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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And the cry goes round the chancelleries: Radio Derb is back on the air!
Yes, news-hungry people of the world, this is your irrepressibly genial host John Derbyshire, reporting to you once again on behalf of Taki's Magazine from Taki's private island here in the sun-kissed Aegean Sea.
Permit me to offer my most obsequiously sniveling apologies for the absence of last week's broadcast. I was down in the noble state of Georgia attending to some military business, concerning the details of which I am sworn to silence for reasons of National Security. As a consequence, the voice of Radio Derb, for which the world waits eagerly each weekend, was temporarily stilled. The hungry sheep looked up and were not fed.
Now I am back in the saddle; my loyal and diligent research assistants are standing by with the latest despatches from the news wires; and this mighty organ is throbbing with eagerness to bring you the week's news. So …
[Clip: Ethel Merman, "Let's go on with the show.".]
02 — Controlling the Kennedy discourse. This weekend sees the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. Yes, I can remember precisely where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. I was in my parents' living-room in Northampton, whither I had just arrived after hitch-hiking up for the weekend from college in London.
They were watching TV; which was odd, because the only thing showing on the screen was the BBC logo over a slow-turning world globe, with some melancholy music playing in the background.
I grasped that something had happened and asked what. "President Kennedy's been shot," replied my mother. I don't remember what I said to that, but it was most likely along the lines of: "Oh. Where shall I put my laundry?"
I don't mean any irreverence towards the late President. As Presidents go, he seems to have been neither much better nor much worse than the average. I am certainly not as anti-Kennedy as a friend of mine who still doggedly refers to New York City's principal airport as "Idlewild."
I do understand the anti-Kennedy feeling. Kennedy was, and still is, presented to the public as a figure of glamor: He was young — the youngest person elected President to that point — and apparently vigorous; he had seen service in the combat theater of WW2, for which he had been decorated; his wife was a society beauty with whom, judging by her pregnancies, he was sexually active; he was acquainted with high culture.
In the mind of an educated and worldly person gifted with penetrating insight — a person such as, for example, myself — the word "glamor" shares its region of semantic space with other words like "shallow," "frivolous," "sensual," "superficial," "playboy," and even "vice." Hence, I think, much of the anti-Kennedy feeling.
Many of us at the time, over in Britain, thought it was all a bit odd. Wasn't America supposed to be the land of the Common Man, where class didn't matter? So what was this rich kid, who'd never had a job in his life, and whose rich and unscrupulous Dad had bought him a seat in Congress, what was he doing in charge of the federal government? If it's monarchy the Yanks want (we said to each other) doesn't the Queen have a spare relative she could have sent over?
We now know that there was much that was sordid and fake mixed in with the glitz. Behind the vigorous appearance was chronic ill-health, managed with drugs that were not well calibrated at that time. Behind the society marriage was a multitude of cheap, covert infidelities on Kennedy's part. The attention to high culture was mostly for show. As my friend John O'Sullivan remarked: "Kennedy made a point of having classical musicians perform at the White House; but it was Nixon that actually knew how to play the piano."
Kennedy was above all an oratorical President, fond of making grandiose speeches. Nobody can tell you anything that Dwight Eisenhower or Harry Truman said, but everyone knows about the New Frontier, "The torch has been passed," "Ask not what your country can do for you," and "Ich bin ein Berliner."
At his inaugural address Kennedy promised that America would, quote, "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to ensure the survival and the success of liberty," end quote. As historian Paul Johnson said, that was tossing a blank check at the world's feet. The numbers on that check were written in after Kennnedy was gone, in Vietnam, Iran, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Let's make allowances, though. It was the Cold War, and the Soviets were just as bombastic. The U.S.A. was at the peak of its post-WW2 power, wealth, and influence. Servicemen from a nearby U.S. Air Force base used to come into my home town: They seemed to us like millionaries. Some hubris is excusable.
Records of Kennedy's cabinet meetings suggest that he was intelligent enough not to confuse the poetry of his speechwriters with the prose of practical governance. He was wrong-headed about many things: de-institutionalization of the mentally ill, for example, and immigration, where he began the process of dismantling the national-origins quotas that had served the country well for forty years.
He made some blunders, most notably the Bay of Pigs operation. Net-net, however, although I can't see that he did much good, he did less harm than most of his successors, even if you scale for the fact that he only had three years to do it in.
If Kennedy isn't very interesting as a President, however, the Kennedy mythos is very interesting in what it reveals about the national psyche. Kennedy was a tax-cutting anti-communist — a friend of Joe McCarthy — and lukewarm on civil rights. He was murdered by a communist who had lived in the Soviet Union and who was probably being run by Fidel Castro's secret service. How on earth did such a person become a liberal icon?
Short answer: the power of poetry. If you want the long answer, James Piereson has written a very good book explaining it all, title Camelot and the Cultural Revolution,which I commend to your attention.
If you don't think there's something that needs explaining, try the following experiment: Ask random adults you encounter, preferably under the age of fifty, what were the politics of Kennedy's murderer? Not one in ten of them will know he was a communist.
The commonest answer you'll get will probably be "right-wing nut," "white supremacist," or some similar phrase from the left-liberal prompt book. This is what's meant by "controlling the discourse."
03 — Ten more years in Afghanistan. Our Secretary of State John Kerry announced this Wednesday that we've signed a provisional agreement with the government of Hamid [ker-ching!] Karzai in Afghanistan.
An agreement to do what? For Karzai to retire to his palace in Dubai and let the Taliban take over so we can forget about the stinking place for another hundred years? For U.S. firms to have sole rights over mineral extraction from Afghanistan? For us to poison-spray the millions of acres of poppy fields that supply the world with much of its heroin?
Good heavens, no. Those things would be in our national interest; and to care about our national interest would be wrong, if not racist [scream].
No, no: What this agreement does is, to quote from the New York Times, quote:
allow for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul.
So Karzai can set the contractors to work on his second palace — or fourth, or fifth, whatever it is — and we can look forward to more body bags coming back with the corpses of American soldiers in them, some high proportion killed by our so-called allies in the so-called Afghan National Army. American diplomacy at its finest.
It's been obvious for years — I've been saying it for at least seven years — that the correct approach to Afghanistan is to cut a deal with the Taliban and pull out, after issuing many firm warnings about the consequences if they give us any reason to come back. But again, that would be in our national interest, when the interests that really matter are the illusions of the preening world-savers that they are bringing light unto the heathen, civilizing wild tribes, saving women from forced marriages, and displaying their infinite wisdom and humanity for all to admire.
The deal still has to be approved by some council of chief goat-herders, but a little walk-around money from Karzai should take care of that. Then, once the foul thing is ratified, this futile war, this war about nothing, will be all set to go on for another ten years.
That'll be 23 years altogether since we first went in. Twenty-three years. It doesn't compare with the Thirty Years War or the Hundred Years War; but hey, come 2024, President Chelsea Clinton or El Presidente George P. Bush will no doubt have the option to extend the agreement for another decade or two.
What on earth is the rationale for this agreement? Quote from the Times, quote:
American officials do not want to see Afghanistan again become a haven for terrorists after it spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives in the war. And the Afghan leadership knows that more than $4 billion in annual international security assistance would simply not flow absent an American military presence to account for it.
Four billion a year, eh? How about we just post it all straight through to the Swiss bank accounts of Karzai and his family and friends? You know, cut out the middle-men.
As for preventing Afghanistan becoming a haven for terrorists: With all our surveillance and drone capabilities, does this really need the eight to twelve thousand troops in theater that the Times is telling me about?
Next question: If, after twelve years, with over 100,000 troops in theater, we have neither defeated the Taliban nor got a credible Afghan Army up and running, what reason is there to think that another ten years with greatly reduced troop levels will improve the situation?
Next question: In respect of Afghanistan, is the U.S. government stark gibbering insane, or am I?
04 — The Golliwog War escalates. In Radio Derb's previous broadcast we told you about the outbreak of a war on golliwogs, with the Dutch traditional Black Pete figure under fierce assault by forces from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Since then new fronts have opened in the Golliwog War. The retail website Amazon.com has been found to be selling a golliwog fancy dress outfit. For sixty dollars they'll ship you the complete outfit from a firm named Orion Costumes, described in the news story as, quote, "an independent company which also sells 'sexy' outfits such as a schoolgirl costume," end quote.
You don't have to black up your face for the full golliwog effect with this costume; the outfit includes a golliwog mask, along with striped trousers, a red tailcoat, and an oversized bow tie.
All the bed-wetters of the "anti-racism" industry have come out in force, trying to get Amazon to withdraw the golliwog costume and apologize for their insensitivity. Here's one of them: Hellen Pattison of Youth Against Racism. Ms. Pattison honked to London's Sun newspaper that, quote: "Yet again Amazon has shown they will sell highly offensive and demeaning products, as long as they can make a profit," end quote.
I wonder what Ms Pattison looks like in one of those schoolgirl costumes? Judging from my experience of anti-racist campaigners, which is not inconsiderable, I'd guess she'd look better in a gorilla suit. Perhaps even a golliwog outfit …
Another skirmish in the Golliwog War, this one over in Scotland. A black lady named Margaret Rocha, age 43, was touring an elementary school in the city of Edinburgh, with a view to enrolling her son in the school. This school boasts a mural, painted in 1936 — yes, 77 years ago — on the theme of Alice in Wonderland. In one panel of the mural, Alice is shown in a room with some books and a toy. The toy is, yes, a golliwog.
The outraged Ms Rocha did what any responsible citizen would do: She notified the police. The police swung into action, as they are obliged under British law to investigate possible hate crimes. They seem to be somewhat hampered in this case by the fact of the hate criminal, artist Robert Westwater, having died in 1962. Whom are they going to prosecute? It's a dilemma for the boys in blue, but my latest information is that their investigation is, quote, "continuing."
Ms Rocha's outrage was compounded when she learned that the mural had been restored two years ago on a 25,000-dollar grant from the government. She has now declared that her son will not be attending the school. I'm sure the school staff will be gravely disappointed.
The City Council of Edinburgh, which is responsible for the school, is refusing to cover up the golliwog panel. They have, however, promised to give the kiddies extra lessons in racial sensitivity.
Given the well-known proclivities of Lewis Carroll, there ought to be a joke here somewhere about sexy schoolgirl costumes, but I can't think of it, so I'll pass right along.
Just rest assured that if you visit the fine old city of Edinburgh, any grade-schoolers you happen to meet will have had their little brains thoroughly purged of racism.
05 — Hanky-panky in the Paleolithic. News from the fascinating world of paleoanthropology. That's the study of prehistoric humanity.
Just a little briefing here. Biologists classify living things in a hierarchy. At the bottom level of the hierarchy is a species. Several closely related species form a genus. Several closely related genera form a family. The next level up is an order, then a class, then a phylum, and at the top of the hierarchy you have a kingdom.
You and I, gentle reader, belong to the species sapiens in the genus homo. The homo genus is one branch of the family hominidae, the great apes. Aside from homo the family also includes the gorilla genus, the chimp genus, and the orangutan genus.
Hominidae in turn belongs to the order primates, all the monkey-like creatures. That's in the class mammalia (wombs and breasts) in the phylum chordata, creatures with backbones, in the animal kingdom. Got it?
OK, here's the thing: We, sapiens, are the only species in our genus. It's a group with one member. This wasn't always the case, though. In the remote past there were other species of homo walking around. The one everyone knows about is the Neanderthals, homo neanderthalis, but there were up to a dozen others, depending on who you ask. There are a lot of unknowns here.
All these homo species, as far as we know, originated in Africa. Some of them stayed there; others wandered off and settled Europe and Asia — though not, so far as we know, the Americas.
The Neanderthals mostly settled in Europe and West Asia. A different homo species, erectus, went to Central and East Asia. The hobbit people you may have heard of, homo floresiensis, favored Indonesia.
So there they all were, minding their own business, seventy thousand or so years ago when homo sapiens came bursting out of Africa and fanned out across Europe and Asia. They must have encountered these other homo species as they spread.
How did those encounters go? We really have no clue. The only thing we know for sure is that by thirty thousand years ago sapiens, our ancestors, were the only homo left standing. The others were all extinct.
Well, last week at the Royal Society in London, paleoanthropologists heard a report from researchers who have produced much better quality genome sequences than we had before from two of the old homo species, one the Neanderthals and one a species called the Denisovans, who were only discovered three years ago in a cave in Siberia.
We already knew that humans from outside Africa all have about two percent of Neanderthal genes; and that Australian aborigines and some related peoples have four percent or so of Denisovan DNA. What we learned this week is two things: First, that the Denisovans spread their genes around more widely than we thought, but second and more interesting, they seem to have interbred with another homo, not Neanderthals, that we know nothing about.
So there was a lot of hanky-panky going on there back in the Paleolithic. It was, as one of the attendees at the meeting said, a Lord of the Rings-type world — or if you prefer, a Wagnerian world.
And before you write me an email to say that different species can't, by definition, interbreed with each other, let me just say that speciation is a gradual process with some fuzzy areas that allow for interbreeding. Read up the definition of "species" in any decent encyclopedia.
In other news from paleoanthropology, this time just dealing with homo sapiens after the other homo had disappeared: Scientists have sequenced the DNA of a male child buried in Eastern Siberia 24,000 years ago. The surprise is that his DNA has commonalities with both old European populations and native Americans, but not East Asians.
It's long been known that the first Americans branched off from East Asian stock. It now seems that before they crossed the Bering Strait, they interbred with this European population, and carried some of their genes to America.
As well as being fascinating in itself, the deep history of our species is a very lively field of inquiry, with surprising new results like these coming in two or three times a year. Paleoanthropology today is like physics a hundred years ago — fizzing with new ideas, theories, and hypotheses. It's exciting.
06 — Knockout game: the Michigan solution. At the the shamefully racist, xenophobic, homophobic, heteronormative and sexist websites I hang out at, the Knockout Game has been a subject of discussion for three or four years, at least. Suddenly it's got the attention of respectable news outlets.
The knockout game, called "polar bear hunting" in some precincts, is when one or more young blacks in a street or other public place spot a nonblack person alone, and decide to see if they can knock him or her out with one punch. It has, as I said, been going on for years: Colin Flaherty chronicled some cases last year in his book White Girl Bleed A Lot, which for reasons I don't understand was not reviewed by the New York Times.
Well, now the Knockout Game is making the news … sort of. I mean, the incidents are making the news, but they're being reported in the usual mealy-mouthed way as attacks by "teens" on "random" victims.
Several people have been killed by the Knockout Game. A 46-year-old man died in Hoboken, N.J. last September, in an incident captured on video. The three blacks … excuse me: teens, the three teens arrested, were aged 13 and 14.
There was an encouraging development this week. A 17-year-old "teen" in Saginaw, Michigan, who happened to be black, tried to knock out a "random" victim, who just randomly happened to be white, with a stun gun. Unfortunately the thing didn't work. Even more unfortunately, the random victim had a concealed carry permit. The teen got two random bullets in him, though alas neither was fatal.
That one incident of street justice has been the exception, though, not the rule. The rule, as in anything to do with race, is white cringing, pussification, ethnomasochism, and whining pleas to understand and help the poor teens who are driven to these assaults by the psychic injuries they suffer daily at the hands of an unjust society.
In Brooklyn, where a black neighborhood is right up against an orthodox Jewish one, the blacks naturally pick on the Jews. Recent victims include a 12-year-old boy and a 78-year-old woman. The old lady's daughter told a local TV station her mother was loaded down with department store bags and a handbag, but there was no attempt to take anything. The Negro just punched her really hard on top of her head. An old lady, 78.
The local Jews called a "community meeting" with the local blacks. Quote from the news report:
Many present said young African-Americans need to be educated about such bias crimes. "We need to engage these young people and engage their parents," said the Rev'm Taharka Robinson of the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition.
Yeah, that'll fix it! Education — the great panacea, solution for all social ills! But … excuse me: Hasn't a "teen," by definition, already experienced seven or eight years of compulsory education?
In an even more disgusting case of ankle-grabbing white liberal guilt, a young white woman named Phoebe Connolly was punched in the face and laughed at by a group of blacks in Washington, D.C. Ms Connolly hastened to go on Greta van Susteren's show and apologize for her shameful white privilege, confronted with which those poor under-privileged black kids would of course want to punch her in the face. It's only natural! Quote from her:
I've moved past it and I really have no hard feelings about what has happened. And I just see it as another reason why we need to better support our youth with activities and youth programs, which is actually what I do for work, and it's great to see teenagers do incredible things when they're supported and empowered.
So these laughing thugs who smash old ladies on the head for sport are the real victims, see? What we need is more midnight basketball!
I prefer the Michigan solution. Ms Connolly may think "it's great to see teenagers do incredible things when they're supported and empowered." Personally I think it would be even greater to see one of these savages writhing in agony on the ground with a couple of bullets in his intestines. Go Michigan!
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: My word of the week: "Cyberdildonics." A cyberdildonic is a sex toy controlled over the internet. Yes, this is the new frontier in social-network software: sex over the internet.
Here's a quote from the website of a Miami-based startup company named FriXion, quote:
Our most advanced peripherals use bidirectional force feedback telemetry to create simultaneous one to one motion and resistance between your and your partner's device. The result is convincing and organic intimacy over any distance, from across a room to across an ocean!
The Japanese are of course leading the world in this zone. I am told that there's a video clip on LiveLeak, though I haven't been able to find it, in which a Japanese pioneer uses a virtual reality headset and cyberdildonics to copulate with a video game.
"Cyberdildonics" — what a word! Just roll it around on your tongue … as it were. Well, hey, at least you won't have to take your cyberdildo out for dinner and a movie beforehand.
Item: Can't anybody do anything about Mark Zuckerberg? The teenage billionaire has become one of the biggest shills for flooding the U.S. tech labor market with cheap foreign immigrants. He's thrown untold millions into an organization called FWD.us, which is putting out TV ads demanding amnesty and open borders. This, with 25 million Americans out of work.
Zuckerberg's latest wheeze was a "hackathon" event at the headquarters of LinkedIn, another tech firm pushing for cheap foreign labor to undercut American workers. At this "hackathon," twenty illegal aliens spent 25 hours coding Web tools aimed at advocating for amnesty. Zuckerberg and three other tech billionaires, along with Filipino wetback Jose Antonio Vargas, will judge the results and award prizes for "design" and "storytelling."
How sweet. The first prize for these border-jumpers should be a ticket back where they came from. And if they were to take Zuckerberg and his billionaire pals and their gimmicky time-wasting products back there with them, that would be a net gain for the U.S.A.
Yes, doorknobs will be forbidden in any new construction in Vancouver. The reasoning apparently is that a doorknob needs some force of grip to turn it, and this is unfair to old people, who don't have the grip. So new construction in Vancouver will have door handles, not door knobs.
At this point I'd like to tell you the only doorknob joke in my repertoire, but unfortunately it's not suitable for a family website. In its place, here's Henny Youngman.
[Clip: My father was the town drunk. A lot of times that's not so bad, but … New York City?]
08 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gents. Two more weeks gone from future to past.
I still have those Amazon outfits on my mind. I was going to order the golliwog one for our next ouzo-and-feta-cheese party down in the village. I thought it would go over well with the locals. Then on second thoughts it occurred to me that they might mistake me for one of the illegal African immigrants who come ashore in the Aegean now and then. That's not a good thing to be mistaken for around here, enough said.
So nix on the golliwog costume. There are still those sexy schoolgirl outfits, though …
Er, Mandy? I've been thinking about issuing a uniform for the staff here. Different uniforms for males and females, of course. For you girls, I thought perhaps something like this …?
[Mandy: "Forget it!"]
I guess not, then. Ah well.
How about some music to see us out? I am, as I said, sworn to secrecy concerning my military adventure last week, but I can at least drop a hint as to which branch of the military I was engaged with. Here is their song.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: From SoldierCity.com, "The Caissons Go Rolling Along."]