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Apr 09 2012

In defense of John Derbyshire

You may have heard that John Derbyshire, troll-like conservative creature lurking on the National Review, has been fired for an awesomely racist article, full of overt, unashamed, joyful bigotry.

They shouldn’t have.

Derbyshire is a racist, misogynistic hack who has been saying this stuff for years. It’s a non-story, something that everyone with any sense has been pointing out for years: for instance, I’ve talked about how Derbyshire claimed Obama will destroy science because he is black, and science would expose him as genetically inferior. This is the guy who thinks women shouldn’t be allowed to vote and wants to repeal the civil rights act. He’s a nasty piece of work.

But he shouldn’t have been fired. He’s just been saying what the right wing has been thinking all along. And he’s been saying it for at least the last 10 years (which is about how long I’ve been aware of him), and no one on the right has been complaining about him. If his unashamed haunting of the cesspools of racism didn’t get him fired, why now? And if the wingnuts are just now getting around to cleaning house, can we expect Jonah Goldberg, Victor Davis Hanson, and Michelle Malkin to get the axe next? I mean, Derbyshire just whined about avoiding those black folks; Malkin has written a whole book advocating racist internment camps.

Besides, if Republicans start draining the racist swamp of their electorate, they won’t have anyone to vote for them ever again.

45 comments

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  1. 1
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Well, I was informed this weekend (again) by a right-winger (of course) that the REAL problem isn’t things like the evils of religion or the racism on the right-wing movement. The REAL problem is people pointing those problems out, because pointing out all those examples of evil bigotry simply dilutes our case. Unless someone puts on a Klan robe and states “I hate black people” loud and clear and on camera, it isn’t REAL racism and we all need to STFU.

  2. 2
    Ace of Sevens

    I hadn’t heard that. I’m actually really surprised as it isn’t all that different from his previous work. (BTW, if any of my black friends are in that 5% who hate whitey and just keep we around because they they I’m an intelligent, well-socialized white who makes a handy token white friend if anyone calls them on their racist bullshit, I suppose that’s fair.)

  3. 3
    Ace of Sevens

    Retry without typos: I hadn’t heard that. I’m actually really surprised as it isn’t all that different from his previous work. (BTW, if any of my black friends are in that 5% who hate whitey and just keep me around because they think I’m an intelligent, well-socialized white who makes a handy token white friend if anyone calls them on their racist bullshit, I suppose that’s fair.)

    P.S. What black person wouldn’t feel honored to be one of the few good enough to be John Derbyshire’s friend after reading that?

  4. 4
    Ing

    Better late than never PZ.

  5. 5
    tommykey

    Derbyshire, IIRC, also berated the students at the VA Tech campus as being cowardly for not overpowering and disarming the shooter. As if he wouldn’t shit in his pants if he were in that situation.

  6. 6
    Eamon Knight

    Being non-USAian I am mostly unaware of Derbyshire. A few years ago, Derbyshire wrote something critical of ID/Creationism, and a generally obscure (but local to me) wingnut blogged about how disappointed she was by this betrayal, because otherwise she generally liked the guy. Yep: he can be a racist and a misogynist, but say anything good about evilooshun, and suddenly that’s worth complaining about.

    Thing is, said wingnut is a) female and b) married to a black man. No, I have no idea how she reconciles the contradiction between her own best interests and the ideology she’s enslaved herself to, without her head exploding.

  7. 7
    Ace of Sevens

    Thing is, said wingnut is a) female and b) married to a black man. No, I have no idea how she reconciles the contradiction between her own best interests and the ideology she’s enslaved herself to, without her head exploding.

    That’s easy. He’s one of the good ones.

  8. 8
    Zeno

    Derbyshire is a bewilderingly weird right-winger who occasionally breaks out into spates of lucidity, such as when he denounced Ben Stein’s Expelled as the piece of propagandistic trash it is. The smarmy David Berlinski promptly took Derbyshire to task, creating an odd spectacle. When Mothra and Godzilla are fighting, wouldn’t it be great if the monsters simply destroyed each other? The Expelled disagreement displayed Derbyshire at his most lucid and Berlinski at his most nastily unctuous. [Here]

  9. 9
    R Johnston

    As far as I can tell from reading the post that instigated this firing, Derbyshire was just doing what conservatives have been doing for nearly 20 years now: heaping praise on The Bell Curve. The lesson is that if you’re a conservative praising The Bell Curve, as conservatives are wont to do, don’t summarize the book in two pages. When you take out all the meaningless fluff it’s obvious even to the most illiterate nudniks how horrifically racist the book is.

  10. 10
    SallyStrange

    Bookmark this article so that next time someone tries to pull the “I have a black friend/spouse/half-brother, therefore I can’t be racist” thing on you, you can ask them to review the following paragraph:

    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.

    When overt racists actively advocate befriending “the good ones” as a shield against accusations of racism, it makes it harder for other racists to use that tactic. So PZ’s right, we really Derbyshire (what a delightfully Old World, patrician-sounding name!) a debt of gratitude.

  11. 11
    ironflange

    I checked if this vile column was dated April 1; sadly, it wasn’t.

  12. 12
    Eamon Knight

    Derbyshire (what a delightfully Old World, patrician-sounding name!)

    For the full effect, you have to pronounce it “darbyshire” ;-) (which is a lovely place, at least the bits that my cousin took us for walks in last summer).

  13. 13
    A. R

    I wonder if the Review is trying to improve its image with the general public with this move. Or, it could be a Beck-esque sponsor (or in this case, donor) prompted withdrawal.

  14. 14
    Aquaria

    Thing is, said wingnut is a) female and b) married to a black man. No, I have no idea how she reconciles the contradiction between her own best interests and the ideology she’s enslaved herself to, without her head exploding.

    Her husband could have been a hyper religious wingnut type. I worked with a racist white woman who was married to a black man that she’d met at her “inclusive” evangelical church. She was always saying he wasn’t like “those other” n—-rs, so don’t call him one! Yes, she said it just like that.

    When he’d come by and they’d get to talking, things became surreal. Remember that skit from In Living Color with the two Toms? It was sort of like that, only with a mixed race couple who sounded like they might be Klan members.

    IOW–totally surreal.

  15. 15
    Eamon Knight

    @14: Actually, as far as I can tell, she’s the religious half of the couple (I used to know her personally ~20 years back, before we went off in exactly opposite directions, intellectually and ideologically. Only met her husband a couple of times, though). I occasionally skim her blog (may as well give the URL for connoisseurs of this sort of thing: http://deborahgyapong.blogspot.ca/), and she pretty much seems able to excuse any fault committed by icons of the Right, or the Church, while complaining bitterly about the smallest slight from the Left, or secularism.

  16. 16
    Didaktylos

    Derbyshire has a right to spout his racist filth – but he doesn’t have the right to make a living from doing it.

  17. 17
    Anthony K

    When overt racists actively advocate befriending “the good ones” as a shield against accusations of racism, it makes it harder for other racists to use that tactic.

    To be fair, I personally know a bigot or two (hell, I’m sure I’m related to more than one), just so I can’t ever be called out for race-baiting.

    “White, hetero, male hating? Preposterous! Some of my best self is a white, hetero, male.”

  18. 18
    Sili

    Malkin has written a whole book advocating racist internment camps.

    Funny point of view for a Filipino(a?).

  19. 19
    A. R

    Some of my best self is a white, hetero, male.

    But what about Teh Ghey Secks Line?

  20. 20
    Sili

    For the full effect, you have to pronounce it “darbyshire”

    There’s any other way?

    Though now that I think about it, I think I use NURSE in “shire” rather than just schwa.

  21. 21
    Anthony K

    But what about Teh Ghey Secks Line?

    I think it got bought out by Louis, A.R. Or something like that. I wasn’t living up to my potential with it, apparently. Story of my life.

  22. 22
    A. R

    Brownnian: Oh, yeah, the whole Groop Secks with Ghey Secks thing.

  23. 23
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Not draining the swamp–nay, flooding the swamp–was electorally-convenient for Democrats until Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey redirected the party after World War II, and has been electorally-convenient for Republicans from the mid-1960s up until the present day…

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2012/04/trying-to-lift-the-curse-of-richard-nixon.html

    Serendipity. (For some.)

  24. 24
    twist

    This is the “women over twenty are too old to fuck” guy?

    That he’s come out with something like this isn’t overly surprising, as much as it makes me want to poke my own eyes out so I don’t have to read it. What’s surprising is that he was given a platform for it for so long. Was the response to this journalistic heap of shit larger/angrier than any of the other heaps of shit he’s written? Did his employers stand to lose something this time?

  25. 25
    zxcier

    Aw hell, just read some comments under the article, figured everyone would be calling out his bs… They’re far worse. Like:

    Perhaps widespread deportation of blacks is the answer– they would be far better equipped to compete with other blacks in Uganda.

    What the hell is wrong with people? Perhaps widespread deportation of racist assholes is the answer– they would be far better equipped to compete with other racists in… (ok I wouldn’t wish these bigots on anyone)

  26. 26
    Lou Doench

    I don’t care whether they fired this guy, but I hope he loses some of his IWSB’s over this /snark.

  27. 27
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Besides, if Republicans start draining the racist swamp of their electorate, they won’t have anyone to vote for them ever again.

    Promise?

  28. 28
    feralboy12

    Perhaps widespread deportation of blacks is the answer– they would be far better equipped to compete with other blacks in Uganda.

    Did this person remember to preface the remark with “I’m not racist, but…?”

  29. 29
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Perhaps widespread deportation of racist assholes is the answer– they would be far better equipped to compete with other racists in… (ok I wouldn’t wish these bigots on anyone)

    One’s almost tempted to see how well their mythical superiority serves them in Uganda.

  30. 30
    Eamon Knight

    Perhaps widespread deportation of racist assholes is the answer– they would be far better equipped to compete with other racists in… (ok I wouldn’t wish these bigots on anyone)

    Aren’t there some islands someplace rendered permanently uninhabitable due to nuclear testing? I’ve often had fantasies in we turn one of those places over to the racists and demagogues and political and religious thugs of all stripes. They can either learn to get along in order to survive, or they can kill each other off. Either way, it’s a win for the rest of us.

  31. 31
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Derbyshire’s mistake is that, rather than using code words and dog whistles, there is no doubt what is meant. That is a cardinal sin. Never say what you actually mean. The code words are enough to motivate the hatred of the base.

  32. 32
    zxcier

    Did this person remember to preface the remark with “I’m not racist, but…?”

    Yeah his subsequent paragraph covers that:

    I am doing everything I can to put the idea of deportation out there in the world. Whites represent 2/3 of the population and since this is a democracy, the majority rules– it’s time we begin taking some of the rhetoric of Jackson and Sharpton and applying it for ourselves.

    Oh wait

  33. 33
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    zxcier, I’m not sure why you expected all the comments on the site that published Derb’s screed in the first place to be castigating him. He obviously has a devoted audience. As for “What the hell is wrong with people?”, that’s a rhetorical question, right? Lots of people are bigots of various kinds, and the demise of racism in the U.S. has been greatly exaggerated.

    I myself made the mistake of reading the Slashdot story. Since “the internet” got Derbyshire fired, the post is tagged with “censorship” — the usual misunderstanding of the First Amendment. Comments are even worse, between the privileged white male lolbertarian crowd that dominates the place and various blatantly racist shitsuckers.

  34. 34
    BrianX

    Eric S. Raymond wrote an article on this and framed it as an “intelligence test”. (He probably wasn’t the only one either.) His claim that Derbyshire wasn’t being racist and his condescension about defending him were enough for me to replace the “batshit crazy” tag on Raymond’s RationalWiki article with “extreme wingnuttery”. He’s been dabbling in scientific racism for some time, but this is going all-in and he doesn’t have insanity as an excuse anymore.

  35. 35
    gragra, something clever after the comma

    Derbyshire’s mistake is that, rather than using code words and dog whistles, there is no doubt what is meant.

    Exactly.

  36. 36
    doktorzoom

    The penultimate paragraph of Jim Newell’s Salon piece is worth quoting (for truth):

    Read the comments section on any conservative pundit’s denunciation, and you’ll still see stunning near-uniformity about how Derbyshire’s screed made perfectly accurate points that we all know are true and needed to be made if this country is to survive.

  37. 37
    carpenterman

    After reading that, I want to go wash out my eyes with soap.

  38. 38
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Saying that Dimbyshire shouldn’t be canned is going against the grain of what is said and done on this site. The general argument many have used in threads on Pharyngula for the anger in their language is that it is no longer acceptable to say and do the dumb shit. Bending over backwards to support the idiot end of the relativism spectrum is no longer tolerable.

    Perhaps this recent pink slip is just the foundation of conservatives finally having bought a clue. If that side of the leger is fighting back against racism, perhaps they’re now on that nasty slippery slope that Limbaugh keeps going on about. Perhaps the train is leaving the station towards a destination of fighting back against other necessities like sexism and poverty and religious entitlement. Perhaps. One likes to hope.

  39. 39
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Perhaps the train is leaving the station towards a destination of fighting back against other necessities like sexism and poverty and religious entitlement. Perhaps. One likes to hope.

    More of a glacier, sadly, but one is entitled to hope.

  40. 40
    huntstoddard

    It was absolutely correct for him to be fired, specifically because there is no right to be published and because racism that vile damages social discourse and persuades those idiot right wingers who are vulnerable to it that scientific racism is a “public secret” that “everyone really in their hearts knows is true,” and it only takes that one heroic martyr’s sacrifice and the “spell” will be broken; we will all suddenly see the wisdom of segregation and mono-race culture, etc. etc. In other words, people like Derbyshire are horrifically damaging to our society exactly because there are know-nothing bigots who hang on his every word. Anything that makes him more silent is GOOD.

  41. 41
    hexidecima

    this, with Santorum’s little slip in almost calling Obama what he really thought: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeaA8nkiWdk and you get a great set of examples on what the majority of the GOP seems to really think.

  42. 42
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Azkyroth:

    The problem with glaciers is that they now have a tendency to completely disappear before arriving anywhere. At least with the train analogy there is a pretty good chance that it will arrive in Paddington (but hopefully not Colchester…OUCH!). Maybe the better analogy is a train being pulled along by a herd of stout-hearted tortoises. It will get there, eventually, one hopes again.

  43. 43
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    What ever you do, do not look back on what the National Review had to say on the civil rights movement during the fifties and sixties.

    John Derbyshire would have fitted in very well.

  44. 44
    jonathangrapentine

    (holds up a big South Park-esque sign reading “THIS IS WHAT NEO-FASCISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE”)
    But a martyr is exactly what he is now. He spoke truth to power. He said what every upstanding white man secretly knows, but the establishment dogma of political correctness won’t let us say out loud. Political correctness, of course, is a Judeo-Bolshevist plot to undermine white civilization so they and their negroid enforcers can bring about the New World Order in the name of their master Satan.

  45. 45
    ike

    Ogvorbis @31: Yup. Like a commenter at the Crooked Timber blog noted, Derbyshire is using something more like a dog vuvuzela…

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