The Nation Review is one of the Republican party’s most enduring and authoritative publications. Today it has fired one of it’s most popular writers. John Derbyshire has been terminated for posting an overtly racist article. The piece was written as a response to articles written by black columnists all over the country, concerning conversations they are forced to have with their children regarding law enforcement. These articles were written in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting and the black authors reported having to advise their children on the proper demeanor they should assume when speaking with police officers and the fear they harbor about the potential for violence against their children. Mr. Derby, like many conservative columnists apparently found these conversations to be absurd but was inspired by these pieces to reveal the conversations he has with his children. In the piece, Derbyshire, tells his children to avoid blacks at nearly all costs. He tells them that they should never choose to live amongst African Americans or even move into a city with predominantly African American leaders. He instructs his children never to help African Americans, even if they seem to be in need. He regards most African Americans to be lacking in intelligence. He offers a particularly interesting insight into his own conservative perspective regarding African American politicians. He tells his children to avoid voting for black leaders and if they ever find themselves considering such an awful option, to scrutinize the black leader to a greater degree then he would a white leader. The most sobering aspect of Mr. Derbyshire’s piece is that it offers a frightening window that may give us insight into the inexplicably virulent opposition facing President Obama. Despite Obama’s overtly pro-American rhetoric; Despite his uniformly centrist policies he has been met with overt hatred from a right wing that seems determined to see him as an existential threat to the nation. Mr. Derbyshire’s advice included:
Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
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).
Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving
Even more offensive was Derbyshire’s blunt declaration that he views certain “kinds” of blacks as having a certain utility in life. He admits that he holds friendships with African Americans, specifically so that he cannot be called a racist. He suggests that one of the reasons his children should seek friendships with African Americans, is so that they can use them as a shield of protection or “amulet” against those who perceive the truth of their hidden racist views. He expounds for his children by stating that:
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.
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.
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
This admission is most concerning because it feeds into a narrative about African American conservative republicans that will certainly be used to further stain their reputations and curb much needed political diversity in the black community. His words give weight to a particular interpretation of the candidacies of men like Herman Cain, or Allen West who have been ridiculed for their conservative political affiliations (and controversial statements of their own regarding their own feelings about fellow African Americans).
The National Review has fired Mr. Derbyshire, however they released a peculiar statement regarding his dismissal which reluctantly rebuked his opinions but offered an odd defense of his intellect, character and perspective.
Anyone who has read Derb in our pages knows he’s a deeply literate, funny, and incisive writer. I direct anyone who doubts his talents to his delightful first novel, “Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream,” or any one of his “Straggler” columns in the books section of NR. Derb is also maddening, outrageous, cranky, and provocative. His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways. Derb has long danced around the line on these issues, but this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation. It’s a free country, and Derb can write whatever he wants, wherever he wants. Just not in the pages of NR or NRO, or as someone associated with NR any longer.
In it’s statement, the National Review seems to suggest that this was some sort of humor in response to the conversations African American parents routinely admit having with their children, which some conservatives have regarded as absurd. The NR never explains why Mr. Derbyshire could have been inspired to satirize the fear African Americans have of interactions with law enforcement or random acts of violence against their children. They never fully explain why such fear is considered to be humorous. The entire incident harms a party which has admitted its hardship in attracting and retaining a diverse membership. Leaders like Jeb Bush have chastised the party for failing to moderate controversial rhetoric aimed at minorities. This incident will surely do little to improve the Republican Party’s position amongst African Americans, or Latino’s. Given the traditional tone and tenor of Derbyshire’s screed it could add to the narrative that in addition to being consumed by bigotry, the GOP is similarly steeped in Sexist thought as well. As a party already accused of waging a War Against Women, this will likely buttress the claims that the GOP has simply failed to enter the modern era.