Is John Derbyshire Right?


A writer called John Derbyshire has written for the National Review for the last 15 years. He was fired a couple of weeks ago for writing an allegedly racist article in another magazine. Here is the article.

The subject is something called ‘The Talk’, which is what some black parents apparently give their children. The Talk consists of black parents telling their angelic children that white people are racist and this is why some black people get into trouble. It never has anything to do with black people actually committing crimes. The purported aim of The Talk is to keep black children out of trouble by teaching them how to behave when they are confronted by white racists, which apparently America is full of.

Now, John Derbyshire has written a Talk for his own white-Asian children (he is married to a Chinese American). In the article he warns his children to give a lot more thought to the dangers of being around black people than they would to being around non-blacks. This is, according to John Derbyshire and some social scientists, because black people commit more crime and are less intelligent than non-blacks.

Now, in today’s world I was really surprised to read such an article. I suppose I didn’t think anyone was still allowed to say such things. The sheer audacity of it made me smile. Of course, John Derbyshire was hounded out of his job at National Review by irate, mainly left-wing readers who felt that such racist views should never cross anyone’s mind, let alone be aired in public.

I had never really given the topic much thought but after reading John Derbyshire’s article one question kept coming to mind: What if he is right? Can views be racist even if they are true? It seems to me that the acceptability of a view should stand and fall on whether or not it is true, not on whether people like it or not.

Certainly the article paints black people in a bad light and Derbyshire doesn’t pussyfoot around. Yet the more I read of the article and the evidence that it linked to, the more plausible I found what he was saying. Had I also been brainwashed into believing all races are identical in every way when they are not? What if it really is the case that blacks commit more crime, have lower status jobs and under-achieve academically not because of white opporession but because of a genetic disposition or a dysfunctional culture – or both? What if black people’s nature is the main cause of their own woes?

If John Derbyshire is right, and I now believe he is, wouldn’t it be negligent of white parents not to warn their children about such facts? If black people wish to claim they are being unfairly victimized because of their colour that’s up to them, but why should whites go along with this pretence? In doing so they would be putting their own children at risk, simply to conform.

I have read that Asian-Americans are academically the top racial group. Whether or not this is due to their culture or because east Asians are genetically more intelligent than everyone else I can’t say, though I suspect it’s a little of both: I think their culture is academically inclined because they are naturally clever. Despite not being east Asian myself, I am not even mildly tempted to deny the academic superiority of east Asians. Or Ashkenazi Jews.

What was most interesting about all this was the fact that thousands of people tweeted and wrote articles denouncing John Derbyshire yet not one of them seemed remotely interested in whether or not he might be right. They only seem bothered that he had written something they didn’t like.

Derbyshire estimates that about 5% of black Americans are ready to do violence to non-blacks, while a further 45% of blacks passively go along with this aggression through a kind of racial solidarity. They somehow feel that white people ‘have got it coming to them’. The remaining 50% of blacks are more or less like other races – but on average slightly less bright. Of course, just as Derbyshire stresses, we are talking here about statistical trends and each individual should be judged individually.

The reason I have some sympathy with Derbyshire’s annoyance, which must surely have been the motivation for writing his article, is that black parents who give their children The Talk are themselves committing a racial slur. They are calling white Americans racists. Why shouldn’t white people be allowed to respond to this insult? I’m disappointed that no high-level black people ever tell other blacks that they should perhaps look to themselves rather than always playing the victim card. Many prominent black people like Barack and Michelle Obama, Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton and Diane Abbott love to blame white people for black people’s troubles. This, I believe, is part of the problem. It makes black people feel resentful towards whites, thus condoning black-on-white violence, something which is much more common than white-on-black violence. It also suggests that black people have no need to look at themselves or their culture and wonder if something might be wrong there.


Several months after posting the above I read a response by John Derbyshire to one of his critics. He says that the following comment was typical of the most common criticism he received:

Woman: Please tell this black woman who is a devoted mother, professional woman, cat lover, and gardener, and Ivy league graduate about her inherent nature and intelligence. Do tell!

Derbyshire: Ma’am: If you cannot distinguish between a statistical statement about a population (“On average, men are taller than women”) and a statement about some one particular member of that population (“Sally’s real tall”), then how intelligent do you expect me to believe you are, actually? And if a person who cannot make that elementary logical distinction truly does have an Ivy League degree, Affirmative Action is a greater evil than I thought.

Watch this 16-minute interview with John Derbyshire and this RamZPaul’s version of The Talk.


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