The conservative magazine National Review has fired John Derbyshire, a prominent columnist who provoked outrage Friday with a column published in the webzine Taki's Magazine, which warned white people to avoid "large concentrations of blacks," among other nuggets of racially tinged advice.
Derbyshire has a history of controversy when it comes to race — he even proclaimed himself a racist, though a "tolerant" one, in a 2003 interview — but he had managed to avoid any real firestorms. His latest piece, though, proved to be a step too far. Written in response to articles about the "talk" black parents were having with their children about the dangers of racism in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, Derbyshire wrote about some of the offensive advice he had allegedly given his own children. Just a few of the examples:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
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.