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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version.]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your ebulliently genial host John Derbyshire.
It's been a joyful week for us Trumpites, both positively and negatively. The Donald strode resolutely ahead to victory, while his enemies floundered and fumed.
To lift our hearts further, Trump delivered a speech on foreign policy with more good sense in it than we've heard from a leading candidate for decades. Let's start with that.
02 — The false song of globalism. First, a slight correction. The story has been going round, and I have repeated it myself, that Trump under-performs relative to his poll numbers. Like, polls predict he'll get sixty percent of the vote but in the event he only gets 55.
That was true in the Midwest states in February and early March, but it seems to have been a peculiarity of those states. He actually did better than the Real Clear Politics polls average in New York April 19th, and to date has beaten the polls in a majority of states. In the April 26th northeast primaries he did better than the polls predicted in all five states, and of course won all five of them by handsome margins. If he takes Indiana next week, he's home and dry.
Tuesday's results were gratifying and heartening, but it was Trump's speech on Wednesday at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C. — hereinafter "the Mayflower Speech" — that really got my juices flowing.
It was a speech on foreign policy, and I could almost have written it myself. In fact, Sir, if you're looking for speechwriters, I can be contacted via VDARE.com …
I did say "almost." Trump wants NATO members to pay more for our protection; I'd shut down the whole thing, or at any rate pull the U.S. out of it. Europe has fifteen percent more people than we have, a full range of modern industries, and two — count 'em two — nuclear-armed nations. Let the Europeans defend themselves. Nor did Trump call for Puerto Rican independence, as I would have wished; nor for the expulsion of the U.N. from American soil.
There was some bluster, too. "Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon," said Trump. Why not? How are you going to stop them? And again, quote: "I have a simple message for [ISIS]. Their days are numbered." End quote. Why? Who cares? If we stop Muslim immigration, as the candidate has said we should, why should ISIS bother us?
Trump did, though, argue for a sensible balance of power with Russia and China, for an end to missionary wars, and for a powerful military on the Roman principle: If you want peace, prepare for war.
He also took a leaf out of Richard Nixon's book, quote: "We must as a nation be more unpredictable. We are totally predictable. We tell everything." I can't find the precise quote, but Nixon, according to Kissinger, responded to the remark that Brezhnev thought he might be crazy by saying: "That's what I want him to think!"
Best of all, quote:
No country has ever prospered that failed to put its own interests first. Both our friends and our enemies put their countries above ours and we, while being fair to them, must start doing the same. We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism. The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.
End quote. Scolpisci nella tua testa a lettere adamantine, carve into your mind in great stone letters: "The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony." This guy gets it. He's a nationalist.
My positive impression was echoed by Pat Buchanan, whom History has cast as John the Baptist to Trump's Jesus. Pat's Thursday column was a whoop of joy. His attention was particularly caught, as mine was, by that line about the nation-state as "the true foundation for happiness and harmony." Added Pat, quote: "Is that not a definition of a patriotism that too many among our arrogant elites believe belongs to yesterday?"
Yes, Pat, it is. I hope to see your name in Trump's cabinet — as Secretary of State, perhaps.
And if I get the speechwriting gig, I look forward to lunching with you at the White House now and then.
03 — GOP loses the Satanist vote. It's shameful to mock the afflicted, I know, but the pleasure of watching Trump rise is compounded by the satisfaction of watching Cruz fall. In Tuesday's five primaries Cruz polled 21, 19, 16, 12, and 10 percent.
Cruz reacted on Wednesday by naming Carly Fiorina as his choice for a vice-presidential candidate on the Cruz ticket. Ms Fiorina was so thrilled she broke into song. [Clip: Fiorina singing.] Thank you, Ms, ah, Fiorina. We'll let you know. Next!
For immigration patriots, the tapping of Fiorina blew right out of the water Cruz's claim to have wised up on this topic. Once Trump seized the immigration issue, speaking forthrightly about the need to have a properly controlled system for entry and exit, Cruz realised that his call last year for a fivefold increase in guest-worker visas was going to be a millstone round his neck on the primary trail. He pretended to see the light, claiming he just hadn't concentrated on immigration policy before but was learning fast.
Well, so much for that. On immigration, Carly Fiorina is to the left of Mark Zuckerberg — total open borders. Nobody who gives a damn about our nation's demographic stability should be in the same room with her, let alone on the same ticket. Cruz was just faking it.
The explanation I'm hearing around the office is, that Cruz has just given up on the nomination and decided to turn to the big-money donors, who of course are all open-borders types, to keep him in campaign funds till the clock runs out. Those funds don't melt away like faerie gold once you lose. They're still there, for expenses and future campaigns.
Possibly so. Cruz might just be that cynical. One person who likely thinks so is former House Speaker John Boehner. During a relaxed non-broadcast event at Stanford University on Wednesday evening, Boehner was asked by a Stanford history professor to give a frank opinion about Ted Cruz. Boehner grimaced, drawing laughter from the student audience. Then he let fly with, quote: "Lucifer in the flesh. I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life." End quote.
This naturally hurt the feelings of Satanists. Lucien Greaves, leading light — or dark, I guess — of the Satanic Temple in the U.S.A., hissed to Slate.com that, quote: "Christians can't just push Cruz off on Satanists. We don't fucking want him." End quote.
What, not at any price? For Ted's soul, I mean.
Memo to Ted: When not even Old Scratch wants you, it's surely time to quit. Go home to Texas, Ted. It's over.
04 — Redit in nihilum. John Kasich also had a busy week.
05 — Non-binary arithmetic. In case you're still not clear about why so many Americans are voting for Donald Trump, let's follow our president on his trips to Britain and Germany last weekend.
On Saturday Obama spoke to a "town hall meeting" at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster, seven hundred yards from Westminster Abbey, where English monarchs back to Edward the Confessor 950 years ago are buried, along with many other cultural notables.
The audience consisted of 400 young people apparently chosen by the American Embassy. To look at them, you would never know you were in England, let alone seven minutes walk away from the very hearth-place of Englishness.
I did look at them. In fact I trawled through news photographs of the event to find a picture showing the largest number of audience members, and scrutinized them.
There were 116 audience members in my picture. Tallying up those of white European appearance, and giving benefit of the doubt to ambiguous cases, I got 51, which is to say 44 percent. Thirty faces in the picture — that's 26 percent — were negroes. Seven of the women wore Muslim headscarves. Royal Horticultural? More like the Royal Multicultural. I weep for England.
Obama's address was his usual gassy blather about hope, change, and the wickedness of white people. The audience, including of course that 44 percent of Uncle Tims, drank it down joyfully.
These were young people, though, and way ahead of a codger like Obama on the grand modern project to pretend that everything is equal to everything else. Racial justice? Oh sure, still a way to go yet, but that's basically a done deal. Obama's like one of those generals always fighting the last war. The war we're fighting today is World War T — the fight for transgender rights! Where is Obama on that?
We found out. A morbidly obese Pakistani woman, no headscarf, lumbered to her feet and told our president that, quote: "I'm coming out to you as a non-binary person, which means that I don't fit within …" At that point she got all verklempt and teared up. Naturally the audience applauded wildly. It wasn't over, however, until the fat lady had unbosomed herself of the following, quote:
I know that in North Carolina … people are having to produce birth certificates to go to the toilet. In the U.K. we don't recognise non-binary people under the Equality Act … I really, really wish that yourself and David Cameron would take us seriously as transgender people and, perhaps you could elucidate, what you can do to go beyond what has been accepted by the LGBTQ rights movement, in including people who fit outside the social norms?
End quote. I must admit, the whole thing had me baffled. You folks down there in the Tarheel State have to show a birth certificate to get into the john? Wow. Up here in New York, just a drivers license will get you in.
And what does "non-binary" mean? Two-ton Tessie didn't get around to telling us. What is she, hexadecimal?
Obama fielded it gamely. He told the lady he was, quote, "incredibly proud" of what she had done, and called her, quote, "courageous," as if mouthing some postmodernist psychobabble in a hall full of Social Justice Warriors was up there with charging an enemy machine-gun nest or swimming the Hellespont.
Obama also told her to, quote, "keep pushing"; which, if I understand the "non-binary" business correctly, is likely the last time she'll hear that from an authority figure.
Then, Sunday and Monday, off to visit Mutti Merkel in Germany. Whether Mutti is unary, binary, ternary, or, as we math geeks say, n-ary [Clip: "I'm 'Enery the Eighth, I am …"] … Thank you, Peter. Concerning Ms Merkel's precise arity, I have no information. Obama praised her anyway for her courage and foresight in opening her country to a million and a half feral male Muslims who'd rather be drawing welfare in Düsseldorf than shouldering a rifle in Damascus.
Speaking at the opening of an industrial trade show in Hannover, Obama gave them the full multicultural monty. Quote:
[Obama clip: When the future is uncertain, there seems to be an instinct in our human nature to withdraw to the perceived comfort and security of our own tribe, our own sect, our own nationality, people who look like us, sound like us. But in today's world, more than any time in human history, that is a false comfort. It pits people against one another because of what they look or how they pray or who they love. And yet, we know where that kind of twisted thinking can lead …]
Well, yes, we do indeed know where it can lead. One way to avoid such horrors is to maintain a system of nation-states, each with a supermajority of a single ethnicity. As Jerry Muller pointed out in his article eight years ago in Foreign Affairs, quote:
Whereas in 1900 there were many states in Europe without a single overwhelmingly dominant nationality, by 2007 there were only two, and one of those, Belgium, was close to breaking up. Aside from Switzerland, in other words — where the domestic ethnic balance of power is protected by strict citizenship laws — in Europe the "separatist project" has not so much vanished as triumphed.
End quote. It took two colossal wars and a couple of smaller ones to get from the diverse states of 1900 to the ethnically uniform states of 1950; but the result was stable for half a century — which by the standards of European history is a lot of stable.
Now Europeans are bored with all that stability and anxious to get back to the ethnic diversity of 1900. What could possibly go wrong?
06 — The Turkish tragedy. In last week's podcast I noted Angela Merkel's government in Germany hastening to prosecute a TV satirist on the orders of Turkish President Recep Erdoğan. The satirist had written a poem insulting Erdoğan, and had read it out on German TV. Erdoğan told Mutti Merkel to jump, and Mutti asked "Wie hoch?"
Just to remind you: Last month the European Union, led by Germany, cut a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of illegal aliens and military deserters from the Middle East in return for a three billion dollar bribe and the right of Turks to enter Europe and move around freely therein. Europe's political leaders, like ours, have no spine to defend their territory against foreign invaders. Erdoğan is taking advantage of that; not only by collecting bribes and exporting his unemployment problem, but by advertising his power, like the Sultans of old, to make leaders of weaker nations come scurrying when he snaps his fingers.
At home, meanwhile, Erdoğan continues to transform his nation into just another fly-blown Islamic despotism. Freedom of speech is long gone: Turkey's current rank on the World Press Freedom Index is 151. That's below Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Afghanistan, although at least better than Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and Laos.
The story of modern Turkey is tragic. Atatürk, who established the Turkish republic after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, dreamed of Turkey becoming a modern, secular nation like France or the U.S.A., under parliamentary democracy. He liberated women, switched the written Turkish language from Arabic script to a Latin alphabet, and ordered all government employees to wear Western clothes and hats. He suppressed communists and fascists both, and his immediate successors kept his country out of WW2.
By the end of the 20th century Turkey really was looking like a modern country, at any rate an early modern country, to the degree that in 2004 I wrote an article urging the EU to admit Turkey in hopes of finishing the modernization process. Then up came Islamism and in came Sultan Erdoğan, and now it's all going backwards.
The nineteenth-century epithet for Ottoman Turkey was "the sick man of Europe." Europe herself today is so sick with white guilt and ethnomasochism, the epithet doesn't really work any more. Europe and Turkey are both sick, just in different ways.
Let me qualify that slightly. There is one way in which Turkey is thoroughly European: Her total fertility rate is below replacement, lower in fact than France's.
That's not the half of it, either. If you disaggregate Turkey's fertility by separating out the Kurds, actual Turkish Turks have a Total Fertility Rate around 1.5, down there with Germany and Spain. Kurds, meanwhile, are at about four children per woman. Don't think Turkish Turks haven't noticed this: It's quite an obsession with Erdoğan. Probably it motivates some part of his Islamicization program: Get Turkish women back in the home, making babies.
Well, Sultan Erdoğan isn't having things all his own way in Europe. In England, at least, there are some flickers of resistance. Following Angela Merkel's decision to prosecute that German TV satirist, Douglas Murray at the London Spectator has announced "a grand Erdoğan limerick competition," with a prize of a thousand pounds sterling for the most offensive limerick about the Turkish president.
Limericks are preferred, at any rate, although to quote Douglas Murray, quote: "That isn't to say that entries which come in the form of iambic pentameters or heroic couplets will be completely discounted," end quote. Hmm. You have to wonder about Mr Murray's grasp of prosody: heroic couplets are iambic pentameters. You have to wonder even more when you read Murray's own effort, which unfortunately is not suitable for a family podcast.
Let Radio Derb rise to the challenge. Ahem:
Said Erdoğan to Merkel: "Please stop
07 — Silence follows you still. Following that, let's have a brief literary interlude, from one of the great travel books of the 19th century.
In 1834 the Englishman Alexander Kinglake traveled through the Ottoman territories in southern Europe and the Middle East. Here are his first impressions after crossing from Austria into Serbia. At that point in history Serbia had gained a measure of autonomy. It was still a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, though, and garrisoned by the Turks. Europeans still considered it part of the Ottoman East.
Over to Alexander Kinglake, quote:
The Moslem quarter of a city is lonely and desolate. You go up and down, and on over shelving and hillocky paths through the narrow lanes walled in by blank, windowless dwellings; you come out upon an open space strewed with the black ruins that some late fire has left; you pass by a mountain of castaway things, the rubbish of centuries, and on it you see numbers of big, wolf-like dogs lying torpid under the sun … You long for some signs of life, and tread the ground more heavily, as though you would wake the sleepers with the heel of your boot; but the foot falls noiseless upon the crumbling soil of an Eastern city, and silence follows you still.
That is the destination Turkey is heading back to under Recep Erdoğan. That's a tragedy for the Turks — a sad decline from the proud, vigorous nationalism of Atatürk.
08 — How to fill the bill. April 20th Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced some upcoming changes to our paper money.
The headliner here was that Andrew Jackson, our nation's seventh president, will have his image moved from the front of the $20 bill to the back. On the front of the bill will be an image of Harriet Tubman, a 19th-century black slave who escaped and became an active abolitionist.
In other changes, Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton will continue to appear on the fronts of the $5 and $10 bills; but the backs of those bills, which currently show the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S Treasury building respectively, will feature various people prominent in the movements for female suffrage and the de-segregation of blacks.
The inflation of Ms Tubman into a major historical figure is just over-the-top white guilt. We have very few facts about Tubman's life and activities. Most of what people think they know comes from her own testimony, as narrated to friends after the Civil War. There are two problems there.
First problem: Tubman, who escaped from slavery in her mid-twenties, was illiterate all her life. She left no paper trail in the way of letters or diaries. Until her forties, when friends started taking down her reminiscences, we have only her word for the events of her earlier life. This wouldn't matter so much if we didn't know she had brain problems: narcolepsy, delusions, apparently epileptic fits. Tubman acknowledged these problems, saying they were the result of a blow on the head she received in childhood. Perhaps they were; but again we only have her word for it.
Whatever the cause of the brain problems, they surely weren't Tubman's fault. They weren't my fault either, though, nor yours, nor Andrew Jackson's, and they do cast a cloud of doubt over her stories.
Second problem: Tubman's friends got Sarah Bradford, a successful fiction writer, to produce Tubman's autobiographies. This was after the Civil War, but the tradition of abolitionist propaganda, whose greatest success was of course Uncle Tom's Cabin, was still alive, and Sarah Bradford likely saw herself in that tradition, as the literary heiress of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Tubman then sank into obscurity until leftist writers of the 1930s took an interest in her as part of their general critique of U.S. society, which they compared unfavorably with the new system of justice and equality being established, according to them, in the Soviet Union.
In short, the Tubman story originated with her own unreliable recollections, and was then promulgated by people all of whom had agendas.
Harriet Tubman may have been — on the scattered evidence we have, probably was — a brave and resourceful person. Still, her story belongs much more to the realms of myth and propaganda than to history.
Who should get a portrait on U.S. currency? In a constitutional monarchy you can use the monarch, as representing the whole nation impartially. We don't have a monarch, though. Our head of state is a politician; and wellnigh any politician is objectionable to somebody. Abraham Lincoln certainly is: I refer you to the books of Thomas DiLorenzo. Even George Washington dwells in the odium of having been a slave-owner.
There are symbolic figures you can call on, like Britannia in the U.K. or Marianne in France. The supply's rather severely limited, though. We Americans have Columbia, Uncle Sam, and the eagle. I think that's about it. We used to have Brother Jonathan, but he fell out of favor somehow — too sectional, I think.
An option that appeals to me, but probably wouldn't get anywhere, would be to acknowledge some of our historic enemies: those who fought bravely and honorably to defend societies that were destroyed in the course of making the modern U.S.A. Chief Sitting Bull would be an example; Robert E. Lee would be another.
As I said, this appeals to my romantic tendencies; but I won't be holding my breath waiting to see Robert E. Lee on the sawbuck.
Much better and more acceptable would be culture heroes. The Brits do this, putting people like mathematician Isaac Newton, novelist Jane Austen, and engineer James Watt on their paper currency. Well, we've had first-class mathematicians: John von Neumann was American by naturalization. We've had superb lady novelists: I'd put Edith Wharton up there. Engineers? How many do you want?
It doesn't have to be politicians, see? Explorers, composers, entrepreneurs … There's a host of uncontroversial national heroes and heroines we could put on our currency. This is a great nation, with great achievements: we're spoiled for choice.
Personally I wouldn't object to figures from popular culture — sports and entertainment — although I guess some people might. I'd be happy to see Joe Louis or Cary Grant on a bill. If it's black females you want, I'd take Ella Fitzgerald over Harriet Tubman any time.
The whole discussion may be academic, though. The upcoming changes announced April 20th won't be coming up soon. "Some time in the next decade," is what we're being told. By that time banknotes may be obsolete. Businesses, advertisers, and tax authorities hate cash because it preserves anonymity. With modern data-collection and data-mining technologies, they'd rather all our transactions were electronic, so they could keep precise track of us all the time.
In a cashless society, Harriet Tubman would have been caught long before she reached the Mason-Dixon Line.
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Let's go back to Turkey for a moment. I spotted this news story in the Daily Mail, and it brought back happy recollections of my own youthful travels in the mysterious East.
One thing that used to get my attention was restaurant etiquette — in the matter of paying the bill, I mean. In the easygoing social style of a Western nation, when two guys have a restaurant meal together and it comes time to pay the bill, you typically get conversations like this.
"You want to split this one?" … "No, I'll get it." … "You sure?" … "Yeah, you get the next one." … "OK, deal. Hey, thanks."
Out East you have to fight for the privilege of paying. In Taiwan once I actually saw two middle-aged businessmen get into a shoving match because both insisted on picking up the tab. They knocked the table over. When the fuss had died down and I asked my own table companions about it, they shrugged. "Whaddya expect? Neither of them wanted to lose face."
OK, news story. Daily Mail, April 27th, headline: Diner shoots his friend dead at Turkish restaurant because he'd paid for his food. Story, quote:
A Turkish man shot his friend dead after the latter had paid their restaurant bill in Istanbul.
End quote. There's a clue there somewhere to President Erdoğan extreme sensitivity to criticism, I'm sure. My advice to other national leaders would be: When you're holding a state dinner for the President of Turkey, be sure to let him know that he'll be picking up the tab.
Item: Over in England, meanwhile, an intense legal battle is being fought over a case of capital punishment.
This is not a person under sentence of execution. Britain hasn't actually hanged anyone since 1964. The perp in this case is a dog, name of Buster. His offense was to eat his owner.
It's not quite as bad as it sounds. He only ate part of his owner, and the guy was already dead. He'd died suddenly at home, and Buster was stuck in the house with Master's cadaver. What's a dog to do?
The family of the deceased, naturally disappointed at Buster's having lunched on their loved one, wanted the creature destroyed. Local police agreed with them, saying they'd found the dog aggressive in custody and a probable danger to the public. They got a court order to put down the dog, but animal rescue groups lodged an appeal, and the case now looks set fair to go all the way up to the House of Lords.
In related news, researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that dogs don't like to be hugged. Quote:
Dogs feel stressed and unhappy when they are embraced by their owners, because it stops them being able to run away.
End quote. My own little Jack Russell terrier is one of the other two out of ten. He loves a cuddle. But then, probably everybody reading that story thinks the same about their own mutt … except, maybe, the relatives of Buster's late master.
Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the "device" to fade away … Over time, the computer itself — whatever its form factor — will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day.
End quote. I'm not quite sure what Mr Pichai has in mind; and after the Google Glass floperoo, I'd have thought he'd be a bit more reticent about promising new ways of interacting with our gadgets.
These stories about artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, middle-class jobs wiped out by automation, and so on, are now a staple of the day's news, though. How seriously should we take them?
I'm going to unmask myself here as a moderate AI alarmist. I read a lot about AI and ML (that's machine learning). It's gone further than most people realise. I agree with Elon Musk: We are summoning the demon, and his name is not Ted Cruz.
Note that qualifier "moderate," though. We've come further than you think, but there's an awful long way still to go. For a rough index of progress, I recommend frequent recourse to Google Translate. Google puts a lot of effort into that little app. It's gotten a lot better in the years I've been using it, but it's still far from human-intelligence level.
So relax, have a drink, and stop worrying. I don't see the robo-wars starting for at least another, oh, fifteen years.
10 — Signoff. On that cheerful note, ladies and gents, I leave you. Thank you for listening, and let's all look forward to a Trump triumph in Indiana next week to seal the deal.
We're enjoying some lovely Spring weather here on Long Island. To quote the immortal Dorothy Parker, quote: "Every year, back Spring comes, with the nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off, and the ground all mucked up with arbutus." End quote.
In the microculture of the Derb household, it is regarded as essential to have flowers in a vase on the kitchen table. Through the winter we buy flowers from the local supermarket. Then, one day in Spring, there are flowers enough in our own yard to supply the need and see us through to next winter.
So it was that last Sunday I came into the kitchen and saw, and smelt, a vase full of lilac blossoms on the table, from Mrs Derb's lilac tree out back. The sight and scent of them brought to my mind a favorite song of my mother's. Here it is, sung by one of the best non-operatic voices of the last century.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Julie Andrews, "We'll Gather Lilacs."]