Racist Writings: Should Derbyshire and Weigel Be Fired?

Joanna Schroeder wonders to what degree a publication is responsible for the reprehensible behavior of its writers.

Should a writer be fired for publishing racist work?

If you’re not familiar with John Derbyshire, he’s a relatively well-respected writer and contributing editor at National Review. He recently published a piece in Taki’s Magazine called The Talk, Non-Black Version”, in which he shares the advice he has given his children about how to stay safe. From black people.

Here are a few gems from his list (these are the sub-points to his point #10). I’m going to paraphrase here, because Taki’s doesn’t allow for “cut and paste”… But trust me, click on over there and you’ll see I’m not misrepresenting him.

  • Avoid black neighborhoods.
  • Plan your trips to beaches and amusement parks for times when there aren’t going to be a lot of black people.
  • Don’t move to a neighborhood where your representative politicians are black (My thought: is Derbyshire planning to move to Finland?)
  • Do not ever help black people in distress, such as on the freeway.
  • Scrutinize a black politician more harshly than you would a white one.

There are so many other racist, dehumanizing references to black people in Derbyshire’s article that I have to just stop myself here before I recount the entire thing point by point with fuming rage.

♦◊♦

But that’s not even the point of what I’m writing. We know there are racist people in the world. I’m not telling you anything new. But what matters here is whether Derbyshire should be fired from National Review, as many are demanding. Forbes‘ Josh Barro who published a piece yesterday called “Why National Review Must Fire John Derbyshire“, is one of such writers.

Barro explains why Derbyshire should be fired in the context of another piece written by National Review editor Rich Lowry. Lowry’s article points out that while Trayvon Martin’s death was a case of non-black-upon-black crime, the biggest problem young black men are facing is black-on-black crime. Lowry was called a bigot for this piece.

Barro doesn’t think Lowry’s piece is necessarily bigoted, but he says this:

…this is the problem for Lowry and other conservatives who want to be taken seriously by broad audiences when they write about racial issues. Lowry wrote a column containing advice for black Americans. Why should black Americans take him seriously while he’s employing Derbyshire? If Lowry wants NR to be credible on race, he should start by firing John Derbyshire.

Beyond trying to gain credibility in the black community, NR should decide what to do about Derbyshire based upon what’s right. I know that’s subjective, but every publication draws its line somewhere. Why not here? Derbyshire is advocating for racial profiling and behavior, which, in the context of the profound systematic racism young black men are facing, cannot be seen as anything other than overtly racist, dangerous behavior.

Why is it dangerous? Because propagating the idea that we should be afraid of black men, of black people in general, makes this world dangerous for innocent Americans, as gun-toting fear-motivated people (civilians and police alike) who think this is the Wild Wild West—shoot first, ask later—are going to keep killing innocent people.

Despite the fact that  Derbyshire’s piece in question was not published at National Review, as an editor—and even as a writer—he represents what values they espouse.

So how about those who think he shouldn’t be fired? In my curiosity to learn why people think he should keep his position, I discovered this piece by Slate.com writer David Weigel.

In it, Weigel seems to make the argument that Derbyshire shouldn’t be fired due to the fact that he’s just one of many who feel as Derbyshire does:

There’s a sort of micro-movement building to shame National Review into firing Derbyshire. Why would they? Derbyshire is saying something that many people believe but few people with word-slinging abilities know how to say: There are differences between the races, and whites should watch out for blacks.

So now we have another writer saying that white people should “watch out” for black people?

Slate.com published this?

Let’s follow Weigel’s logic here: It’s okay if you say something, as long as you’re not the only one who feels that way…

You guys all know what they say, right? If you meet someone who says, “I’m not a racist, but…” you can bet your ass that whatever comes next is going to be some seriously racist shit.

Weigel’s entire piece is basically one, “I’m not a racist, but…” and I’m here to clarify something for Weigel: I don’t know you in real life, but in reading this piece, it seems you just might be a racist, pal.

The trick is that very few people actually think they’re racist, including the woman who sold the “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012″ anti-Obama bumper sticker. But just because a person doesn’t think they are racist doesn’t mean that their actions and words aren’t harming others.

♦◊♦

The idea of doing what’s right gets to the root of why a publication cannot allow a racist to continue to represent them. When people who have prejudicial or racist thoughts or tendencies read stuff like this, they think, “Yeah, I feel that way too. I’m so relieved I’m not alone. Maybe that thought process isn’t really racist, maybe I’m not really bad at all…” When in fact, racism is not “normal” and editors and publications should never allow propaganda like this to be published. If and when it is published, and the writer is exposed as a racist, the writer must be fired in order to show the world that this sort of thinking is not right, it is not normal, and it is not okay.

So if National Review should fire Derbyshire, do you think Slate.com should fire Weigel?

On a much bigger level, even if both Derbyshire and Weigel are fired, are we doing nothing more than treating the symptoms and ignoring the disease? For the publishers of both NR and Slate, it seems that right now that disease is alive and thriving.

What do you think? How responsible is a publication for the words of its writers?

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, Weigel posted a second, clarifying piece, “Derbyshire Again” in an attempt to better explain his views:

There’s been some tsuris about my Friday post on John Derbyshire’s Taki magazine essay “The Talk: Nonblack version.” It was written in a pretty dry way, so I never ended up saying the obvious: People, the essay was disgusting.

photo: raphaelstrada / flickr

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About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, hlntv.com, and more. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. She just finished her first novel. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think you really misread what Dave Weigel is saying. He’s saying that National Review isn’t in the business of firing staffers who are saying things that a significant number of people are thinking. He’s not independently supporting the point. Look at that paragraph in the context of the rest of the post, for heaven’s sake.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Yeah, that’s why I said this:

      Let’s follow Weigel’s logic here: It’s okay if you say something, as long as you’re not the only one who feels that way…

      I sent this article to no less than eight people last night, all saying, asking them to interpret this writer’s words… each one said the same thing as you, Anonymous. “He’s saying that a guy shouldn’t be fired for saying what others are thinking”…

      But I disagree that just because there are a bunch of racist assholes in the world, a publication with any credibility should publish it.

      Any racist can publish anything they want on their own blog. But when you’re an editor of a magazine, you have to take responsibility for what is published under your name on that masthead, and also who represents you.

      As far as Weigel goes, it’s a bit tougher. Guy clearly just doesn’t see the damage done by allowing racist propaganda to be spread under the banner of a (relatively) well-respected banner. Doesn’t matter how many people feel the same way.

      I have a hunch (and maybe I’m being naive) that Weigel was trying to say what Noah Brand, below, was saying… Perhaps he just really fumbled it. Weigel – if you’re following this conversation – what do you think? We’d love to hear from you. Is this what you were getting at:

      Derbyshire’s crime isn’t being foamingly, appallingly racist. That’s what the National Review pays him for. His crime is saying out loud what his colleagues know they’re supposed to say in private. In public, they’re supposed to say “Oh, well, it’s not that I have anything against those people, I just think some of this data is rather, well, suggestive of certain trends, if you see what I mean.” That’s what Rich Lowry always says, it’s what all of them always say. They believe the same things Derbyshire does, but they obey the rule about not saying it in public. Derbyshire’s sin was that he was moved to break kayfabe, as it were, to momentarily remove the fig leaf that’s supposed to cover his naked bigotry.

  2. Noah Brand says:

    Derbyshire’s crime isn’t being foamingly, appallingly racist. That’s what the National Review pays him for. His crime is saying out loud what his colleagues know they’re supposed to say in private. In public, they’re supposed to say “Oh, well, it’s not that I have anything against those people, I just think some of this data is rather, well, suggestive of certain trends, if you see what I mean.” That’s what Rich Lowry always says, it’s what all of them always say. They believe the same things Derbyshire does, but they obey the rule about not saying it in public. Derbyshire’s sin was that he was moved to break kayfabe, as it were, to momentarily remove the fig leaf that’s supposed to cover his naked bigotry. What moved him to do that, you might ask? He got that angry because he was mortally offended to read some stories about how black parents have to explain to their kids that some white folks are dangerously racist. I think his hideous screed was intended, in what passes for his mind, to be a rebuttal to what he perceived as a personal accusation of racism. So… yeah, nice rebuttal there, dude.

    If you ask me, I think they probably will fire him, but they’ll phrase it in a way that blames it on those mean black folks and liberals getting all offended, the same way Ford recalled the Pinto “to end public concern.”

    • dragnet says:

      “Derbyshire’s crime isn’t being foamingly, appallingly racist. That’s what the National Review pays him for. His crime is saying out loud what his colleagues know they’re supposed to say in private.”

      Nailed it.

      • C H Ingoldby says:

        Actually, his crime is for saying out loud what we all privately know to be true.

        • That many white people (mostly men but women not totally innocent) today are still self-serving, pretentious capitalist-worshipping hypocrites who praise a blue-eyed and blonde Jesus in public but refuse to uphold most if any of his teachings in their everyday lives? I couldn’t agree more! Though to be fair, poor conduct or morals has absolutely no racial bias or exclusivity, something only thinking, fair-mindedpeople come to conclude…

          And here I was thinking all this animosity, character assassination and incendiary, factually-challenged opionating of the Obama administration was all based in policy and things he actually said and did, and not that difference of skin melanin Reich-Wingers so often project. Guess I’m still one of few who think a little too highly of my fellow Americans!

    • AnonymousDog says:

      Noah,

      I would take this all a lot more seriously if people on the political and social Left would admit that there are all kinds of hatreds and racisms, and that those things are not confined to the political right. Leftists too often define hatred as something that the Other Guys do, and turn their heads when someone on their own side of the aisle does it. It wil remain merely a game of schoolyard name-calling until both sides are willing to police their own. National Review has. When will liberals start calling out other liberals for the peculiar kinds of hatred and bigotry found mainly on the left?

  3. Peter Houlihan says:

    i think its better that this kind of thing comes out in public rather than being hidden with arguments like “playing the numbers.” Alot of white people feel this way and it needs to be addressed, not covered up. So long as it was made clear that it was his opinion, not that of the publication, then I think it’s worth airing (and debunking).

  4. I tend to agree, there is nothing to be gained by suppressing our prejudices. One of the worst things that can happen in any so-called free society is to silence or punish unpopular opinions. Let’s face it, there are huge numbers of people who have bigoted opinions alive in this country. You won’t change any of their minds by forcing political correctness on them. If anything, it will make matters worse, and foster resentment. (Remember the old psychological saw, “That which you resist, persists?”) Getting emotional never solves anything (outrage is an emotion). If the problems of racism and bigotry are going to be alleviated, it won’t happen until both sides get to speak their peace, and specific claims and issues are addressed one by one, in the light of public discourse.

  5. Have People read Weigel’s follow-up post?
    https://twitter.com/#!/zerOdysseus/status/188653510240370688

    There’s been some tsuris about my Friday post on John Derbyshire’s Taki magazine essay “The Talk: Nonblack version.” It was written in a pretty dry way, so I never ended up saying the obvious: People, the essay was disgusting.

    Pointing out racism, however clumsily, is not the same as racism. Hoping to pull back the curtain on racists is helpful. I think it is more than helpful, it is a moral obligation. Silence isn’t acceptable.

    When Weigel cites the “alleged value of Derbyshire-style analysis of race” the key word is “alleged” and not “value.” Turning on the light to reveal and scatter the roaches does not mean you are pro-roach. Spreading racist writings and authours in a morally nebulous way is a bad thing. Recognizing that and trying to connect the unintentional damage done, such as your post, is a good thing:
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/07/derbyshire_again.html

    This means the opposite. This means you are anti-Derbyshire, who should lose his job. This means Weigel should keep his.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      The reason I sent the Weigel piece to so many people I know who are all very smart, is because it just didn’t seem to make sense… I don’t think Weigel should’ve lost his job, but I couldn’t quite make sense of it. He didn’t condemn Derbyshire at all in that piece, and yes, he should have.

      And the word “alleged” isn’t actually said in Weigel’s piece that I link to in my original piece.

      Weigel is saying that there is no reason for NR to fire Derbyshire because so many people who aren’t as good of writers are saying the same thing. He doesn’t say, “The alleged value of Derbyshire staying at NR…” there’s no “alleged value” in the piece I quoted. I just read it four times to be sure. But I’m tired, so I could be wrong.

      There is simply an explanation of how Derbyshire is not alone in his racism and his hatred of black people. But no condemnation of such sentiment. And in this time in history, that condemnation is crucial.

      So if Weigel disagreed, Weigel should’ve said it.

      Again, my feeling about what Weigel was saying (from that first article about Derb), is that he was probably trying to say what Noah explained here in this comments section.

      I am greatly relieved Weigel has clarified in this newest post. And I don’t disagree that racists, if they’re going to be racists, should publish it somewhere so we all know it. In fact, I’d like it if racists would volunteer to wear badges so that I can see who they are when I walk down a street. But my feeling is that Derb doesn’t actually think he’s a racist, so he probably wouldn’t volunteer to wear that badge. I bet he’s more of a, “I’m not a racist, I just don’t want to be around black people. Because I might get shot.” Maybe we should make him a badge that says that, just so we know where he stands.

      Also, while I believe people should have the right to publish whatever they want that isn’t illegal or exploitive of children or anything of the like, a publication is under no obligation to publish or retain the services of any writer or employee that doesn’t reflect their standard of ethics. That is why NR had to fire Derb.

      As an editor, I can only image the distress within Lowry. I have no doubt in my mind he was horrified by Derb’s Taki’s piece, however I also imagine the traffic Derbyshire brings in. Beyond that, the piece wasn’t published by NR, and so Lowry had no control over it.

      But Lowry’s done something important here. He’s said, “This is bullshit. You’re a racist. You don’t belong here,” and tossed the guy out of his home, so to speak.

      Thanks for the link, though, I do appreciate reading Weigel’s follow-up. I don’t necessarily agree with him on every point, but I’m personally relieved to learn that he wasn’t a fan of Derb’s piece in Taki’s.

      I’d still love to hear from Weigel.

      • The issue here is that you started out in bad faith.

        You immediately latched onto what you believed Weigel didn’t say. You couldn’t exactly tell what Weigel’s thoughts were so you launched into assuming that Weigel somehow supports Derb and his ilk.

        None of that was evident from the original posting. He was merely discussing the attitude of many in the conservative movement in respect to race.

        Your glee to call out Weigel as a racist, with zero evidence except your own misreading, is shameful. The fact that you sent it out to your friends to read does not provide a defense for yourself, since you are simply sending it to people who will reinforce your own mistaken and immoral conclusion.

      • You can stop searching! I was referring to (and quoting from) Weigel’s follow up-post, “Derbyshire Again.” I asked if people had read the post and gave links when I quoted from it. But I wasn’t explicit when citing the “alleged value of the Derbyshirestyle…” I meant to be clear. I’ll try to be clearer.
        http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/07/derbyshire_again.html

        In Weigel’s first piece, “John Derbyshire’s Advice for White People,” I think it’s a case of “pronoun trouble,” as Daffy Duck would put it.
        http://youtu.be/6e1hZGDaqIw

        There’s a sort of micro-movement building to shame National Review into firing Derbyshire. Why would they? Derbyshire is saying something that many people believe but few people with word-slinging abilities know how to say: There are differences between the races, and whites should watch out for blacks.
        http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/06/john_derbyshire_s_advice_for_white_people.html

        If the “they” is the micro-movement then Weigel seems to be poo-poohing collective outrage. That is awful.

        To take the most charitable view, “they” refers to National Review and Weigel is asking “Why would they” fire Derbyshire? It’s not the same as saying there is no reason. Weigel might be attributing that piece of logic to the editors of NR, not himself. (The word “logic” in that sentence is used in the Orwellian sense.) In fact you seem to empathize with NR’s “Why would they dilemma,” not at all as a racist but as an editor:

        I can only image the distress within Lowry. I have no doubt in my mind he was horrified by Derb’s Taki’s piece, however I also imagine the traffic Derbyshire brings in. Beyond that, the piece wasn’t published by NR, and so Lowry had no control over it.

        However, I think we agree that Derbyshire should and must go… from everywhere.

        In his second piece Weigel asks

        if you’re going to have anti-black sentiment, would you rather have it dumb and exposed or would you rather have it subtle?

        I think NR’s firing of Derbyshire allows their racism to remain subtle. It actually boosts their non-racist cred. Reading your writing, and getting into the parsing weeds, I’m becoming less ardent in my interpretation of Weigel. (Thaaat might be burying the lede… but I have my foolish pride.)

        I do point to, from the 1st piece, Weigel’s final and very wry comment

        All that said, I don’t think I’ve taken much of this column’s advice. By raising the should-he-be-fired question I thought you were proposing it. Perhaps, perhaps not. But no one should be fired over this tangled mushy mess of a post.

        A lot of people should be fired over this tangled mushy mess of a Red Sox-Tigers game. Thank you for the distraction while I wait for the Celtics game. I’d also like to hear more from Weigel, strictly out of curiosity. I never want to hear more from Derbyshire, strictly out of disgust.

        Extra innings? WTFrancona!

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Odysseus,

          If I’ve got this right… You and I might be in complete agreement?

          Thanks for your insights about Weigel…

          Here’s an interesting thing. I would never witch-hunt someone. I want to challenge people to do better, to write more clearly, and to imagine the impact of what they write. And I hope people challenge me, and that if/when I am/have been that I can handle it with some grace, to grow, and to keep moving.

          One must think, before publishing something, whether the fallout of what they write could harm someone. So, while it’s good to be “open” with your racism so others know who you are and where you stand, and also so others can challenge you, the more we give credence to a racist and keep paying him to write racist stuff, and paying him to be on our editorial boards, the more we say, as a culture, “This is okay. It’s okay you don’t like black people.”

          And that’s my point.

          I’m glad he’s fired, and I’m glad Weigel clarified and I hope we can all learn from this.

          • Tom Carroll says:

            I do wonder why there is no great outcry over the articles that spurred Derbyshire’s response. It is ok for black parents to have a “Talk” with their chidren but somehow not so for whites?

            A black male walking in a predominantly white neighborhood is much safer than a white male walking in a predominantly black neighborhood. A black male walking into a white neighborhood is safer than a black male walking a predominantly black neighborhood. We can ignore such things or try to fix them. Unfortunately, it is easier to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the only problem is nasty old white men who don’t trust young black men.

            • Lisa Hickey says:

              The problem is not that people are talking about fear — which we obviously should be talking about — it’s that Derbyshire’s writings lead to the systematic marginalization of a class of people based on their skin color. Do your really think white people are every going to be marginalized and systematically disenfranchised the way minority groups are? If we are talking about our own fears, we should be doing so with empathy and understanding of all sides.

            • Bloomberg says:

              Japanese have higher average incomes than whites in the US (lower crime rates too). Are whites marginalized?

              Maybe it comes back to group behavior.

            • Tom Carroll says:

              Actually Derbyshire’s writings leads to no such thing since he, thankfully, has no political power. And no I do not think white people are going to be disenfranchised the way (some) minority groups are. However, I would like to know where in my post you drew that conclusion.

              A major problem, in my opinion, is many rail against the barriers they have little short term control over, systemic discrimination, while ignoring those areas they have massive control over, personal behavior. Much systemic discrimination is reinforced by awful behavior of large numbers of young black males.

              I wish ALL parents would have a talk with their kids about race and perception. But that talk is much more complex than “Watch out for the white guy he is going to kill you.” or “Beware the black man in the hoodie, he is up to no good.”

            • Lisa Hickey says:

              I am in complete agreement about your last point Tom. In fact, one of the reasons we have such ongoing, public, difficult discussions here on The Good Men Project is to give people a vocabulary for which to talk about these things. And a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the issues. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but if we can get the conversation started beyond the stereotypes than we’ve done some good.

            • Tom Carroll says:

              It is nice to agree on something in a subject that is so open to reflexive disagreement. And since I think it is the most important thing, all the better.

              A common vocabulary would be a wondrous thing. Good luck in that endeavor, I sincerely hope you’re successful.

            • Count me among those who want to fix things! Knowing where you got your safety facts (statistics, whatever) about black and white neighborhoods would help me.

              I feel that the power disparity means that black parents must talk to their children about the world they live in. White parents should talk to their children about the world they have created.

              You’re right when you say we shouldn’t “pretend that the only problem is nasty old white men who don’t trust young black men.” Another problem is nasty old white men who collapse the economy, take bailouts, etc. It’s enough to make you want to stick your head in the sand

            • Tom Carroll says:

              Which white parents created this world? I was the son of a bus driver, I doubt that the power differential between my father and the black bus drivers he worked with was too enormous.

              You’re wrong, all parents should talk to their children about the world they live in. And for the most part the talks should be similar. Stay in school, work hard, don’t do drugs, don’t get pregnant if you cannot care for a child, be respectful of people, I could go on and on.

              As far as where I get my statistics from you can easily find crime stats by zipcode if you wish. Or the rates of violent crime by demographic, or crimes broken down by the race of the victim and the perpetrator, try the FBI’s website. If you really wish to read up on such things go to the Social Science Research Network and join up. It is free and it will give you access to an enormous number of peer reviewed works on crime and sociology.

          • I don’t think we are in complete agreement.. but I don’t think we disagree.

            That’s a tangled sentence. Thank you for your kind tweet reply. (I am still trying to figure out Twitter. It’s not going well.)

            “[I]nsights about Weigel” might be too kind. I do follow him on Twitter* and read a fair amount of his reporting at Slate** He tweets constantly and some of his numerous Slate pieces are little more than extended tweets. I agree with you that,

            [o]ne must think, before publishing something, whether the fallout of what they write could harm someone.

            But I have trouble drawing lines on the continuum from tweets to published books. (I am still trying to figure out Twitter. It’s not going well.)
            * @daveweigel
            ** http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel.html

            Weigel certainly needed a good editor to untangle (or quash) that mess of a first piece* that kicked this all off. I find it telling that he didn’t link to it when posting his explicative follow-up.** He also chose to post the longest Derbyshire-related piece this afternoon, while on vacation.*** In it he manages to defend a fellow writer, Spencer Ackerman, against being taken literally when (jokingly) referring to racism… four years ago. Three hours later, Weigel posts an email exchange with Derbyshire himself.**** Going by a strict character count Weigel has spent a lot of time cleaning and clearing up after himself. Good.
            * http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/06/john_derbyshire_s_advice_for_white_people.html
            ** http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/07/derbyshire_again.html
            *** http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/09/derb_land_after_john_derbyshire.html
            **** http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/04/09/derbyshire_there_was_no_reason_to_give_me_anything_and_i_didn_t_expect_anything_.html

            Finally, two hours ago, Dave Weigel tweeted:

            This national news story about a murdered teen is JUST the hook I needed for my column about black people!” #shitpeoplesaybeforetheyrefired

            (I am still trying to figure out Twitter. It’s not yeahyeahyeah.)

            “Witch-hunting” never crossed my mind. Never, that is, until I read some of the other comments made here. Talk about needing editors. Yeesh. (I am still trying to figure out the Internet. That’s not going well, either.)

            But witches might be the best metaphor. I want Derbyshire in the stocks on the town square. I want him hung like a bell, or a badge, around the NR’s neck. I want his ugliness there for all to see, mock and reject. I think you’d have him ostracized, i.e. fired. In either case we probably both think that “stoning’s too good for ‘im.” Metaphorical stoning.

            As for Weigel, it may be as simple as asking if something is as racist as it appears. My reply was it wasn’t racist in intent. Thanks to you and your question I am reminded that intent doesn’t mitigate effect. That’s the big win for me. So, yes: racist. But intentional? No.

            I swear the Red Sox are now horrible in two countries. If they ever start playing well I hope, as you say, “that I can handle it with some grace, to grow, and to keep moving.”

            • Thanks for this reply and summation, Odysseus.

              Yeah, my original intent was two-fold… To say that I thought Derb should be out – because his writing validates racism for any of the people like some of the commenters here who truly believe that all white people believe as he does. And second to say to guys like Weigel that you gotta be clear in times like this, because his shit was sounding bad in that first piece. Now he’s clarified it, and that is helpful. We all make mistakes, we all post something too quickly, or don’t edit close enough or misread (which I’m willing to accept I may have done). But we gotta be able to call one another out.

              I stand firmly by the fact that Derb’s bullshit isn’t “normal” and even if it is, that doesn’t make it “right”… And I think it’s actually WAY less normal than some people would like to believe. But it’s that “I’m not alone” feeling that creates a comfortable padding from their consciousnesses, which must, somewhere prick at them and say, “Gee, this doesn’t feel right…” Or maybe it doesn’t. My friends think I give people way too much credit…

              While we all have our prejudices, including/especially me, I have never once worried that a place/event/park I was going to was going to be full of black people. Nor have I thought twice about a black politician because of his skin. Or at least five other things on Derb’s list. Am I scared of a big black guy in a hoodie? Depends on the guy and the hoodie. Is it a Oberlin College hoodie? Then obviously not. Am I scared of a white guy who looks like a meth tweeker in a dirty hoodie? Yeah, I’m scared of him. It’s so situational, but of course I have more of a “fear” reaction to a big black guy then a big white guy… But I hesitate to say even that. It’s SO situational. Sigh. So complicated. Anyone who tells you it isn’t complicated is deluding themselves.

              Anyway: Weigel. I think in real life he’s probably a super funny guy who pulls off what might be humor, like really dry humor. I know guys like that in real life. They’re constantly offending people on my Facebook page by being incredibly dry.

              Or maybe not. Frankly, I can’t know. But I did appreciate the clarification.

              And I stand by my original statement that if NR wants to be taken at all seriously they had to fire him. Which they did. Story over. The end.

              Wait… It’s nowhere near the end.

            • Bloomberg says:

              Prejudices might also be called pattern recognition. People are pretty good at it (see Blink). I did find it offensive though the bald manner in which he set them out.

            • Bloomberg says:

              My comment of Chris Rock’s monologue is in moderation, but he expresses similar prejudices :)

            • GMP uses a program that automatically puts some comments into moderation and sometimes it ends up doing it to a comment that isn’t actually problematic; it just triggered the program. It’s early in the morning and GMP doesn’t have a full time moderator.

      • Bloomberg says:

        On this basis black comedian Chris Rock is a racist?

        “Who’s more racist, black people or white people? It’s black people! You know why? Because we hate black people too! Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people. There’s a civil war going on with black people right now and there’s two sides, there’s black people and theres niggas. The niggas have got to go. Every time black people want to have a good time, ignant-ass niggas fuck it up. Can’t do shit without ignant-ass niggas fucking it up? Can’t keep a disco open for more than three weeks? Can’t go to a movie the first week it comes out – because niggas are shooting at the screen. I love black people, but I hate niggas.

        You can’t have shit when you around niggas, you can’t have shit. You can’t have no big screen TV! You can have it, but you better move it in at 3 in the morning. Paint it white, hope niggas think it’s a bassinet. Can’t have shit in your house! Why?! Because niggas will break into your house. Niggas that live next door to you, break into your house, come over the next day and go, “I heard you got robbed.”

        You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do. A nigga will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga will say some shit like, “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!

        Niggas hate knowledge. Niggas will break in your house – wanna save your money? Put it in your books, cuz niggas don’t read.

        I’m tired of this shit – your kids can’t fucking play nowhere. Every year the space gets smaller…Fee-fi-fo-figga, boy I hate a nigga. I’m tired of this shit, tired, tired of this shit…Niggas are singin’ welfare carols.”

  6. I think you’re inching toward, without actually confronting, a multiculturalist double-think problem. Because this discussion is, or seemed to be, politically and socially exhausted, something “we” had all gotten past, many of its premises, even where they are paradoxical, are simply accepted without question. Yet their very non-questionability in turn provides an opportunity for individuals like Derbyshire to rise up and question them anyway, as infringements on his personal freedom to live his life as he rationally sees fit.

    Man of us have learned and accepted the teaching that, as inheritors of a racist-sexist-classist culture, we will be to some degree inalienably racist, sexist, and classist, and regardless of where we happen to sit in relation to power. This goes crucially for those disadvantaged by inequities in power and privilege as well as for beneficiaries, the former having necessarily internalized many of the same prejudices, including towards themselves, and necessarily having been in this sense disfigured by the larger culture.

    So, a Derbyshirist believes himself to be in possession of a kind of jiu-jitsu. Derbyshire himself famously copped to being a racist, but a “mild and tolerant” one. In short, he accepts the multiculturalist critique, the basis of so much consciousness-raising and self-criticism often delivered in the form of or place of punishment for offenders, and says, “OK, we live in a racist culture, or culture disfigured by a history of racism. This is how I choose to live in the bad world.” He makes matters worse for himself by attaching himself to a blatantly racialist pseudo-scientific discourse meant to reinforce the rationalism of this decision and the irrationality of trying, especially as an individual, to combat its supposedly real results in his daily life – or in his children’s daily lives. Yet there are few if any of us, black or white or ( as we all really are) in between, who isn’t susceptible in some way to “skin color realism” of some type, based on a lifetime absorbing stereotypical images, reading or viewing stereotype-reinforcing news and statistics, and so on.

    So, the question for Derbyshire as well as for Weigel – and for all of the rest of us – isn’t “Are you a racist?” According to the best anti-racist thinking, the statement “I am not a racist” is itself already a falsehood, always and without real exception. You therefore don’t need to wait for some “seriously racist shit” following the “but.” “I am not a racist, but…” is already seriously racist shit. The question is, “Given your and everyone else’s racist tendencies, what is the best way to cope privately and also to express oneself on the matter publicly?”

    In my opinion Derbyshire seems to fail miserably and flagrantly on both counts, and Weigel obviously much less so. Few of us will end up Derbyshiring at such length, so publicly, and over such an extended period of time, but we can approach still approach his errors, or those of his defenders and of some of his accusers, with a bit of humility, a bit of “there but for the grace of God or dumb luck…”

  7. Weigel wrote a second post and clarified his thoughts. Did you read it?

  8. Hi all,

    Thanks for posting your thoughts Joanna.

    I consider John Derbyshire to be similar to an organization like the Westboro Baptist Ministry. They represent the blatant racism (or homophobia, in the case of Westboro) that is otherwise left unsaid by their more moderate counterparts. They create a position that less extreme media outlets can distance themselves from, and thus hopefully distance themselves entirely from accusations of prejudice. So Sean Hannity will bring some poorly educated representative from Westboro on his show, poke fun at them relentlessly, and then everybody pats themselves on the back for not being THAT crazy.

    The problem is that a writer like Derbyshire is just presenting an extension of less radical conservative thought, and when the National Review fires him (as, I believe, they have no choice but to do), they are being disingenuous about their own beliefs and agenda. I’m not saying that because you are conservative, you are prejudiced. Not at all! But I am saying that there are a number of media outlets (and these tend to be politically conservative, for the most part) that hire correspondents and writers who espouse pretty prejudiced viewpoints.

    I think he should be fired. For sure. But I also suspect that his views, nasty as they are, are also shared by quite a few more savvy and less overt writers across the country…and that’s frightening.

    • Bloomberg says:

      Err, Josh I think you’ll find a lot of people tacitly follow Derbyshire’s advice. Look at revealed preferences rather than avowed preferences.

  9. Eric Rasmusen says:

    “Weigel’s entire piece is basically one, “I’m not a racist, but…” and I’m here to clarify something for Weigel: I don’t know you in real life, but in reading this piece, it seems you just might be a racist, pal.”

    Y’know, he might well be a Communist too, and maybe he should be put on probation and have someone very trustworthy read over all his pieces for possibly subversive content. Better to silence a few good-hearted writers than risk being undermined by wreckers. The good-hearted ones will agree, if their hearts are really good, and will be happy to be sacrificed as a way they can do their bit for the greater good.

  10. Anthony Zarat says:

    (absence of voice) + (anger) = violence

    But ..

    (radical voice) + (anger) = violence

    I think the key discriminating issue is: Does a writer lead, or does he follow? Derbyshire is clearly a follower. Nothing that he says is very new or original. Derbyshire is an echo, not a voice. He is a shadow, not a threat. As such, he is an important moderating influence. Keep him.

    Please, please, please. Do not shut him up. Voicelessness is how you make a Brevik.

  11. Jamesmace says:

    Why is no one mentioning the fact that the big losers in shutting down this discussion are the black family themselves?

    What is to be gained by liberals (and now conservatives) consigning the black family to a continued slide into the abyss?

    Shame!

  12. I think the piece by Derbyshire proves rather conclusively that Derbyshire is a liberal.

  13. Jerry Ryan says:

    “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps… then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” – Jesse Jackson

  14. I don’t think he should be fired. I think he should be debated. I believe I know the reason no one wants to argue with him. Its because though he is wrong about a lot of things…he is right on a few things. We talk about having a discussion on race. This is a good opportunity but instead of having the discussion we have shut the whole thing down. Why don’t we let Derbyshire post here! And we can debate this directly.

  15. Patrick Strei says:

    In view of last Summer’s Wisconsin State Fair, Chicago, and Philadelphia wildings, and the viral video of the young man beaten in Baltimore, some of Derbyshire’s advice might be well considered, although it certainly could have been nuanced. I believe Jesse Jackson said he feared young black men under some circumstances.

  16. Derbyshire’s kids aren’t white. Their mom is Chinese. His kids are Asian.
    I didn’t like his article, and NPR has fired him. But remembering who his kids are makes parts of his article very much the equivilant of the article to which he was responding in the first place.

    • Tom Carroll says:

      His kids are as much white as Asian.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Let’s be clear:

        You can be just fine with your Asian wife and kids and still be racist toward black people.

        No one’s calling Derb a white supremacist, we are calling him a racist. The race in question here being black.

  17. OK this is just getting silly. Sure Derbyshire needs to be fired (and perhaps slapped around a bit)
    But then we have one so called “liberal” criticizing another “liberal” for overtly stating the clear position and practice of the Democratic party and every other “social progressive” for the last 50m yrs or so.
    How can this woman sit and write with a straight face that Weigel should be scrutinized for saying what all of her own beliefs and actions support and promote?
    Are we going to hear her denounce affirmative action?
    Are we going to hear her denounce the welfare state?
    Are we going to hear here lambaste all the liberal MSM who foam at the mouth when a white person mistreats a black but won’t mention the race at all when it’s reversed?
    If the left has not been “caring for” (pronounced “coddling”) and excusing, and protecting (often from deserved consequences) people of color, then exactly who has been doing it?
    Is in not the work of the so called “liberals” that we have schools that nearly deify black accomplishments I*as long as they don’t mention Christianity! And at the same time we see more and more they vilify and ignore great white deeds?
    How dare this raging hypocrite try and attack this guy for telling the truth…oh wait…that’s what “liberals” (gag choke) always do….so…..never mind…

    • I am confused by your quotation marks. Is a ‘so-called “liberal”‘ only a liberal in name? Who is calling her a liberal, herself or others? I have the same confusion over your use of “social progressive.” Maybe it’s the structure of the comment threads but I can’t figure it out. Who are the two individual “liberals” you refer to?

      Derbyshire sure doesn’t self-identify as “liberal” and, if he is, I don’t see it. If it is Ms. Schroeder who is writing “with a straight face that Weigel should be scrutinized for saying what all of her own beliefs and actions support and promote” then I don’t believe she would agree and I don’t think it is true. But I can’t speak for her even if she is one of the “liberals” you refer to.

      Are you saying that you view affirmative action, the welfare state (a problematic label) and the “liberal MSM” (also problematic) as racist or anti-racist? You ask who has been coddling, excusing and protecting people of color. The way you frame it I’d say I have no idea. It would help me understand if I knew what people of color were coddled from… coddled against? Now I’m not sure what I mean.

      Again the quotation marks puzzle me. Are the “liberals” (fake or real?) vilifying and ignoring great white deeds. It seems to me that you can’t do both simultaneously. You use strong words, “denounce,” “raging,” “foaming at the mouth,” “vilify,” and so on. But you start off with silly and end with more quotation marks, choking and then a “never mind.”

      If you don’t think your post is worthwhile then I will accept that. But if you think it is worth something, or anything, then I’m curious and need help to understand it.

  18. Bloomberg says:

    Issue also of avowed preferences vs revealed preferences. I suspect a lot of white conservatives and liberals follows parts of Derbyshire’s advice in terms of choosing a place to live, schools to send their children and neighborhoods to avoid.

    It’s offensive to articulate it though.

  19. Bloomberg says:

    Interesting interview. Good point by Derbyshire about avowed vs revealed behavior.

    http://gawker.com/5900452/i-may-give-up-writing-and-work-as-a-butler-interview-with-john-derbyshire

  20. As a Masculist, I am shamed and uncomfortable with the level of apologetics being accorded to Derbyshire’s views. Would we be minimizing, dismissing, and ignoring this kind of behavior were it coming from Feminists engaged in yet another attempt to disenfranchise men? Are we really so divisive that as men we cannot recognize the unique ways in which Black people, especially Black men, who are our brothers, are oppressed in America?

    One commenter above stated, “I do wonder why there is no great outcry over the articles that spurred Derbyshire’s response. It is ok for black parents to have a “Talk” with their chidren but somehow not so for whites?”

    This is a false dichotomy. Whites do not suffer structural racism, and rarely individual microaggressions of racism. Black parents telling their children to watch out for White people who may say and do racist things towards them — essentially to avoid the same fate as Trayvon Martin — IS NOT THE SAME THING as Whites telling their kids to be racist against Black people. While I personally find this kind of opinion disgusting and morally reprehensible, I’m more concerned by the lack of condemnation from those who know better.

    A black male walking in a predominantly white neighborhood is much safer than a white male walking in a predominantly black neighborhood. A black male walking into a white neighborhood is safer than a black male walking a predominantly black neighborhood. We can ignore such things or try to fix them. Unfortunately, it is easier to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the only problem is nasty old white men who don’t trust young black men.

    Really? Why don’t we tell that to Trayvon Martin. Why don’t we tell that to Kenneth Chamberlain who was murdered by White police officers in his own home? Why don’t we tell that to the five victims in Tulsa Oklahoma?

    The sheer ignorance in touting racism as fact, in spouting prejudice and ignorance as refusing to stick your hand in the sand (when in fact it is quite the opposite) is wrong. Not questionable. Not controversial. Not a difference of opinion. Not being realistic. Not based on statistics.

    It. Is. Wrong.

    It has been proven to be wrong time and again, despite all the effort and concocted “evidence” by those who prefer the status quo. (The point about the BJS statistics is easily disproveable by the way, and has been before.) The MRM also fights against these kinds of systemic injustices, and to see the selfsame reasons that I was falsely accused of rape and nearly went to prison being utilized in furthering racism in America is absolutely despicable. Let me repeat: it is absolutely despicable.

    I would rather stand with my brothers of all races than with such naked discrimination. I would rather walk through the supposedly “dangerous” Black neighborhoods where I live, than any White-washed suburban street filled with hypocrisy and bigotry, where I grew up in.

    Right now I’m beyond angry, beyond disappointment, beyond even shame. I’m beyond words and thought — all I can do is feel… pain. It hurts to see so others readily willing to place their prejudice ahead of their compassion. So to Tom, and others who agree with his comments, I literally beg you to stop.

    But in my experience with racism, anti-Semitism, and misandry… I feel like you won’t.

  21. Peter Houlihan says:

    There’s a few people in this thread speaking about how black neighbourhoods are dangerous, and that it’s justified for white parents to tell their kids to stay away from it.

    I don’t think we should ignore that, or tell them to shut up. It’s a real problem when there’s a certain street your kids can’t go down because they might get shot. Next to that (trying to keep your kids alive), an appeal not to hurt someone’s feelings is is grotesque. But what I would like to say to those people is that while you have every right to be concerned and every right to tell your kids how to keep safe, you are doing harm by telling them that the problem is with black people.

    I live in Ireland. I can’t find any statistics off hand about the ethnic breakdown of the country, but its almost all caucasian. Well over 90%.

    And yet we have those areas too.

    We don’t have the rampant gun crimes that the US does (over here people get mugged at knifepoint and needlepoint instead) but we have high crime areas. We have streets where its not really safe to walk at night, we have gangs of kids who kick people heads in because they looked at them the wrong way and our jails are packed with young people who steal cars and destroy them for no better reason than they’re bored.

    I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers, I don’t, but if the problem is with black people then can someone explain how violent crime still happens here, where there’s barely any?

    • JSebastian says:

      Peter, your protestations about how you have dangerous neighborhoods in Ireland too (despite it mostly being white people) is no rebuttal, or even any kind of an argument. What does Ireland have to do with the US? The point of “The Talk (non Black version)” is that here, where we live, Black neighborhoods are in fact dangerous (and more so to whites or other groups than to other blacks, due to racial animosity).

      In fact, your closing sentence is a simple logical error – a fallacy . You have argued that the proposition that blacks are dangerous cannot be true because there are some other dangerous people in other parts of the world.

      It would be akin to my saying “Snakes are dangerous to people.”

      And then for you to respond, “but in some other place, there are also other animals dangerous to people. Therefore a dangerous animal cannot be a snake.”

      Can you see the defect of what you have constructed here?

      I maintain that there is no racist content in Derbyshire’s blog post. Could you please identify the suspected racist content?

      In fact, your closing sentence

Trackbacks

  1. […] called Taki’s Magazine, a disgusting piece that amounted to a tutorial on being racist, which I wrote about this […]

  2. […] called Taki’s Magazine, a disgusting piece that amounted to a tutorial on being racist, which I wrote about this […]

  3. […] Latin-afficionado John Derbyshire recently penned a reflective, presumably tongue-in-cheek advice piece for fellow fearful, racist white parents who may be concerned about their children interacting too much with black […]

  4. […] This comment is from CK MacLeod on Joanna Schroeder’s piece Racist Writings: Should Derbyshire and Weigel Be Fired? […]

  5. […] quote Joanna Schroeder at The Good Men Project: “If you’re not familiar with John Derbyshire, he’s a relatively […]

  6. […] Read the post that inspired this comment thread: Racist Writings: Should Derbyshire and Weigel Be Fired? […]

  7. […] Read the post that inspired this comment thread: Racist Writings: Should Derbyshire and Weigel Be Fired? […]

  8. […] the public realm: John Derbyshire’s screed in Taki magazine. As it has been widely reported both here and elsewhere, I won’t bore you by recounting what he wrote. What I will say is simply this: that […]

  9. […] the majority of people in our society consciously want to be racists. I don’t even think John Derbyshire wants to be a racist, and yet he clearly […]

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