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National Review writer ignites firestorm over ‘disgusting rant’ on race

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Conservative columnist writes piece urging parents of ‘nonblack’ children to shield kids from contact with black Americans

The conservative columnist and author John Derbyshire has prompted outrage after penning an article in which he urges white and Asian parents to tell their children to avoid contact with black Americans they do not know.

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In the piece, which Derbyshire wrote for Taki’s Magazine, a self-styled “libertarian fanzine” run by controversial right-wing Greek socialite Taki Theodoracopulos, he suggests the outline of a “talk” that all such parents should give their children.

He suggests that they do not attend events where black Americans may be present in large numbers, avoid black neighbourhoods and do not be a “good Samaritan” to black people who appear in distress.

Derbyshire added: “If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.” He also suggested not living in an area run by black politicians. “If you are white or Asian and have kids, you owe it to them to give them some version of the talk. It will save them a lot of time and trouble spent figuring things out for themselves. It may save their lives,” he concluded.

The piece, a response to a number of articles written in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case about “the talk” that black parents give to their children on how to survive racism in America, unsurprisingly prompted fury.

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“Once in a while, I read something and think: Please, Lord, tell me that this is a joke. Please, please tell me that a human being did not actually think these things and, worse yet, think to write them down,” wrote the New York Daily News writer Alexander Nazaryan.

Nazaryan suggested the piece would play into the ugly racial politics already present in an American news cycle still dominated by the shooting of Martin, an unarmed teenager who was walking home from a 7-Eleven store in Sanford, Florida. “Is this really the best time to run such a piece, even in jest? I am not talking about sensitivity, but just ordinary human decency, the kind that conservatives are always claiming has been drained from contemporary society,” Nazaryan wrote.

New York Observer writer Drew Grant appeared unsure how serious the story was. “It’s … well … bold, we guess you can say,” she wrote. But some commenters and Twitter members on the internet were in no doubt as to its sincerity. While the piece generated many statements of support on Taki’s Magazine, many of then openly racist, others condemned it. “Wow, you sure do hate black people but you’re an idiot so you probably can’t help it,” wrote one. “This might be the most peculiar piece of journalism I’ve ever read,” said Twitter user Helen Lewis.

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One of the most disgusting rants I have ever read, by National Review’s John Derbyshire. @AngryBlackLady @tanehisitakimag.com/article/the_ta…

— Michael Demmons (@mldemmons) April 6, 2012

“One of the most disgusting rants I have ever read,” said user Michael Demmons.

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Derbyshire, who has written numerous books as well as regular columns for the National Review, has previously courted controversy with his theories that economic and educational disparities between races have a biological origin. In 2010 he gave a speech to a black student legal group at the University of Pennsylvania where he outlined his beliefs to his black audience. “Those differences are facts in the natural world, like the orbits of the planets. They can’t be legislated out of existence; nor can they be “eliminated” by social or political action,” the British-born writer said at the time.

Dear @NRO, why are you associated with a guy who writes something this appallingly racist? bit.ly/I8cj6b

— Jon Henke (@JonHenke) April 6, 2012

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On Twitter some users were sending open messages to the National Review asking the influential conservative publication to condemn Derbyshire. “Why are you associated with a guy who writes something this appallingly racist?” asked Twitter user Jon Henke.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

 

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

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