John Derbyshire (June 2001)
|Born||3 June 1945|
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
|Citizenship||United States of America|
|Alma mater||University College London,|
University of London
|Occupation||Writer, commentator, computer programmer|
John Derbyshire (born 3 June 1945) is a British-American computer programmer, writer, journalist and political commentator. He formerly wrote a column in National Review before moving to a staff position at the website VDARE, where he continues to work. He has also written for the New English Review. His columns cover a broad range of political-cultural topics, including immigration, China, history, mathematics, and race. Derbyshire's 1996 novel Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream was a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year". His 2004 non-fiction book Prime Obsession won the Mathematical Association of America's inaugural Euler Book Prize. A political book, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, was released in September 2009. Derbyshire has been described as a figure within the alt-right movement.
Derbyshire attended the Northampton School for Boys and graduated from University College London, of the University of London, where he studied mathematics. Before turning to writing full-time, he worked on Wall Street as a computer programmer.
Derbyshire worked as a writer at National Review until he was terminated in 2012 because of an article published in Taki's Magazine in which Derbyshire wrote about the dangers allegedly posed by African-Americans to whites.
Derbyshire then worked at VDARE.
Derbyshire's book Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics was first published in hardcover in 2003 and then paperback in 2004. It focuses on the Riemann hypothesis, one of the Millennium Problems. The book is aimed, as Derbyshire puts it in his prologue, "at the intelligent and curious but nonmathematical reader ..."
Prime Obsession explores such topics as complex numbers, field theory, the prime number theorem, the zeta function, the harmonic series, and others. The biographical sections give relevant information about the lives of mathematicians who worked in these areas, including Euler, Gauss, Lejeune Dirichlet, Lobachevsky, Chebyshev, Vallée-Poussin, Hadamard, as well as Riemann himself.
In 2006, Joseph Henry Press published another Derbyshire book of popular mathematics: Unknown Quantity: A Real And Imaginary History of Algebra.
Derbyshire writes in general from a small government conservative perspective. He notably ridiculed George W. Bush's "itty-bitty tax cut, paid for by dumping a slew of federal debt on your children and grandchildren," derided Bush as too sure of his religious convictions and for his "rich-kid-ness". He has noted that small-government conservatism is unlikely to ever take hold in the United States (although he is personally sympathetic to it), called for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (but favoured the invasion), opposed market reforms or any other changes in Social Security, supported legal access to abortion, supported euthanasia in a fairly wide range of circumstances, and suggested that he might (in a time of international crisis) vote for Hillary Clinton as president. Derbyshire wrote about American schooling in his book We Are Doomed, "Education is a vast sea of lies, waste, corruption, crackpot theorizing, and careerist log-rolling." He further argued that people "had better brace ourselves for the catastrophe" coming as a result.
Derbyshire once argued that America would be better off if women did not have the right to vote. In 2005, in a monthly column containing a series of miscellaneous musings, he controversially stated that women's physical attractiveness peaks between ages 15 and 20.
Derbyshire differed from other writers at National Review magazine on many subjects. For example, Derbyshire supported Michael Schiavo's position in the Terri Schiavo case. Derbyshire's views on the Schiavo case attracted criticism from colleagues such as Ramesh Ponnuru. The Derbyshire-Ponnuru dispute arose again over Ponnuru's recently published book Party of Death. Derbyshire reviewed the book harshly in the New English Review, and Ponnuru replied on National Review Online.
Though Derbyshire broadly agreed with other writers at National Review Online on immigration, he encountered strong opposition from former NRO blogger John Podhoretz, who described Derbyshire's comments on restricting immigration to maintain "ethnic balance" in severe terms: "But maintaining 'ethnic balance' is not fine. It is chillingly, horrifyingly not fine." In response, fellow Corner contributor Jonah Goldberg, who described himself as philosophically "in the middle" of the two, noted:
I should say that I think JPod is getting too hung up on the phrase "ethnic balance" as a codeword for all sorts of unlovely things. It seems to me that if you're going to sit down and have any immigration policy at all, it's unavoidable that you're going to address the issue of ethnic balance in one way or another, no matter what you call it. Ultimately, you have to choose where people come from if you have an immigration policy, even if you emphasize other factors like skills or family unification. So you can either look at it directly or you can skirt around it. But you can't avoid it.
Derbyshire had an uncredited role in Way of the Dragon (released in the United States as Return of the Dragon), a 1972 martial arts film directed by, and starring, Bruce Lee. Of landing the part, Derbyshire said: "The casting director had obviously just trawled around the low-class guesthouses for unemployed foreigners of a sufficiently thuggish appearance."
In 1986 Derbyshire married Lynette Rose, or Rosie, née Qi (? ? ?; Qi Hongmei), who was raised in China and later became a naturalised U.S. citizen. They have two children, a daughter and a son. He lives on Long Island, New York. Derbyshire was, for a brief time, an illegal immigrant. He often recounted observations from his personal life in his former monthly column, "The Straggler," in National Review. Derbyshire said of his family, "our two children are, as they are already tired of being told, half English coal miner, half Chinese peasant, 100 percent American."
Derbyshire records a weekly podcast called "Radio Derb," in which he comments on current events. The podcast was hosted on the National Review website before being moved to Taki's Magazine. It is now hosted on VDARE.
Right wing voices that claim to have been purged from the conservative movement, like Peter Brimelow and John Derbyshire, have formed part of the alt-right.