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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, that was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is your eclectically genial host John Derbyshire with a roundup of the week's news.
It was a pretty thin week for news. There was one big story on the immigration proposals, and then a lot of little ones.
I said most of what I have to say about the immigration issue two weeks ago and don't have much to add, so that actually comes out little, too.
This being the case we shall switch to a different format this week. Instead of half a dozen big items then a closing miscellany of brief ones, this week's broadcast will just consist of nine uniformly briefish items. Hey, it's my show, I can do it any way I want to. OK? OK! [Clip: Ethel Merman, "Let's go on with the show!"]
02 — Electing a new people. Yes, there's a new push for an immigration overhaul. As I explained to you in our January 19th broadcast, the U.S.A.'s immigration system does indeed need an overhaul, but not for the reasons being stated by our politicians, and not in the direction they want to go. We need an overhaul to make our immigration system more like Japan's. Obama and his congressional lapdogs are thinking more in terms of a system like the one the Native Americans had when Chris Columbus showed up. How'd that work out for you, guys?
The fundamental issue here, as the pols see it, is that the American people are deeply unsatisfactory. They insist on speaking English, they demand good wages, they cling to guns and Christianity, and they are much, much too white, which is insulting to the great god Diversity. Solution: Elect a new people. So that's what the immigration push is all about.
It's most especially about keeping down wages. Bill Gates doesn't want to pay good wages for his programmers, farmers don't want to pay good wages for their stoop labor — let alone invest in harvesting machinery! — lawyers, bankers, and college professors don't want to pay good wages for their domestic help.
Ninety years ago the U.S.A. had a robust private-sector labor movement, who helped end the Great Wave of immigration that had been depressing working people's wages. Labor leaders supported the 1924 Immigration Act. Nowadays the union movement is dominated by government workers to whom poor immigrants are clients, not competitors.
This push to elect a new people has to be stopped, the way the previous effort by George W. Bush six years ago was stopped. Get involved. Call and write your legislators — the websites for FAIR, that's the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and for NumbersUSA both have instructions on how to find and contact your congresscritters. Jam their switchboards; fill up their email inboxes, swamp them with snail mail. Go and yell under their windows. Do what you can do.
Inform yourself: Arm yourself with facts. Those two websites I just mentioned are choc-a-bloc with data, as are the websites of CIS, that's the Center for Immigration Studies, and VDARE, flagship of Peter Brimelow, who wrote that fine book Alien Nation. You should read Alien Nation, along with Mark Krikorian's more recent book The New Case Against Immigration.
This is a fight worth fighting, listeners. Our political masters are spitting in the faces of the American people here. To give his big speech on the need to bring in more foreign workers, Barack Obama went to Nevada, which has the highest rate of unemployment of all 50 states, 10.2 percent. They are just taunting us, mocking us. Let's show them who's boss in this republic.
03 — Israel reality check. In last week's Radio Derb I passed some comments on the Israeli elections. These comments excited the interest of a Radio Derb listener actually in Israel, who kindly emailed in with some counter-comments.
To my assertion that the coalition-building that goes on in Israel after an election is "pretty brisk and efficient," my correspondent replied, quote: "It's neither brisk nor efficient. A better word to describe the process would be 'hallucinatory.' Another word often used is 'blackmail.'" End quote.
To my saying that "Israelis are sufficiently un-worried about their existential problem to vote their pocketbooks," she countered with this, long quote:
The western press gets this wrong. Yes, people voted about the cost of living, but the important issue was universal conscription — no more draft deferments for certain sectors of the population. Partly because it's not fair, but also because people want the strongest army possible.
End quote, and the lady did indeed attach a photo showing an apartment block with some quantity of wall hanging loose.
Well, thank you, Ma'am, I appreciate the reality check. I am on somewhat thin ice here, though. Radio Derb segments are assembled from the news wires by my diligent staff of research assistants, mainly by our island's reigning beach volleyball champions, Mandy, Candy, and Brandy. These are highly trained professionals, and I am loth to criticize their efforts, especially as we have to share living quarters here on the island.
It's difficult enough to keep up good professional relationships with one's subordinates at the best of times. When their amour propre has been pricked and they become pettish and disgruntled, then things get near impossible. I shall therefore not chastise the girls for any innacuracies in our reporting, only continue the practice of airing dissenting opinions when they come in, as this kind lady's did. Thank you again, Ma'am.
04 — Israel hits Syria. Following on from that, there was news this week of Israel striking Syria.
Radio Derb's basic approach to the Syrian civil war is to hope that Bashar al-Assad wins it. Assad is certainly a nasty piece of work, a cruel dictator; but from the point of view of American national interests, that's the best thing to have in charge of an Arab country. There was one in Iraq; We got rid of him; and now the place is an Iranian satrapy roiled by ethnic conflict. There was one in Egypt; We helped get rid of him; now the place is a lawless Road Warrior state heading down the Somalia path. There was one in Libya who, at least over the last decade or so, behaved himself reasonably well; We helped get rid of him, and now the place is in chaos, with radicals fanning out to spread the gospel of nutso Islamism among the Negroes to their south.
The lesson I take from this is to stick with the dictator you've got.
The Israelis can be forgiven for taking a somewhat different view. Assad is allied with Iran, which has publicly declared its intention to annihilate Israel, and also with the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which has huge stockpiles of rockets in underground storage just across Israel's northern border. Assad, in short, is a menace to the Israelis.
If the insurgents in Syria defeat Assad and establish an Islamist state, or if the place falls into chaos, that will be no better; so there is really no good outcome for Israel in the Syrian civil war.
All they can do is protect themselves against sophisticated Syrian war materiel leaking over into the Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon. It's bad enough Hezbollah has all those missiles stashed away; but at least Israel has the Iron Dome system of interceptors to stop some portion of the incoming, and an air force to bomb the storage locations when they're found. If Syrian chemical or biological weapons leak through to Hezbollah, or state-of-the-art anti-aircraft artillery from, oh, say, Russia; then Israel's at a disadvantage against Hezbollah. That's what Tuesday's strike was about.
Israel-haters usually email in after a segment like this to tell me that if only Israel would withdraw from the West Bank — you know, the way they withdrew from Gaza seven years ago — everything would be tickety-boo with the Arabs. I say if you believe that, you'll believe that Barack Obama shoots skeet.
Israel is a nation. Nations do what they have to do to protect themselves. There is no honor or duty in a nation committing suicide, whatever the rights and wrongs of history. I wish I could believe that Barack Obama and the Gang of Eight Senators who want to open our borders, understood that. The Israelis do, anyway, and damn good luck to them.
05 — The forever war. The columnist Ralph Peters is a guy I agree and disagree with about equal parts.
I disagreed with his piece last week about women soldiers in combat, for instance. Lt. Col. Peters said that so long as fitness and capability standards were strictly enforced, all would be well. This misses the key point that they won't be.
There will be, in fact there already is, as Col. Peters surely knows, irresistible political pressure in the military to favor women over men. That's how affirmative action works. That's what it is. No commander is going to conclude a training exercise by flunking five percent of his men but forty percent of his women. He'd be committing professional suicide, however justified his actions were on a strict standards basis. Col. Peters also omits to mention the disruptive effect of women in combat units, as discussed here last week.
On the other hand I thought Col. Peters' January 20th column on Afghanistan was brilliant. It was, in fact, pure Radio Derb. Opening lines, quote:
Going to Afghanistan after 9/11 was a necessity; staying there in force was a mistake — and dragging out our failure is a travesty.
End quote. It just gets better, and it is merciless towards our Commander-in-Chief. Money quote, from half way through, quote:
Now President Obama — a breathtaking politician — congratulates himself for ending the surge he ordered and ending the war he expanded. He found a mess, sent young Americans to die without making a difference, and managed to duck the blame — while leaving the conservatives who backed his troop surge hanging. The guy is good.
I urge you to read the thing for yourself. There's a link to it in the Radio Derb transcript on www.johnderbyshire.com.
This futile, stupid, pointless war has been kept going as a political convenience for Barack Obama. For this alone he ought to be impeached. It's true that George W. Bush kept it going long after he should have pulled out; but Bush was merely stupid, while Obama is calculating. As Col. Peters said, a terrific political athlete. Pity about those dead American servicemen, but hey.
06 — World's most fearless translator. I always thought Vladimir Nabokov had scaled the highest peaks of foreign-language translation when he put Alice in Wonderland into Russian, but here's a competitor, Dai Congrong of Fudan University in Shanghai, China.
Ms. Dai has translated the first volume of James Joyce's famously experimental novel Finnegan's Wake into Chinese. The title, if you're curious, comes out as 芬尼根的守靈夜. To the surprise of Ms. Dai and everyone else, her translation is a best-seller over there.
In case you haven't read Finnegan's Wake, here's a sample, quote:
What I say is (and I am noen roehorn or culkilt permit me to tell you, if uninformed), I never spont it. Nor have I the ghuest of innation on me the way to. It is my rule so. It went anyway like hot pottagebake. And this brings me to my fresh point. Quoniam, I am as plain as portable enveloped, inhowmuch, you will now parably receive, care of one of Mooseyeare Goonness's registered andouterthus barrels. Quick take um whiffat andrainit. Now!
End quote. I know what you're thinking: "Why bother to translate it? It already sounds like Chinese." Well, Ms. Dai did, and it's selling like hot pottagebake over there. The Shanghai News and Publishing Bureau said the novel's sales in Shanghai last week were second only to a new biography of Deng Xiaoping in the category of "good books," which I think means serious books not about food or computers.
The book's reception hasn't been uniformly enthusiastic. The ChiCom official news agency Xinhua quoted Jiang Xiaoyuan, a professor at Shanghai's Jiaotong University, as saying, quote: "Joyce must have been mentally ill to create such a novel."
Possibly so, Professor, possibly so, and I'll admit Joyce lost me not very far into Ulysses. I'd give the translator a medal for trying, though, and I congratulate her on a success she surely could not have anticipated. When she's finished translating Finnegan's Wake, what's she going to tackle for an encore? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, perhaps.
Happy ending coming up: The dog's picture and story were put out by the media, with a caption under the picture saying, quote: "He hunched another male dog so his owner threw him away because he refuses to have a 'gay' dog!" End quote. As a result of all the publicity, the dog has now been adopted.
I don't quite get this story. I've had two dogs. One of them vented his sexual urges on an old rug we kept under the kitchen table for him. The other one favors Mrs. Derbyshire's leg. That second one is zoophilia on a loose interpretation, or zoophilic foot fetishism on a stricter one. I'm not sure what category of perversion the rug business falls into. Rugophilia? Anyway, the canine philosophy on sexual relief seems to be the one expressed by the sailor in Fanny Hill: "Any port in a storm, my dear."
So I think the dog's owner was being a bit over-scrupulous. It's not like the poor pooch was barking show tunes or hanging around antique dealers. Live and let live, I say. This story does, though, add a new dimension to the expression: "Oooh, you bitch!"
08 — The next angry minority. Harvard geneticist George Church got into a bit of controversy when he told a German magazine that was interviewing him that it might be neat to bring to life a Neanderthal Man, since we now have a complete genome. All that's wanting is a surrogate mother.
Quote from that interview:
You would certainly have to create a cohort, so they would have some sense of identity. They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force.
End quote. Oh right, just what we need: a new aggrieved minority. Doesn't this guy know his prehistory? We enslaved the blacks, dispossessed the Indians, and made the Mexicans drive airport buses; but none of that compares with what we — we, Homo sapiens — did to the Neanderthals. Listeners, we exterminated them. If that's not a case for reparations, I don't know what is.
Commentary on this story went off in several different directions. Greg Cochran here on Taki's Magazine speculated about whether there'd be any money to be made — perhaps from superstar Neanderthal football players, or giving them casino licenses, or lawyering the reparations business.
Some other commenters on the alternative Right wondered whether the Neanderthals would be eligible for affirmative action. Others grumbled that there'd be another n-word we'd all have to train ourselves to avoid. Still others, cuing to the week's immigration news, noted that the Neanderthals had been in possession of Europe for thousands of years when Homo sap. started to trickle in as uninvited guests, with the ultimate consequences we all know about. Another case for strict border controls.
I don't go to liberal websites, but I imagine they are all swooning with rapture at the prospect of America one day having a Neanderthal President. It would send one heck of a tingle up Chris Mathews' leg, for sure.
While lawyers from mid-ranked schools have actually been struggling for years, the last decade has seen a radical collapse in the fortunes of all but the very elite. Enrollments have expanded, and tuition has skyrocketed, even as the profession is contracting. Technology and outsourcing are taking over the most mundane tasks, leaving less work for lawyers. At the same time … federal student loans have allowed schools to ratchet up tuition.
End quote. I don't suppose anyone much is going to shed tears over this. You all know the jokes. Q: What do you call a bus full of lawyers going over a cliff? A: Not enough lawyers! Etc., etc.
This is, though, the thin end of a wedge. The people getting the wedgie here will be the white-collar middle classes.
The end of work has been predicted for a century and more, but sometimes things just arrive later than expected. Manufacturing jobs were disappearing all through the last quarter of the last century, and now the rising waters of automation and globalization are lapping at the feet of the lawyers. Next it'll be journalists, doctors, architects, engineers. Pretty soon the only people with jobs will be politicians, hedge fund managers, pole dancers, and diversity consultants.
It's happening. We have eight percent unemployment; what do you think that's all about? Other countries are further under water than that: Spain's unemployment rate is twenty-six percent — sixty percent for under-25s.
It won't be so bad. We'll expand the food stamp programs and robot factories will keep us supplied with cheap consumer goods. Some things we'll have to do without: fuel won't get much cheaper, neither will surgery, so forget about Caribbean cruises and hip replacements. We won't starve, though.
And hey, if it means there are less lawyers around, it'll be worth it, right?
10 — Muslims take offense! Finally a couple of stories about Muslims getting worked up, you know, the way they do.
First story: Celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins heard about the Islamists in Mali destroying a library of ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu, Mali's principal city. He tweeted on the subject thus, quote: "Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu's priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians." End quote.
Alexandria refers to the great library there supposedly burned by Amr al-As, a Muslim general who conquered the city from the Byzantines in a.d. 641. Not all historians believe this story. Bamiyan was the site of some 5th-century Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Muslims got riled up over this: "Who are you calling barbarians?" and so on. Dawkins patiently explained that he was calling Muslims who destroyed priceless antiquities barbarians while being receptive to the idea that Muslims who do not destroy priceless antiquities are not barbarians.
This was of course too subtle a logic for the Muslims, who have probably issued a fatwa or two by now and burned a couple of embassies. I have the same problem with leftist readers. There is now a great mass of people, perhaps a majority of the population, who do not know, or affect not to know, the difference in meaning between words like "some," "a few," "many," and "all." As the Germans say: Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain. And come to think of it, as they also say: Stupidity will rule on Earth for ever.
[Added later : "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens" and "Auf ewig wird die Dummheit auf Erde herrschen," respectively. The first is from a play by Schiller. I do not know the origin of the second; I heard it from Paul Gottfried.]
Second story: Lego, the toy company, markets sets keyed to the Star Wars movies. One of them is a palace of Jabbar the Hut. I think that's what it is. I'm not a Star Wars fan, so I may have it garbled. Possibly it's the hut of Jabbar the Palace. Anyway, whatever it is, some Turkish Moslems in Austria claim that the completed palace, or hut, looks like a mosque, and that Lego Corp. is deliberately whipping up racial hatred.
Jabbar is apparently a morbidly obese slug-like villain: That is further cause for offense. Quote from the Turkish Cultural Community's website, quote, and the bad grammar is theirs not mine, quote:
It is apparent that, for the figure of the repulsive bad guy Jabba and the whole scenery, racial prejudices and hidden suggestions against Orientals and Asians were used as deceitful and criminal personalities (slaveholders, leaders of criminal organizations, terrorists, criminals, murderers, human sacrifice).
Why, who ever would have associated Muslims with slavery, terrorism, crime, or human sacrifice? Not me, no siree.
What are Turks doing in Austria, though? Was the battle of Lepanto fought in vain? I sure hope not: I had to memorize Chesterton's poem about it as a school task.
Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
11 — Signoff. OK, that didn't work out too badly. A lot of small stuff; but that's what we do when there isn't much big stuff.
I still have Chesterton's "Lepanto" clanging around in my head. To help me get rid of it, here to see us out is the British actor Gareth Armstrong reading the magnificent second stanza.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Clip: Gareth Armstrong reading Chesterton's "Lepanto"]