‘I May Give Up Writing and Work as a Butler’

After publishing an article advising his children to avoid black people, writer John Derbyshire lost his column at uber-conservative magazine The National Review and weathered a firestorm of outrage this weekend. Nonetheless, after undergoing his regularly scheduled chemotherapy treatment for Chronic Lymphomatic Leukemia this morning, an unperturbed Derbyshire agreed to a Gawker Q&A. His only request: That we publish his answers exactly as he wrote them. We agreed, and have not edited him.

For those speed-reading, I recommend doing a Ctrl+F for “daughter,” “black American rap artists,” and “Rich Lowry.”

How did you find out the National Review was firing you?

I got an email from Rich Lowry Saturday evening. We had exchanged three or four emails on the topic earlier in the day.

And how do you feel about it?

A bit sad. I liked working with NR. (“With,” not “for”—I was never a salaried employee, just a freelancer with an “understanding” that they’d use my stuff when suitable. It follows, by the way, that I was not “fired.” I don’t think you can fire someone who’s not an employee.) However, I have some health issues at the moment, next to which everything else seems pretty secondary, so my overall attitude is blithe, with just a dash of sad.

Do you think you’re more racist than Rich Lowry, or the other NR writers? I found your honesty in the Taki’s Magazine article almost refreshing—these are the same concepts that plenty of NR articles tiptoe around, you just said it outright.

I have no idea. I’m am a strong empiricist, from early training. I like data, numbers, facts, science (when there is some organized science, which is not always the case). Any fool can open his mouth and push out a string of words, and every fool does. Give me some facts, some evidence, some credentialed research. On the matter of racism, which I take to mean generalized feelings about different human races, the best quantifier we have to date is the Implicit Association Test. So if Rich and his colleagues publish their IAT tests in full, as I have mine, I’ll hazard an answer to your question.

Read more here.