John Derbyshire is a rather curmudgeonly writer whose books I love and who formerly wrote pieces for the National Review. He is a freelancer and writes for other publications. This got him into a firestorm of criticism over Easter weekend and resulted in his services being dismissed by National Review. I was outraged by the way this was done. The article in question, is undoubtedly controversial and, in a couple of places unnecessarily so. I have posted part of it at ChicagoBoyz. The issue revolves around a set of “rules he proposed for his teenage children (Eurasian, by the way. His wife is Chinese)
(1) Among your fellow citizens are forty million who identify as black, and whom I shall refer to as black. The cumbersome (and MLK-noncompliant) term “African-American” seems to be in decline, thank goodness. “Colored” and “Negro” are archaisms. What you must call “the ‘N’ word” is used freely among blacks but is taboo to nonblacks.
(2) American blacks are descended from West African populations, with some white and aboriginal-American admixture. The overall average of non-African admixture is 20-25 percent. The admixture distribution is nonlinear, though: “It seems that around 10 percent of the African American population is more than half European in ancestry.” (Same link.)
(3) Your own ancestry is mixed north-European and northeast-Asian, but blacks will take you to be white.
Derbyshire’s wife is Chinese and his kids are mixed race Chinese-Caucasion
(4) The default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship. In some unusual circumstances, however—e.g., paragraph (10h) below—this default principle should be overridden by considerations of personal safety.
(5) As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type. Only at the far, far extremes of certain traits are there absences. There are, for example, no black Fields Medal winners. While this is civilizationally consequential, it will not likely ever be important to you personally. Most people live and die without ever meeting (or wishing to meet) a Fields Medal winner.
So far, despite the outrage, this seems pretty benign to me. (Probably evidence of my own racism)
Here comes trouble:
(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.
He is writing about means but few readers made that distinction and many may have no idea what a “mean “is.
Here comes the really controversial part:
(8) These differences are magnified by the hostility many blacks feel toward whites. Thus, while black-on-black behavior is more antisocial in the average than is white-on-white behavior, average black-on-white behavior is a degree more antisocial yet.
(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.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”
(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by affirmative action. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low proportions of blacks in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of affirmative action, the proportions are higher. In government work, they are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white. In such encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on average, be dealt with more competently by a white than by a black. If that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play, you will be dealt with more politely, too. “The DMV lady“ is a statistical truth, not a myth.
(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.
(14) Be aware, however, that there is an issue of supply and demand here. Demand comes from organizations and businesses keen to display racial propriety by employing IWSBs, especially in positions at the interface with the general public—corporate sales reps, TV news presenters, press officers for government agencies, etc.—with corresponding depletion in less visible positions. There is also strong private demand from middle- and upper-class whites for personal bonds with IWSBs, for reasons given in the previous paragraph and also (next paragraph) as status markers.
(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).
The most controversial part of the piece is the last few items. Probably the most controversial is the admonition to avoid acting as a “Good Samaritan” to stranded blacks. I would include a disclaimer about time of day and the appearance of the individual.
Rich Lowry, now Editor in chief of NRO, write a weasel worded piece (with comments disabled) dismissing Derbyshire without a single word about what items were objectionable. Not one !
Others have since posted opinions. Many, but not most, were of the PC variety horrified that anyone would, for example, question the mean IQ of blacks as compared to whites. The fact that there is considerable data on this topic was not considered. Charles Murray, in “The Bell Curve”, got nearly as much heat about this as Derb.
A few courageous others have defended him. Chief among them is Walter Williams. I am not surprised at all. His tone is more harsh than I expected.
Let’s look at some non-news cases. On March 14 in Tulsa, Okla., a white couple suffered a home invasion by Tyrone Woodfork, a 20-year-old black man. Ninety-year-old Bob Strait suffered a broken jaw and broken ribs in the attack. His 85-year-old wife, Nancy, was sexually assaulted and battered to death, ending their 65-year marriage.
On March 4, two black Kansas City, Mo., youths doused a 13-year-old boy in gasoline and set him on fire, telling him, “You get what you deserve, white boy.” Last summer, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered an emergency shutdown of the beaches in Chicago because mobs of blacks were terrorizing white families.
Several years ago, in Knoxville, Tenn., a young white couple was kidnapped by four blacks. The girl was forced to witness her boyfriend’s rape, torture and subsequent murder before she was raped, tortured and murdered. Before disposing of her body, the three men and one woman poured bleach or some other cleaning agent down her throat in an effort to destroy DNA evidence. A jury found the four guilty, and they were sentenced, but because of the judge’s drug use, a retrial is being considered.
None of those black-on-white atrocities made anywhere near the news that the Trayvon Martin case made, and it’s deliberate. Editors for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune admitted to deliberately censoring information about black crime for political reasons, in an effort to “guard against subjecting an entire group of people to suspicion.”
Mark Steyn wrote a wise column, muted a bit I suppose to avoid Derbyshire’s fate.
By Mark Steyn
April 9, 2012 2:59 P.M. Comments164
Andy, for what it’s worth, I regret the loss of John Derbyshire to National Review. Short version: Didn’t like the piece, but don’t think NR should have hustled him into the drive-thru guillotine on the basis of 24 hours of hysteria from the Internet’s sans-culottes. Longer version:
I didn’t agree with Derb on many things, from Ron Paul and talk radio to God and science. For his part, he reckoned I was a bit of a wimp on what he called “the Great Unmentionables.” He thought that neuroscientists and geneticists’ understanding of race trumped my touching belief in “culture.” I’m not so sure: Why is Haiti Haiti and Barbados Barbados? Why is India India and Pakistan Pakistan? Skin color and biological determinism don’t get you very far on that.
But I almost always learned something from his columns, and, at a time when punditry is increasingly parochial, I appreciated his range of historical and literary allusion (his recent “Duke of Marlborough moment,” for example). He will be impossible to replace on that front.
Lesser lights at NRO weighed in with obsequious panderings to the editor. I can’t work up enough enthusiasm to finish it but there is the link.
I could go on but choose to sum up by pointing out that this is an example of conservative cowardice. I will skip NRO now, except for Steyn and Jay Nordlinger, who far surpass anybody else there. My subscription will not be renewed. Fortunately, it appears I will not have to do without Derbyshire’s writing. Here he goes after multiculturalism.
This is in spite of his declaration that he may quit writing. I hope he continues. I could even visualize a smaller, much smaller, magazine written by the few people of Derb’s quality who have been NR alumni or are presently enduring Lowry.