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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, ladies and gents, this is your ecumenically genial host John Derbyshire, with all of the week's news that's worth knowing.
Before we begin, just a brief housekeeping note for listeners who take an interest.
The story so far: No longer under the generous patronage of Taki Theodoracopulos, we have retreated to a makeshift studio here in the grounds of the Derbyshire estate on Long Island. It's the small building between the croquet lawn and the chauffeur's cottage, for those of you who like to Google View these things.
In these reduced circumstances my loyal and extremely flexible research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy had to be let go, I'm afraid. We can now only afford one research assistant. Mrs Derbyshire took it upon herself to conduct the interviews for this position. She has hired a very capable lady to assist me in putting the show together. The lady's name is Sandy, and I'd like to introduce her to you. Sandy, do you mind saying a few words of greeting to the listeners?
[Sandy] Just as soon as you take your elbows off the desk. Show some manners when a lady's in the room, young man.
I … oh, I'm sorry. Sandy, I should tell listeners, as well as being very capable in research, is also a lady of domestic accomplishments. She has five children and … how many grandchildren? Eight, is it?
[Sandy] Nine, and for goodness' sake sit up straight. You'll get arthritis in your shoulders, sitting hunched over like that.
Ah, right. OK … Well, that's Sandy, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure she'll be a valuable addition to the Radio Derb team.
[Sandy] Not until I get the file room in some kind of order. It's like the wreck of the Hesperus in there. [Walks away muttering] Damn young fools, think they know how to run a recording studio …
Thank you, Sandy. And now: [Clip: Ethel Merman, "Let's go on with the show!"]
02 — Gods in general. As I intimated there in my introduction, this week's Radio Derb touches on some religious topics. Because this whole zone encompasses the deepest feelings and beliefs of many listeners, let me begin by just clearing out some underbrush. Where's my scythe? OK.
One: I'm irreligious, but not religiously ignorant. I was educated in the Church of England. I know the Bible, know the hymns and the liturgy, and go to an Episcopalian service very occasionally out of tribal loyalty, but I don't believe in any of the Christian doctrines. At services I sing the hymns and make most of the responses, but I don't recite the Creed.
Two: I respect religious belief in general as a core feature of human nature, an aid to social cohesion, and a consolation for many of my fellow human beings in times of distress. I am definitely not a god-hater or "village atheist" … although, I must say, I've never understood why a village atheist is any more contemptible than a municipal or metropolitan atheist.
Three: Emailers chide me for saying "Roman Catholic," when according to them I should just say "Catholic." Sorry, it's just ingrained habit. We Anglicans consider our church to be catholic. The Anglican version of the Creed includes the declaration of belief in, quote, "one holy catholic and apostolic Church." Far as we're concerned, Roman Catholics are playing on a different team.
In the past I have tried my best to conform to common American usage and just say "Catholic," but that "Roman" keeps slipping back in and I've now reached the age where I can't be bothered to make the effort.
Four: I grew up in an atmosphere of mild anti-Catholicism, and retain some traces of that prejudice. I explained this all at length in a piece for National Review some years ago, from which, quote:
Please remember, too, what Roman Catholicism was like when I was growing up, as seen from England. It was the religion of Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, chaotic and communist-trending Italy, recently-keenly-pro-Nazi Austria (don't let The Sound of Music fool you — the Anschluss was more a wedding than a rape), Latin America as then personified by the buffoonish Juan Perón and his sinister wife, and, yes, Éamon de Valera's nasty, corrupt, wilfully under-developed, people-exporting Ireland. That's not even to mention France.
OK, that's cleared out the underbrush. Let's get to the news.
03 — What separate countries are for. Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson, who is a believing Christian, was asked the following question by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press last Sunday.
[Clip: "Do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution?"]
Replied the good doctor:
[Clip: "No, I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."]
That got the lefties in a tizzy. The Muslim-supremacist lobby CAIR, that's the Council on American-Islamic Relations — or possibly Critters Advocating Islamic Rule, or maybe Crush All Infidels Ruthlessly … unless it means "Come, Allah, Incinerate Republicans!" or …
I'm sorry, my imagination was running away with me there. Where was I? Oh yes, CAIR.
CAIR honked that, quote:
Mr. Carson clearly does not understand or care about the Constitution, which clearly states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office." We call on our nation's political leaders — across the political spectrum — to repudiate these unconstitutional and un-American statements and for Mr. Carson to withdraw from the presidential race.
What this little fuss brought to my mind was one of the catch-phrases we throw around out here on the Dissident Right. The catch-phrase is: "This is what separate countries are for."
I really have no idea whether Islam per se is a good thing or a bad thing. Having not much interest in religion, I've never looked into the question. A lot of people seem to find comfort and consolation in Islam, and structure for their lives. Jolly good luck to them.
Here's a thing I'm certain of, though: Mass immigration of Muslims into non-Muslim nations is a very, very bad thing; also a very, very stupid thing. It's had dire social consequences wherever it's happened.
I speak with some bitterness here. The country of my birth, to which I have the usual sentimental attachment, has been destroyed by mass Muslim immigration. The tsunami hasn't come crashing ashore yet, but its forward progress towards the picnickers on the beach is now unstoppable. If you go to a big hospital in a British city, the geriatric ward is full of old white English people; the ob-gyn ward is wall to wall burkas and headscarves. The country's gone; there are just a few years left. It's a tragedy, the death of a nation … by suicide.
Things aren't quite so bad in the U.S.A., but we're doing our best to get there. This was all unnecessary. Sensible immigration policies this past fifty years would have spared us a world of troubles, present and future, including this silly business about Ben Carson's remarks, as well as much greater horrors like 9/11.
If we'd had sane immigration policies this past fifty years, with Muslim settlement held to a few hundred a year, we'd be able to have real politics, using election campaigns to discuss social and economic issues in a spirit of common understanding. Instead we have to waste time on this multiculti tag-wrestling, while real topics get left out.
Imagine a U.S.A. with, say, only 30,000 Muslims — 0.01 percent of the population. In an America like that, nobody would bother about Islam. Much of the vast national-security apparatus of snooping and wiretapping would be unnecessary. We'd have some of our liberties back.
We'd have our Constitution back, too. The constitutional provisions for freedom of religion would have full force, as the Founders intended them to, in a nation where esoteric non-Christian religions were the confession of a tiny, insignificant demographic fringe. American tolerance, fairness, and generosity would have full scope to exercise themselves. You can be generous to a tiny minority, without fear there will be blowback from your generosity.
In that nation the question Ben Carson was bombed with wouldn't have been asked, not even by a lefty hack journalist trying to embarrass him. In that nation we wouldn't have to listen to hypocritical lectures from Muslim-supremacist gangs like CAIR, funded with Saudi money.
In that America, in fact, people probably would vote for a Muslim presidential candidate, in the unlikely event that one showed up. Why not? Conscious of being in an extremely small minority he'd mind his manners with exquisite care, out of respect for the majority.
I'm dreaming, of course. That's not the country we live in. Thanks to the mad, evil 1965 Immigration Act, we live in a country of warring tribes vying for supremacy over each other.
Well, we still have our Constitution and our laws. They don't permit religious tests for public office; but they also don't prohibit us denying our votes to members of noisy, demanding, dangerous minorities we don't trust.
In this America, I'm with Dr Carson.
Note too, please, that in the world of that other America, the 0.01 percent-Muslim America, Islam would be openly and enthusiastically dominant in the forty-odd countries where it is a majority faith, with no complaints from me or anyone else.
That's what separate countries are for.
04 — Another globalist bureaucrat. The second big item of religious news this week was the visit to the U.S.A. by Pope Francis — or, as we Anglicans prefer to say, the Bishop of Rome.
There he was on the front page of my New York Post, riding down Fifth Avenue in his popemobile for a service at St Paddy's cathedral.
For geezers like myself it all brought to mind a previous papal visit, from Paul VI back in 1965. The three things that stick in my mind, and probably everyone else's, from that visit are
There have of course been other Papal visits since then. John Paul II, the great anti-communist Pope, was here in 1979, when he threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. Well, I think that's what he did. He did something in Yankee Stadium — I'm working from memory here.
John Paul II visited again in 1995, older and feebler but still an impressive character. I mean, yay for anti-communism. John Paul II played a major part in bringing the Soviet Union to an end and freeing up the occupied nations of Eastern Europe, for which humanity should be for ever grateful to him.
My own inner Protestant quietly wonders if some of the psychological driving force there wasn't resentment by the head of one globalist organization claiming authority over men's souls for another such claiming the same thing … but communism was smacked down, that's what matters, so lets give credit where it's due.
Pope Francis isn't in that league. Not that he isn't an interesting psychological study. To judge from his address to Congress on Thursday, his psyche is in fact an arena of conflict between the traditional precepts of his faith as he studied it when a young man, and the silly utopian fads that dominate public life in our time: the normalization of homosexuality, open borders, sentimentality about blacks, global warming hysteria, and so on.
So in the address to Congress we got the faddy fretting about inequality, then a lurch towards, quote, "harnessing of the spirit of enterprise," and, quote, "business is a noble vocation."
Similarly, Francis squared the circle nicely on homosexuality by not mentioning it explicitly, only enthusing about, quote, "the richness and the beauty of family life." Homosexuals claim they can do that richness and beauty, too, though statistics on the stability of their unions suggest that they are not being altogether straight with us … as it were.
On immigration, the Roman church had no fixed traditional position, so Francis is just an empty vessel, a willing receptacle for the dominant progressive cant.
Thus we got the usual open-borders flimflam about people heading for the First World, quote, "in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones," as if there is any large number of people in any part of the world who don't want a better life. Along with that came injunctions to, quote, "reject a mindset of hostility" towards the, quote, "stranger in our midst."
Francis didn't say anything about whether it's OK to nurse a mindset of hostility towards the cynical cheap-labor business lobbies and their bought-and-sold shills in Congress — the people who allowed and encouraged that stranger to come be in our midst, in defiance of our laws and collective preferences.
Francis came across, in fact, as just another nagging globalist bureaucrat. If he gets fired from the papacy he could run for president of the European Union, or Secretary-General of the U.N.
This isn't terribly surprising. The Roman Catholic church is the world's oldest globalist organization … unless you count the Chinese Empire, which claimed authority over All Under Heaven … although well-informed Chinese people were dimly aware, even in the earliest times, that there were a few dark corners of the planet not then yet illuminated by the light of the Emperor's benevolent countenance.
The way I see it, we live in an age when the utopian globalist urge is badly in need of tempering, and the nation-state just as badly in need of defending.
It's been some years, in fact some decades, since I read the Christian scriptures with attention, but I'm pretty sure Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is not in this world, but at some other place. If I may be so bold, audeo dicere, as to instruct the Bishop of Rome in theology, perhaps he should restrict future public addresses to that realm.
05 — Hillary screeches in vain. The third religious flaperoo blew up late last week, a bit too late for the September 18th Radio Derb. This was also Islam-related.
At a townhall event for Donald Trump in New Hampshire, the first question was from an audience member concerned about Islam in America. Here's the exchange, quote:
[Clip: Questioner — We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even an American. Trump, laughing — We need this question. This is the first question? Questioner — But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question: When can we get rid of them? Trump — We're going to be looking at a lot of different things. And you know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be looking at that and plenty of other things.]
If you're going to run for office and hold townhall meetings, you have to be ready for the not-very-articulate citizen with a bee in his bonnet. That's assuming this questioner wasn't a media plant, which I'll allow is actually a pretty big assumption.
I thought Trump handled the exchange decently well for a non-politician. He responded with good humor and some bland words about how bad stuff happens and he'll be looking at lots of stuff.
To the professional offense-takers, though, Trump's light-hearted brush-off came over as a ferocious demagogue whipping up the mob. This is the age of microaggressions, remember. Not reflexively leaping to the defense of our black President is tantamount to burning a cross on the White House lawn.
Hillary Clinton screeched on Twitter that, quote, "Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out." End screech.
Maintaining his good humor, Trump tweeted back that, quote:
"Am I morally obligated to defend the President every time someone says something bad or controversial about him? … This is the first time in my life that I have caused controversy by not saying something.
Then, talking to a black business group in South Carolina on Wednesday, Trump resurrected longstanding suspicions that the whole birther thing, about Obama not being a U.S. citizen, was started by Hillary Clinton when she was contending with Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
Now Hillary had to defend herself, which she did in a radio interview later that day. The notion that she had started the birther story was, she said, quote, "ludicrous … it is totally untrue," end quote.
Hmm. I dunno; the phrase "totally untrue," coming from the mouth of a Clinton, tends to fall upon a listener's ears with, shall we say, less than compelling force.
Well, well. Much of what I said two segments ago applies here. If we hadn't sold our national soul to the multiculti liars and thieves, there wouldn't even be an issue here. We'd be arguing about tax rates, or national parks, or urban planning, or biotechnology — things that actually matter to the citizens of a mostly-homogenous nation, the kinds of things they argue about in Japan.
It all bounced off The Donald, anyway, as everything else has. He is such an attractive candidate, such an obvious contrast to the drilled, rehearsed, donor-whipped bots making up the rest of the GOP field, nobody can lay a glove on him.
Onward and upward with The Donald — who, by the way, has a new book coming out October 27th, so far untitled.
I don't like to push myself forward, Sir, but if you have any further books planned and need help with editing and so on, I can be reached via VDARE.com. And I might also mention that once you're in the White House you'll be needing capable wordsmiths — you know, Press Secretary, Speechwriter, that sort of thing. It would be an honor to serve. Just mentioning it …
06 — A sin too deep for absolution One more on religion. I'm going to make another little sortie into theology. Impertinent of me, as an unbeliever, I know; but it's something I haven't seen brought up in regard to the Pope's visit, and in my opinion it needs bringing up.
First, just a very brief side excursion into history and high culture.
For deep background, recall that Roman Catholicism was not a good "fit" for the Germanic nations of northwest Europe, once they had settled down into self-conscious nationhood. Church-state stresses, like the late-12th-century face-off in England between Henry II and Thomas à Becket, or the wrangling between Henry's son John and Innocent III, were a recurring theme through the first half of the second millennium.
We Anglicans like to tell you, a bit smugly, that the expression "Church of England" was not coined by Henry VIII; it had shown up in the Magna Carta 300 years previously.
As in England, so in Germany. Wagner's opera Tannhäuser is instructive. I won't burden you with the full plot. Suffice it to say that the title character is a German minstrel knight from folklore of that same period, 300 years before the Reformation, who has a steamy affair with Venus, the Goddess of Love. Imagine how steamy that must have been! When Tannhäuser's fellow knights find out about the affair they insist he go to Rome to get absolution from the Pope.
So Tannhäuser goes to Rome, prostrates himself before the Pope, and confesses his sensational sins. "Whoa!" says the pontiff. "That's too much sin! I'm afraid not even I can absolve that much sin. You're just going to have to burn in Hell for ever. Next!"
Commentators on the opera, and on the underlying folklore, always point out that, in the words of one such, quote: "the old tale rather clearly reflects the increasing disaffection medieval Germany felt for the papacy," end quote. The common feeling was that a priest should absolve any sinner who shows genuine penitence. The Pope's refusing to do this in a popular folk legend expressed that disaffection. The north-European Reformation did not come out of the blue; it was the end of a long process with much popular feeling behind it.
OK, that's my historico-cultural briefing. Back to the present day and my sortie into theology.
With Tannhäuser in mind, let's ask the following question: Are there today, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church, sins of such deep turpitude that no absolution is possible, not even from the Pope?
I don't know the answer to that question, not being sufficiently well versed in RC theology. I suspect, however, that the answer is yes; and that the sins at issue are not unbridled lust, as in Tannhäuser's case, but political incorrectness, especially in matters of race.
Why do I suspect that? Two words: "Frank Borzellieri."
If you're not familiar with the name, I wrote up the case of Frank Borzellieri a couple of years ago in Taki's Magazine. Do a Google search on the title of that column: "Cultural Marxism Demands a Sacrifice."
Frank was an educator in New York city — a teacher and school administrator with an impeccable record across many years. At his own expense, and while working full-time, he acquired two master's degrees in the field of work that he loved, education. A faithful Roman Catholic, Frank's career was all in Catholic schools.
Prior to that career, Frank had spoken at American Renaissance conferences and published a book to which Jared Taylor contributed a foreword. The book is a collection of essays presenting a skeptical, thoughtful, non-vituperative view in opposition to political correctness — just the kind of view I try to present here on Radio Derb.
When Frank took up school administration his speeches and writings were examined by the Archdiocese of New York and found to be without doctrinal error. That was in 2007. There being no fault, Frank's contract with the Archdiocese was renewed. He worked on for another four years, building up a spotless record.
In 2011, however, a hack reporter for the downmarket New York Daily News published a sensationalist piece accusing Frank of being a hateful hater filled with hateful hate, a white supremacist, and so on.
The New York Archdiocese fired him the very next day. When he asked for a hearing, they ignored him. A six-page letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the fat hypocrite who's been yucking it up with Pope Francis this week, went unanswered.
That's how the Roman Catholic church treats a congregant who sins agains political correctness. So here again is my question: Are there sins too deep for absolution?
Hey, at least the Pope gave Tannhäuser a hearing.
07 — United States of Hysteria. One topic that didn't seem to come up in Pope Francis' visit was the priestly child abuse scandals.
Here my anti-Catholic prejudices desert me. It seems to me far too much was made of these incidents, most of it whipped up by lefty god-haters.
Was there really anything to be so scandalized about, beyond a few lonely old priests perpetrating the mildest kinds of molestation? When I was a kid it was taken for granted that a high proportion of clergymen were queer. Jokes about it were a major component of schoolyard humor. Some of the more unscrupulous slum kids I grew up among even made a little pocket money out of it, particularly targeting clergymen as clients. The pre-adolescent Noël Coward did the same, according to his autobiography.
So the priestly scandals never seemed to me to rise to the level of something to bother about, although I suppose men of the cloth really ought to practice a little more self-restraint.
Really serious child abuse, at the level of rape and buggery, does occur, though. It causes real psychological and physical harm to the child victims, and horrifies all normal people, certainly including me. I've raised two kids who I love more than my life; I think I can imagine how I'd feel if one of them had been violated in that way. I think I can.
Well, child abuse of that kind has been in the news.
First item, from the New York Times, headline: U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies.
The story here relates to the very peculiar sexual customs of the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, whom back in the days of the British Raj were called Pathans. One of their folk sayings goes, according to John Masters, quote: "A woman for business, a boy for pleasure, a goat for choice."
Well, it seems there's a shortage of goats recently in Afghanistan, so boys are being resorted to on a wide scale by our allies against the Taliban. Official U.S. military policy is to turn a blind eye.
The Times story tells us of, for example, Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn,who beat up one of his Afghan militia commanders for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. Captain Quinn's superiors relieved him of his command.
There you have the eternal problem of empire. What do you do about revolting local customs? Let 'em get on with it so long as they stay loyal to the Empire? Or put them on the anvil and hammer them into a shape more congruent with our own morality?
Successful empires — the Roman, Ottoman, and British — mainly took the first approach, though the Brits did suppress suttee. We Americans, a moralistic people, are strongly inclined to the second, whatever the U.S. military thinks. That's why we can never be successful imperialists, and should stop trying.
Then there was the chap who wrote in Salon.com about his own pedophile tendencies and his determination to keep them well suppressed.
That brought forth some interesting commentary. Among leftists it exposed the fault line between, on the one hand, the treasured status of victimhood — in this case having been a victim of molestation in childhood, with many weepy testimonials about predatory uncles, stepfathers, and so on — and on the other hand, the left-liberal faith in tolerance and diversity as the highest goods.
Conservatives were savagely hostile, as Charles Cooke found out when he wrote what seemed to me a humane and sensible piece for National Review Online, commenting on the Salon.com pedophile confession. Sample quote from him, quote:
Unless you believe that people "choose" to become pedophiles — and I don't — the author seems to be doing exactly what he should be doing given his condition: Namely, (a) accepting that he has an unimaginably serious problem, and (b) doing his utmost to refrain from acting upon it.
The general opinion in the comment thread on that piece was that Charles Cooke should be boiled in oil, preferably after first having been skinned alive.
And then there is the ongoing jihad in Britain against elderly celebrities accused of having put their hands down some child's pants back in 1972 or some such. The latest target here is 75-year-old comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, whom the police have been hounding for two years on the strength of the usual anonymous phone calls from people claiming to be victims, on no physical evidence whatsoever.
Listen to this, from a news report about the Tarbuck case. Tarbuck himself is being quoted. Quote:
It was unbelievable. You get a knock on the door — I was in my dressing gown making a cup of tea — and 14 policemen came in my house … Every diary I had, every video I had — and my videos are football, golf or some of the [London] Palladium shows from when I was a kid. I like just seeing what I did then. They took all those …
End quote. Under British law, the identity of these accusers is kept secret. I further note that in Britain, if your house is burgled and all your valuables taken, you're lucky if you can get the police to pay any attention. Fourteen policemen? You could let off a bomb in your front yard without getting fourteen peelers on the scene.
The British child-abuse witch-hunters even go after dead people. Massive police resources have been devoted to investigating charges — anonymous, of course — against former Prime Minister Edward Heath. The accusers say Heath belonged to a kiddie-sex ring. Nobody who knew Heath believes a word of it. And the guy's been dead for ten years!
I hope I don't need to say that I'm against the abuse of children. The kind of abuse that should be seriously punished under the law is, however, extremely rare outside Afghanistan.
What is not extremely rare in the age we live in, and what I am also very much against, is public hysterias taking away the property and freedom of harmless people without due process of law, or with only a hysteria-fueled mockery thereof.
Most of these political hysterias are whipped up by the Left. Read Dorothy Rabinowitz's book No Crueler Tyrannies, about the child-abuse scandals of the 1980s and 1990s, which were driven by family-hating progressive ideologues and capitalized on by Democratic politicians like Scott Harshbarger and Martha Coakley.
Horrible things go on in the world. Afghan-style child abuse is a very horrible thing and ought to be punished. Just as much to be feared, though, is the abuse of power by those in power, who can take away from us everything we have, including our liberty, and, yes, our children. Read Dorothy Rabinowitz's book.
Mass public hysterias are what make that abuse possible — and far worse abuses, as the 20th century amply illustrated.
I have no fear whatever that my country will turn into the United States of Pedophilia. I do, however, fear very much that she may become — may already have become — the United States of Hysteria.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Word of the Week: "oikophobia." Oikophobia is the opposite of xenophobia: not fear of the stranger, but fear of one's own.
The word is close in meaning to my own usual term, "ethnomasochism." You might say that we don't need two words that close together in meaning. I would reply that the more we can do to get these ideas out into general circulation — ideas about what Western civilization is doing to itself, and why — the better our hopes of salvaging something from the wreckage. If the one word doesn't catch on, perhaps the other will.
"Oikophobia" was brought to my attention by a listener who has seen a book with that word as its title. The book is unfortunately written in Dutch, and so far as I know not yet translated.
The author of the book, Thierry Baudet, is described by Wikipedia as a Dutch "publicist, historian, and jurist."
When I first saw the word, not thinking very clearly, I thought it derived from the common British pejorative "oik," defined in the Urban Dictionary as, quote, "an obnoxious or unpleasant person." It actually has strong class connotations: An oik uses the wrong knife and fork, says "beg pardon?" instead of "excuse me?" and very likely picks his nose in public.
In fact of course the derivation is from Greek οἰκος, meaning "house" or "home"; same root as the "ec-" in "economics," which originally meant household management. Oikophobia is fear, and by extension dislike, of one's own hearth and home, one's own people.
Oikophobia: Practice it, use it in public, and if you can read Dutch, buy the book.
Item: Campus race hoaxes seem to be entering a new phase. The normal assumption, when we read about some racist incident at one of our colleges, is that it's a hoax by some black kid reaching for that victimization brass ring.
The State University of New York at Buffalo was roiled last week when signs appeared outside restrooms and such saying White Only and Black Only. Black students were weeping and cowering in terror all over the campus, the New York Times tells us.
I read the headline and the first couple of sentences, thought: "Ah, another hoax by some stupid black kid," and turned the page. I was wrong: this was an art project.
The perp here was one Ashley Powell of the college's Art Department, who told the Black Students' Union that she had posted the signs as an effort to, quote, "expose white privilege."
Responding to Ms Powell's confession, college authorities excercised their white privilege by expelling her … Nah, just kidding. Ms Powell is of course a heroine on campus. I'm betting MSNBC has already offered her a job.
And then there was this priceless little story from the University of Delaware. A black student saw three nooses hanging from trees on campus. She ran screaming to the college authorities, who at once launched a hate crime investigation.
[College President Nancy] Targett said such "cowardly and reprehensible" acts won't be tolerated and she said the university will work to identify those responsible and hold them accountable. University police are investigating.
The result of the investigation? The nooses turned out to be just strings used to hang lanterns for a previous campus event. As in fact is obvious when you look at them.
So "malicious hoax" should no longer be our default reaction to reports of a campus hate crime. It may not be a hoax. It may be an art project; or it may be sheer gibbering stupidity.
The probability that it is an actual deed motivated by anti-black racial hatred remains, however, at zero.
Item: Finally, quote from New York radio station WXQR, quote:
The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players have cancelled a production of The Mikado, planned for this December, after it drew criticism for perpetuating Japanese caricatures and failing to include any Asian-American performers.
In case you're not up on your Gilbert and Sullivan, the operetta is set in Japan and includes characters named Nanki-Poo, Ko-ko, Pooh-Bah, and Yum-Yum. Those don't sound like very Japanese names to me — more like Chinese — so I think a good lawyer could get you off the charge of "perpetuating Japanese caricatures," but perhaps the Thought Police are not moved by such subtleties.
How much longer before Madame Butterfly is banned, I wonder?
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and may you enjoy tranquillity and good health in this season of mists, mellow fruitfulness, and flu injections.
Gilbert and Sullivan will see us out, of course. Here's a favorite of mine from The Mikado. It puts me in mind, rather tearfully right now, of my dear girls Mandy, Candy, and Brandy — all of whom, I hasten to reassure listeners, were well above school age.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: D'Oyly Carte company, "Three Little Maids from School."]