I've only read that John Derbyshire has been fired from National Review a moment ago. That's a nice gesture and one that is entirely reasonable considering the depth at which matters of intellectual and moral import ought to be taken. Thoughtful men such as myself see this as a small victory, not against racism or against an individual racist, but against sloppy thinking that begins and ends with facts and ignores humanity altogether.
I was thinking today while waiting to get a haircut in Inglewood how foolish is The Root for announcing once more that there needs to be an ongoing national discussion on race and until such a thing happens we are doomed in some embarassing and even perilous way. But I think it is most fair to say that this is a species of the Root's failure to realize that it already encapsulates that discussion, it has for years, and it is not ever going to get any better. The editors of The Root are mad that everyone doesn't obsess, debate, pontificate and otherwise take advantage of every 'teachable moment' on the affairs of race. To be honest, there is no good faith anywhere.
People who want to talk about race actually just can't shut up about it - they get mad and stay mad because the others are not up on the theory. People who don't want to talk about race actually depend too much on shortcuts - they get mad because the others are too deep into theory.
The shortcut John Derbyshire has taken is one that is familiar to me. Me speaking as someone who used to spend a lot of time talking about race and even more time being sick of listening to people talk about race. Derbyshire's shortcut is what I call 'Statistical Morality'. It is a social error that has become more acceptable under the banner of 'racial realism'. Racial realism suggests there are no hard and fast doctrines about genetic race, but beaviourly speaking that which quacks like a duck...The error of statistical morality as I think of it today is much like the error of the neo-atheist who believes the errors of religion invalidate moral discipline established by reglion. Thus a new logical regime of moral discipline must supplant the old. So, any way of thinking about how to deal with black Americans must follow a new regime - one that is fact based. Since it's impossibly difficult to treat people as if they had no group proclivities, dispense with the old abstracts about blacks and use these statistically proven ones instead. Imagine yourself going to a country of black Americans, which 40 page brochure should you read? Heaven forbid you use anything but the properly derived stereotypes, all in the name of 'statistical common sense'.
As the characteristic moaning and groaning about how unfortunate this is drones on, the great irony (whether intended or not) in Derbyshire's piece is that the exact same logic is treated with great reverence when the shoe is on the other foot. But nobody is going to fire this guy for the talk he has with his son about rolling the dice in mixed(!) company. (Can't find the video somebody showed me last week - but it was basically 'wise' black father telling black son (for TV cameras) that what happens to TM can happen to him because white cops can't be trusted)
But there is a higher standard for nationally syndicated writers; the greater intellectual error suggests a moral failing which sounds rather obvious when stated like this: Let's come up with a mathematical formula that allows us to make an exception to the Golden Rule when it comes to black people. It will be factual and scientific, and people will doubt their intelligence if they defy it.
That is not incorrect, but it is wrong. And that is exactly how I came across 'The Talk - The Nonblack Version' on Google Plus this afternoon. Via an article posted on a blog which asks questions about intelligence, facts, hypocrisy and that level of bourgeois sensibility. (Oh, that was Eric Raymond)
As for Derbyshire himself. Well he's had a similar problem for a long time. IE, he thinks he can make sense of a nonsensical problem.