Was John Derbyshire's "talk" racist?

I would encourage you in reviewing this to leave the pejorative meaning of the term racism aside and just focus on the definition of the word racism:   

According to Merriam-Webster:

Definition of RACISM1
: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race2
: racial prejudice or discrimination— rac·ist  noun or adjective

So was John Derbyshire's "Talk" racist or an example of racism?  Yes it was, in parts.  Here is probably the most controversial part of his article:    
(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.”
Here is a rebuttal to Mr. Derbyshire's "talk" at National Review:  

   04/09/12 15:56

Dear Mr. Lowry,
You did the right thing. Mr. Derbyshire's post was intelligent, and contained elements of truth. Elements which resonate. However, enmeshed and inseperable from the truth therein where racism and racist-based-falsehood.
For example, however true the IQ (and standardized test) score differences among the races may be, the assumption that racial characteristics themsleves account for those differences is not merely racist, but aslo highly unlikely.
Genetics generally determine potential, not outcome. Outcome itself is determined by many other factors - family environment, in utero environment, education, chance, character, G-d. To ignore that, and to ignore the vicious impact of the degredation of the family and profoundly negative impact of the racialist-victim industry on black America in order to make broad based stereotypes is simply not acceptable --- particularly where the "right" is attempting to broaden it's appeal.
The same can be said for crime and related traits. These are not "racial" traits (though genetics may play a role in any individual's likelihoods) - they are personal traits that evolve in a person through the course of their life.
We have a duty as Americans, marked by the sin of Slavery and government sponsored racism (Jim Crow, etc.) to act in a manner that consistently repudiates the crimes of our ancestors. That does not mean being for affirmative action, nor does it mean taking all racial humor, etc., out of the public square. But it does mean not engaging in mean-spirited, over-broad attacks on an entire people based on the color of their skin. Even where the left does the same.
That is not acceptable, and I am glad that NRO acted accordingly.
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I agree with CRM above on how IQ testing results do not automatically lead us to the conclusion Mr. Derbyshire came up with.  Andrew Sullivan has expounded the same positions (roughly) Derbyshire has.  I would argue that the positions of The Bell Curve that Derbyshire and Sullivan both expressed agreement with, have been under cut in party by Coming Apart (Charles Murray's follow up book that focuses on differences between Belmont, MA and Fishtown, PA).  Of course the left does not attack Sullivan anymore since he supports Barack Obama and attacks Republicans, Sarah Palin, and Christians.  So all is forgiven.

However, I also disagree with CRM that Americans are marked with the "sin of Slavery and government sponsored racism."  People who are alive, who participated in Jim Crow, may have some culpability that they have to address in their own hearts.  I am pretty sure people who participated in slavery in this country are no longer alive.  I would only state we all should try to deal with the issue honestly.  That said, I do believe we have an obligation to treat people equally when it comes to race.  And that is reflected legally in the 14th Amendment.  There is a legacy of slavery that still exists and that we all need to overcome, but expressing it in terms of "sin" is not helpful.  It just is.  And yes we should deal with it.

Some on the right have criticized National Review for firing John Derbyshire.  Bob Belvedere said Rich Lowry was cowardly to do what he did.  I agree this was handled poorly (both by Derbyshire in not giving NR a heads up of what he had planed and the initial response of some people from NR).

If you are working for an organization and write an article (presumably without prior knowledge to National Review) to some other organization and they disagree with it, typically that organization has the right to fire you. That ultimate deicison is between National Review and John Derbyshire.  You are all completely free to agree or disagree with that decision.  I do not agree with everything National Review does, but I am not going to criticize them over the firing.  I personally found the tweets on Saturday night by Lowry and Ponnuru unnecessary.  But given Derbyshire did not warn them this was coming, they should get a degree of slack.

I do not know what is in John Derbyshire's heart over this, but he views were his own, and it appeared to me he was not trying to hurt anyone.  As Crack Emcee advised, if it bothers you, "nuts."  I know the left has a hard time wrapping their heads over this, but Derbyshire having racist views does not mean Derbyshire was intending to be malicious.  The suggestion that merely having a racist thought in your head makes you evil is wrong.  You are evil if you do evil acts or are trying to get others to do evil acts (and I am unaware of John Derbyshire doing any such acts).  Because many people, I would suspect most, have at times had a racist thought or said a racist comment.  And this slander that the tea party, conservatives and Republicans are full of racists is a lie.  It is not true.  And the suggestion that Robert Stacy McCain and Dan Riehl are racists is false.  Yes of course you can find examples of racism across the political spectrum.   Many liberal people have such thoughts too.  I know because I have heard them say it.  We should not respond with lashing out, but rather trying to understand and (perhaps) persuade people.  But it would help if the left stopped name calling.

I recognize that many would find point 11 above to be offensive.   How about trying to calmly and rationally discuss the points Derbyshire raised?  If you disagree, by all means disagree with facts and arguments.  I suggested that at some liberal sites and mostly the response I got was I was promoting racism by defending Derbyshire (as they smugly said most conservatives do), or raising false arguments.   One liberal commentator went so far to say racism can only be perpetrated by Anglos and Northern Europeans.  Then again, one commentator at this site said I was either ignorant or dishonest in not accepting John Derbyshire's conclusions as facts.  But talking about this can be a good thing if done in good faith.

Prior EBL posts:
Maybe a little Star Trek would be appropriate...
John Derbyshire got fired for his "Talk" so where is the outrage over Marion Barry's comments?
John Derbyshire's Talk, you have no right to judge...
John Derbyshire's Talk...

John Derbyshire's interview with Gawker...
Mark Steyn on Derb
On the career-detonating column, I don’t have anything terribly useful to add. But Derb’s wife is Chinese and his children are biracial. And I can see why, in a world in which a four-time mayor of America’s capital city can disparage your own family’s race (“these Asians coming in . . . those dirty shops . . . they ought to go”) and pay no price, a chap might come to resent the way polite society’s indulgence of racism is so highly selective.
The Other McCain:  Everyone's gone crazy... 
Instapundit and Roger Kimball:  So much for that frank conversation on race...
John O'Sullivan at the Corner...

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