Why John Derbyshire Hasn’t Been Fired (Yet)
There’s a cult club of supremacists and xenophobes that avidly consumes paleolibertarian and John Derbyshire swill, and they keep several right wing publications afloat. Those publications are in thrall to their ugly audience.
But that has not been the case with Derbyshire’s body of work up to now. And we have a theory why: The truth about intellectual magazines is that not all of their readers are as enlightened and forward-thinking and clear-eyed as the people who produce them imagine themselves to be. So the trick to pull off is how to give what those less enlightened readers want — and thereby secure their money either through subscriptions or contributions — while still maintaining an air of respectability. Think of how your PBS station always trots out the stars-of-the01970s concerts and River Dance whenever pledge drive comes around. That’s where Derbyshire comes in.
You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “No offense, but…” which always precedes something offensive wrapped in an “I’m just telling it like it is” attitude. In certain parts of the country, there’s a similar use of the phrase, “I’m not racist, but…” which always signifies that the speaker is about to say something racist. Derbyshire’s specialty is the fancy-pants version of “I’m not racist, but…” In his latest essay, “The Talk: Nonblack Version,” Derbyshire lists several key “fact”s that he thinks his kid should know. Among them:
(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.
(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(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.
To present himself as a cool social scientist, every single bullet point contains a link to some sort of source based in facts. The one about not going to a theme park where there’s a ton of black people is a New York Times story from 1987. The implication is that Derbyshire was close by when a shooting occurred. (Obviously he was not actually injured, or we’d never hear the end of it.) This is how he’s able to give the most dated racial stereotypes the veneer of respectability.