After the National Review’s John Derbyshire penned an unbelievably offensive and racist screed in Taki’s Magazine advising white Americans to stay away from black Americans, a firestorm has predictably erupted over whether his views will be sanctioned by the larger conservative movement. Derbyshire told ThinkProgress that his column urging the majority of Americans to “avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally” was not satire, but in fact a “social commentary.”
On the National Review’s website, editor Rich Lowry called Derbyshire’s column “appalling” and asserted that “no one at National Review” shares his views. But Lowry did not indicate whether Derbyshire would continue to be employed. Does the National Review have a no tolerance policy for racism?
For the National Review, which has frequently complained about unfair accusations of racism, this ugly moment provides an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. As National Review contributor Josh Barro writes in Forbes:
[T]his is the problem for Lowry and other conservatives who want to be taken seriously by broad audiences when they write about racial issues. Lowry wrote a column containing advice for black Americans. Why should black Americans take him seriously while he’s employing Derbyshire? If Lowry wants NR to be credible on race, he should start by firing John Derbyshire.
National Review staff have been taking turns trying to distance themselves from Derbyshire. Here’s senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru:
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) April 6, 2012
And National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg said a similar thing (National Review contributor Robert George retweeted this):
For the record, I find my colleague John Derbyshire’s piece fundamentally indefensible and offensive. I wish he hadn’t written it.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) April 6, 2012
The New York Daily News’ Alexander Nazaryan writes, “An editor at the supposedly esteemed National Review, [Derbyshire] is a perfect poster boy for what conservatism has degenerated into.” The National Review can begin to change this perception if it takes action.