Firing Derbyshire

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 8, 2012

By now, just about the whole of the blogosphere has heard of the controversy concerning former National Review writer John Derbyshire, but in the event that you haven’t, the short version is that Derbyshire wrote an appalling piece which I will not link to, which was indisputably and disgustingly racist, and which was responsible for making him a former writer for National Review.

It seems to me that Rich Lowry handled this situation in exactly the right way. Derbyshire had to go, and Lowry was left with no choice but to fire him. His explanation for the firing was succinct and entirely intellectually defensible. William F. Buckley famously fought to ensure that conservatism was as unencumbered by the presence of cranks as humanly possible. Lowry maintains that tradition admirably.

Needless to say–if I may use that phrase–I am more than a little surprised that the likes of John Holbo did not believe (or perhaps pretended not to believe) that “no one at NR agrees” with what Derbyshire wrote. Just because Derbyshire was at National Review when he wrote what he wrote does not mean that people there agreed with it. And since his association with National Review at the time when he wrote his piece seemed to cause doubt regarding whether “no one at NR” agreed with Derbyshire’s piece, now that Derbyshire is indeed out, such doubts should be dispensed with. If doubt remains, perhaps Holbo will be kind enough to point to someone–anyone–at National Review who agrees with what Derbyshire wrote. If he can’t do that, then he ought to retract his professed doubts.

Equally puzzling is the attempt to analogize Derbyshire’s example with that of George Zimmerman. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see a registered Democrat as being a National Review reader. I could be wrong, of course, but if Holbo wants to hang on to his doubts, I’ll certainly hang on to mine. I daresay that mine are somewhat more reality-based.

Finally, there is Holbo’s claim that Derbyshire’s points “are, by general and specifically Derbish precedent, accepted as mainstream conservative discourse.” This is an assertion without evidence, but I am sure that it counts as true in Holbo’s world, and for Holbo, that’s all that matters. Writing on RedState, my friend Leon Wolf makes the case against Derbyshire. I suppose we could wait for “mainstream conservatives” to push Leon and RedState out of the movement, but I have this certain feeling–call it a doubt–that such a purge will not happen. Indeed, I am pretty sure that “mainstream conservatives” will be much more apt to applaud Leon and RedState than condemn him and it.

  • Mike

    It’s not often I disagree with you Pej, but this time I feel compelled to. I read Derb’s piece and knew when I was reading it that it would be controversial. “Controversial” does not mean overtly, or even covertly, racist. The piece was NOT racist. It stated, by and large, indisputable FACTS about race and race relations in America. Since when did stating FACTS become racist? Lies, myths, half-truths and blood libels are racist. FACTS, however uncomfortable they make us, are not and cannot be. I stand with Derb. I stand with facts. I will not buy into this hysterical overreaction and categorization of facts of hate speech.

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