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  • John Derbyshire

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 7th, 2012 (All posts by )

    A favorite writer, usually seen at National Review but widely published, has created a firestorm of political correctness by an article he wrote for another magazine. John Derbyshire is a mathematician and curmudgeon of the satiric variety. I think I have read all of his books, several of which are not an easy read. His We Are Doomed had me laughing so hard I cried. My review is here.

    His current outrage is to have said “There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    (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.

    Sounds like common sense to me. I am reminded of Jesse Jackson’s famous quote, which he intermittently denies;

    “At my age there nothing that I hate so much as walking at night and hearing footsteps behind me, then turning and feeling relieved to see a white face.”

    Read the rest to what has the leftist blogosphere up in arms (or would if they approved of arms).

    I would be very disappointed if there is any attempt to punish him (except for leftist rhetoric) for this frank discussion of current American life, especially as a “white-Hispanic” is in fear of his life while threatened with lynching by people who used to fear being a victim.

     

    52 Responses to “John Derbyshire”

    1. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Well, AG Eric Holder wanted us to have a frank discussion or race … I guess we are having it now. And with both barrels.

    2. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The Trayvon Martin case will, if nothing else, start that discussion. Maybe a race riot or two, as well.

    3. John Foster Says:

      This could turn out to be interesting. Derbyshire is a math geek and has written popular science books on the subject. Consequently, he mentions, e.g., the Fields Medal and the Law of Large Numbers. Although he provides links for some assertions, presumably most people aren’t going to read statistical inquiries on race and criminality or measured IQ. So it’s more than just people not getting the mean vs. average issue.

      My take was that he was saying treat individuals as individuals, but with groups play the statistics. I have trouble faulting that.

      There is already talk of pressuring National Review to fire him. Which would be a shame. If we are to have “a frank discussion on race,” then that should include even “unpopular” ones relying on statistics. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

      I’ll be interested to see what Steve Sailer, another statistics geek concerned with “race” issues, has to say: isteve.blogspot.com. He also tends to say un-PC things.

    4. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The same thing happened when The Bell Curve came out. It was attacked by the same crowd which was a bit more courageous then. I was at Dartmouth then and, when people realized I had a copy, I had lots of requests to borrow it from people who admitted they didn’t want to be seen buying it in the Dartmouth Bookstore.

    5. Lexington Green Says:

      Even or better odds that NR fires him.

    6. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      Oh, these calls for a frank discussion have been going on for quite awhile. It means the precise opposite of what it says. It means “We need to have the proper POV lectured at people who don’t get it – no interruptions, and pay attention, you in the back – so that one side can be frank.

      See also Speaking Truth To Power, which means “Proclaiming untruths in front of people who agree with you entirely.”

    7. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I don’t think the grievance merchants have much influence at National Review.

    8. David Fleck Says:

      Even or better odds that NR fires him.

      Done.

    9. ErisGuy Says:

      Any chance NRO will fire that racist who wrote (about the Martin case) “Al Sharpton Was Right”?

    10. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Yes, I saw Lowry’s piece about ending the relationship. I think this will create some blowback, especially if the Martin case results in riots. If Lowry had attempted to refute Derb’s points, I could accept that, even if I disagreed. I was planning on the NRO cruise again after the election. Fortunately, there are other cruises with the same speakers. Derb will do fine with his books as his role at NRO is quite small. It is very sad, however, to see a conservative publication go wobbly when a writer produces a well argued case about common sense. All the lefties, and the righties too, follow Derb’s advice. They are just too cowardly to admit it.

      A sad day, but not unexpected. Limbaugh is capable of defending himself. Derb is a smaller target and deserved better of NRO. I will not renew my subscription. It is even more sad to see what this president and Attorney General have done to racial harmony. I dread what the will do by November. I only hope we are rid of them after November.

    11. Brandoch Daha Says:

      I’m bothered by Derbyshire’s piece a lot more than you are, but I’m more bothered by people who claim to value free debate rushing to demonstrate their virtue by a) demanding that he be effectively silenced, and b) loudly misrepresenting what he wrote to make it sound worse — flat out lying about it, in some cases.

      As if our side could be accused any more incessantly of racism than it already is. As if anything any of us said could ever make the slightest difference. The hell with it.

      90% of Derbyshire’s piece would be universally considered uncomfortably funny if it were in a Chris Rock monologue. The rest, well, hey. No worse than what the president’s friends, fundraisers, mentors, and advisors say.

      Thank you for not throwing a fit.

    12. Michael Kennedy Says:

      If you want funny, read “We Are Doomed.” It was pretty good prediction, too. I won’t forgive NRO for firing him. If he had been a Romney adviser, I could understand it. NRO thinks it is far more important than it is. They fired Ann Coulter for her satiric comment that we should invade the middle east and convert them all to Christianity. Her suggestion sounds more and more sensible these days.

    13. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Rich Lowry may succeed in killing off National Review. Without Derbyshire and Mark Steyn, it is limp pap. Mark was being prosecuted in Canada for the equivalent of heresy last year.

    14. Cris Says:

      Keeping in mind that Derb is quite ill and taking lots of meds, one wonders if he’d written the same when healthy. That said, he said it, and it was open and honest.
      NR has gotten rather squishy the past few years and fallen off my regular reading rounds. Now it is gone completely. No stomach for the fight, ungrateful and disloyal.

    15. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

      I read the piece in the NY Post on what a black father should say to his black children about police. I didn’t understand then how the Treyvon Martin Case had anything to do with police. The cops seemed professional in the 911 calls. They spent a lot of time interviewing Zimmerman and passed that information to prosecutors. They didn’t need to arrest Zimmerman as the circumstances were not clear and he was cooperating. So Derbyshire writes a “white analog” that is never spoken but implied by most parents. There is a breakdown in black society that leads to high crime (and particularly violence) levels. Here in Hartford CT (and the other metropolitan areas in CT liberal New Haven and crooked Bridgeport) gang and gun violence approaches Chicago levels when adjusted for population. Some is latino gangs, but most is black on black. The racial makeup is disguised in the media but mugshots tell it all.

      National Review panic set in on this obvious truth (even if you discard the IQ issues, the social ones are indisputable). The Martin case was amplified to resurrect old issues and shore up the black vote for the democrats. There has been some leakage away from the Dems due to extremely high black unemployment and the whole school choice issues.

    16. Ginny Says:

      “I think it’s an important tool — certainly not the only tool — that we use to keep this city safe,” Kelly said. “I think it’s one of the tactics and strategies that helped us reduce murders by 51 percent in the Bloomberg decade, I’ll call it, from the decade before. The vast majority of those lives saved are young people, young people of color. So what we’re talking about is very serious business.”
      Planted in an NPR report, I heard this on the way home from work, I was moved. But this was a report with complaints about New York’s stop-and-frisk policy. That 51% is buried in the midst of NPR’s lament. And we are left wondering if it affected other crime – theft, burglary, rape, assaults.

      Life for the majorities, the middle class and above, remains relatively safe. But this is not the world that some of us live in. In that world, saving and planning for the future is more difficult because the right to property has little importance with high theft rates, feminist complaints trivial next to rape. Chaos and danger discourage thinking – planning, saving, organizing are trumped by immediate reaction. The stories of the Scottish border, where little was invested in housing since the periodic raids were likely to level them, come from the past – but are not absent from the present. Creon explains to Oedipus that they had not sought Laius’ murderer because the sphinx had mesmerized them. The chaos and disorder of that frightened Thebes was a land where regicide goes unpunished. But a look at the crime statistics hints that it isn’t a sphinx but rather the people caught by the stop and frisk procedure that mesmerize their unhappy neighbors.

      And then there is death. None of us want to live in a police state; I’m not sure where the tradeoffs start. But 51% fewer murders strikes me as big – enough to justify at least some level of “stop-and-frisk.”

      And, so, a guy with an ability with numbers makes some observations. Its the numbers and not the anecdotal case that tells the real tale. Policies are only likely to affect any one person, but are more likely to affect the group. The column was already gone the first time I tried to follow a link – maybe it was terrible, I don’t know. Apparently he looked at some statistics front on. I don’t think we do enough of that. And I don’t think people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton really care about that 51% that are alive – they’d rather have a cause.

    17. pst314 Says:

      Assistant Village Idiot: “Having a frank discussion” has another related meaning: Invite people to speak frankly, and then destroy them. Today’s left learned well from monsters like Mao (whom they idolized), who used his “Hundred Flowers” speech to trick secret dissenters into revealing themselves in the false belief that freedom of thought would now be respected.

    18. renminbi Says:

      I think we are seeing the attrition of PC, mainly because the internet bypasses the obsolescent legacy media. Political Correctness can’t stand on its own.
      As for NR, I will not renew my subscription, even if they have some very good writers.

    19. Whitehall Says:

      I read Derb’s piece and found it mathmatically sound advice.

      What’s the definition of “gaffe” – speaking the truth? Seems to fit here.

      I noticed that NRO had one columnist gushing about how Trayvon was such a victim and the event was likely to result in a conviction. I gagged when I read that. Adding that to their boosterism for Romney (who I don’t dislike), and I’ll strike them from my favorites list.

      Most of us, based on statistical evidence like Derb brought out, strongly suspect that Trayvon was a petty hood, or wannabe hood, who was caught casing B&E targets by a citizen protecting hia home neighborhood. Trayvon over-reacted by jumping Zimmerman but got more than he bargained for. THAT is the story that fits the facts as we know them.

      Can not citizens protect their homes and communities from punks who rob? Can we not fight back against those who would disorder society? Sorry, but that is a fundamental right and one I’ll not give up. Zimmerman seems to have been doing just that.

    20. pst314 Says:

      “I noticed that NRO had one columnist gushing about how Trayvon was such a victim and the event was likely to result in a conviction.”

      Rich Lowry wrote at NRO that Zimmerman should have been arrested. He knew that he didn’t have enough facts yet to make a judgement, but made one anyway.

    21. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Buckley had some reasons for firing Sobran, years ago, and ending the relationship with Buchanan after Pat ran for president as another party’s nominee. These case stinks and, I suspect, will cost NR subscribers. I usually read Mark Steyn and skim the rest. I’ve met some of these folks on cruises and they seem to suffer from the guilty conservative syndrome, especially Lowry.

    22. cerebus Says:

      Always enjoyed his writings on math and science. His history of algebra was great. Certainly one of the sharper tools in the National Review shed, but a bit of a troll. He always walked a rather fine line. When I saw the headline beside Ta-Nehisi Coates byline on the Atlantic homepage “A Quick Word on John Derbyshire” my first thought was ‘uh-oh, he’s finally done it’.

      I remember the broadly positive but critical review published in Taki-era TAC of a book by academic anti-semite Kevin Macdonald where he discussed the dangers to one’s professional career of “getting the jew thing” riffing off the ignominious end of Sobran’s career in mainstream conservatism.

      Derb will now join the likes of Sobran, Francis, Buchanan et al. as a martyr to the far right.

    23. onparkstreet Says:

      I will voice a word of dissent. Derbyshire always struck me as a crank, although I admit I’ve read some of his posts with great interest.

      I don’t think Derbyshire is a bigot, but what kind of person writes what he wrote? If he is very ill and on so many medications, I am very sorry and hope he gets well, but it was stupidly written. If you are going to write about such a subject, do it with a little intelligence and I’m not talking about the strict mathematics of it. Write a satire of the original NY Post piece or something. I mean, he’s only a professional writer. Why expect good writing?

      I am very aware of black-on-black crime as it affects the neighborhoods I work and live around. I also work in an environment with many blacks, or African-Americans, many of whom are military veterans.

      Of course I will avoid some very troubled neighborhoods, but I will not avoid a group of people simply based on color. Other clues toward possible behavior matter which is the point he failed to make. Frankly, it is those clues that I look for as I navigate the varied neighborhoods I do. I wager that keeps me safer than anything else.

      Besides, I always wonder about the math for those Razib Khan/ \Gene Expression, Steve Sailor guys. When I do know a little something about the subject, I find errors. So, why should I be so in awe just because people can crank a few numbers?

      I strongly dissent from this post, MK.

      – Madhu

    24. onparkstreet Says:

      “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….”

      This is what I was talking about. What is HE talking about? There are always things to guide you. That’s just bad, careless writing. What the heck does he even mean?

      I left the left because of its hypocrisy over Lewinsky and now I feel like publications like National Review (yes, I know the piece was not written for NR) are dissolving into crankery. The Corner is utterly laughable on the subject of Pakistan, or, at least, some of its more prominent posters.

      Utterly laughable. A joke.

      Sorry, friends, but I’m done and I’ve been done for a while now. I’ll just join the rest of the Independents. This is neither here nor there, but I don’t feel that I “fit” intellectually anywhere anymore.

      Does this just naturally happen?

      – Madhu

    25. onparkstreet Says:

      That article says you should scrutinize a black politician more carefully than a white politician. Well, since this blog is called Chicagoboyz, you all know what I think about that. Scrutinize the heck out of all of ’em — or you are an idiot. Why one more than the other.

      Seriously, guys, you are okay with the whole piece, and not just the excerpts? Whoa. Beg. To. Differ. On. This. One.

      – Madhu

    26. Ginny Says:

      Well, I’ll admit I shouldn’t have commented without reading it – so I’m not going to defend or criticize anything.
      However, we need to make policy from the generalizations while our heart is moved – and should be – by the specific which may well be exceptional. Perhaps some police actions aren’t worth lowering the death rate by 51% but we should presume that is a reasonable argument for the practice, and some weighty ones need to counter it. The distinction between prejudging and working with the odds is always difficult, but I do think we need to note the statistical information as well as the anecdotes. (And of course this is from someone who pretty much makes her living talking about the moving specifics in any piece of literature and her down time telling anecdotes.) My impression was Derbyshire was speaking statistics – means? But, of course, it was whisked away and I may be misunderstanding.

    27. onparkstreet Says:

      The piece gives me the creeps. The same creeps I get when I read the anti-semitic venom on the blogs of some of his co-writers on that online journal. So, I stopped reading those sites. And I stopped reading NRO, pretty much. It is possible to make the more serious points he makes without making the more outrageous ones. I think the actual piece matters.

      – Madhu

    28. onparkstreet Says:

      I should make it clear that I meant the comments section of the blogs. It’s not fair to blame the authors, I suppose, as some people are free-speech absolutists on this stuff. But, man, the first time I fell into a Sailor blog comment section I was freaked out.

      – Madhu

    29. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I strongly dissent from this post, MK.”

      Does that mean you think he should have been fired for daring to bring up the subject or that you disagree with Derb’s points ? If the latter, how about some argument ?

      (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.

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

      (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.

      (6) As you go through life, however, you will experience an ever larger number of encounters with black Americans. Assuming your encounters are random—for example, not restricted only to black convicted murderers or to black investment bankers—the Law of Large Numbers will inevitably kick in. You will observe that the means—the averages—of many traits are very different for black and white Americans, as has been confirmed by methodical inquiries in the human sciences.

      (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.

      So which of these items do you disagree with ? Links or references ?

      (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. Is this where you disagree ? Explain please ?

      (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.

      My mother was unable to avoid item 10f but she did have her voting rights denied in 1996 when a black poll watcher challenged her registration although she had lived in the building at 7447 South Shore Drive for 33 years.

      (10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white. anyone who lives in CHicago probably knows this is useless. Strother, anyone ?

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

      OK this is questionable.

      (10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving. Any questions ?

      (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.”

      OK this is embarrassing but proven over and over. It DOES NOT APPLY TO INDIVIDUALS. Ask Thomas Sowell.

      (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. Any questions ? Once again we are dealing with statistical norms. I had a very pretty Persian girl screw up my bank accounts thoroughly two weeks ago. Does that mean I don’t like Persians ? NO but I will be more careful with young people and my bank account.

      (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).

      This is clearly satire, as is most of the rest of the post. If I say, “Indians and Pakistanis are equally stupid.” I would expect an argument. I expect better of Rich Lowry. Now, if you want to kick me off ChicagoBoyz, a word will suffice. I am the opposite of Groucho Marx who wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would accept him.

    30. onparkstreet Says:

      Oh, come on. I said I dissented from the post, meainging I disagreed. So now I have to agree with all of you about everything? Is there a conservative PC now? The Right can be as prissy about its own PC as well as the Left. If you deviate, you are not a true “progressive” or true “conservative.”

      Whatever.

      I don’t care what National Review does. It’s a private magazine and they can do what they want. I don’t read it usually because they’ve been so wrong about so many things, especially the Iraq War. Which I got wrong, too.

      Perhaps I should have written disagree instead of dissent.

      The man once posted–approvingly, mind you–a post at NRO about how one of his commenters never eats anything but real American food, in that he never ate anything ethnic. The other NRO commenters had great fun, like, say, does he eat Pizza? Hot Dogs. Dude flirted with serious crankery. That’s my opinion. It differs from yours. That’s all I meant.

      – Madhu

    31. onparkstreet Says:

      It’s clearly satire? Geez, I couldn’t tell it was so badly written.

      – Madhu

    32. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “Oh, come on. I said I dissented from the post, meainging I disagreed. So now I have to agree with all of you about everything? I”

      No, a reasonable argument would be welcome. If Rich Lowry had done so, I would not be as upset with the wets at NRO.

      Once again, no specifics. Even one would be too much ?

    33. onparkstreet Says:

      Michael,

      Blog friend. I did give specifics in my original comments.

      1. It’s a touchy topic with a lot of room for misunderstanding, so the mix of serious and satire is very confusing and obscures whatever valid points he might make. You say much of it is satire, and then proceed to take much of it seriously. It’s just confusingly written. That’s a fair comment to make, especially given that he is a professional writer.

      2. I pointed out the bit about scrutinizing black politicians more than white politicians. For me, that is too much. Why do you think it’s okay? If he was serious, I mean, what is reasonable or defensible about that? If it’s satire, what is he satirizing? I don’t get it. It’s just dumb. It’s a dumb comment. If I am collecting a group of writers for a magazine, I’d want them to write well, interestingly, clearly, and make sense. What’s the point of that comment? In fact, what, exactly, is the point of the article? Is it to satirize the original NYPost piece? Is it to present statistics to make a policy point? What’s the point? It’s rambling and weird.

      3. If you take the body of his work together, in my opinion, he flirts with a kind of genetic determinism. What I mean is that he seems to think people should be treated according to their IQ. I could be wrong about that, but that is what I get from him. I think each individual human life is precious and I reject that sort of thinking from progressives. Why should I accept it from conservatives?

      4. Don’t act as a Good Samaritan to Blacks? What is defensible about this? Seriously, Michael, what is it that others see in this piece that I don’t? Others have made the same policy points he has without reverting to that sort of nonsense. Even from the logic of his piece, it doesn’t make sense because he says, well, you have to take specific factors into account, and then he proceeds to ignore his own advice. Again, it’s weird.

      Anyway, we will have to agree to disagree. It’s Easter and as a peace offering, I will tell you that I have to read the following book for a medical humanities course:

      http://tinyurl.com/blex6rb

      Take care,

      Madhu
      Have you read or reviewed it? It’s right up your alley.

    34. tyouth Says:

      oakparkstreet, You protest way too much over a frank discussion about the way race plays out and the way race is viewed. With all due respect, your emotions seem to be overloaded. Look at the number of comments and the vehemence of your writing.

      It boils down to this: Without making any value judgement, it is dangerous for an average white person (as it may be for the average black) to walk down the streets of most black neighborhoods. It is not very dangerous for a person of color to walk down the streets of most white neighborhoods. Remember this is simple advice, guidelines, for a simple (young) person that doesn’t have the situational awareness or street smarts that you may have.

      The conceit of addressing a hypothetical young son or daughter is brilliant, the advice is essentially good.

      It’s not Derbyshire’s fault it is the way it is, it just is.

    35. tdaxp Says:

      Onparkstreet,

      Your point #4, on being a Good Samaritan, struck me as a strong one. Derbyshire (I believe) is an atheist, so I am sure that isn’t an issue for him.

      In any case, however, one has to ponder whether it is more Christian to urge one’s child to be a martyr to the faith or to encourage him to life a life of safety.

    36. Mitch Says:

      This isn’t a charity call, as the Derb will undoubtedly do fine without NR. But in case anyone wants a way to register a protest, it’s worth mentioning that he only recently put up a paypal link, so if you’re canceling your NR sub and want somewhere else to put the money: http://www.johnderbyshire.com/

    37. onparkstreet Says:

      “oakparkstreet, You protest way too much over a frank discussion about the way race plays out and the way race is viewed. With all due respect, your emotions seem to be overloaded. Look at the number of comments and the vehemence of your writing.” – tyouth

      How is that different from my normal commenting style? I always leave multiple strongly worded comments on any post where I bother to comment…. :)

      You’ve got a point, though. I could have done this better and will do so in an actual post on the subject. My apologies for my tone, MK.

      There are two conversations going on here:

      1. General comments about race issues.

      2. Comments about a specific article by a specific author with a specific history who is writing on a particular platform, helmed by a particular individual.

      I am talking about #2, which, in my opinion, affects #1. If you’d like, google some of the names from that magazine. It will be an education, I’m betting, but maybe not.

      The guys at Powerline:

      This has all been a long time coming. In January 2003, I wrote here that Derbyshire should be kicked off the conservative team:
      .
      I’ve always thought Andrew Sullivan’s criticisms of John Derbyshire of National Review Online were unfair. Now, however, Derbyshire has put his foot in his mouth in a manner that makes Trent Lott look discreet and statesmanlike by comparison. In his latest NRO column, Derbyshire vows to stop talking about race, since his views are “non-respectable.”
      .
      A resolution to which he should have held firm.
      .
      Unfortunately, in the process of swearing off any further talk about race, Derbyshire lets loose one last volley of incomprehensible stupidity:
      .
      All American politicians are liars and hypocrites about race, from Democrats like Hillary Clinton posing as champions of the downtrodden black masses while buying a house in the whitest town they can find, to Republicans pretending not to know that (a) many millions of nonblack Americans seriously dislike black people, (b) well-nigh every one of those people votes Republican, and (c) without those votes no Republican would ever win any election above the county level.
      .
      It’s hard to know where to begin responding to this slander of Republicans and Republican voters. In the first place, while there are no doubt plenty of white people who don’t much care for blacks (and vice versa), I don’t know of any support for the claim that “many millions” of nonblack Americans “seriously dislike black people.” If this were the case, it is hard to see how Michael Jordan could be our most admired athlete, Oprah Winfrey one of our most popular entertainers, and Colin Powell probably the most admired person in American public life–to take just three of many possible examples.
      .
      Further, Derbyshire’s claim that “well-nigh every one of these people” (i.e., racists) votes Republican is ridiculous. All of the public opinion surveys I have seen on the subject have indicated that racial animosity is expressed more often by Democrats than by Republicans. (They also indicate that of all ethnic groups, whites express the least animosity toward other races.)
      .
      And finally, the idea that without the anti-black vote, “no Republican would ever win an election” is equally absurd. Take just one example, my home state of South Dakota. South Dakota’s black population is essentially zero, and the state has historically voted Republican. George Bush carried South Dakota easily in 2000. Does Derbyshire seriously believe that what motivates South Dakotans to vote for Republicans is their distaste for black people?
      .
      The conservative movement is a big tent, and in general, I don’t like efforts to expel people from it; for example, I thought it was silly for NRO to purge Ann Coulter for language it deemed over-the-top. But to anyone capable of expressing such foolish and destructive sentiments as we have just heard from Derbyshire, all I can say is: get off my team.

      I don’t consider myself on any team and its not my place to kick anyone off anything. I am simply voicing my opinion as part of the “frank” conversation.

      http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/04/derbyshire-bites-the-dust.php

      My apologies if I have been overly emotional.

      – Madhu

    38. Allen Says:

      http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/295591/re-derb-mark-steyn

      Mark Steyn weighs in and its not pretty for NR. Great closing point.

      Re: Derb
      By Mark Steyn
      April 9, 2012 2:59 P.M. Comments39
      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.

      On the career-detonating column, I don’t have anything terribly useful to add. But Derb’s wife is Chinese and his children are biracial. And I can see why, in a world in which a four-time mayor of America’s capital city can disparage your own family’s race (“these Asians coming in . . . those dirty shops . . . they ought to go”) and pay no price, a chap might come to resent the way polite society’s indulgence of racism is so highly selective.

      So I don’t share Andy’s insouciance about how what’s sauce for the MSNBC race huckster, Hollywood address-tweeter and New Black Panther bounty-offerer should be a “hanging offense” for the iconoclastic right-wing gander, and them’s the rules and we just have to accept it. The Left is pretty clear about its objectives on everything from climate change to immigration to gay marriage: Rather than win the debate, they’d just as soon shut it down. They’ve had great success in shrinking the bounds of public discourse, and rendering whole areas of public policy all but undiscussable. In such a climate, my default position is that I’d rather put up with whatever racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic/whateverphobic excess everybody’s got the vapors about this week than accept ever tighter constraints on “acceptable” opinion. The latter kills everything, not least the writing skills of the ideologically conformist: Note how cringe-makingly limp the Derbyshire “satires” are, even in the marquee publications.

      The net result of Derb’s summary execution by NR will be further to shrivel the parameters, and confine debate in this area to ever more unreal fatuities. He knew that mentioning the Great Unmentionables would sooner or later do him in, and, in an age when shrieking “That’s totally racist!” is totally gay, he at least has the rare satisfaction of having earned his colors. Yet what are we to make of wee, inoffensive Dave Weigel over at Slate? The water still churning with blood, the sharks are circling poor old Dave for the sin of insufficiently denouncing the racist Derbyshire. Weigel must go for not enthusiastically bellowing, “Derbyshire must go!” Come to think of it, I should probably go for querying whether Weigel should go.

      NR shouldn’t be rewarding those who want to play this game. The more sacrifices you offer up, the more ravenously the volcano belches.

      PS If Derb’s piece is sufficiently beyond the pale that its author must be terminated immediately, why is its publisher — our old friend Taki — proudly listed on the NR masthead?

    39. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I was wrong. NRO caved. I have lost all respect for them. Derb’s article was mean spirited, and hysterical, but it was not outside the range of things that can be said or thought.

    40. Dan D Says:

      Here is John Podhoretz on the topic, he makes some very good points. Especially about using “scientific” arguments about race, uncoupled from perspective.

      http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/04/09/john-derbyshire-and-national-review-why-it-had-to-happen/

      While I have a lot of sympathy for the “restraint of debate” objections of Mark Steyn, here is my own take:

      We have a right to say all kinds of things: You Irish drink too much; how come you aren’t still married to your first wife? Your wife is kind of fat, and your daughter isn’t good looking; those people will never amount to anything. We have that right, just as we have a right to flush twenty dollar bills down the commode, which adds approximately the same value to the world.

      Look, Derb chose to say and print some things that may or may not have held literal truth. He did not say other things that might have provided perspective or context or mitigation. The end result is that his writings were hurtful and offensive without objectively improving the world, interpersonal relations, or our understanding of our fellow human beings. National Review’s opponents would gladly use those statements to discredit other unrelated writings, and the magazine/website was within its rights to distance itself from Derb’s latest writing.

      John Derbyshire is being treated for leukemia and perhaps feels that he has nothing to lose in saying exactly what is on his mind, regardless of any consequences to others, including his recent employer.

      Every one of us has a choice to speak and act to improve the world and to act kindly toward our fellow human beings; or we can assert our right to heedlessly state whatever comes into our head.
      Which choice we make speaks volumes about our own character.

    41. tdaxp Says:

      Podhoretz raises one straw man, one specious/stupid/dishonest issue, and one solid one.

      The straw man is the claim that NRO is violating Derbyshire’s free speech rights. What a stupid issue to bring up.

      The specious/stupid/dishonest one is Podhoretz’s uses of scare quotes around “scientific.” Derbyshire didn’t make “scientific” claims. He made scientific claims. He’s facutally correct.

      I doubt he is so stupid to confuse empirical realities with normative ethics. But as few writers have any scientific literacy, as Derbyshire was definitely one of them, the parsimonious explanation is that Podhoretz doesn’t.

      The sensible point Podhoretz brings up is that NRO exists for a reason. The q. is, does national Review exist to shape the conservative conservation against liberalism, or does it serve to elect a Republican to the White House? I’m sure anyone in the Romney campaign wanted Derb gone immediately. We saw who won.

    42. tdaxp Says:

      Dan D,

      “Look, Derb chose to say and print some things that may or may not have held literal truth.”

      Such as?

      I suspect the reason that no one has bothered to criticize any of Derb’s empirical claims is that the overlap of people who understand psychometric methods, and the people who believe there are no racial differences in intelligence, rounds to 0.

    43. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I really am tired of this argument (as opposed to debate) but “his writings were hurtful and offensive” is exactly what the problem is.

      Hurtful and offensive is in the eye of the beholder these days and you had better watch out that you don’t learn this the hard way.

      Derbyshire did a lot of his writing as a pessimist and curmudgeon. He has learned a hard lesson. The truth is no defense. It doesn’t matter that his points are statistically correct. He hurt somebody’s feelings. I had an extensive e-mail exchange with Patrick Frey (Patterico). I won’t repeat it here but my argument was that American blacks are in a self destructive phase now. I see this in medical students where foreign born blacks excel almost effortlessly while Americans struggle. Derb wrote about statistical variation in IQ (which also created a firestorm for Charles Murray 15 years ago) but he didn’t analyze (perhaps because he has no experience here) the difference between foreign born blacks, who usually have much less or no “white” blood in them, and American black kids who are burdened with the results of the grievance industry. The difference is striking.

      That’s enough of this for me.

    44. onparkstreet Says:

      I won’t have time to do a post anytime soon, so here is what I will write in lieu of a post:

      The statistics are not the objection, it’s the long history of hostile and unthinking comments toward a group of people that are a hallmark of his writing and the suggestions he makes–and he’s made them in “non-satirical” form before–that are the problem. He has called himself a racist:

      I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one, and those things are going to be illegal pretty soon, the way we are going.

      Why should I admire a person who writes something like that? If you want to make a free speech argument, then, by all means, make one, but it is equally free speech to be disgusted at something like that and to say so. It’s not PC. Why would an editor of a magazine want to deal with someone like this when he or she could hire a writer that could bring conservatism to a new generation? The average age of the NR subscriber is in his sixties, or something like that. Heaven forbid I be ageist, that would be wrong, but the magazine is dying and its dying because no one under a certain age is remotely interested in the opinions of a racist, albeit a mild and tolerant one.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/04/a-quick-word-on-john-derbyshire/255576/

      @ txdap: Podhoretz has been having a long conversation about these subjects, as far as I can tell, and the quotation remarks around science likely refer to that. Not everything about every human society can be boiled down to IQ testing or genetic determism. I suspect the quotations have to do with the following:

      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.

      – Mark Steyn

      Good luck getting very far with that subject and the Razib Khan (I’ve met him once, he used to blog at Sepia Mutiny and he seemed like a very nice guy, actually) “Gene Expression” crowd. Genetics is the be-all-and-end-all of human experience and cultural development. But, to be fair, the critics are not making this argument very well and unless you have read the back-and-forth over the years, you won’t know that there are valid questions about the social science.

      But many people defending Derbyshire didn’t bother to look all of that up, as far as I can tell (that’s not a dig at you, MK, I’m pulling together a lot of reading on this one.)

      And there is the publisher of the magazine, Taki.

      Is this the guy?

      The Spectator’s social writer, Taki Theodoracopulos, has often graciously referred to me as an indulgent proprietor. Our relations have been cordial for 15 years and we have frequently been each other’s guests, have been friendly with each other’s spouses and have many mutual friends. Long before I knew him I was aware of his penchant, sometimes entertaining but sometimes excessive, to denigrate certain ethnic groups, most often the Jews. With such a bonhomous character there is a natural tendency to overlook his lapses of judgment and give him the benefit of the doubt that he is only railing against the prissy hypersensitivities of political correctness. It is hard to imagine that a person with whom you are friendly and have had many memorably agreeable times is a racist who wishes and incites violence against innocent people because of their ethnicity or religion.

      I defended Taki when he was attacked by the Mayor of New York for a very insulting column about Puerto Ricans in 1997. His remarks were outrageous but, as the Puerto Ricans did make a mess on Fifth Avenue, they contained a kernel of truth and did not incite violence against Puerto Ricans. Nor are Puerto Ricans under any particular external threat. Nor do they have a history of being savagely oppressed. In the same spirit I defended one of our other writers, William Cash, against the wrath of the entire US film industry in 1994, when he published an article about the leading Jewish figures in that industry which was somewhat insulting but well short of an incitement to racial hatred.

      http://www.aish.com/jw/mo/48915157.html

      There is a history here, folks, and those who are into empiricism and science might want to do a little digging. Look, we are not going to agree on this, so I’ll just leave it at that.

      – Madhu

    45. tdaxp Says:

      Onparkstreet,

      Thanks for your reply.

      There is so much spurious in your comment that it is not even wrong.

      If you mean your be-all-end-all comment seriously, you’re either a liar or completely ignorant of what you are talking about. In either case its impossible to take your comment seriously.

      I’m sure other folks do, however, so ill try to conduct a postmortem on it later today on my blog.

    46. onparkstreet Says:

      Then I’ll be happy to read it.

      – Madhu

    47. onparkstreet Says:

      By the way, thanks for calling me a liar.

      – Madhu

    48. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I agree with him. I lived as a teen in Baltimore city and traveled daily across the city to go to school. Everything he wrote is common sense and common knowledge and learned early by anyone and everyone who has contact with blacks.

      The boyfriend of one of my daughters was recently attacked by five blacks for the crime of being white in a black neighborhood store where he’d stopped to get something to drink. They broke two bones in his face and knocked him out cold.

      They were both shocked, I wasn’t even surprised. It was a real wake-up call to both of them.

    49. Whitehall Says:

      The issue really is one of electorial tactics. Obama and the Left are trying to stir up racial tensions to increase black turnout for the election. Establishment Republicans don’t want anyone to take their bait and just want the issue of race to go away, at least until after the first Tuesday in November.

      The GOP and Romney are dancing around many major issues to stay away from controversy and avoid alienating any swing voters, better to reap their votes.

      Derb wants to confront this issue head on, using statistics and valid observations and common sense.

      The tension in the Republican Party remains between those who want first and foremost to win elections so to gain and hold power and those who want to confront real issues with real arguments. The former group seems short-sighted to the latter. The latter group seems like hopeless ideologues to the former.

    50. bobby b Says:

      OnParkStreet: “Of course I will avoid some very troubled neighborhoods, but I will not avoid a group of people simply based on color.”

      So, presumably, the architecture in those very troubled neighborhoods offends you?

      To me, this indicates that you “will not avoid a group of people simply based on color” so long as the context and circumstances provide some comfort for you. “Troubled neighborhoods” rarely provide a “safe room” for you; other environments usually do, and so your “groups of people simply based on color” do not threaten you so long as you remain empowered to guarantee your own personal safety.

      “Your complaints about the dangers of dragons are unjustified and unfair. I myself do not fear them when they are unable to reach me.”

    51. tdaxp Says:

      I’ll loop back to onparkstreet’s specific claims tomororw, but here’s a general outline of our species over the past 6 million years, which is somewhat relevant to this discussion.

      http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2012/04/10/some-notes-on-the-development-of-our-species.html

    52. tdaxp Says:

      A number of commentators have said there are ‘questions’ about the science, but only one has bothered to name any: Jason Lee Steorts, who accused Derbyshire of changing the way he interprets statistics. Steorts is correct, Derb did change, reflecting a general shift.

      http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2012/04/11/go-up-or-go-next.html