Who would’ve thought such a mild-mannered, bourgeois Englishman could ignite such a fibre-optic firestorm?
A few weekends back, all right-thinking Left-leaners united for a hyperextended Two Minutes Hate session against one John Derbyshire, a Brit expat and paleocon pundit who occupies a comfy niche amongst America’s “alternative Right”. Turns out that the round-goggled reprobate saw fit to scribe a rather un-PC survival guide for the melanin-deficient; and, judging from the resultant comments, and the rash of responses from various Lefty haunts, it appears to have left many a pissed-off Progressive in its wake.
Having previously clicked and leafed through Derbyshire’s output, including his musings on multiculturalism, immigration, and racial IQ, I registered little in the way of surprise when I read the article. It struck me as something of a synthesis of his scribblings, citing crime stats and group averages to concretize another slab of “conservative pessimism”.
I must admit that, whilst I’m not down with the paleocon paradigm for a number of reasons, I appreciate their often incisive criticisms of PC equalitarian conceits. Similarly, whatever misgivings I have with Derb’s Taki Mag piece, I admire his refusal to apologize to his detractors for speaking his mind, even in the face of a firing.
That said, “The Talk” left me feeling rather ambivalent upon “hearing” it…
I don’t see much of anything to contest in the first six points Derbyshire makes, seeing as they simply describe percentages, people, and phenomena that can be be observed or deduced sans value judgement (with the exception of the fourth point, a prescription of civic equity):
(1) Among your fellow citizens are forty million who identify as black, and whom I shall refer to as black. The cumbersome (and MLK-noncompliant) term “African-American” seems to be in decline, thank goodness. “Colored” and “Negro” are archaisms. What you must call “the ‘N’ word” is used freely among blacks but is taboo to nonblacks.
(2) American blacks are descended from West African populations, with some white and aboriginal-American admixture. The overall average of non-African admixture is 20-25 percent. The admixture distribution is nonlinear, though: “It seems that around 10 percent of the African American population is more than half European in ancestry.” (Same link.)
(3) Your own ancestry is mixed north-European and northeast-Asian, but blacks will take you to be white.
(4) The default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship. In some unusual circumstances, however—e.g., paragraph (10h) below—this default principle should be overridden by considerations of personal safety.
(5) As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type. Only at the far, far extremes of certain traits are there absences. There are, for example, no black Fields Medal winners. While this is civilizationally consequential, it will not likely ever be important to you personally. Most people live and die without ever meeting (or wishing to meet) a Fields Medal winner.
(6) As you go through life, however, you will experience an ever larger number of encounters with black Americans. Assuming your encounters are random—for example, not restricted only to black convicted murderers or to black investment bankers—the Law of Large Numbers will inevitably kick in. You will observe that the means—the averages—of many traits are very different for black and white Americans, as has been confirmed by methodical inquiries in the human sciences.
The next three points take a detour down Anecdote Avenue, linking particular cases of black hostility to buttress his point. Though I’m not so sure about his percentages, he does make some universally applicable observations about the dynamics of identitarianism, the herd instinct, and intergenerational grudges:
(7) Of most importance to your personal safety are the very different means for antisocial behavior, which you will see reflected in, for instance, school disciplinary measures, political corruption, and criminal convictions.
(8) These differences are magnified by the hostility many blacks feel toward whites. Thus, while black-on-black behavior is more antisocial in the average than is white-on-white behavior, average black-on-white behavior is a degree more antisocial yet.
(9) A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.
It’s with the tenth point that Derb drops the bombshell:
(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(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.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
Now, if the amount of predatory crime committed by American blackfolk really is off the charts; if predominantly black areas really do amount to danger zones, then Derbyshire’s prescriptions (some of them, at least) make sense. I certainly read of enough cases of American black-on-nonblack violence to think his concerns not so easily dismissible. Between his trend analysis and his own near-death experience, I can understand his apprehension: pattern-recognition often proves a useful survival mechanism. I can imagine a raceflipped version of this convo taking place in many a black American household, some fifty years back.
Fuck it! I can hear an intraracial version of this convo taking place in many a present-day black household. I know the typical black parent doesn’t visualise “gangbanger”, “pimp”, or “corpse” as an ideal for their progeny.
Which brings me onto where I think Derb’s piece falls short. In his personal profiling, does he discern any other constants beyond phenotypes? Does he factor in other aspects of appearance and behaviour, such as age, dress, and demeanour? From my experience, these elements often prove just as, if not more, important than race. For example, I generally avoid contact with groups of besuited, bag-touting blackfolk, as experience tells me they’re likely to be Jay-Dubyas; I make a point of ignoring eager-eyed clipboard-carriers of any hue (who tend to be just as irritatingly evangelistic as the aforementioned Jehovahs); I find youth, loudness, and multiplicity an obnoxious combination in any shade (especially with a ghetto/chav aesthetic thrown in); but I’m not inclined to hang out with socially conservative bourgeois types, like Derbyshire, either.
It’s not that Derb’s being too discriminating when he puts his focus on racial profiling but, rather, not discriminating enough. As a result, his race-über-alles outlook overrules or obscures other, often more important aspects, as is apparent in his special focus on black politicians. Though I’m no fan of Obama, my gripes with him have fuck-all to do with race and everything to do with him being, to all intents and purposes, Dubya 2.0. Similarly, the phenomenon of racial identity politics, exemplified by folk like Al Sharpton and Diane Abbott, is often exploited by vote-hungry white politicos, as well. Personally, were I to put weight on any one common factor in my judgement of the aforementioned, it’d be their allegiance to the self-selected predator class known as “politicians”.
Still, in fairness to Derb, he acknowledges the sweeping hastiness of some of his prescriptions in a follow-up article:
On one hand, I wish I had elaborated some on that, to the effect that in view of not-uncommon outcomes such as the one to which I linked, you just need to be a whole lot more wary about acting the Good Samaritan when the distressed traveler is black (even if you yourself are black). One can think of cases where you should act anyway, but in most situations, I’d still recommend double caution.
On the other hand, the context here is advice to kids. Deciding which situation says, “Stay out of this!” and which says, “Help the guy” requires an act of judgment. Kids don’t have very good judgment; so a blanket “Stay out of this!” is not bad advice in context.
Readers, even quite friendly and intelligent ones…emailed in to say things such as: “I live in a heavily black neighborhood, and things are just fine, never any trouble.”
I don’t doubt it. Of course there are nice black neighborhoods. That misses my point about statistical common sense. A white person who finds himself in a neighborhood about which he knows nothing except that it is heavily black is more likely to encounter trouble than he would in some strange neighborhood not heavily black.
Onto the eleventh and twelfth points, which touch on racial IQ statistics and Affirmative Action:
(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”
(12) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by affirmative action. In a pure meritocracy there would be very low proportions of blacks in cognitively demanding jobs. Because of affirmative action, the proportions are higher. In government work, they are very high. Thus, in those encounters with strangers that involve cognitive engagement, ceteris paribus the black stranger will be less intelligent than the white. In such encounters, therefore—for example, at a government office—you will, on average, be dealt with more competently by a white than by a black. If that hostility-based magnifying effect (paragraph 8) is also in play, you will be dealt with more politely, too. “The DMV lady“ is a statistical truth, not a myth.
At first, I questioned his mentioning of racial IQs in the article: whilst I find the subject rather intriguing, it reads like a detraction from the general “safety” angle the article takes. Whatever the underlying reasons for it, low IQ, per se, doesn’t register as an immediate existential threat (though it increases its possessor’s chances of winning a Darwin Award!). On reflection though, it plays into the twelfth point concerning the pervasiveness of Affirmative Action. If blackfolk who fall short of the mark are nevertheless being employed in the name of “proportional representation”, it highlights an insidious type of state-endorsed racial reductionism that does neither blacks nor nonblacks any favours in the long run.
Which brings me to my personal bugbears of the whole piece: the final three points:
(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.
(14) Be aware, however, that there is an issue of supply and demand here. Demand comes from organizations and businesses keen to display racial propriety by employing IWSBs, especially in positions at the interface with the general public—corporate sales reps, TV news presenters, press officers for government agencies, etc.—with corresponding depletion in less visible positions. There is also strong private demand from middle- and upper-class whites for personal bonds with IWSBs, for reasons given in the previous paragraph and also (next paragraph) as status markers.
(15) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSBs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets: boasted of by upper-class whites and wealthy organizations, coveted by the less prosperous. To be an IWSB in present-day US society is a height of felicity rarely before attained by any group of human beings in history. Try to curb your envy: it will be taken as prejudice (see paragraph 13).
There are several reasons why the acronym “IWSB” annoys the fuck out of me.
Firstly, as a generally asocial, and somewhat antisocial, person, I fucking hate the term “well-socialized”: as if “socialization”—being cleaved to consensus by external forces—is something worth striving for! Sure, I can go through the pleasantries, help out strangers, and, if I like you, step outside for the odd pint; but all of it is, at root, self-interest and self-satisfaction. Socializing for its own sake just seems like misdirected time and effort; and the values and perspectives adopted by the “well-socialized” folk around me often strike me as laughable, inane, and often contemptible.
The second reason for my annoyance, more in line with Derb’s article, is this talk of IWSBs plays into a crude type of racial Manichaeism, pitting “the good blacks” against “the bad blacks”. Depending on your sympathies, one could assign the former position to the “real nigga”, the “credit to your race”, the “so well-spoken”, or the “positive black role model”, with the negative label serving to scourge those outside your chosen Platonic ideal. I know various parties have either tried to claim or shame me. Sometimes, both at once. When it comes down to it, Crip, Corporate, and Conscious all equate to constriction, in my eyes.
The concept of seeking out IWSBs as “amulets” (Gotta catch ‘em all!) also left a sour taste in my metaphorical mouth. Here, Derbyshire advises a rather mercenary attitude to “friendship”, motivated by petty point-scoring and social climbing rather than emergent affection. However, doesn’t this prescription to acquire one’s very own Designer Black Friend TM hold a mirror up to many a status-climbing limousine Lefty? Indeed, doesn’t the whole fucking article outline their mental schematics and general behaviour patterns? Perhaps a large part—or even most—of the backlash comes from those types, trying to supress the id Derb so unapologetically articulates in his piece. It wouldn’t surprise me…
All that said, the demand for IWSBs presents a sterling opportunity for intelligent blackfolk seeking to “climb the ladder” for whatever reason. As a friend put it,
The social leverage that belongs to what he calls the “intelligent well socialized black.” What he really means is “Black guys who are really polite and don’t scare me.” If you can be a black guy that doesn’t scare racist old shitbags, you have a lot of power.
I want all my non-white friends to read this. Seriously, there’s a lot of power in manipulating stuffy old white racists, and the first step to manipulation is knowledge. Here this guy is giving us a map to the gaps in his defenses.
Basically, it’s like something out of a Robert Greene book, or what a Satanist would call “Lesser Magic”: using one’s environment and appearance to one’s advantage. Perhaps, whilst Progressives parade pitchforks on his behalf, the status-hungry IWSB adept is congratulating Derb on handing him a How-To toward “felicity”.
I myself feel relatively detached from the whole drama, finding the reactions to Derbgate somewhat understandable, yet ultimately overblown. Whilst Mr Conservative Pessimism will never win prizes for Political Correctness, or pan-racial solidarity (his Sinophilia and marriage, notwithstanding), he’s hardly the second coming of the KKK. His negrophobic prejudice seems less animated by animus against blackfolk, and more grounded in the safety and survival of his bourgeois brood. Whilst the bourgeoisie aren’t my cup of tea, I can’t fault him for looking out for his own.
Thus, despite the aforementioned flaws, I find it hard to flare up in fury over the words of the Derb. If they amount to—to quote a friend of a friend—the “most absolutely-fucking-gonzo-racist thing…on the internet”, racism really has crumpled into something of a paper tiger.