Monday, April 9, 2012

Republican Racism Example #52: William F. Buckley's Racist Rag

This past week, the right-wing magazine The National Review fired a columnist -- British-born American citizen John Derbyshire  -- for posting a column on the libertarian website Taki’s Magazine in which he urged white people to avoid neighborhoods with large numbers of African Americans.

Racist former National Review columnist John Derbyshire in a a pair of "mugshot" photos from his website.  Derbyshire, has described himself as a "tolerant racist"  believes that black people are less intelligent than white people. ( This staged "mug shot " is from  Derbyshire's website at 

Derbyshire intended his column t be satirical.  Several writers in the past month discussed “the talk” – the conversation black parents often have with their children on how to avoid being shot by white police officers.  Black parents often urge their children to keep both hands in clear view so white officers  don’t think they are carrying concealed weapon.  They  tell their kids to not run away when approached by police.  Now, black parents have to warn their offspring to watch out for white neighborhood watch volunteers like George Zimmerman,, who recently fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman described the African American youth as acting in a suspicious manner, even though the child carried nothing more dangerous than Skittles candy and an ice tea. In his racist column "The Talk: Nonblack Version," Derbyshire said that white parents also need to have "the talk" with their children. Whites, Derbyshire said, should urge their children following the following rules:

"(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).

(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.”

Derbyshire then wrote that black people aren’t as smart as white people.  “(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percentof 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.’”

In what was, for him, a generous moment, Derbyshire conceded that some African Americans might not be stupid.  In a “pool of 40 million,” he wrote, one can find a smattering of “intelligent, well-socialized black people.”  Derbyshire advises white people to form friendships with what he calls IWSBs because such relationships provide whites "an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice."  (See and

Derbyshire argued that blacks exhibit higher criminality than white people. “These differences are magnified by the hostility many blacks feel toward whites," he wrote in his column. "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.

Derbyshire has openly admitted that he's a racist.  I am not very careful about what I say, having grown up in the era before Political Correctness, and never having internalized the necessary restraints,” he said in one interview.  “I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one, and those things are going to be illegal pretty soon, the way we are going. Of course, people will still be that way in their hearts, but they will be afraid to admit it, and will be punished if they do admit it. It is already illegal in Britain to express public disapproval of homosexuality–there have been several prosecutions. It will be the same here in 5-10 years, and I shall be out of a job.” (See 

In 2004, Derbyshire bemoaned that it was supposedly no longer socially acceptable to praise and quote the white supremacist writings of eugenicists from the early 20th century.  (Eugenicists wanted to promote the "scientific" breeding of racial superiors and to weed out racial inferiors.  Eugenicists were widely respected in England, Germany and the United States, getting mandatory sterilization laws passed in places like Virginia, until the Holocaust provided the movement fatally bad public relations.)  Political correctness had suppressed open acknowledgement of black inferiority, he wrote:

“Whole areas of academic inquiry are now out of bounds in America, for fear of what they might uncover about human nature. The human sciences are nowadays radioactive, like history or philosophy in a Communist country. Entire disciplines have ceased to exist. Physical anthropology, for example: An informative and interesting book like Carleton Coon's Races of Man could not be published nowadays. The topic is too ‘dangerous" and "insensitive.’ Safer to go into a solid, non-controversial field: Women's Studies, perhaps, or Queer Legal Theory.

In 2011, Derbyshire suggested that welfare programs formed part of a racial bargain in which whites gave blacks money they didn't deserve so black people wouldn't commit crimes.  "“Following the black riots of the 1960s, non-blacks have seen these concessions as an implicit contract or treaty—as non-black America saying to black America: ‘We’ll give you this stuff if you promise not to break our windows,'" Derbyshire wrote. (See 

Until this past week, Derbyshire's racism didn't bother his editors at The National Review, but "The Talk: Nonblack Version" column crossed some previously invisible line.  National Review editor Rich Lowry fired the columnist, making the below statement:

“Anyone who has read Derb in our pages knows he’s a deeply literate, funny, and incisive writer,   I direct anyone who doubts his talents to his delightful first novel, Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, or any one of his Straggler columns in the books section of NR. Derb is also maddening, outrageous, cranky, and provocative.

“[Derbyshire's] latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible.  We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways. Derb has long danced around the line on these issues, but this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation. It’s a free country, and Derb can write whatever he wants, wherever he wants. Just not in the pages of NR or NRO [National Review Online] or as someone associated with NR any longer.” (See

National Review editor Rich Lowry had no problem with Derbyshire's racism until  last week.  (Photo from 

Lowry's sudden outrage over Derbyshire's never-concealed racism can be dismissed as rank hypocrisy.  Racism has rested at the core of The National Review since its founding by  William F. Buckley in 1955.  In his 1992 book, In Search Of Anti-Semitism, Buckley admitted he cried as an 11-year-old when he wasn't allowed to join four brothers and sisters in a cross-burning staged outside a Jewish resort  in Sharon, Connecticut.  Buckley brought his quaint, intolerant and verbose views with him when he established his right-wing magazine.  The National Review  played a pivotal role in establishing the modern conservative movement, creating an iron alliance between libertarians who wanted little or no government regulation of business and traditionalists who wanted to defend and preserve respect for traditional moral authority, as represented by conservative churches.  

“Prior to [the founding of the National Review], conservative intellectuals had no central outlet for rigorous debate among themselves, let alone a means of communication to preach to the unconverted,” wrote sociologist Sara Diamond in her book Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements And Political Power In The United States.  

As a child, William F. Buckley wept when siblings wouldn't let him join in on a cross-burning outside a Jewish resort.  As an adult, he described whites as a more advanced race than African Americans and repeatedly insisted that blacks were less intelligent than whites.  (Photo from  

As the magazine gained a following among wealthy and influential conservatives, Buckley acquired the power to define conservative orthodoxy and excommunicate those deemed damaging to the cause, such as when he disowned any alliance with the extremist anti-communist John Birch Society.  An unembarrassed elitist, the patrician Yale graduate Buckley embodied the right wing of the mainstream, appearing as a frequent guest on television talk shows like Meet The Press and even hosting a Public Broadcasting System television show, Firing Line from 1966 to 1999.  (See Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion and the Hoover Institution Archives Firing Line Television Program Collection,  Accessed August 23, 2006.

Buckley’s ugly, not-so-hidden secret was his racism.  Under Buckley, the National Review abandoned its lip service to libertarianism and adamantly supported the right of Southern states to regulate whether whites and blacks could use the same public transportation, water fountains or bathrooms.  The National Review also supported the right of Southern states to deny voting rights to African Americans.  In a 1957 editorial headlined “Why the South Must Prevail,” Buckley defended the Dixie denial of black voting rights:

"The central question that emerges . . . is whether the white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.  The sobering answer is Yes – the white community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.  The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.
National Review believes the South’s premises are correct.  If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened.  It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority." (See Sara Diamond, Road to Dominion, 34-35..
In this editorial, Buckley called blacks primitive and suggests that granting African American the vote would threaten civilization, defined as the will of the white community.  At the time this was written white civilization expressed itself through included Ku Klux Klan terrorism and the mob mentality that resulted in the savage murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. (Till, 14, was beaten to death in Mississippi in August 1955 by a group of white men after allegedly flirting with a white girl. For more on Emmett Till’s murder, consult a 2004 account written by Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and Christopher Benson, Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America.) Buckley implictly endorsed such violence 

"National Review" founder William F. Buckley was no less racist than some of the worst Southern segregationists, whom he defended, yet long hosted a series on the supposedly liberal PBS network and served as a favorite guest on shows like "Meet The Press."  (Photo from 

Buckley’s views not only revealed a deep racism, but an antipathy to democracy itself. Buckley believed that majority rule should be respected only as long as it provides a vehicle for elite objectives. What check would exist to prevent a politically dominant minority from using the “defense of civilization” to rationalize any tyranny doesn’t concern the intellectually sloppy Buckley.  Inconvenient dissent, even on the part of the majority, should be squashed as ruthlessly as it was in the Soviet Union Buckley so despised.

Buckley’s views of the Jim Crow South reflected no aberration in the magazine’s general view of blacks, consistently portrayed in the pages of the National Review as mentally backwards.  In the 1960s, the National Review also supported the apartheid regime in South Africa and in a June 1964 article cheered the life sentence given African National Congress Leader and future South African President Nelson Mandela.  (See Steve Rendall, “Academic Racists Make Mainstream Inroads From National Review to the New York Times,” Extra! April 2005, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Website,  Accessed August 23 2006.)  

In his book, In Search of Anti-Semitism, Buckley obsessively repeated the contention that blacks are less intelligent than whites and at one point implies that African Americans were better off as slaves in this country than living free in their native continent. (See page 5).   In the same book, he laughs at how negligible a black boycott against an author would be, supposedly because so few African Americans read (page 10).  "It ought not to be considered racist to remark [on] differences in IQ scoring by blacks," Buckley writes on page 87 of that book, as if the evidence for such alleged differences was beyond dispute.

Buckley's National Review regularly tapped white supremacists advocating eugenics, such as J. Phillipe Rushton and Steven Sailer, the far right-wing journalist, to contribute articles on race.  The National Review also leant its prestige to the cause of neo-eugenics, running a rave review on September 12, 1994 issue of Rushton’s book Race, Evolution, and Behavior in which writer Mark Snyderman praised Rushton’s “fearless” thesis that “Orientals are more intelligent, have larger brains for their body size, have smaller genitalia, have less sex drive, are less fecund, work harder and are more readily socialized than Caucasians . . . Caucasians on average bear the same relationship to blacks.” 

The National Review's resident race expert Rushton, a British-born Canadian psychology professor, holds a tenure-track professorship at the University of Western Ontario . The Southern Poverty Law Center, which investigates the racist right, has documented the man's history of anti-black thought :

“Although his training is unrelated to biology or genetics, Rushton has not hesitated to spread his controversial opinions far and wide, especially through his major published work, Race, Evolution and Behavior. His findings: black people have larger genitals, breasts and buttocks — characteristics that Rushton alleges have an inverse relationship to brain size and, thus, intelligence. Although the University of Western Ontario has always been careful to defend Rushton’s academic freedom, officials did reprimand him twice for carrying out research on human subjects in 1988 without required prior approval. In the first incident, Rushton surveyed first-year psychology students, asking questions about penis length, distance of ejaculation, and number of sex partners. In the second, he surveyed customers at a Toronto shopping mall, paying 50 white people, 50 black people and 50 Asians five dollars apiece to answer questions about their sexual habits.

 “Rushton crossed the political Rubicon in 1989, when he went public, presenting his views on race to an outraged meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Association officials called a press conference the same day to attack what the association’s president called Rushton’s ‘highly suspect’ research. That same year, Rushton set up the Charles Darwin Research Institute in Port Huron, Mich., which is just over the border from London, Ontario, where Rushton teaches, perhaps to avoid breaking Canadian laws on hate speech. The ‘institute’ is basically a website and post office box from which Rushton sells copies of his books . . .”

Racist psychology Professor J. Phillipe Rushton argues that black people are less intelligent than white people, partly because they have larger genitals.  He has been a frequent contributor to the National Review.  (Photo from 

Rushton spoke in 2000 to the racist, anti-immigrant group “American Renaissance.  “Whites have, on average, more neurons and cranial size than blacks,” Rushton said.  “Blacks have an advantage in sport because they have narrower hips — but they have narrower hips because they have smaller brains.”
 As the SPLC wrote:
“Since 2002, Rushton has been president of the Pioneer Fund, which has for decades funded dubious studies linking race to characteristics like criminality, sexuality and intelligence. Pioneer has long promoted eugenics, or the ‘science’ of creating ‘better’ humans through selective breeding. Set up in 1937 and headed by Nazi sympathizers, the group strove to ‘improve the character of the American people’ through eugenics and procreation by people of white colonial stock. Pioneer has financed a number of leading race scientists, lavishing large sums each year on those who work to ‘prove’ inherent racial differences that the vast majority of scientists regard as nonsense.”  (See

One of National Review writer Rushton's many anti-black books.   His current "research" aims to prove that women are less intelligent than men  (Photo from

Another frequent National Review contributor, Steve Sailer, is a “a well-known promoter of racist and anti-immigrant theories.” As documented by Fairness and Accuracy In Media, Sailer has been “a leading promoter of racist pseudoscience. As a principal columnist on the white nationalist website, named for Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the  ‘New World,'’ Sailer (e.g., 2/23/03; 12/12/01) extols the work of academic racists who say Africans as a group are innately less intelligent than whites or Asians. He is also a staunch defender of the Pioneer Fund, a primary funder for such racist research.” (See

Steve Sailer, another frequent "National Review" writer who believes that black people who aren't as smart as white people.  (Photo from 

The National Review lavishly praised The Bell Curve, a book that argued that African Americans are an average 15 points lower in intelligence than whites, that the difference stems from biology and not poverty, racism and discrimination, and that no remedial programs like Head Start can make a difference regarding black achievement.  The praise was often penned by The National Review was none other than the man we discussed at the beginning of this post, John Derbyshire.

The National Review still embodies the attitudes of a founder who cried when he didn’t get to light a cross to terrify neighborhood Jews.  The publication and its online sibling has always held black people in contempt.  What made Derbyshire’s recent “talk” any different remains impossible to detect.

Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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