We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

On that recent John Derbyshire article

Considering that Taki, the Greek shipping magnate’s son, hard-right scribbler and socialite, owns a webzine, “Takimag”, in which a notorious recent article by John Derbyshire was published, I wondered whether the fellow was going to write about recent events about Derbyshire. You see, Derbyshire, who lives in the US and has written for various publications such as National Review, was recently fired by NR editor Rich Lowry after a storm of protest concerning Derbyshire’s comments about black people in Takimag.

But when I read Taki’s regular column in the Spectator a few days ago, it was all about Ernest Hemingway (and pretty good, too). No mention of the Derbyshire affair. Odd. Maybe the Spectator’s editor had warned the chap off, but he’s written some pretty fiery stuff before that got into print, so I am not sure. But of course, I had completely forgotten the one-and-only Rod Liddle:

“Derbyshire’s piece contained one or two points with which I do not agree, but I suspect that for the most part its advice was precisely the sort of thing which readers of the National Review have probably passed on to their children, anyway.”

Well, he may be right that that is what readers of that publication tell their children. Who knows, maybe they are all telling their youngsters things such as this:

“Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.”

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

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

This also:

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

It is worth reading the whole piece, if only to get the full, patronising, vileness of much of it; the tragedy is that there might be one or two things he says that actually make some sort of sense (there are issues concerning crime rates among different ethnic groups that need to be discussed, openly and without pandering to PCness). If this article was meant as satire, it failed. An argument I have seen in defence of the piece is that Derbyshire wrote it in response to another idea of what black parents are telling their children about white people. But even if that is true, do two wrongs make a right? I just cannot see how that is the case here.

But what I found particularly bad, from a libertarian perspective, about this item was that Derbyshire, working backwards from some highly debatable statistical assertions, then used them as a sort of rule of thumb test of how to treat a black man as an individual. And this is proof, in my view, of his racial collectivism.

As already has happened, a number of people, no doubt sympathising with these comments, have said they will cancel their NR subscriptions, etc, etc. This is a terrible blow of freedom of speech, etc, etc. It is not. NR would not be obliged to print this material, and as Lowry said in his announcement of the parting of the ways, he would not have done so. If an editor feels a writer is so incendiary that he no longer wants to be associated with such a person, then he or she is entitled to act on that view, however mistaken. That is part of the freedom to act on judgements that, ironically, Mr Derbyshire might claim to be defending, however hamfistedly, in his article. We live in the world of massively expanding internet-based news and views; I am sure that the British-born Mr Derbyshire will find outlets for his opinions.

Update: It seems another NR contributor has got the boot, by the name of Robert Weissberg. Crikey.

35 comments to On that recent John Derbyshire article

  • James James

    “But what I found particularly bad, from a libertarian perspective, about this item was that Derbyshire, working backwards from some highly debatable statistical assertions, then used them as a sort of rule of thumb test of how to treat a black man as an individual. And this is proof, in my view, of his racial collectivism.”

    No, he didn’t. He was talking about how to interact with people you have never met before. Prejudice can be useful in such situations, until you get to know a person.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I also find it instructive that rather than hammering Derbyshire on his facts and providing counter-facts in response, most critics can only ‘point and sputter’.

    Were his facts true? Do people actually behave in the manner he describes, and for those reasons? If they do, then why all the hate?

    This strongly reminds me of the infamous ‘Two Minutes’ Hate’. I wonder why Samizdata, of all places, has succumbed and participated, even if belatedly, in this outpouring of vitriol.

    For shame. For shame.

  • Antoine Clarke

    It was written in response to what I gather was a bit of race-mongering. Not having seen the original, I couldn’t say if the Derbyshire response was in the same league, bad taste or vile.

    I find casual racism in the USA to be the reality of how people interact (or not). Derbyshire’s “crime” is to expose what a lot of Americans actually do, but don’t like to admit.

    Violence against blacks by whites is without doubt a lot better than has been in the past, and crucially, the authorities are generally not inclined to help white racists get away with it. But instead of having “white seats” and “black seats” on an Alabama bus, there are now bus routes for black neighbourhoods and others for whites.

    You just have to look at the extent to which American blacks assume that Trayvon Martin was the victim of a racially-motivated murder, and that whites assume he was asking for trouble to realise that the essence of Derbyshire’s article, which is that the two groups are not mixing peacefully, has unfortunately got a ring of truth to it.

  • Johanthan Pearce

    “He was talking about how to interact with people you have never met before. Prejudice can be useful in such situations, until you get to know a person.”

    My general approach is to treat people as I find them but also to avoid treating anyone as an instant mate. That is what works well for me; prejudice about colour or other genetic “markers” has never been of use to me.

    Consider the other side of the coin: a few years ago, I learned a very painful lesson about treating people based on prejudices of age, class, and tone of voice. I got taken in by a conman who liked to make out he was as English as they come, very well spoken, supposedly smart background, etc. The guy was a total fraud, and his behaviour caused great distress to several people.

    In fact, my “prejudice” is that a lot of stereotypes can be plain wrong. But the totality of JD’s piece was to treat millions of people as somehow more suspicious, potentially violent, and plain stupid. And he advises kids to act on that. I think that is that offends my sense of individualism.

    Wobbly; I am not aware that someone has gone through JD’s statistics, point by point; but even if they are all totally accurate, a lot of the comments he made that caused outrage were about his remarks about suspecting a black person in distress, say. This was not a cold, uber-logical, dispassionate examination of statistics in the manner of Charles Murray..

  • pst314

    “But when I read Taki’s regular column in the Spectator a few days ago, it was all about Ernest Hemingway (and pretty good, too). No mention of the Derbyshire affair. Odd.”

    Is this a column in the print magazine? If so, then I suppose the controlling factor is publication lead time.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    pst314; yes, it was in the magazine. It goes to the printers on a Wednesday afternoon (I happen to know that) and the Greek ex-con would have had plenty of time to mention the Derbyshire story in his piece, however fleetingly. I bet he was probably told to keep his head down just in case. But that is why I was surprised to see the Liddle item. He’s come pretty close to endorsing the entire piece and does not say what he disagrees in it. That’s piss-poor. The most coherent take on the whole thing was by John Podhoretz at Commentary. (Link)

  • pst314

    Thanks for the Commentary link; I’m far, far behind on this.

    About publishing lead times: My understanding is that most magazines necessarily have a lead time of several months. Obviously that cannot work well for topical news. How is that generally handled? Do they maintain a long lead time for major articles and reserve a certain number of pages for topical items that will be laid out at the last minute?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    pst314, the Speccy and other mags will produce some material quite far in advance, but trust me on this, I have worked in the magazine business and the deadlines are ferocious. And Taki, whatever else I might say about him, is a damn good writer and has worked for newswires and so on. (This is nothing about my views on his opinions).

    I suppose it is fair to say that Taki, and even Liddle, get away with a lot of their outrageousness because, especially in Taki’s case, he can be very entertaining.

  • lee Moore

    I confess myself surprised and puzzled at JP’s notion that being a “racial collectivist” is somehow particularly troubling “from a libertarian perspective.”

    I can’t see anything in Mr Derbyshire’s remarks that should trouble a libertarian qua libertarian – he seems to be talking about how to treat other people in ones voluntary relations. He doesn’t appear to be advocating any state action, or state inequality of treatment. Surely Mr Derbyshire is offending against some other deeply held belief of JP, not against his libertarianism.

    On the substance of Mr Derbyshire’s remarks, I assume that because he links mostly to anecdotes to support his prejudices, rather than to statistical studies, he probably doesn’t have much by way of statistical studies to back him up on things like whether blacks are more venal politicians than whites on average. All races of politician seem quite venal enough for me. (I suspect that because in America black politicians are more likely to represent rotten boroughs than whites, and hence are more immune to being voted out, they may well be statistically more venal than white politicians. But if so, this may be merely a statistical artifact, a secondary effect of the rotten boroughs.)

    But on things like the statistics for crime, IQ and so on, although we are supposed to hunt far and wide for exculpatory evidence such as police prejudice and ethnically biased tests, the evidence does seem to be unfavorable to the fundamental liberal article of faith that there are in fact no significant differences between different races, on average.

    The main difficulty – leaving aside the political difficulty in discussing the subject – is that this evidence and the implications of it cannot but offend people. If you are a member of a group that is statistically more likely to be criminal or very stupid than the average human, you are likely to take offence if you are neither criminal nor stupid, and you are a member of the accused group. Indeed even if you are criminal and stupid, you are still likely to take offence.

    Strangely, although there is bucketloads of statistical evidence that if you are black you are disproportionately more likely to be criminal and very stupid than the average human, and although black people very reasonably take offence when this is mentioned; another group very rarely gets criticised for the same statistical crimes, and very rarely takes offence when these crimes are mentioned. I speak of men. I do not know why this is.

  • pst314

    Thanks, Johnathan. I haven’t worked in that business and only know what little some writers have said in my presence…and most of them were fiction writers.

  • phwest

    The only defense of Derbyshire that I’ve seen that gives me any sympathy is that he is currently undergoing treatment for a fairly nasty cancer. That seems to have short-circuited his judgement and pushed an already gloomy mind into nihilistic despair. I have always found his writing entertaining, reflecting a certain fondness for cynical, misanthropic, doomsaying as a reminder of how good things really are these days. But this piece just drips with loathing of American society (which is worse, the cynical suggestion to his kids to culivate personal relationships as a talisman or the warning that it will be hard to pull off because everyone else will be out there trying to do the same thing?) I can certainly understand the NR’s unwillingness to be associated with this.

  • Alisa

    To me the strangest part is his point about average IQ. Why is this relevant? Is he telling his kids to beware stupid people? Aren’t stupid antisocial types supposed to be less dangerous than the clever ones?

    As to his illness (over which I hope he can get over ASAP), I think that people in such great distress tend to be less careful and PC about expressing opinions they always held, but were careful to conceal when they were well.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Lee, I am surprised at your comments here:

    “I confess myself surprised and puzzled at JP’s notion that being a “racial collectivist” is somehow particularly troubling “from a libertarian perspective.”

    A libertarian tends to start from the basis of treating people on their basis as individuals, rather than due to any supposed inherited characteristics such as skin colour. Now, as a libertarian, I know that the right to associate with one’s fellows, for whatever reasons, fair or otherwise, is a key right, as is the right to not associate, also on whatever grounds.

    The problem is that in my experience, while some people who hold racially prejudiced views don’t want the State to back up their views with coercive force, many will do so, and have in the past. So in general, if we want to fight unjustified infringements of the liberties of people for reasons such as race, it makes practical as well as moral sense for libertarians to abhor racism, and condemn it when they see it.

    Also, I think that there is enormous contradiction inside a libertarian’s mind if he or she argues both for maximal individual freedom, etc, and for regarding whole chunks of the human population as violent and stupid on no other reason than for debatable statistical grounds and prejudice.

    Why would a person who argues for the benefits of freedom want to cut themselves off from a large chunk of humanity on what are prejudiced, and probably ill-informed, grounds? A libertarian bigot can still be a libertarian, but will always be a very diminished, shabby kind of libertarian, in my view.

    I have met some libertarians who are deeply prejudiced (I won’t name names) but by and large, in my experience, they regard racism as a primitive form of collectivism that is unworthy of anyone who values the individual. This may be in part because some famous classical liberals have come from groups (such as Jews) who have been on the receiving end of bigotry.

  • Derbyshire prefaced the article with this:

    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

    which strictly speaking gets him off the hook.

    On the other hand there are no real world occasions where you have nothing else to guide you. The rational thing to do is to understand Bayesian probability and then realise that in any given situation skin colour affects the probability of any given outcome far less than other information you have.

  • On the other hand there are no real world occasions where you have nothing else to guide you. The rational thing to do is to understand Bayesian probability and then realise that in any given situation skin colour affects the probability of any given outcome far less than other information you have. [Rob Fisher]

    While that is usually true, most of that other information ties into things like sexism, classism, ageism, sartorialism, and the like. In avoiding one kind of prejudice, you still have to engage a whole list of other prejudices in order to make your decision.

    Is the person male or female? Young or old? Neatly dressed, or scruffy? Are they smiling or scowling? How do they walk, or move? What particular dialect of your language are they using? The list is long, and I’ve heard every one of those criteria blasted as something-ist.

    You have to make decisions somehow, but almost any means of doing so is non-PC. So you make the decisions, but keep your silence. Derbyshire didn’t keep his silence.

  • Jacob

    Why hasn’t anyone checked if tall people have, on the average, higher IQ than short people? Or if women have higher IQ than men, on average? Or if redheads are more likely to be criminals?
    Why do people go about collecting such statistics about blacks? How is color of skin relevant?
    This obsessing with correlating this or that with skin color is dumb and prejudiced.
    John Derbyshire is a smart guy, whose pieces I like reading, but he has his dumb obsessions.

  • Alsadius

    I think Derbyshire’s facts were accurate, and the sort of thing that we’d be well-served to lie less to ourselves about. His inferences(“Don’t play good Samaritan”, etc.) were appalling. If we’re going to praise him for the former, we should be willing to criticize him for the latter.

  • Lee Moore

    Jacob – tall people do have higher IQs than short people. Men and women have roughly equal average IQs, but different variances. (Although there may be some circular reasoning to get to the equal average to do with how the tests are normed.) In fact there is an enormous quantity of IQ research that has nothing whatever to do with race. The Bell Curve had a single chapter about race and IQ – all the other chapters were based on testing whites only, precisely to get away from the subject of race. But because race is controversial, it gets the newspaper inches, so the only thing that most people know about The Bell Curve is that it’s about race and IQ. Except that it isn’t. So you couldn’t be more wrong – but you are forgiven because if you rely on the newspapers and the TV for your information about IQ you will never have heard anything about IQ that isn’t about race.

  • lee Moore

    JP – I tend to think that the essence of libertarianism has to do with ones views about coercion rather than what people choose to do uncoerced. Certainly, if one felt that large numbers of humans were sufficiently violent, irrational, and stupid, as to make it likely that a generally uncoerced society was liable to descend into a nasty brutish and short existence for all, libertarianism might become too impractical a creed to serve as any kind of model for actual society. But so long as one thinks that violence, irrationality and stupidity are insufficiently ubiquitous to require this unhappy conclusion, I can’t see that it makes much difference to the practicality of the libertarian idea if violence, irrationality and stupidity happened to be unequally distributed between different racial groups.

    As for racial collectivists making for pinched and narrow libertarians, I’m not sure that I care very much how they come, so long as they join me in the ranks against those who would coerce me. In any event if it is true that black people, like men, are over-represented in the ranks of the criminal and very stupid, then that’s the way the world is and we have to deal with it. For all your wishful thinking about dodgy statistics, the statistics on the over-representation of black people are just as strong and persistent as the corresponding statistics for men. (Less so on criminality, where men outrank women by far more than blacks outrank whites; more so on stupidity.)

    None of which is a plea to discriminate against blacks (or men) just for the sake of it. You should treat people as individuals where you can. The primary use of statistics here, in my view, is not for how you treat individuals but for how you treat collectives. If you are told that, say, a black person is 300% more likely to be arrested than a white person, then the reason might be that the police are prejudiced against black people. Or it might be that black people commit more crime than white people, on average. If Derbyshire is to be believed, lots of black people are telling their children the former. And if you believe the former, the correct public policy response is to spend a lot of time and money rooting out endemic racism in the police and criminal justice system, creating quotas so that the police arrest people of different races in proportion to their share of the population. And so on. But if the second explanation is true, the public policy response is different. Then the police should arrest people according to whether they think a particular person is responsible for a particular crime. And so on.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Lee Moore writes:

    “But so long as one thinks that violence, irrationality and stupidity are insufficiently ubiquitous to require this unhappy conclusion, I can’t see that it makes much difference to the practicality of the libertarian idea if violence, irrationality and stupidity happened to be unequally distributed between different racial groups.”

    I am not talking about the practicality of the idea; I am saying that in my experience, most people who hold deeply negative views about persons simply because of the colour of their skin tend not to be libertarian in any consistent sense. There are racists who call themselves libertarians, but I have noted that such people also tend to favour immigration controls, which represent a form of state regulation and often on no other basis than racial grounds.

    “As for racial collectivists making for pinched and narrow libertarians, I’m not sure that I care very much how they come, so long as they join me in the ranks against those who would coerce me.”

    I think you will find, again, as a practical matter, that bigots tend to be uncertain allies in pushing for liberty. Again, this is not a hard-and-fast rule, but a pretty good rule of thumb, in fact. Getting allies in the cause of liberty means sometimes having to get odd bedfellows, but it is usually best to try and cultivate decent ones.

    “In any event if it is true that black people, like men, are over-represented in the ranks of the criminal and very stupid, then that’s the way the world is and we have to deal with it.”

    Whether it is the “way of the world” or not, I did not say that such facts, if facts they are, do not need to be dealt with and discussed frankly. But I have read enough about these matters to have doubts about the sort of extreme figures that Derbyshire was throwing around. And from my reading, there are far more significant differences in such matters within groups than between them, and the boundaries are constantly changing, anyway. And remember the dangers of “confirmation bias”; if you look for say, more criminality among a group A or B, you will tend to find it.

    “You should treat people as individuals where you can.”

    Indeed. That is what I said. And the point is that “where you can” is the key: it is all too easy to not try at all, which seems to be the most revolting aspect of Derbyshire’s argument. He is telling kids: don’t really interact with such people unless you absolutely have to. That’s racism.

    “The primary use of statistics here, in my view, is not for how you treat individuals but for how you treat collectives.”

    What does that mean from a libertarian POV? If I am interacting with individuals, then how and when do I decide that I am going to treat folk not on the basis of their individuality, but their collective “identity”, assuming that I can correctly identify it? Should I only deal with non-white persons in a group of say, fewer than 10? I go to football games quite a lot: should I scan the crowd to see how many non-white faces are in the crowd? Is this how you behave?

    BTW, I am sure you will join me in taking a dim view of Derbyshire’s atrocious remarks about, say, helping a black person in distress and using IWSBs as “armulets” against accusations of racism.

  • MajikMonkee

    living in Pretoria South Africa, I must hear a sweeping generalization based on melatonin levels once an hour. Ironically enough there’s very little difference between them, very materialistic, religious, racist.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I confess. I am American. Born and bred. So by “liberal” I mean the exact opposite of what the word used to mean…when a “liberal” was a live-and-let-live type who was independent-minded and prefered running his own life to trying to run other people’s. I hope that’s clear. :>)

    Now. Antoine, thus: “I find casual racism in the USA to be the reality of how people interact (or not).”

    You, sir, have been travelling in the wrong circles, at least if you are talking about the average so-called “white” American’s attitude toward so-called “blacks.” Most of us really could not care less about a person’s race.

    As to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Please understand that there is a good-sized group of allegedly “black” professional racebaiters whose careers and personal fortunes–and power and glory–depend upon turning every event possible into a mighty Cause demanding what is, in fact, not mere preferential treatment but outright subservience to the members of their target market. They are joined in hollering “RACE!” at every opportunity by the left and by the liberal leadership.

    The Trayvon Martin case provides an interesting example, because the initial response from the liberal media and commentariat was inclined to pin the blame on Mr. Zimmerman’s being an out-of-control wacko weapons-carrier and neighborhood-watch person. A vigilante, looking for trouble. “Gotta get those guns out of the hands of such people!”

    But then–the racebaiters, as above, got into the act. It’s instructive because, among the non-black crew of liberals, anyone with a drop of Latin-American blood is considered “Hispanic” and treated as a member of yet another racial minority and therefore automatically the subject of racial persecution most foul. (On our census form, one of the choices of race that we may check is “Hispanic.” Unbelievable, but there it is.) If Martin had happened to be anything other than part-Negro, Mr. Zimmerman’s Hispanic ethnicity would have prompted the liberal punditry to consider HIM the target of unprovoked attack, quite possibly race-based. But…Martin was part-Negro, and this IS an election year, and it’s important to remind Right-thinking People Everywhere that America Is Racist and the National Sin must be expunged by re-electing the One. [Oh, and drop a few gold ducats into the collection plate on the way out, won't you, so that we can keep on sending the Message to half of you that you are Poor Helpless Victims and we are Your Only Hope, and to the other half of you that your are Guilty Guilty Guilty and will never be able to atone, but only by leaving the ducats and turning to rip to shreds your fellows who refuse to worship (and contribute to) us have you any hope at all of absolution.]

    Now that is the plain naked reality. As one commenter elsewhere put it (remember “Hispanic” is a race):

    “Why don’t the radical left and media say Obama is white? Obama is as white as Zimmerman. The blacks and the left always use white-black race on issues when they think that it is to their advantage.” And he adds, “Americans fought for the blacks’ freedom.”

    As a matter of fact there are many black libertarians (of some non-leftist stripe) and conservatives who well recognize all this for what it is. Among them are a couple of economists of whom you’re no doubt aware, Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams. Another is Star Parker, beloved of the Tea Party. Lloyd Marcus, singer and entertainer. And more. We all consider ourselves Americans and we all respect each other and get along just fine. And we would appreciate it if sensible non-Americans could bring themselves to learn the truth and refrain from joining the howling mob that works to rip America apart.

  • James

    But I have read enough about these matters to have doubts, particularly the sort of figures that Derbyshire was throwing around.

    You seriously doubt that blacks are overrepresented in American crime stats? I thought the evidence was pretty clear on this matter (black and white even).

  • Ate

    African-American culture is pretty destructive, both to cultural insiders, and to their neighbours.

  • Lee Moore

    JP – you usually only need to treat people as part of racial (or sex, or other) collectives when you are responding to socialist conclusions being drawn from such collectives. Such as the need for quotas of women on the boards of companies, or heavy damages for “indirect”racial discrimination on account of members of one racial group being hired less frequently than members of another group and so on.

    The pure idealistic libertarian can respond by saying “but people should be allowed to discriminate as they please.” The more politically realistic libertarian can respond “People should be allowed to discriminate as they please, but in any event these statistics do not prove there is any discrimination going on anyway. For the following group collective statistical reasons…..”

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Lee, thanks for your response. But I am not sure I quite follow your reasoning here:

    “you usually only need to treat people as part of racial (or sex, or other) collectives when you are responding to socialist conclusions being drawn from such collectives. Such as the need for quotas of women on the boards of companies, or heavy damages for “indirect”racial discrimination on account of members of one racial group being hired less frequently than members of another group and so on”.

    It is not just socialist conclusions, though. Derbyshire, a paleocon, made some very broad-brush, collective-style claims about non-whites, and suggested that parents treat with individual non-whites in part as a result of inferences that he said could be drawn from presumed shared characteristics, crime stats, etc.

    I am sure you and I are in total agreement about the injustice, and counter-productive nature, of things like racial quotas and the rest. If Derbyshire, in this case, had wanted to make such an argument, in much the same way that Tom Sowell has done, that would have been fine, and admirable. But he did not do so.

  • Valerie

    Julie, well said.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Unfortunately Julie, the fact that 90% of the black population in the US voted for Obama, and is likely to vote for him again as a whole racial bloc, tells us more about them than it does about Obama.

    IOW, the number of black libertarians and conservatives are far too few in number in make sort of impact on their co-ethnics – not that they can make much headway in any case. Why is it they prefer to listen to the race-baiters and ignore the dignified and well-reasoned out positions of Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas?

    “I’m voting for Obama because he can pay for my gas!”

    Words fail me.

  • Julie near Chicago

    It’s true that we need more outspoken black libertarians/conservatives/Republicans/non-”liberals”, Wobbly. I think another way of putting my point might be to say that the race-baiters are (and for decades have been) specifically working at TEACHING the members of their target market to be racists. To some extent they’ve succeeded, but that doesn’t mean that America is a country of “casual racists.”

    It’s that very need for more outspoken “black” voices (what a mixed metaphor!)–people with our same understanding that leftists and totalitarians are the Enemy–that requires us to remember and acknowledge the people like Star Parker and Rev. Manning, who work specifically on the Obama voters. We–by whom I mean ALL of us, irrespective of “race”–need to give them encouragement and moral support, and to do so publicly, and not to give in to hopelessness (especially not in public!). Because despair DIScourages them and ENcourages the enemy.

    And we need to point out the truth to people who accuse us Americans, wholesale, of “racism.” Because to refrain is, again, to discourage our non-racist friends and encourage our highly racist enemies.

    And because we need to keep our moral self-confidence, if we want to remain America. Never forget that the strategy of the left (and of political Islam) has the destruction of our sense of self-worth as one of its main features. This is why the constant drumbeat of guilt, guilt, guilt. They’ve been playing this game for at least 80 years and it’s clearly working. And why do they do this? Because if you can get a person to believe that by HIS OWN STANDARDS he’s a criminal and ought not to be defended, you will make it impossible for him to defend himself. You’ve disarmed him, psychologically, without a hint of violence or physical aggression. And the same thing is true of groups of people who’ve come to believe that their common aims and concerted actions or beliefs or values are morally reprehensible.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Johnathan Pearce: Derbyshire… made some very broad-brush, collective-style claims about non-whites…

    Wrong. Derbyshire made statements about blacks.

    Perhaps you are not aware that Derbyshire lived in China for several years, and is married to a Chinese woman?

    Question: suppose that in a particular country or district, or trade or profession, or other milieu, all person in the milieu who were of some particular visibly distinctive race were also nearly all of a particular ethnic group with a distinctive culture, or perhaps of a few related ethnic groups with some distinctive common cultural features.

    Would it be racist to note that, in the context of that milieu, members of that race nearly all shared those cultural features?

  • Lee Moore

    JP : “It is not just socialist conclusions, though. Derbyshire, a paleocon, made some very broad-brush, collective-style claims about non-whites, and suggested that parents treat with individual non-whites in part as a result of inferences that he said could be drawn from presumed shared characteristics, crime stats, etc.”

    Well, I don’t really want to defend Derbyshire’s article because he made his points in the sort of polemical controversialist manner that is used by columnists when writing about any subject….other than race. On the subject of race, I like most people prefer to choose my words pretty carefully, treading on eggshells.

    But generally speaking I don’t think he did what you accuse him of. He made a number of statistical claims about blacks, some of which are well founded in research (though others seem to be based more on anecdote) and offered them as tips in dealing with individual blacks and groups of blacks about whom you know nothing more than the statistical claims. He didn’t say that they were a guide for how to treat your black neighbour or your son’s black fiancee, or your black workmate.

    His comments about IWSBs are offensive insofar as they can be taken to mean that you should befriend IWSBs only for their amulet powers rather than for themselves. But that is not what he said. And given the number of times people do defend themselves against claims of racism with the cry “but some of my best friends re black” I don’t believe that amuletism is a Derbyshire invention.

  • These “amulet powers” are emphatically not a Derbyshire invention. Shelby Steele complains about them here. He asks, as a black man,

    What institution could you walk into without having your color tallied up as a credit to the institution?

    I also note the contrast between Dale Amon’s bravado in defending Ron Paul a few months ago and Johnathan Pearce’s zeal in attacking Derbyshire. Something about leftists waving their wands and speaking their power words, but Amon merely laughing. If there’s going to be a mud-wrestling contest between Amon and Pearce, please post the video. Also, if it’s legal to do so, I’d like to put $20 on Amon.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “I also note the contrast between Dale Amon’s bravado in defending Ron Paul a few months ago and Johnathan Pearce’s zeal in attacking Derbyshire. Something about leftists waving their wands and speaking their power words, but Amon merely laughing. If there’s going to be a mud-wrestling contest between Amon and Pearce, please post the video. Also, if it’s legal to do so, I’d like to put $20 on Amon.”

    You’re welcome. I cannot speak for Dale, but I doubt he regards the sort of comments made by Derbyshire as amusing.

    As for Ron Paul, his sin, or mistake, has been to be naive about his choice of associates in the past, such as the folk who wrote those crappy newsletters in the early 90s. Derbyshire, on the other hand, is cut from a different piece of material. He was the sort who actually wrote them.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Ron Paul: Naive? Mistaken? Really?

    So when Paul had his picture taken with Don Black of Stormfront, Black was just a guy at the convention.

    And Bill Ayers was just a guy in Barack Obama’s neighborhood.

    Paul has acknowledged that he reviewed and approved the content of his newsletters. He knew exactly what was being said in his name; he discussed them with his ghost-writers, which means he knew all about the writers.

  • Mose Jefferson

    Thank you for this insightful post, JP. I’ve been frustrated lately by the support for Derbyshire’s article amongst some of my favorite online haunts. As often happens, Samizdata has elucidated the niggling idea which I wasn’t clever enough to get hold of myself – in this instance, that of racial collectivism.

    Julie – Excellent. E Pluribus Unum, and to hell with the divisive anti-American socialists.