»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Saturday, March 1st, 2014

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your promotionally genial host John Derbyshire with news and views on the passing charivari, brought to you from our state-of-the-art recording studio here on Taki's private island in the sun-kissed Aegean Sea.

Before we start, listeners, permit me to do a little trumpet-blowing on behalf of the magazine — Taki's Magazine, that is, the host website for Radio Derb. You might be surprised to know that journalists — and I don't just mean freelance journalists — don't always read the periodicals to which they contribute. It's a harsh and mercenary trade. George Orwell was once asked why he'd written something for a vegetarian magazine when he wasn't a vegetarian. "Because they paid me to," was his reply.

Well, I do read Taki's Magazine. For one thing, it has what every journalistic enterprise needs to have: a personality, a distinctive character all its own. I occasionally spot something on the internet that makes me think: "That's so TakiMag! Gotta work it into a piece somehow …" If I can't think how to, I pass it on to the editors for the attention other contributors, so they can work it into one of their pieces.

And then, TakiMag is good nutritious stuff — opinion journalism for the carriage trade, not just a megaphone for some political faction. Just this past few days, check out Fred Reed on crime and criminals, Jim Goad on the weather — hey, you try writing about the weather — or the boss himself on actors playing James Bond, an interesting and personal spin on a topic you might have thought had been talked to death.

Don't neglect the comment threads, either — some of the best in the business … by which I mean, a high proportion of good sense and good humor, a low proportion of crankiness and angry ranting. I learn a lot from the TakiMag comment threads, and even contribute to them when I can find the time.

So if you're a Radio Derb listener but not a TakiMag reader, check it out. It may not be your cup of tea — not everything's for everybody — but take a look. Thank you. And thanks for listening to Radio Derb.

OK. What's that you say, Ethel? [Clip: Ethel Merman, "Let's go on with the show."]

02 — Capitalism v. liberty.     Headliner of the week has been the bill passed by the Arizona state legislature, then vetoed on Wednesday by the state's Governor, Republican Jan Brewer.

One of the events that triggered the writing of this bill was reported on Radio Derb last December. A couple of male homosexuals asked a baker in Denver, Colorado to make a wedding cake for them. The baker, who is a devout Christian, politely declined to do so. The homosexuals filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and a judge ruled that yes, the baker had unlawfully discriminated, and ordered him to cease and desist.

So the legislators in Arizona passed a law saying that Arizonans in that baker's situation would not be guilty of unlawful discrimination if they could show that they were acting on, quote, "sincerely held religious belief." They passed the bill, and the Governor vetoed it.

A number of thoughts here. First, that Colorado prosecution was an obvious hit job by the homosexualist lobbies. They'd heard about the baker's beliefs, probably from a previous refusal, and decided to go after him. Shame, shame on the Colorado authorities for going along with this cold-blooded bullying … although when you see an office with "Civil Rights Commission" in its title, I guess you know you're looking at a nest of witch-hunters.

Second, why should religious belief be a merchant's only out? Suppose I am a baker, and a fanatical Irish Republican comes in and asks me to bake a cake bearing the legend DEATH TO ALL BRIT SCUM, and I refuse. Shouldn't I get a pass, even though I'm irreligious?

Third, whatever the hell happened to freedom of association? Here I unmask myself as a foam-flecked extremist: I think citizens should be free to discriminate in any way they like as regards their private exchanges. If I don't want to bake you a cake, go find some other baker. How are you harmed? All laws concerning private discrimination should be struck down. "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States," says the Thirteenth Amendment. If I have to bake you a cake against my will, how is that not involuntary servitude?

Fourth, the silence of the lambs. Homosexuals are two or three percent of the population. How come the rest of us have to dance to their tune? Why aren't people up in arms about this?

This is the tyranny of the minority, what our forefathers called the evil of faction. The three percent care intensely and press their case unrelentingly; the 97 percent don't care much, so they get the shaft. It's like farm subsidies. The proportion of farmers in the U.S. population is even smaller than the proportion of homosexuals — less than two percent. So why are we all being ripped off for farm subsidies? Because the two percent care passionately about them and the 98 percent don't care at all.

Elizabeth the First asked God to give her the wisdom to distinguish between the voice of the people and the clamor of a faction. Whether God did so in Queen Elizabeth's case, I'm not too clear, but for sure the clamor of a faction is all the leaders in a modern democracy seem to hear.

Fifth, the conservative critique of capitalism deserves an airing here. We conservatives whose opinions were cooked in the mid-to-late 20th century tend to look kindly on capitalism, in part because we saw close up the horrors and inefficiency of state socialism. The traditionalist-conservative critique reminds us that capitalism is not necessarily a friend of liberty.

Capitalists — well, some capitalists — are quite happy to crush your liberties if it's good for business, which it sometimes is. Indeed, as we see from all the business lobbying for open borders, they're happy to crush national sovereignty, debase the value of citizenship, and displace American workers, if those things are good for the bottom line.

Just so in this case. Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, gave a gushing endorsement of the Governor's veto.

[Clip: "Let me just say, thank you, Governor Brewer …"]

The TV interviewer — who, it goes without saying, was just as eager to celebrate the Governor's veto as the Chamber of Commerce was — the interviewer lobbed an easy pass at Mr. Hamer:

[Clip: "The response of the business community, not just in Arizona …"]

Mr. Hamer caught that ball and ran with it:

[Clip: "Southwest Airlines, Delta, American, … I mean, we could do a commercial …"]

There you go: a starter list of outfits that don't believe in freedom of association. Every one of them has way more money than you or me, and a voice a thousand times louder. That's the plughole down which our liberties are draining away. To reverse the metaphor: That's the orifice out of which is being emitted the vile, poisonous lie that there is no valid position at all between cruel persecution, on one side, and total swooning enthusiasm on the other. If we don't love them, it must be because we hate them.

I'm not a fan of homosexuality. My view is the traditional Anglo-Saxon one: I find male homosexuality mildly disgusting, female homosexuality mildly comical. I don't want to see anyone persecuted, though, and am happy to let them get on with their lives free from interference by me. I only wish homosexuals would return the courtesy.

03 — Charge of the Putin Brigade.     Here's an update on last week's lead segment, the ructions in Ukraine … or possibly "ructions in the Ukraine."

When we went to tape there last weekend it was still a chaotic situation with no clear outcome in sight. Well, last Saturday police resistance to the protestors in Kiev crumbled, and the protestors took over some key administrative buildings. Parliamentary opposition lined up with them and moved for new elections in May.

Yanukovych, the guy the protestors were protesting about, went on TV and said he was the lawfully-elected president, and now the victim of a coup. Reasonable enough, as he was lawfully elected; except that he was exceedingly corrupt and had diddled with the Constitution. Impeachment would be proper and appropriate in a truly constitutional republic, and perhaps the Ukrainians should try that next time; but too late for that here, and it's hard to summon up any tears at seeing this crook get the bum's rush.

Parliament appointed an interim President, an arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Yanukovych, and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the lady with the plaits, was released and headed for Kiev.

Then on Thursday last week, armed gangs of Russians seized key buildings in the Ukrainian province of Crimea.

That's a peninsula on the Black Sea with dockyards and naval facilities. The Crimea's been Russian since Russia's war with the Ottoman Empire in the 1770s. It was of course the site of the Crimean War of the 1850s, memorable for having been the first significant war that was photographed and the first in which the telegraph played a part; also for Florence Nightingale having developed modern hospital nursing organization, for the invention of the balaclava helmet, for the entire Ottoman navy having been sunk for the third time (you really didn't want to be a sailor in the Ottoman Empire), for the many American observers who applied lessons from it to the Civil War in the following decade, and last but by no means least, for the Charge of the Light Brigade.

OK, so why were these thugs — obviously under Putin's control — seizing buildings in the Crimea? Well, it's a part of Ukraine, but accidentally so. Nikita Khrushchov signed the Crimea over to Ukraine back in 1954, when Ukraine had no autonomy, was just a district of the U.S.S.R. The rumor is that Khrushchov was drunk when he agreed to the signover, but I don't know if that's true.

Whether it is or not, once Ukraine became independent after the Soviet Union disintegrated, the Russians obviously regretted having signed away such a prime strategic asset, and Putin has had his eye on recovering it probably for as long as he's been in power. Now he has his chance.

As we go to tape here on Thursday night there looks to be a real possibility of armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea — the Crimea, whatever. I don't think there can be much doubt how long that would last, or what the outcome would be.

America and the EU are flapping their arms and making disapproving noises, but not even I think Western leaders are stupid enough to get militarily involved. As I commented last week, "Liberate the Ukraine" was not a plausible slogan when Barry Goldwater floated it fifty years ago, and it's not now. This is Putin's sphere of influence. The only open question here is whether his appetite will be satisfied by swallowing the Crimea, or whether he'll go for the whole of Ukraine. Or the Ukraine.

Look: As a nationalist myself, and definitely a non-fan of Vladimir Putin, I'd like to see Ukraine a proud, independent nation, not crushed either by Russian imperialism or EU bureaucratism. That's what I'd like to see. Am I going to see it? I very seriously doubt it.

04 — Spanish is the shoving tongue.     Here's another one on the cultural front, also from Arizona as it happens. I'm having a fire sale on Arizona stories this week.

This story concerns Terri Bennett, who is fifty years old and a nursing student at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. Last April Ms. Bennett complained to the college authorities that too much of her instruction environment was conducted in Spanish, a language she does not speak. Classroom discussions were dominated by Spanish, she said, and time was wasted translating teachers' lesson plans from English into Spanish. In some group projects, she was the only one not speaking Spanish and so couldn't participate properly in the group.

Reasonable complaints, especially in the context of a taxpayer-supported college in Arizona, whose state Constitution — Article 28, Section 2 — declares that, quote: "The official language of the state of Arizona is English," end quote.

The complaint is reasonable and the underlying assertions by no means improbable in the current sorry state of our culture, especially that part of it concerned with education.

I should also note that Pima Community College has for some time been … I think the mot juste here is "troubled." There have been recurrent news stories in the local press about financial mismanagement, accreditation issues, absenteeism on the part of governing board members, cronyism, bullying of staff and high staff turnover, and sexual harassment. The Chancellor of the college, Roy Flores, resigned in 2012 following investigations, after nine years on the job. Troubled.

Those are all facts and highly reasonable suppositions. What follows has some elements of she-said, he-said, although what she said agrees with the known external circumstances a lot better than what he said.

The "she" there is of course Ms. Bennett. What she says is, that when, last April, she took her complaints to the Director of the nursing program, he called her a "bigot and a bitch" and accused her of discriminating against Mexicans. At a second meeting with the Director and three other administrators, Ms. Bennett was told she wouldn't get a job because of her complaint, and, in best Soviet style, that she should "seek counseling."

A few days after that, Ms. Bennett was suspended from college indefinitely for, quote, "stalking" and, quote, "bullying." Her suspension papers were served to her in front of classmates, presumably for maximum humiliation. Armed guards escorted her off the campus.

Last summer Ms. Bennett filed a complaint against the Pima Community College in Arizona Superior Court. The college filed a response, and the case should go to trial soon.

Ms. Bennett is being assisted in her case by an organization called ProEnglish, a nonprofit that advocates for English as the only official language of government in the U.S.A. Bob Vandervoort, the Director of ProEnglish — with whom I have shared a speaker's platform once or twice — had an op-ed about Ms. Bennett's case in The Washington Times last Thursday, February 20th, to which I direct your attention.

All together now, listeners: Come on, stand up, raise your arms in the air, wiggle your hands, and repeat after me: DIVERSITY IS OUR STRENGTH!

05 — Dieu et mon droit.     Having mentioned Bob Vandervoort there, I have what we show business professionals call a "segue." It so happens that one of the occasions when I shared a speaker's platform with Bob was at a CPAC panel on multiculturalism. That's a segue because CPAC's been in the news this week.

CPAC, in case you don't know, is the Conservative Political Action Conference, held annually near the beginning of the year in or near Washington, D.C. This year's CPAC will happen March 6th, 7th, and 8th at the Gaylord Convention Center on the banks of the Potomac there.

CPAC traditionally casts its net wide, and you get all kinds of conservative activists there: Tea Partiers, Religious Right, Randians, Log Cabin Republicans, neocons, paleocons, even the occasional Dissident Right character, along with GOP shills and RINOs. The median age is surprisingly low, with a lot of college students. It's a lively and fun event. You never know who you'll see at CPAC. Example: Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, who has just been sprung from jail as part of the latest deal, was honored at CPAC in 2007 for her part in the Orange Revolution.

Well, on Tuesday this week we heard that an organization called American Atheists will have a booth, booth number 439, at CPAC. David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said, quote: "Just as there are many closeted atheists in the church pews, I am extremely confident that there are many closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives," end quote, and that he wanted to "reach out" to them. You get this mental image — well, I do — of some innocent Young Republicanette strolling past Booth 439 at CPAC and this long scaly arm reaching out to grab her. [Scream.]

First off, Mr. Silverman's statement is a bit odd. For one thing, I doubt there are "many closeted atheists in the church pews" nowadays. Churchgoing no longer has the social valence it once had. Hardly anyone feels socially obliged to go to church nowadays. If you're in those pews, it's because you want to be.

And then, what's that about "closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives"? There have been atheists in the ranks of conservatives for ever, and they have never felt the need to "closet" themselves. Max Eastman, one of the founders of National Review, was an atheist. Ayn Rand, who is revered (I was going to say "who is a goddess …," but that would be a little discordant in this context) Ayn Rand, who is revered by a big sector of the conservative movement, was a stone atheist, and made no secret of it — it's a cornerstone of her intellectual system.

So personally I wasn't either shaken or stirred to hear that American Atheists had bought a booth at CPAC. But then, no sooner had I heard it than CPAC announced they'd rescinded the invitation and returned American Atheists' booth fee. The CPAC organizers had their attention drawn to some remarks Silverman had made on TV that were frankly hostile to Christians. In their original application, the CPAC organizers said, American Atheists had misrepresented themselves.

That sounds fair enough to me. Conservatism has a hard enough row to hoe in the present-day U.S.A., without us being rude to each other. I'm irreligious myself, but I always try to be polite to believers; though I'm bound to add that there is a certain subset of believers who take anything an unbeliever says to be impolite.

This little flap did start up some internet exchanges about whether unbelievers can be conservative, a debate which, as I've just said, seems to me to have been settled decades ago.

My own approach to the issue is dispositional, as defined in a famous 1956 essay by English political philosopher Michael Oakeshott. The essay is called On Being Conservative and it says, quote:

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to Utopian bliss.

End quote.

06 — White flight payback.     It's March 1st. February is gone. Another Black History Month gone, and I didn't even give it a mention on Radio Derb!

I humbly apologize for my flagrant lack of respect. It's never too late to make amends, though, and I'm only one day late here, so let's have a segment on what black Americans have been up to in the news. Whaddawe got?

Here's one of them: Spike Lee, who I am told is a movie producer. Mr. Lee was speaking to students at a college in Brooklyn, New York, last Tuesday — a Black History Month event. Somehow the subject of gentrification came up, and Mr. Lee had things to say about it. Here are some of the things he said, with my comments following each quote.

Quote: "I grew up here in New York. It's changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights, for the facilities to get better?"

My comment: What facilities, Spike?

Quote: "The garbage wasn't picked up every mother******* day when I was living in 165 Washington Park …"

My comment: I have just looked up the trash collection schedule on the website of the New York City sanitation department. For 165 Washington Park, Brooklyn, trash pickup days are Tuesday and Friday. Friday is also recycling pickup day. That's two days a week, Spike, not every mother******* day.

Quote: "The police weren't around."

My comment: This is susceptible to simple empirical verification. If the police weren't around in black neighborhoods when Mr. Lee was growing up in the 1970s, then we wouldn't find many blacks among the people arrested in New York those years, would we? Do city crime statistics for New York forty years ago show any large number of black arrestees? I can't find the numbers, but someone should be able to.

Quote: "When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o'clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something."

My comment: Again, I have no access to the facts here, but perhaps someone who lives near 125th street could tell me how common it is to see white mothers pushing strollers at 3 a.m.

Quote: "There were people playing mother******* drums in Mount Morris Park for forty years and now they can't do it any more because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud."

My comment: Mr. Lee later explained his point here to TV host Anderson Cooper, quote: [Clip: "My problem is, is that, when you move into a neighborhood, have some respect for the history, for the culture …"]

All right, Spike: but in the innumerable instances when blacks have taken over white neighborhoods, did they respect the history? Did they respect the culture — white people's culture? If people who like peace and quiet move into a neighborhood where people like banging drums in public, and you say the new inhabitants should respect the noisy habits of the older ones, does that work the other way? If noise-loving people move into quiet neighborhoods, should they respect the quietness? Whaddya say, Spike?

And why can't Lee express himself without using obscenities? Once again, this was a college audience he was addressing, at an institute of higher education. I understand that in this day and age, that's not going to mean the people in the audience were studying Aristotelian metaphysics, Anglo-Saxon prosody, or quantum electrodynamics, but still some elevation of diction would be appropriate.

Personally I have a low tolerance for the kind of liberal hipster types who go in for gentrifying old city neighborhoods. It makes me smile none the less. I see it as a sort of payback for white flight. In the post-WW2 decades a lot of quiet, peaceful, law-abiding working-class neighborhoods in our towns and cities suffered an influx of blacks. Crime and drug addiction went through the roof, school standards and property values went through the floor, and many fine old neighborhoods were wrecked.

Now the yuppies are moving in to lower-middle-class black neighborhoods like the one Spike Lee grew up in. The blacks are being priced out. They're having to move to inconvenient suburbs, or stay and watch their familiar neighborhoods being given a makeover.

Boo. Hoo. Boo. Hoo.

07 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  Nicholas Wade is a former New York Times writer on the human sciences. He's semi-retired now, but still contributes material to the Tuesday Science section. Full disclosure: I know Nick slightly, at least we've sat round the same dinner table together on several occasions. I've reviewed his last two books, Before the Dawn and The Faith Instinct, both of which sold very well.

Well, Nick has a new book coming out in a few weeks, and it will be very interesting to see what kind of reception it gets. Title: A Troublesome Inheritance, subtitle: Genes, Race and Human History. You can see why I'm curious about the book's reception.

A quote here from the book's description at Amazon.com, quote:

Arguing that race is more than just a social construct can get a scholar run out of town, or at least off campus, on a rail. Human evolution, the consensus view insists, ended in prehistory.

Inconveniently, as Nicholas Wade argues in A Troublesome Inheritance, the consensus view cannot be right.

Nick takes his biology neat, and has published some fearless pieces, always well-grounded in science: so much so, the joke out here on the Dissident Right is that the people who write the op-ed pages of the New York Times obviously never read the science pages.

Nick is also, if he won't mind my saying so, of a certain age — the age when you are not much encumbered with worries about what other people will think of your views.

As I said, we out here on the Dissident Right are waiting with much curiosity to see how the defenders of PC orthodoxy treat this book. Good luck with the sales, Nick.

Item:  Over in Britain, the killers of Lee Rigby were sentenced. Rigby was the British soldier run down and then hacked to death in a London street, in a weekday mid-afternoon, by two Muslims. The Muslims were black, from immigrant Nigerian families. They'd converted to radical Islam at some London mosque. As they tried to decapitate the soldier, with passers-by looking on, they shouted "Allahu Akbar!"

Well, this week they were sentenced to so-called "life imprisonment," which in England means about ten years. These men are in their twenties, so they'll be out before they hit middle age — sooner, if the European Court of Human Rights has its way: they think life sentences are unacceptably cruel.

And while in prison they will be treated well. British prison life is dominated by Muslim gangs, who will regard the Rigby killers as heroes. The prison authorities are too PC-whipped to impose any discipline; and even if they did, the Human Rights busybodies would come down on them.

The fool judge, sentencing the men, extruded the following bit of PC gibberish, quote: "You each converted to Islam some years ago. Thereafter you were radicalized and each became an extremist, espousing views which, as has been said elsewhere, are a betrayal of Islam," end quote.

It's nice that the judge has been reading up on Islamic theology, but it's a pity he missed the hundred-odd verses in the Koran that exhort pious Muslims to kill infidels. Still, having made a start on his Koranic studies, Judge Whatsisname will be well positioned to continue his judicial duties in the Shariah courts when Britain becomes a Muslim nation. [Clip: Sharia-Maria.]

Item:  Piers Morgan is one of those people I know very vaguely from second-hand references to the show he has on one of the leftist TV channels. I never watch those channels, though I think I've caught a couple of YouTube clips of Morgan when surfing the web for news stories.

Well, now he's a story. Apparently his show was a floperoo, and after three years he's giving up, or perhaps being given up on — it's not clear.

I can't really say I'm surprised. Why would Americans want to be enlightened about the news by a supercilious Brit looking down his nose at their primitive colonial customs and delivering his opinions in a honking British accent loaded with weird pronunciations like "schedule" and "tomato"? Beats me.

Item:  Finally, a man in Cambodia is in police custody after attempting to perform coitus with a dead girl. He had attended the funeral of the girl, whom he apparently knew, the previous day. Inspired to lust somehow, he went to the cemetery the following night, dug up and opened the coffin, and tried to do the business. The effort of digging had apparently exhausted him though, and he fell asleep on the corpse.

A nasty case of necrophilia, which is more common than you'd think. There was in fact a similar incident concerning the novelist Hemingway, whose corpse was violated by a homosexual necrophiliac. When that perp was arrested, his defense was that far from taking the matter lightly, as some had alleged, he was in dead earnest. [Groans.]

08 — Signoff.     I should say that my closing joke there is one of those with alternative punchlines. A different version says that when arrested the perp claimed he hadn't had a chance to really get started; he was only half in earnest.

Enough, enough. Plainly it's time I got out of here.

To see us out, just for a change, let's have some poetry. I mentioned the Crimean War up there, and the charge of the Light Brigade. You can actually hear, on the internet, Alfred Lord Tennyson reading his own poem on a very early recording — pretty astounding, when you consider that Tennyson was only six months younger than Abraham Lincoln. It's a terrible recording, though; and, like most poets, Tennyson had no clue how to read his own productions.

No problem: I'll read it for him. Herewith, stanzas 1, 2, 3, and 6 of "The Charge of the Light Brigade." And please note that, contrary to common misconception, the actual charge of the Light Brigade was a brilliant tactical success.

More from Radio Derb next week! Take it away … Derb.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said.
Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
    Someone had blundered.
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
    Rode the six hundred.

 …

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!