John Derbyshire On Prof. Hanson's Untruths
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People have directed me to Victor Davis Hanson’s latest NRO pieceUntruth at the New Yorker,” in which Prof. Hanson mentions me several times.  For convenience I’ll refer to the piece in what follows as “Untruth.”

I don’t want to drag the Hanson-Derbyshire business out into the zone of tedium.  If, so far as you are concerned, it’s already there, by all means go read something livelier.

Prof. Hanson tells a couple of untruths of his own, though, about me, and nobody likes to leave such things uncorrected.

Here, for reference, is my April 2012 column “The Talk, Nonblack Version.”  I’ll refer to it as “The Talk.”  Here is Prof. Hanson’s article of last Tuesday, “Facing Facts About Race.”

First, the straightforward untruths in “Untruths.”


Both VDARE and Derbyshire conveniently omitted the latter’s IQ arguments and his advice to avoid all blacks, even when in need of help.

It’s not clear what VDARE/Derbyshire writings Prof. Hanson is referring to there.  To my last Thursday column at VDARE?  But that was a point-by-point response to what had been written by Prof. Hanson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Andrew Sullivan.  Since none of them mentioned IQ, why should I?  How did I “conveniently omit” the topic?  I omitted it because it was not relevant to what I was writing about.  I “conveniently omitted” many other topics for the same reason:  bovine encephalopathy, the infield fly rule, the heat death of the universe, . . .,  many, many.

Then the first untruth in “Untruths”: my “advice to avoid all blacks.”  When did I ever give such advice?  I actually gave the contrary advice in “The Talk”:

You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs [i.e. intelligent, well-socialized blacks]. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.

Prof. Hanson has told a lie.  (Andrew Sullivan told the same lie.  Perhaps that’s where Prof. Hanson got it from.)

As to the “even when in need of help,” here is what I wrote in my follow-up piece to “The Talk”:

The context here is advice to kids. Deciding which situation says, “Stay out of this!” and which says, “Help the guy” requires an act of judgment. Kids don’t have very good judgment; so a blanket “Stay out of this!” is not bad advice in context.

And here’s a thing I wrote on my own website:

The misfortunes you can encounter by acting the Good Samaritan among blacks . . .  turn up in news stories at least weekly. (Here's one from last week. Here's one from the following week. I'll leave you to continue the series for yourself—not a very demanding task.) I'll admit I haven't done a rigorous statistical analysis by race on all such stories, but I can't recall seeing one that didn't involve blacks.

In the context of keeping young nonblacks safe from black violence, I stand by my advice.  And people by the side of the road are very rarely “in dire need of assistance,” Prof.

Again, Prof. Hanson in “Untruths” deplores my “blanket generalizing about all African-Americans.”

I have committed no such sin.  Here is a thing I wrote in “The Talk”:

As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type.

I think a fair description of that passage would be “blanket non-generalizing.”

To be sure, many people think that to pass any comment about the statistical profile of America’s black population—to note the low mean IQ, or the sensationally high levels of crime—is “blanket generalizing.”

I am happy to leave those people in their innumeracy, and in their failure to understand the plain meaning of common words.  “Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain.” I’d be a bit surprised, though, to find one of them serving as Senior Fellow at a respectable think tank.

The untruths in “Untruths” aside, it is sloppy, lazy, low-grade stuff, sometimes incoherent.  “Derbyshire’s essay was far different from my own,” says the Prof.  Yes:  It was, as I pointed out last Thursday, better.

“I do not share . . . his thoughts on race and IQ,” says Prof Hanson.  They are not “my thoughts,” Sir, they are facts in the world, attested by thousands of studies over many decades, consensus understandings among psychometricians.  “My thoughts” on the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun are, that it is a tad short of 93 million miles.  Do you share “my thoughts” on that, Professor?

[Derbyshire] knows that purported IQ per se is not necessarily proof of competency.

What’s “purported” doing in there?  For that matter, what’s “per se” doing?   Is “purported IQ per se” professor-ese for “IQ”?  How could IQ be “proof” of anything?  It’s an indicator, that’s all—rather a good one on average.  And again, what is “necessarily” doing in there?  This is just sloppy, incoherent writing.  It has no semantic content.  It’s mumbled blather.

Prof. Hanson writes, referring to New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh:

As a good McCarthyite, Sanneh apparently hopes he can assist in some what in having me fired: “And as of Wednesday afternoon, thirty-six hours after publication, Hanson still seems to be employed at National Review.”

I’ll leave aside the implied slur on Senator McCarthy, whose reputation the founder of National Review worked so hard to salvage.

You can’t blame the Cultural Marxists for seeking to prod National Review into doing their bidding, considering how easy it was last time.

There are, however, excellent reasons to believe that Prof. Hanson will stay comfortably on as a contributor to the magazine.  Here are a few of those reasons.

  • My own defenestration happened in the heat of a presidential election campaign, when it really seemed as though a Republican administration might be voted in.  A new administration needs word people:  speechwriters, press secretaries, a Solicitor General.  At such times, conservative writers have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.  They are less willing to tolerate dissent.
  • Prof. Hanson was a college teacher. OK, it’s a cow college; but the guy knows his Ancient Greek and his military history. I’m just an opinionating hack.
  • Prof. Hanson is a neocon.  In fact his essays and books provided key intellectual nourishment for the missionary wars of the George W. Bush presidency. That means a lot to the Conservatism, Inc. establishment who fund National Review. My preference was for “small teams of inconceivably brave men and women, working in strange places, unknown and unacknowledged,” not vast armies marching across the plain.  Thus, Prof. Hanson has way more political capital banked at NR than I had.
  • There seems to be greater tolerance for honest talk about race right now, as compared with April 2012—a shift in the political “wind.”  I have not yet untangled the contributing causes.  Obviously the Zimmerman trial has something to do with it.  So, probably, does fed-upness with Barack Obama (although I think among politically-aware citizens, fed-upness with the appalling, white-hating Eric Holder is a bigger factor).  So, I am sure, does the cumulative effect of YouTube showing clips of black flash mobs and such.  Whether the new openness will last, it’s hard to say.  I am not optimistic. readers should not, therefore, be losing any sleep over Prof. Hanson’s future employment prospects.  And look—he has figured out how to use hyperlinks!

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