another.


                    • From the link: ThinkProgress reached out to Derbyshire to verify that the column was not meant to be satire. “I’d call it ‘social commentary,’” he said.

                      If you want to see where he came up with the ideas, the HBDsphere has the 411. Steve Sailer or Half Sigma. Derbyshire isn’t saying anything that they haven’t been going on about for years.


                    • It’s not something I really run into, but it’s a pretty dumb observation. Being from the south, but not really having an accent or otherwise being considered a “credit to my people” when people know of my roots, I do hear a number of ignorant generalizations of it and do not usually respond favorably (particularly when made by outsiders).


                    • It is fairly bizarre.
                      And I suppose a better example would be white supremacist militia groups.

                      And so why does it strike so few as being a bit of a stretch to read Derbyshire and come to the conclusion, “Conservatives believe _____.”

                      I see something of a rush to paint with a broad brush.
                      I could be wrong.


                    • @Will:
                      I was up in Wisconsin, working on a project with 5600 people. And I work with people from all over the US, and a few Canadians, Germans, and Japanese.
                      I was standing around talking with some local hands one day, and a fellow asked me, “Now where’s that accent from?”
                      I was at first dumbfounded. I was thinking, “I’m one of only about 5 people on this job that doesn’t have an accent!”
                      But I never forgot that the guy from Wisconsin asking me about my accent.


                    • AS I noted in the OP, I agree with you about the connection being a fallacious one.  However, in my liberal friends defense, I don’t think many of them think such things because of people like Derbyshire.  I think they do because so often when someone like Derbyshire (I’m thinking Limbaugh is a good example here) says something inappropriate, conservatives tend to circle the wagons and claim the inappropriate thing was a perfectly defensible thing to say.

                      Having said that, kudos to the conservatives on the Derbyshire mess.  By and large, they seemed to step up and say a line was crossed.  I have been most pleased at the reaction.


                    • @Blaise:
                      No, but people seem to take offense if I try to talk about drug dependency in the military. It’s a big problem with the Afghan vets.
                      I had an apprentice that I was training, and I cared for him as if he were my own son. He had grown dependent on opiates after being wounded in Afghanistan. He came home with a bad addiction, and took to the streets to satisfy the needs once the medication ran out.
                      There was another fellow on that same job, a paratrooper with a back injury, that had his happy pills that he took to go numb. A bit inadvisable when working from heights.
                      I think it has to do with the way that the military doctors treat people.
                      But there’s definitely a problem there, and no one really wants to talk about it.

                      But really, I was getting at the idea that sometimes people like to over-generalize a bit when it suits their narrative.
                      It works in the reverse as well: To bring up drug dependency in the military is often seen as a statement that all vets are dope addicts.


                    • @Tod:
                      Maybe I’m just a bit overly cynical, but I see NR’s move as a CYA maneuver.
                      I would like to see the man called to defend these views, if he was at all serious.


                    • Drug dependency is one of those issues which gets me all rantiferous.  As you say, anyone using opiates for pain will become addicted.   Fact of life, independent of anyone’s moral and ethical principles.  Take the stigma of addiction out of the picture, get them into treatment, wean them off the drugs, keep them off the streets.   There’s one area where generalisation really does serve the better good:  anyone can become an addict if they’ve spent enough time on pain meds.

                      The military medical system is overwhelmed with returning veterans’ problems.   There’s important neurobiological research which points to the effects of life-threatening stress on the hippocampus.  Stress damages our brains, right down to the neurons.   Living things evolved a stress response to avoid predators.   Stress served a purpose.   What do we do with stress in a veteran who gets on the plane, gets into civilian clothes and tries to re-enter “normal” society?    He’s not merely taking Happy Pills, he’s still Very Stressed and Unhappy.   It’s a coping mechanism:  one we routinely impose on ourselves, the most overmedicated society in history.

                      We don’t do the veterans any favours by trying to make either heroes or villains out of them.    A whole bunch of patriotically-inclined people enlisted after 9/11.   Ten, eleven years on, six, seven rotations into combat later, they’re worn out, as likely to jam and fail as the weapons they’ve been firing and the vehicles they’ve been driving.   Nobody can cope with that level of stress.   At least SF discourages its members from getting married:  they know the survival rate of those marriages and the concomitant stress of trying to maintain a relationship over the phone.

                      Veterans appear in the ranks of the homeless, far out of proportion to their numbers in society at large.   There’s no fixing some of these people.   They’re broken and like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and all the king’s psychiatrists and pharmacists can’t put SSGT Dumpty back together again.   The tsunami of mental illness is just now appearing offshore and will inundate us all, shortly.   That blanket statement is true beyond any attempt to deny it.


                    • I’m happy to see that we are in agreement, for the most part.
                      I question whether or not something can be done for some of these homeless vets, and I’m not ready to accept that the answer is, “No.” At this point, I think it is imperative to make every effort.

                      When I read through your comment, in my mind I immediately turned it into a greater issue of untreated mental illness. It’s a lot more common in our society than most people would care to admit; from data I’ve seen, something like 20%.
                      For example, in the past week, there was a thread where someone felt that I was being anti-female, and denigrating normal healthy sexual function, when in fact the women I was referring to are by and large incapable of normal healthy sexual function.
                      Inordinate promiscuity is often a sign of untreated mental illness. If coupled with alcoholism or substance abuse issues, it’s something like 80% likely that this is the case. If you add a history of abusive relationships, regardless of which party was the abuser, it is practically a certainty. There is no normanl healthy sexual function under such circumstances.

                      I don’t think all vets are addicts, and I hate being portrayed in that way.
                      From what I can tell, vets with addiction issues tend to hide it better than other addicts. This too might betray some predetermined concept of addicts to which I am disposed to. I don’t know.

                      Granted, I am not inclined to view racism as the basis of action for most people. I consider the prospect ludicrous. And yet, it is clear that racism is still widespread. I prefer to reserve judgment, and especially when I have little information concerning the particulars.
                      As with the issue of institutional racism among the police in Sanford, Fl., I have no knowledge of this. I believe the people there are better able to determine this than I am. I believe the black community there is more inclined to think so; and at the same time, I believe that they are more likely to speak concerning perceptions and fear. I believe the truth likely resides somewhere between the two extremes.

                      Which would indicate that generalization can be a useful tool to understanding if undertaken properly. It can also be a useful tool for obfuscating a matter beyond any degre of understanding. In the application of a tool, we find its value.

                      In the one instance referred to above, the young man is about to be married. The young woman had been abusing drugs as well, and the relationship had become abusive. The whole situation is about to get a lot worse. It’s a train wreck in slow motion.
                      And frankly, I bawled like a baby for a bit before I sat to write this reply. At this point, I’m unsure if it was from concern for my apprentice, or just that I despise my own powerlessness to intervene in some meaningful way. I would give my life to save that kid, and I almost did the one day, but I got us both out of there, even though I had to yell at him a bit to get him moving. Sometimes there’s no time to explain things when giving direction.

                      There was a message in all of that somewhere, but I feel overtaken with a heavy heart.
                      I’m sorry, but I believe I have said all that I have to say for now.


          • I don’t live on the internet.
            I have other things to do.
            I really don’t find it to be that interesting.
            I gave my assessment after skimming through the material.
            I don’t believe it warrants more attention from me than that.
            If that’s not honest enough for you, then at least give me the benefit of the doubt and take up the remainder of my share.


        • This is certainly not satire. The opinions expressed in the piece are views that the Derbyshire has articulated before, and line up with sentiments that I have heard expressed by a depressing amount of people in the South (usually, though not always, by conservatives). Go to small town KY and ask some of the older locals what their opinion of Louisville is. People that make broad, far reaching distinctions based on race and ethnicity still exist, and it does little to no good to pretend that there views are not honestly held.


    • People who’ve worked with Derbyshire for years and know him better than any of us do (Ponnuru, Lowry, Goldberg, etc.) think he’s quite serious. And if you check the comments at Taki’s Magazine, not one treats it as satire; the vast majority of them either agree or think he didn’t go far enough.


        • They wouldn’t be condemning Biden’s slurs qua slurs — they’d be saying “See?  Liberals are fishing hypocrites.  They get all holier-than-thou even though they believe exactly the same things we do.”


          • Yes, this. What they wouldn’t do, at least initially, is argue that liberals engage in racism (even while they’re the real racists!) since the whole strategy is to deny that such racism exists, and because of this the accusation is always without merit.


        • Check out the comments at a Daily Caller piece that condemns Derbyshire: just as bad.  Funny how when you race-bait for a living, saying “but this is going too far” doesn’t work.


          • Wow.   Just…  wow.

            What I find astounding is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone – anyone! – in the DC community to say anything other than Lewis is a traitor, or blacks aren’t all just as Derbyshire suggests.

            I find myself wondering what, exactly, Lewis makes of this?


            • i think lewis is considering how he can un-break his base.  already the base of the republicans are more or less broken with the party people(see Romney, Mitt) and now the party people are having to say that derbs has gone so far over the edge that even NR cant keep him in-house now.  and judging from the comments on DC and Redstate the base thinks the “Reasonable voices” in their party are stupid not to see how this is not at all racist.  this is just the truth to that part of the base that still views being black as a precursor to being a thug.  and I hope that having this kind of thinking exposed to light and oxygen will cause it to wither and die.


              then again i could be wrong about all of this.  maybe derbs is just a super secret Deep Cover Liberal who has been using his entire life to make conservative thought look racist.  but I have never seen his name on my copy of “Secret Operatives” my local politburo puts out, so i think that’s just unlikely.


      • I’m willing to accept that others might be more informed on the matter.
        That being the case, it is up to them to take appropriate action.
        Doesn’t really bother me if it’s racist or not.
        I don’t have to read it.
        But they do have to live with him.

        And by “Doesn’t really bother me if it’s racist or not,” I mean exactly that.
        It doesn’t matter if some guy is a wacko, and it doesn’t really matter what his political affiliation is, anymore than people are concerned about the voter registration card of the Unabomber.
        Big deal.
        If that’s the most in-your-face type of racism that someone has to deal with, I think they’re doing pretty good.
        And I’m not under the impression that barring this man from publication is going to stop racism once and for all any more than making a big deal out of it is.

        People are wrong on a number of things every day, and I don’t care to grade them.
        I would rather look for points of agreement.
        If this man is serious about this business, that doesn’t mean that I can’t work with him.
        I still have to talk with people that think that maintaining military bases around the world is a good idea.
        If that were the case, and I had to speak to him personally, I would try to steer the conversation to other topics.

        I don’t pretend to know everything.


    • “I don’t think what he did was racist. I think it was satire…”

      I’ve read lots of people who work with and hang out with Jonathan Swift, and they all think he’s totally serious about that Ireland thing.


        • I could still see that as being a defense of something intended satirically.

          I do think, though, that it’s entirely possible to blow your delivery so badly that something intended as biting satire just comes out as horribly insulting, and that a professional on Derbyshire’s level should be able to recognize when he is blowing it that badly, and abort the mission before launch, sort of thing.  I am not going to believe that it was intended to be taken 100% seriously–although he clearly feels that There Is A Lot Of Truth In It, with the capital letters and everything–but so total a failure of craft is certainly deserving of censure.


  15. “It seems so clear to me that if the right as a whole is going to shed the reputation it absolutely has (and by and large does not deserve) on these fronts, it needs to be willing to stand up and be counted when lines are crossed, or at the very least to not defend them.”


    No: this reputation is ENTIRELY deserved.  The Right traffics in, and benefits from, wholesale racism on a regular basis.  Pretending otherwise does no one any favors.  In fact, you are effectively defending the Right from necessary criticism on race when you make entirely false claims of this sort.


  16. Yes this is a racist rant.

    I agree with you that “that conservatives do an unbelievably bad job and policing their own when in come to racism (or sexism)”.

    Which implies, contrary to what you claim, that conservatives perfectly deserve the bad reputation they have regarding racism and sexism, and they will deserve it as long as they don’t seriously start policing their own.


    • “conservatives do an unbelievably bad job and policing their own…”

      Do not start this line of discussion, because it invariably leads to “what about so-and-so” “well he’s not important/influential/significant/really-an-x” and doesn’t go anywhere.

      Besides which, it assumes that there’s some kind of overarching control scheme to any of this, like there’s some office in Boise or someplace where the Republican Governing Council meets and sets policy that everyone else follows.


        • well that is because conservative thought is transmitted by money. which is why people tend to be more conservative once they have more money.  because once you make enough of the green mind control rectangles you lose you free will and the money-mind thinks all of your thoughts for you.

          the message machine seems to work fine for republican.  and now they have ALEC to make sure all the laws the party passes from state to state are the same.  i tell ya as a liberal i wish we had our own shady council to unite all our policy goals in one easy to fund/bribe place.  i feel left out in that way.


          • That’s an understandable sentiment, but as the observer looks up the financial pyramid, Liberals and Conservatives appear with roughly equal frequency.   Often, it’s the people at the bottom who most loudly proclaim themselves Conservative.  But then again, poor people play the lottery:  anyone with two semesters of algebra knows better than to put money on those odds.

            The stupid are not swayed by the evidence, especially not numerical evidence.   Statistics is frankly beyond them and any statement based on meaningful statistics and probability is always sneered at by such as these.    Today’s Conservative is swayed by Us Versus Them arguments:  case in point, reducing Obama’s proposed single payer system to Communism.  That every check they will ever write or debit card transaction goes through the exact same sort of system is beyond them.

            It takes more education to be a Liberal: our abstract causes, as I’ve often said, are embodied in some awful people, especially the rights of prisoners.

            Would that the message of Conservatism, that is to say a pared-down, powerful and efficient government, were transmitted by Money, for we would have a very different sort of Conservative to deal with as Liberals.   Any person of means understands money and its power.   Our problem, as Liberals, is that we attack each other with more ferocity than the Conservatives could ever muster up to that fight, preferring the Perfect to the Good, the Large Jump to the Small Improvement.


  17. The interesting thing is that while Derbyshire went a bit overboard, he is mostly is guilty of saying out loud the things that liberals think and do in their own lives all the time. Come on, it’s not as if large numbers of white liberals go out of their way to frequent majority black neighborhoods or events, to help stranded black motorists on the highway, etc. Go to inner city schools in inner-city DC and Chicago and Atlanta — those schools wouldn’t be so overwhelmingly black unless white liberals were very careful to avoid all of those neighborhoods and schools.


    • How much of this is due to what you imply, and how much is due to other factors?  In my city, there are several economically poor neighborhoods.  Most of them are mostly white (due to my city’s mostly white pollution).  I almost never spend time in any of those neighborhoods.  I do not, however, jump from that observation to telling my children to avoid going to places where white people gather.

      But this comment sort of underlines the main point in the OP: that for too many conservatives, there is far too much urgency to find a way to disregard anything a liberal says, and not enough urgency to just say “That was a terrible thing to say” about one of their own.

      I mean, seriously, you read this article by this well known conservative – which is so offensive, it’s being condemned by his fellow writers at NRO – and the only conclusion you can come to about this article is how prejudiced liberals are when it comes to black people?


      • Sure, the column was offensive at times, but I believe that much of the offense that people take is due to guilt and shame over their own behavior and secret thoughts.

        Here’s a shorter version of reality:

        Liberals and respectable conservatives’ secret thoughts: “I’d never move to that black neighborhood.”

        Derbyshire says this out loud.

        Liberals and respectable conservatives profess extreme outrage that someone would say this, because they prefer to tell themselves that they live and send their kids to schools solely for other reasons, and it makes them feel guilty to hear their real motivations expressed out loud.

        They’ll never admit this, of course.  It’s like the secretly gay congressman who loudly proclaims his adherence to traditional family values.



        • Even if I agreed with this premise (and I don’t), I think you’re you’re having to take a pretty purposefully narrow slice of Derbyshire’s article to get there. To read what he wrote and come away concluding that the point of it is Derbyshire doesn’t want to move into an all black neighborhood is some highly selective cherry picking, is it not?


    • “he is mostly is guilty of saying out loud the things that liberals think and do in their own lives all the time.”

      The Silent Moral Majority, right?


  18. In this one comment I detect the Liberal’s are the Real Racists meme, the Liberal’s Do It Too So They Should Just Shaddup! meme,  and the Hypocrisy is Worse Than Racism meme.

    Well done!!


    • Of course there’s racism. The thing is, the word has an actual meaning. It’s not just a magic word you can use to delegitimize the opposition, which is how the left usually uses it. I was, frankly, shocked to find that Derbyshire’s column actually was racist, because I’m so used to the left using bullshit accusations of racism as a rhetorical tactic.


  19. This, from a font-pager over at RedState:

    “… I can say that [Lowry’s] response to this fracas last night, which sought to distance National Review from the controversy but didn’t declare that National Review was ending its relationship with Derbyshire, showed an absolute lack of leadership and conviction, as does the fact that Derbyshire has been continually allowed to write there for the last several years despite ample evidence of his racism … The longer this drags on without a definitive severing of the relationship, the more damage will be done to National Review. I cannot imagine what sort of deliberation is required to make this decision, but I hope, for National Review’s sake, that it can be completed before the weekend is over.”

    Now take a gander at thread comments.

    I do not believe that conservatives themselves are innately racist. However, conservative movers and shakers on the whole have long tolerated and, when deemed expedient, exploited this monster. (By monster, I mean racism … not Derbyshire. Though from a parenting perspective, I’m inclined to think he’s kind of a monster too.)


    • I see your point, and Mike Schilling just linked to commentary following what I thought was a killer post by Matt Lewis over a the Daily Caller that are of a similar stock.

      But here’s what I’m unsure of…

      Is this reaction based more on unthinking racism, or is it based more on unthinking tribalism – that knee jerk reaction that Derbyshire is the enemy of my enemy and therefore I must declare him right and his detractors traitorous?  (Not that the latter is any better than the former.)

      As I said in the OP, it would be easier for me to start wearing the “Conservatives are Racist” t-shirts if I actually knew conservatives from my actual life that are racists, or believe any of this crap – but I don’t.  Now, maybe that’s a function of me living in Portland, OR, and being blessed to be blogging with quality conservatives like Dwyer, Truman and Kowal, but until I experience these thing in the people I actually commune with, I’m not willing to go too far out on that limb.


      • Derbyshire is hardly an unthinking racist, nor is he alone.   Look at the comments on the RoidState site:  the usual nonsense about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and other Pander Bears is trotted out, as it always is on such occasions.

        Don’t mind anything Leon H (Huff-n-Puff) Wolf has to say.   His fulsome praise for Marco Rubio, a great liar and embellisher of his Cuban exile credentials, is a bit nauseating.   For that matter, does anyone take RoidState seriously on any subject?   RoidState reminds me of a brick I used to have on the far end of a bookshelf.   Somewhere along the way, one of a pair of bookends got lost.   Unwilling to throw away the remaining bookend, I put a brick at the other end.

        Whenever some particularly grotesque incident seems to afflict the Right Wing, lo, folks go rushing off to RoidState to see what they might have to say.   It is the only explanation for that bulbous fathead Erick Erickson’s appearance on CNN.   I can hear the lazy line producer yelling at his staff, “see if you can book Al Sharpton — and get Erickson’s dead ass into a limousine and into Studio 3.”   Never mind that eleventy-dozen other talking heads might have something interesting to say, drawn like so many midges to the back door light, CNN et. al. seek to be Fair and Balanced in their coverage — by putting two manifestly unbalanced types on the schizophrenic split screen of Info-Tainment. And thirty seconds before showtime, there’s Erickson’s brick head on the studio monitor. Bring up split on video console, Erickson right.


        • Actually, I included the RedState link simply as another example of the professional right’s indignation over Derbyshire’s screed. I mean, this is new, that the right is taking one of its own so thoroughly to task.

          The point, however, is that it doesn’t really matter that the right’s chattering class is [finally] excoriating Derbyshire, because rank and file conservatives are having none of it.


          • When I was in college I joined a left-leaning political club that two guys I knew from my freshman dorm started.  It was mostly a group that protested various things at the University that you could attach the word “hegemony” to.  I remember after it had been going for about four months, it had grown significantly and there was a meeting where our fearless leaders were talking about how most of the Universities department heads were men, and how that was a sign of unacceptable sexism.  Out of nowhere, the discussion among the members veered towards our own group, and the sexist hegemony inherent in a political action group that was lead by two guys.  Very, very quickly the group turned on the organizers and began saying really hostile things toward them, and by the end of the meeting they had been banned, and replaced by two other guys that had most vocally complained that the first two guys were guys.  And I remember the looks on the original leaders’ faces when they walked out of the coffee shop we used for our meetings – it was kind of a, “holy crap, what the hell just happened?” look.

            When I read the commenters at Daily Caller and Red State turn so viscously against the bloggers who were saying that Derbyshire was out of line, I think about that night.


            • Shades of the French Revolution!

              Tod, were you in the freshman dorm on Moss St., near the Williams Bakery?  I used to live right across from that one–I hated the first weekend of fall term.


              • It was right across from the bakery.  THe first night we are there, we snuck over to the bakery and discovered that they kept the side door propped open for ventilation.  So we sprinted in, grabbed a loaf of hot white bread off the converter belt, and took it back to our dorm room to eat.  It might have been the best tasting bread I’ve ever had, despite the fact that it was crappy Franz white bread.


                • All right, we were close neighbors, if separated in time.  We were the last house at the end of the cul de sac–you probably can’t picture it, but if you were like a lot of other students, you probably cut through the yard next to ours, walking along our fence line (well, someone else’s fenceline at the time).

                  Great story about the bread.  I wish I’d thought of doing that.


            • When I came back to the USA on leave from my first set of adventures in uniform, I was pestered by various well-meaning types who wanted to know what was going on in SE Asia.   I told them plainly, “This war is based on a pack of lies.   The press is lying to you.   The USA is backing the wrong side in this war:  a bunch of corrupt Catholics against an essentially Buddhist population.   We’re driving the Vietnamese people into the hands of the Communists.   The only people on our side all hate the Vietnamese.  We’re using racism as a tool of war.”

              I might as well have delivered myself of an enormous stinky turd on the floor of this very-conservative college student union, which had wished me well on my enlistment.   Quite a sendoff I got, back then.   A somewhat less-friendly reception followed upon my return.


            • There was a great Art Buchwald column — I wish I could find it online, but it goes kids of like this:

              The leader of the radical student group arrives at the meeting:

              “Hey, guys, thiis s going to be one kickass protest.  And you know what?  It’s my birthday too.”

              “Hey, that’s cool!  How old are you, man?”

              “I’m thirty.”

              “Thirty?  Get lost, you fascist pig!”


            • and by the end of the meeting they had been banned, and replaced by two other guys that had most vocally complained that the first two guys were guys.  And I remember the looks on the original leaders’ faces when they walked out of the coffee shop we used for our meetings – it was kind of a, “holy crap, what the hell just happened?” look.

              What a great story! Hope it’s okay that I had a healthy chuckle over it.
              I’m simply going to suggest (with tongue mostly planted in cheek) that your story speaks more to the general knuckleheadedness of young dudes rather than explain the ugly backlash we’re seeing on the right.

              On a serious note, though– as we’ve seen, there are some number of prominent conservatives who are genuinely appalled and embarrassed by Derbyshire’s views. But if this doesn’t spur a whole lot of introspection among these folks about modern conservatism and what it stands for, then I don’t know what would.


            • Salon had a piece several years ago about a group organizing an anti-rape rally. At some point, everything turned topsy-turvy and a group of people claimed that the whole thing was an exercise in racism because when people talked about rape, they were thinking of black men and white women and this all went back to racist fears of black sexuality and how rape was often used as a pretense to lynch black people. I believe in that case, too, there was a change in leadership.


        • No, Derbyshire isn’t alone. Back in the nineties, Jesse Jackson said this: There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down   the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look   around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been   through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.


      • I don’t at all think all conservatives are racists, and there are indeed socio-cultural factors that inform these views. But Conservatism’s intellectuals are responsible for this cancer in their movement. They’ve never tried to cut it out, they simply crafted a means of co-existing with it.

        I have some friends who are loyal GOP conservatives. I care about them a lot– we’ve been longtime friends for a host of reasons. While I’ve certainly butted heads with a few of them over the years, I’d be seriously shocked if, in polite company, they ever spewed anything that remotely echoed the racist sentiments of Derbyshire or his various apologists. But in all honesty, it would not surprise me if they anonymously blogged some less offensive version of it.

        Yes indeedy, I think your experience might have something to do with Portland’s air. ;)


        • The Conservatives, that is to say what passed for them in the era of Nixon, welcomed the Dixiecrats with open arms.   Their every statement about the nature of race relations in this country has been disingenuous in extremis, from top to bottom.   Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas either outright deny racism’s effects or in Clarence Thomas’ case, claim affirmative action actually harmed him.   From his dissent in Grutter, Thomas has the temerity to invoke the much reviled Plessy v Ferguson decision.

          For the immediate future, however, the majority has placed its imprimatur on a practice that can only weaken the principle of equality embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Equal Protection Clause. “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 527, 559

          The Constitution may be blind, but the rest of us are not.  The Conservatives are wilfully blind to the legacy of racism and the GOP confirms it by its every utterance.   When Congress had the opportunity to ensure the Separate but Equal provisions of Plessy were carried out, it didn’t and the racists made sure they weren’t.   When LBJ did ram through anti-discriminatory legislation, it cost the Democratic Party dearly.    Granted, the Dixiecrats who might have voted for a Democrat in the days of yore were no great loss but their legacy remains with us in the GOP’s obstreperous words and deeds, denying the obvious.


          • From his dissent in Grutter, Thomas has the temerity to invoke the much reviled Plessy v Ferguson decision.

            The line Thomas quoted is from Harlan’s dissent in Plessy, which dissent is anything but reviled.


                    • Clarence Thomas is Scalia’s ditto in all things with all the vehemence and none of Scalia’s intellect.   The only time Thomas wakes up in court is to have a knee-jerk reaction to any civil rights case, in the great tradition of Heroic Harlan.  All about equality in theory, nothing about equality in action.

                      Clarence Thomas seems intent upon burning the ladders up which he rose, erected against the bastions of the Good Old Boy network by the sacrifices of others.   A more grossly incompetent jurist cannot be imagined.

                      It’s good to see you ride to Clarence Thomas’ rescue.  Nobody else is, these days.   Well, there’s Hanley I suppose, but he’s of no account.   Let’s put Clarence Thomas’ quote from Heroic Harlan in context, and see how it reads:

                      The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty.  But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. It is therefore to be regretted that this high tribunal, the final expositor of the fundamental law of the land, has reached the conclusion that it is competent for a State to regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon the basis of race.

                      Regretted?   Harlan approves of equality before the law, but regrets that anyone can make a race-based decision.   Let us not dissect out that famous bit about our Color-Blind Constitution to the exclusion of the manifest statement about the superiority of the White Race which starts the paragraph.   Insofar as Harlan summoned up the great heritage of the White Race, the people Harlan wants to see on the train with Plessy were caretakers for white folks.

                      And there is this little bit in Harlan’s dissent.   Perhaps his defenders would care to make excuses for it:

                      There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race.

                      Harlan’s only problem with this state of affairs is to use the Chinese as an exception to the whites-only train car scheme.   Harlan’s main beef with Plessy is Louisiana’s attempt to defeat the Federal government’s laws passed during Occupation.

                      Well, nowadays, our Conservative buddies are variously for States’ Rights when it serves their purposes — or Federal jurisdiction when the states pass laws which don’t.   Their lip service to equality is as empty as Harlan’s.


                    • “It’s good to see you ride to Clarence Thomas’ rescue.  Nobody else is, these days.”

                      I’d like to also ride to his rescue.

                      Raich and Oregon were both very, very interesting opinions (and, lemme tell ya, *NOTHING* like Scalia’s). If agreeing with another justice is worth our scorn, let us heap it upon Souter and Ginsburg. Or Roberts and Alito.

                      Thomas, at least, has some principles mixed in with his barely suppressed rage.


                    • I ride to the rescue of reason and relevance.  Derbyshire has nothing to do with Clarence Thomas.

                      You also need to learn about dicta, the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down, and that its sincerity should never be taken for granted.  The wise man can also separate the wise idea from the person who said it.  It is a secret of good reasoning.


                    • Dicta are the gold foil wrappings labelled Dutch Chocolate around which the Dog Turds are wrapped.

                      When John Waters was making Pink Flamingos, someone thought to do the take in two shots. First the dog poops, then cut. Replace the real poop with fake poop, then Divine would eat it.

                      Waters knew nobody would buy it, saying “No. NO. Everybody would know we replaced the real shit for fake. Divine’s gotta scoop it right up still warm off the street,”

                      That’s where we are with these doggie dicta. Caveat dictor. Unless you’ve got a taste for it or someone’s payin’ ya enough to eat it. You can make all the excuses you like for the contents of those Dutch Chocolates. Doesn’t change their true nature.


                    • Except for Chinese.   And we all know White People are superior.  Justice Harlan said so.   Some, it seems, are more equal than others.

                      No, if you want to convince someone the actor’s eatin’ a nice fresh dog turd, you have to do it in one take.  No editing room shenanigans or disingenuous cut-n-paste, such as we see elsewhere along this thread, pruning down Harlan’s bigotry to the parts we find palatable in these days.


            • Niggler, please.  The entire Plessy decision was disgusting, even Harlan’s dissent.   When we look at Thomas’ famous dissent in Grutter, we see Thomas’ wish to get the government out of its role in working out what Separate but Equal might imply.   Don’t forget, Harlan was a great friend of slavery in his day.  His opposition to Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation was loud and continuous.

              Thus we can put an end to this tweezed-out parsing of Harlan.


              • Well everyone can read Harlan’s dissent for themselves. We can see in it that Harlan was not himself wholly free from racism. But to call his opinion “disgusting” demonstrates that you’d rather double-down on an error than admit you made one.

                Your arrogance and pretense that you are an expert on everything, and absolutely indisputably right about everything upon which you speak is wearying. It’s hard not to be condescending simply because you seem to exude a sophomoric juvenility in your inability to admit error.


                • Oh, James.   You poor deluded soul.   Having thought to catch me out on Harlan’s famous dissent, you don’t like to hear anything about its context.   The depth of my arrogance is only exceeded by the thinness of your outrage.   John Harlan was a famous bigot, whose opinions on misgenation in Pace v. Alabama show exactly what a bigot he was.   The only thing Harlan didn’t like about Plessy was the Equal part of that decision, thinking things were just fine as they were.


                  • Blaise,  you might want to check out my comment, where I noted that “We can see in it that Harlan was not himself wholly free from racism.”  Far from not wanting to hear anything about context, i actually put that context out there first.


                    • 1.  The line Thomas quoted is from Harlan’s dissent in Plessy, which dissent is anything but reviled.

                      2.  We can see in it that Harlan was not himself wholly free from racism.

                      Pick one.  I’ll crucify you either way from your comments on either choice, so you could choose both if you like.   But one thing’s for sure, you will get a beating for getting so hostile with me, using childish adjectives like Loathsome, etc.  I have an exceedingly low tolerance for that sort of thing.


              • Maybe I should let this go,but I’m just astounded at Blaise’s comment.  In Plessy we have a case where a state required separation of the races by law, and 8 Supreme Court justices found a way to persuade themselves that the law didn’t violate the equal protection of the laws.  And then we have one justice, who despite clearly not thinking black people were socially and intellectually equal to whites, vehemently defended their basic right to equal treatment under the law, and celebrated the elimination of distinctions of race from the Constitution.

                And Blaise calls that dissent “disgusting.”

                What a loathsome thing to say.

                I just want to get that out there plain and clear: Blaise P. has said that the celebration of the elimination of racial distinctions in the Constitution is “disgusting.”  He has said that the firm insistence of a lone justice standing against every single other one of his colleagues that “our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens” is disgusting.

                That’s where Blaise P. stands.

                And he thinks anyone who would appreciate Harlan’s defense of equality is merely a “niggler.”

                That mountain you’re looking up at from the bottom of your hole, Blaise? That’s the moral high ground.  God willing someday you’ll manage to climb up there.


                • Getting pretty thick in here.   Harlan’s hypocritical dissent is exactly what I’m talking about when the Conservatives pretend the Constitution will protect us all equally.   Are you saying Harlan was against slavery?   Or for Lincoln?   Is that your contention?   Pushed to it, every Conservative will tell us he’s for equal opportunity, the lying sacks of shit prove they don’t mean a word of it in their actions and rulings.


                  • From Harlan’s dissent:

                    ” The destinies of the two races in this country are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law. What can more certainly arouse race hate [. . .] than state enactments which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens. That, as all will admit, is the real meaning of such legislation as was enacted in Louisiana.”

                    “The arbitrary separation of citizens on the basis of race while they are on a public highway is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds. [. . .]  We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of “equal” accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, nor atone for the wrong this day done.”

                    Mr Hanley wins (I hate it when you people make me read something).


                    • Heh.  You’re my honeysuckle.   Preez to exprain this bit.

                      There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race.

                      Yeah buddy.   Soon as we get that squared away, we’ll be on the right track about Heroic Harlan.


                    • Yes, I enjoyed it too.  Props to James for the link.

                      But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. It is therefore to be regretted that this high tribunal, the final expositor of the fundamental law of the land, has reached the conclusion that it is competent for a State to regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon the basis of race.


                    • It’s funny where you decide to start your cut-n-paste.   This part sorta gets ignored.

                      The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. 

                      No accounting for this statement.   Not from you, anyway.


                    • Of course I account for it, Blaise.  It’s called “dicta,” which is non-legal.  Clarence Thomas has nothing to do with Derbyshire, this thread or this issue.

                      That Harlan had other racist or racialist attitudes makes the legal case he sets forth in his Plessy dissent all the stronger.  And none of those attitudes reflect badly on Clarence Thomas, who cites only the legal argument in Plessy.  I imagine he disagreed with the dicta part.

                      Why Clarence Thomas is being dragged through the slime here is beyond me, except that it’s all grist for the mill.




                    • Harlan uses the Chinese to highlight the unequal treatment of Blacks: non-citizens are accorded rights and treatment which is denied to lawful citizens.  I have no idea what Harlan thought of the Chinese, but his citation is to their legal status.

                      As for the “white race,” it’s typical of the time’s white-supremist thinking.  So what?  That a man who accepts the superiority of one race over another can eloquently advocate for the latter’s rights and dignity seems to me a good example of right-thinking.


                    • I despair of finding anything from that era that isn’t in some way marred by racism.

                      If Thomas only cited the decent parts of Harlan’s dissent, and if he neglected the ugly ones, then good for him.  Lord knows Abraham Lincoln said some ugly things about black people too.  Search as hard as you like, and you find only a handful of people with anything like today’s mainstream views on race in nineteenth century America.


                    • @Jason:  it is good of you to note the Harlan dissent was in fact UGLY.    If I choose to point to the ridiculous contortions this troop of baboons has gone to in their wilful avoidance of why I find Justice Harlan a nasty exemplar of those racist times,  I do not find Clarence Thomas’ cherry picking any less annoying and un-good.

                      Despair is the response of the quitter.   Mankind will not be done with racism or tribalism for many centuries.   If we have advanced toward equality in recent times, it has been accomplished by overcoming precious idiots who see the virtue in Harlan’s argument, ignoring both the actual statement and its context.

                      The Constitution has never protected anyone.   That protection came via enforcement of laws, often at gunpoint.  The bigot and the racist have always preached Equality, mostly in the context of Harlan, that any perceptible superiority and dominance among men was entirely due to prestige, achievements, education, wealth and in power, entirely derived and perpetuated by lawful means, the justice of power is forever justifying itself. So, they doubt not, hope it will continue to be for all time.


                    • Blaise makes a fundamental error of historical interpretation, which is condemning historical figures who don’t achieve the standards of our time, even if they were ahead of the curve by the standards of their own time.

                      I remember a fellow grad student who wrote a scathing paper about J.S. Mill because he wasn’t a feminist by today’s 3rd wave feminist standards.  The fact that he was one of the most progressive folks in England in regard to gender equality at his time didn’t matter one bit.

                      The approach fails in multiple ways.  First, it simply fails to take account of relevant distinctions.  Second, it’s a very ungenerous and small-hearted, as well as small-minded, approach. Third, it insists upon comparing things to a standard of perfection, an approach that dooms every real-world example to dismal failure. The person who adopts that standard is unrealistic and sure to become embittered.

                      To really make sense of the difference between Harland and his colleagues in the Plessy case, all we really have to do is consider how the next half century would have gone had Harlan’s opinion been the Court’s decision. Not a perfect world, but a helluva lot better for millions of Americans.  The failure to see that is hard to explain–I simply can’t fathom the kind of mind that would scorn real world improvements because they remain imperfect and flawed.


                    • Blaise makes a fundamental error of historical interpretation, which is condemning historical figures who don’t achieve the standards of our time, even if they were ahead of the curve by the standards of their own time.

                      This is a fundamental error — if you are writing intellectual history.  To the intellectual historian, the point absolutely isn’t to grade past thinkers by the standards of today.  It’s to determine which thinkers made interesting new moves in the neverending chess game of the intellect, and — insofar as far as we can say so — why and how they made the interesting new moves that they did.

                      But if we are looking for a good guide to modern race law, Harlan’s dissent in Plessy is absolutely deserving of criticism.  He reached the right result, but with some horrible side-reasoning along the way.  It’s only the fact that we think more clearly than he did that allows us to selectively edit his work and make it look nice at all.  If we acquired that ability from anyone, we definitely didn’t get it from Harlan.

                      It’s the way of the court system to cite dissents like his in a highly edited fashion anyway; my guess is that Blaise would say this is so much to the courts’ discredit.  Whether it is or not turns on what kind of work we think the court is doing.


                    • Granted, anyone who looks at the past through the lenses of the present does so in error.   It is the hallmark of the bad historian and I’ve said this more than once.

                      But I didn’t make that error.  I looked at Harlan’s dissent, stewed in its own juices.   There’s the Chinaman, who can’t become a citizen, sitting in the train car with Harlan’s Superior White Guy.

                      As for your fellow grad student and his opinion of John Stuart Mill, you haven’t furnished a link.  You have only made some tendentious summary, with the disingenuous notion that Mill was insufficiently feminist.   I make my own arguments and I have taught JS Mill using my own guerilla tactics, to a bunch of Tea Partiers in Eagan, Minnesota, including The Subjection of Women, episodes I related on this site when they were ongoing.  My quotes from the Harlan dissent were just a little larger than everyone else’s, including Harlan’s rationale for his dissent.   Dragging some un-named and un-cited grad student into this debate is just the worst sort of crappy argumentation.

                      Harlan’s track record on the supremacy of the White Race and misgenation is very clear.   I do not indulge in cherry-picking.   The issue before SCOTUS in those days was the right of a State to make a law and the right of the Federal government to declare it illegal.   Military occupation of the South had imposed its own laws on those states and had just ended when Plessy came before SCOTUS.

                      I repeat myself:  the Constitution protects nobody: it is really only the basis for law.   Until the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed, nothing stopped a state from passing a racist law.   To this day, the States’ Rights argument is constantly reappearing before the courts but only Congress can change the law.

                      It is an Imperfect Union, to be sure.   Let’s not indulge in little fantasies about the Harlan dissent and look at it through the lenses of the present, as you accuse me of doing.   You see Harlan’s dissent as something noble but all you’re doing is paring off all the rotten bits which don’t fit your viewpoint.   That’s bad history, James.


                    • If only there was a Shorter Duck.  There cannot be a Denser one.   Jeebus, it’s like  approaching the event horizon of a Dumb Hole with you.   Already we see the Stupidtational Lensing Effect.


                    • Blaise, I didn’t provide a link to the grad student’s paper because it was, well, just a grad student’s paper.  It was presented in a seminar I was in.

                      Clearly you don’t have any idea what tendentious means.  Essentially, you are trying to imply I am a liar.  Believe me or not; that’s your choice.  But don’t make urneasonable demands and act as though failure to meet unreasonable demands proves something.


                      To the powers-that-be at the League.  Count me among those considering withdrawing from participation in the League. It has gotten increasing ugly, and Blaise is one of the culprits.  As intelligent as he is, he seems incapable of disagreeing with others without resorting to insults.

                      I know I’ve been guilty of that as well, so maybe if i ultimately choose to withdraw it would be good for the tone here at the League.  Whether or not I do, something must be done if the powers-that-be care about the tenor of debate here.


                    • ,

                      There is indeed some bad side-reasoning in Harlan’s dissent.  But what’s notable is that it is in fact side-reasoning.  The main line of argument is as clear and direct as could be wished–far more direct than most SupCt opinions, and in fact is pretty closely related to contemporary law regarding race. He explicitly shows that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were designed to create political and legal equality–what could he have possibly have said that would be more of a commonplace unanimously accepted claim today?

                      He dismisses the alleged equal protection of each race getting transportation as a “guise,” which was the foundational claim for the series of equal protection challenges that culminated in Brown–that all these so-called “equal” accommodations  really weren’t equal, but, in Harlan’s words, designed “to compel [blacks] to keep to themselves.”

                      It’s not a perfect guide to contemporary race law, no. But then nobody here was claiming that it was. The only claim was that too call the dissent disgusting is to claim that its insistence on political and legal equality for blacks is disgusting, and to fail to recognize how comparatively advanced it was for its time.


                    • Density Duck: “bubububububub raaaacisssmmmmmm”

                      FWIW, from the time I initially started working on this post until right before I published it, the title was going to be “Bu-bu-bu-but RACISM!”


      • As I said in the OP, it would be easier for me to start wearing the “Conservatives are Racist” t-shirts if I actually knew conservatives from my actual life that are racists, or believe any of this crap – but I don’t.

        I think knowing conservative racists certainly might change your view of things, but I don’t think it’s necessary for understanding the argument liberals are making. A liberal points out racist language and policies in exactly the same way you did with Derby. When combined with other evidence – for example, the list of other racisty incidents you presented in the OP – a pattern begins to emerge: that conservative politicians and pundits invoke racist language as an appeal to, or an expression of, racial resentment already held by the self-identified conservatives.

        That’s it. There are no broad claims that all conservatives are racists. Or that racism constitutes the cornerstone of conservative ideological issues. Or even that racism is embraced by a majority of conservatives.

        What the view amounts to is this: the fact that conservatives invoke and defend racist language, policies and strategies policies is evidence of something. The prima facie answer is that it’s evidence of racism, at least in part. But insofar as non-racist conservatives remain silent by not condemning the questionable language or policies, it may be because they’ve internalized Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment in an effort to present a united front against liberals, and so they passively tolerate rather then actively oppose language which they otherwise might object to.

        Either way, tho, it looks bad for conservatives. They’re either racists, or they tolerate racist language/etc because beating liberals is valued more highly than eliminating racists from their ranks.


  20. The other day while with my 6yr old grandchild at a McDonalds Playland, she retreated to my side and told me she was scared by the abusive language shouting outburst we unfortunately were witnessing between a black adult, teenager, and younger child that was laced with multiple f bombs.  It dawned on me that no one had ever cautioned her about what can happen in a place where blacks congregate and greatly outnumber whites.  I explained to her that was the reason we had to be careful about when we went to Chuck E Cheese.  When it comes to protecting my innocent grandchild, I could care less who is offended by the politically incorrect truth.


    • I would have enjoyed this comment much more if, rather than blacks, the people using the f bomb had all been listening to Justin Beiber.  That would have been awesome:

      “It dawned on me that no one had ever cautioned her about what can happen in a place where Justin Beiber fans greatly outnumber people with actual taste.  I explained to her that was the reason we had to be careful about when we went to Chuck E Cheese.  When it comes to protecting my innocent grandchild, I could care less who is offended by the politically incorrect truth.”

      In fact, I think in my head I’m just going to read it this way from now on.


    • I know that five seconds after I post this, I’m going to wonder why on earth I bothered, but I just can’t stop myself.

      Royce, if you have honestly never heard a white adult, teenager and younger child yelling swear words at each other, then it’s not just your grandchild who’s remarkably innocent.  I’ve heard it plenty, and I haven’t been around long enough to have a grandchild.

      My guess is that you have heard something similar happening with white participants, but you didn’t note their race, merely their behavior.  I’ll charitably ascribe this to your not knowing a lot of black people, and thus not having enough exposure to them to know that most of them don’t hurl curse words at each other in public.  Just like most white people.  But you know enough white people that you don’t need to be told that about them.


      • My guess is that you have heard something similar happening with white participants, but you didn’t note their race, merely their behavior.

        He might notice their race, but would put them in a certain subcategory of white person. You know, that’s white trash behavior (as opposed to white behavior). Other groups, however, get defined by the less desirable subset of their population.


  21. “I explained to her that was the reason we had to be careful about when we went to Chuck E. Cheese.”

    This has got to be the funniest sentence I’ve read here in some time, although I can’t quite say why. I just have this image of the Crips staking out the Chuck E. Cheese ball pool as their turf, along with the McDonald’s Playland. Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta where a kid can be a kid.


  22. Here are some more politically incorrect facts that make for interesting liberal in denial discussions.  12.8% of the U.S. population is African American.  37% of homicide perpetrators in the U.S. are African American.  48% of all homicide victims in the U.S. are African Americans and 90% of those African American homicide victims met their demise at the hands of an African American.


    • Which race has the highest percentage of committing homicide against white victims?

      I ask because I think it’s overwhelmingly white. So if you’re white, you might want to avoid those Chuck E Cheeses that are heavily populated by that group.


        • Wrong. (Prob. that family member is guilty | a white person was killed) may be greater than (Prob. that a black person is guilty | a white person was killed). But it can still be perfectly true that (Prob. that you’ll be killed | you’re near a family member) is a lot less than (Prob. that you’ll be killed | you’re <a href=”“>wandering around</a> in a black neighborhood).  (Hint: people spend a lot more time near family members, hence family members have much more opportunity; so even if the proportion of people killed by family members is higher, the ex ante risk is far lower).


          • So what?

            Put this more concretely:

            Suppose 1 million white people, all of whom hang out with their families occasionally and 100 of whom walk through a 99% black neighborhood. Suppose that 99 of the 1 million white people get murdered by a family member, while 1 person gets murdered after walking through a black neighborhood.

            Out of the people murdered, 99% were murdered by family members. But that does not mean that family members are 99 times more dangerous. In this hypo, less than a thousandth of one percent of the people who hang out with family get murdered by family, while one percent of the people who walk through black neighborhoods get murdered. So 99 times as many people get murdered by family members, but walking through a black neighborhood is 1,000 times as dangerous.

            These are just invented numbers, of course, but the point is that Jason is talking about the wrong probabilities (and citing Bayesianism, which isn’t even relevant — this is just about conditional probabilities, not about updating).


            • The comparison of percentages isn’t where you’re making your errors.  You’re making your errors on the issue of scale.

              If, for example, the odds of you being the victim of a violent crime should you see a Caucasian today are 1(-200,00,00,00,000,000,000,000,000) and the odds of you being the victim of a violent crime should you see an African American today are 1(-150,00,00,00,000,000,000,000,000), the difference of these two examples displayed as a percentage is great indeed.  However, if your conclusion after reviewing that comparison is that it is unsafe to be around black people, you are focusing far too much on the difference, and not enough on the scale.

              You can make similar conclusions noting the difference as noted by percentage between white vs black serial killers that target women, or between people that are family members vs strangers molesting your child, or child victims of shooting accidents for fathers with military records vs. no military records.  If you do not take scale into account, you can look at these data comparisons and make specious arguments (totally supported by the percentages!) about the need for women to avoid white males, or the importance of leaving your child with utter strangers over family members, or for not allowing potential parents that have served in the military to adopt children.  But I suspect you don’t, which is why for many of us your (and Derbyshire’s) self-selecting only the “black people are scary and should be avoided” calculation raises eyebrows.

              The number of incidents of white people interacting with black people each day in this country is incalculably high.  The percentage of those incidents that end in a violent crime is incalculably low.  If your conclusion after noting that is that you are still afraid to be around black people… well, that’s your right, and to be honest it probably is best that you avoid them.  (Frankly, I’m not sure they’ll mind all that much.)  But as in all other cases where people get so hung up on infinitesimally small risks that surround great pleasures in life (and people are, by in large, one of the things that make life worth living) I don’t think you’re doing yourself any favors in the long run by going that route.


            • Bayesian reasoning is quite relevant, if the question is how much more dangerous your life will become, given the added piece of information that you are living in a black neighborhood.

              I’ll work this out later, but the original point is clearly correct — if you are a white female and really want to avoid getting killed, stay away from your husband, your father, and (yeah, forgot this one) your boyfriend above all others.  They’re the ones to worry about, and chances are they aren’t black.


              • I thought you were trying to answer the question: Given that you’re a white person who has family, which action will make a greater difference (positive or negative) to your safety: Not going for a walk through a black neighborhood, or avoiding all contact with your family? You seemed to be saying that the latter would move your safety more, but your reasoning was wrong.


                • I was being purposely facetious.  That said, I went with a walk through a black neighborhood this afternoon with my 2 year old daughter.  She also spent all day with her father, so I’m surprised that she isn’t dead one way or the other.


      • I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and will assume you are just naive and have never been exposed to real world threats.  Obviously you don’t have a clue there is a well documented history of brawls and assaults at Chuck E Cheese locations in California, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania and others across the U.S. that always seem to have the common link of large black crowds.  Even though I know all too well that liberals in denial have no desire to hear about or acknowledge inconvenient truths that contradict their reality, the links below are for your benefit and the well being of your children or grandchildren if you have any.