11 Apr 2012

More on the Derbyshire Firing

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John Derbyshire

National Review’s firing of John Derbyshire as the result of his publishing some uncomplimentary opinions about African Americans in a totally different venue struck several conservative commentators, including yours truly, as a cowardly and conformist expression of eyes-on-the-main-chance, professional “realism.”

NR’s Rich Lowry did not actually bow to what David Weigel described as a “micro-movement building [on the left -JDZ] to shame National Review into firing Derbyshire.” He threw Derbyshire directly under the political correctness bus before the left had really begun to howl for blood.

Those of us on the sidelines shrugged, and grimaced a little with distaste, over one more disagreeable example of life in today’s United States in the Second Era of Reconstruction and We-Know-Better social engineering and thought control, but it wasn’t until Gawker published an interview on Monday with John Derbyshire, which incidentally revealed that he is suffering from Leukemia and undergoing Chemotherapy, that the full dimensions of National Review’s actions came into focus.

NR did not just dismiss one of its eccentric and quarrelsome loose cannon contributors for injudicious commentary. NR instantly made a cover-its-own-ass at any cost decision, and facing a minor PC controversy in the middle of a period of time in which racial politics and controversies are actively raging, ruthlessly turned on one of its own they obviously knew was gravely ill.

I’d say that kind of behavior reflects a much more serious discredit on National Review than offenses against the community of fashion’s code of speech propriety ever could.


About the only positive thing I can find to say for NR is, at least they let Mark Steyn criticize NR’s actions on their own web-site.

The Left is pretty clear about its objectives on everything from climate change to immigration to gay marriage: Rather than win the debate, they’d just as soon shut it down. They’ve had great success in shrinking the bounds of public discourse, and rendering whole areas of public policy all but undiscussable. In such a climate, my default position is that I’d rather put up with whatever racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic/whateverphobic excess everybody’s got the vapors about this week than accept ever tighter constraints on “acceptable” opinion. …

The net result of Derb’s summary execution by NR will be further to shrivel the parameters, and confine debate in this area to ever more unreal fatuities. He knew that mentioning the Great Unmentionables would sooner or later do him in, and, in an age when shrieking “That’s totally racist!” is totally gay, he at least has the rare satisfaction of having earned his colors. Yet what are we to make of wee, inoffensive Dave Weigel over at Slate? The water still churning with blood, the sharks are circling poor old Dave for the sin of insufficiently denouncing the racist Derbyshire. Weigel must go for not enthusiastically bellowing, “Derbyshire must go!” Come to think of it, I should probably go for querying whether Weigel should go.

NR shouldn’t be rewarding those who want to play this game. The more sacrifices you offer up, the more ravenously the volcano belches.

PS If Derb’s piece is sufficiently beyond the pale that its author must be terminated immediately, why is its publisher — our old friend Taki — proudly listed on the NR masthead?

2 Feedbacks on "More on the Derbyshire Firing"

Lucius Quinctius

Is NR really a serious component of the conservative community any more?

Fred Z

I have some nostalgia for National Review as it introduced me to the intellectual basis for conservatism. Then it grew boring and old. Then Buckley died. Then I realized it was not even conservative anymore.

Someone once wrote that any organization not explicitly right wing eventually becomes left wing. Very true and it is happening to NR. It starts with loss of the brave front runners. They get replaced with some useless and cowardly Grish Chunder De. Then the leftist moles move in and take over.

Is Lowry the useless Babu ‘De’ caricatured by Kipling in ‘The Head of the District’? Or is he a leftist mole?

Here’s the lesson: it does not matter. Leftism and uselessness are isomorphic.

Anyway, as for NR, I’m gone.


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