Last week, writer John Derbyshire gained fast notoriety for a shockingly racist article "The Talk: Nonblack Version," in which he regurgitated a lot of tired racist stereotyping under the guise of "public safety" for white people. The immediate outrage did not go unnoticed — Derbyshire was fired from his job as a columnist for The National Review.
To be clear, Derbyshire's horrifying diatribe wasn't published by The National Review, but his association with the legitimate publication did bring the piece more attention. In a statement released last night, National Review editor Rich Lowry explains his reasons for firing the columnist.
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.
For those enraged by Derbyshire's words, his canning is certainly a step in the right direction. But the article — which includes sentences like, "If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving" — will likely continue to piss people off for some time.