I first heard of John Derbyshire over a decade ago, when, as columnist for the National Review, he said that Chelsea Clinton should be killed. Now, a scant eleven years later, the National Review has finally sacked Derb. Not, it should be noted, because of residual guilt about the ‘kill Chelsea’ piece. Not because of residual guilt about anything that the man wrote for NR. Rather because of this article published elsewhere.
I will summarize Derb’s point for you. (And I did read the entire thing, so I’m qualified to do so.) It’s phrased as advice for white children. Derb says that blacks are not all bad, but on average they’re less intelligent and more likely to be criminal than average. Consequently he offers up advice such as “do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks” and “stay out of heavily black neighborhoods”. Not surprisingly, Derb no longer has a job at the National Review, and probably won’t be seen in any mainstream magazines for a while.
The article itself is a stupid mess. Not for nothing did Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, say it “lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible” and “is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation”. Derb brags ferociously about having data on his side. His column is stuffed with hyperlinks, but few of those hyperlinks lead to reliable data. Most lead to annecdotes. One particle about one black person commiting murder supposedly proves that all “beaches and amusement parks” should be avoided if black people are in attendance. One city where the mayor is corrupt proves that all black politicans ruin their respective cities. And so forth. In at least one case, Derb actually linked to an article which argues the opposite of what he seems to think it argues.
What on earth was Derb thinking? As others have remarked, he’s smart enough that he ought to have known what would result from publishing this piece. We all have our ‘stupid moments’. It might be that Derb just wrote and posted this in a minute of over-emotion or hysteria, but one would think he’d have pulled it and apologized if that were the case. The only other possibility that I can come up with is this. Derb currently publishes at National Review and in the more obscure outlet that carried the racist piece, called Taki’s Magazine. He’s now lost the ability to write for the National Review, but he’s brought in tremendous publicity for Taki’s. In the modern internet world there really isn’t any such thing as bad publicity, inasmuch as that any sort of publicity brings in readers. I’ve now heard of Taki’s Magazine, and I never would have heard of it if not for Derb’s racist rant. Thus, in a certain sense, the man has won the publicity campaign while losing the popularity contest.