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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your contumaciously genial host John Derbyshire with news of the hour.
Mrs. Derbyshire tells me that our estates up there on the eastern seaboard of north America are under a deep blanket of snow, with freezing winds sweeping down from the Arctic and economic activity at a standstill. I am so very sorry to hear it. Here in the Aegean it's quite balmy; in fact I went out for a game of beach volleyball with the girls this morning — most enjoyable. Rest assured, though, you have my sympathy up there in the frozen north, my deepest sympathy. It brings tears to my eyes, it really does, to think of you suffering such extreme weather. I can barely control my emotions.
Speaking of the home territories, here's a story from them: from the Empire State of New York, no less.
02 — The shove Gov. Outrage of the week occurred last Friday, January 17th, when Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York State, spoke on a political program hosted by a public radio station in the state capital.
Speaking of New York Republicans, Cuomo said:
[Clip: "Their problem isn't me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right to life, er, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay — is that who they are? Because if that's who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are."]
Where do you start with something like that? Personally, I start with the language: the weasel words and empty cant phrases.
"Assault weapon," for example. Technically — I mean, to a firearms expert like blogger Tom at Radio Free New Jersey, an assault weapon is a gun that fires more than one round with a single pull of the trigger. That's not the political meaning of the term, though. Politically, the phrase "assault weapon" means anything that looks too much like an actual assault weapon.
That means that legislative definitions of "assault weapon" are full of hair-splitting details about flash suppressors, the size of magazines, the shape of the stock, and so on — most of which a gun owner can alter with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
"Assault weapons" legislation is boob bait for the leftist bubbas. It inconveniences gun enthusiasts and does nothing measurable to reduce gun crime.
And then, "right to life," which is the mealy-mouth way to say "anti-abortion," just as "right to choose" is the mealy-mouth way to say "pro-abortion." I'm pro-abortion myself, with of course proper limits and restraints; but the anti-abortion case doesn't strike me as "extreme." It has arguments in its favor, and plenty of decent citizens favor that side. Instead of asking them to leave the state, Governor, how about letting them make their arguments in public, then have citizens of the state make up their own minds? What's wrong with that?
And then again, "anti-gay"? What does that mean? What does Governor Cuomo think of a person who regards homosexual behavior as unhealthy and somewhat disgusting, but who wouldn't interfere with it, so long as homosexuals practice a discreet reticence, don't force themselves on our attention, and don't proselytize their lifestyle among youngsters? Does he think people like that are "anti-gay"?
I suppose he does. For these Cultural Revolutionaries, tolerance is just a mask for "hate." It's never enough for the citizen to just put up with Big Brother. You have to love Big Brother.
Tolerance without enthusiasm; support for reasoned dissent; opposition to pettifogging rules with no practical purpose; these things are what Governor Cuomo calls "extremism." That, he honks in another cant phrase, is "not who New Yorkers are."
Well, listen up, pal. I'm a New Yorker, and it's who I am, and who many of my New York friends and neighbors are. If you want to govern over a state with total uniformity of opinion, perhaps you'd be happier in North Korea.
03 — The Cold Civil War grinds on. Cuomo's remarks actually belong in the oratory of what I have called the Cold Civil War. There is a powerful feeling among people like Cuomo, people of what they themselves are pleased — very pleased — to call a "progressive" disposition, that they are on one side of a great social divide.
On the same side with them are moderate Republicans — persons who agree with them on all essentials, but have quibbles about the fine details. On the other side are those "extreme conservatives" — people who want abortion banned or more severely restricted; people who perceive, correctly, that the phrase "assault weapon" was cooked up by politicians eager to show they are doing something about crime, when in fact they are doing nothing; people who, while willing to tolerate homosexuality, do not wish to glorify it.
The two sides in the Cold Civil War are not quite symmetrical, though. There is the small matter of one side controlling all the major universities, the broadsheet newspapers, most of the TV stations, the big bureaucracies and corporations, the labor unions, the senior military brass, and the established mainstream churches.
And then there's a certain asymmetry in rhetoric. The catch-phrase among conservatives, when speaking of liberals, is: "We think they're wrong; they think we're evil."
It's quite true, and you see in in the pronouncements of liberals like Cuomo.
Thomas Sowell took this asymmetry as his theme this week and made a brilliant column out of it, drawing on many historical examples. Sample quote, referring to Thomas Malthus, author of a famous paper on population and the food supply, quote:
T.R. Malthus was the target of such hostility in the 18th and early 19th centuries. When replying to his critics, Malthus said, "I cannot doubt the talents of such men as Godwin and Condorcet. I am unwilling to doubt their candor." But William Godwin's vision of Malthus was very different. He called Malthus "malignant," questioned "the humanity of the man," and said: "I profess myself at a loss to conceive of what earth the man was made."
End quote. Sowell gives more historical examples, and I could add a few of my own: for example the great Welsh parliamentarian David Lloyd George, in some of his early House of Commons rhetoric against the Tory Party. It's true, and always has been, that progressives — those who dislike the settled order of things and want great social changes … are far more vitriolic against conservatives than the latter are against them. We think they're wrong; they think we're evil.
One further quote from Sowell, quote:
The vision of the left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves — a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create "social justice" and otherwise be on the side of the angels.
Paradoxically, liberals are deeply intolerant people. They don't think we're wrong, they think we're wicked. Their minds won't be at rest until they have silenced us; or, at the very least, run us out of New York State.
Vladmir Putin, the Russian President, has pushed through his Parliament laws prohibiting homosexual propaganda and open displays of homosexual affection. That's reasonably democratic of him: respectable polls show nearly two thirds of Russians find homosexuality, quote, "morally unacceptable and worth condemning," end quote. About half are against homosexual rallies and demonstrations.
Putin has in fact set himself up as a champion of traditional European values. You can make some fair mockery of that. I don't know how much of a traditional European value it is to murder journalists, for example. There's no denying, though, that on a lot of social and cultural issues, Putin is wellnigh the only significant leader of a white country at odds with the Cultural Marxist agenda.
One amusing side-effect of that is to show up the hypocrisy of the Western left. The government of Nigeria, for example, is far more intolerant of homosexuality than Russia's. On January 13th Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a bill criminalising same-sex relationships, with penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for transgressors.
Western liberals haven't made half as much fuss about that as they have about Russia's much milder proscriptions. Why? Because Western liberals hold it as an article of faith that only white people matter; that only white people can do good or evil; and that black people have no agency, being good when white people cause them to be good, and bad when we cause them to be bad. If you were to ask a liberal about Nigeria's laws, I'm sure he would tell you they are the fault of white people somehow — "legacy of colonialism," probably.
Well, Russia's laws against homosexual propaganda will surely be tested at the Winter Olympics. Olympic protocols prohibit open displays of political sentiment; but in a matter as important as this, you can't expect the athletes — mostly young people thoroughly indoctrinated in Cultural Marxism — to restrain themselves.
Remember when athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a black power salute at the 1968 Olympics? You'll see something similar on behalf of homosexuals at the Sochi events, I'm sure; though I think as a matter of delicacy, it really shouldn't involve fists.
I only hope the Olympic Committee has the guts to do again what they did in 1968: expel the demonstrating athletes from the games and send them home on the first plane. I hope, in fact, they have even more guts than that, and strip them of their medals.
I'm not too clear what this means, and the flyer doesn't help. Is it, like, an Olympic Games for homosexuals? If so, what will the events be? Ladies' softball, of course … What else? Leapfrog? … A disco-dancing marathon, I'd assume. The hundred meters sashay, perhaps … And of course, the event everyone waits for: the shirt-lifting finals.
I'd better stop here before a boatload of GLAAD commandos storms the beaches.
06 — Our Self-Loathing Party. The U.S. President, Barack Obama, is in trouble. His signature healthcare initiative is on life support, his former Defense Secretary has published a book trashing his military leadership, and his poll numbers are in the tank. All this, with crucial mid-term elections coming up in the fall.
Not to worry, though; the Republican Party is riding to the President's rescue. Urged on by their Chamber of Commerce paymasters, Congressional Republican leaders are pregnant with a set of proposals on immigration that will keep the Republican voter base sullenly at home in the fall, and deliver tens of millions of new voters to the Democrats.
That's not some wacko right-wing extremist saying that; it's Investors' Business Daily. Quote from them, January 21st, quote:
The House GOP is poised to use a piecemeal strategy as cover to enact, more or less, the Democrats' agenda on immigration — giving the party millions of dependable Democratic votes as a consequence. What political party in the history of the world has ever been this self-loathing?
End quote. Well, I think in the matter of self-loathing, the British Conservative Party could give them a run for their money, but that's another story.
Some time before the President delivers his State of the Union speech next Tuesday, we are told, House Speaker John Boehner [Johnnie Ray: "Cry"] will issue a one-page list of immigration proposals. They will include some form of amnesty, possibly dressed up as "legalization," which means amnesty without citizenship — a joke, since illegals couldn't care less about citizenship, they just want the amnesty. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, the number three man in the House leadership, endorsed "legalization" this week. Numbers one and two — Boehner and Paul Ryan — are already known to favor it. You'll be hearing this word "legalization" a lot. Every time you hear it, just mentally substitute the word "amnesty," because that's what it is.
I'm sure Boehner's list will also include the usual bad faith "promises" to secure the borders and ports of entry, the same promises we've been hearing from Congress since 1986, about which nothing is ever done.
You want further confirmation of Boehner's treasonous intent? He recently hired a new consultant to work for him on immigration, a lady named Becky Tallent, former advisor on immigration issues to … wait for it … John McCain! Quod est demonstrandum.
I'm happy to report that not all congresscritters are on board with the leadership's plans. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama — whom God preserve! — has been organizing House GOP conservatives to oppose the leadership. Quote from Breitbart.com:
The building backlash could make for a tumultuous three-day retreat next week as Republicans gather in Maryland to plan the party's future. Upping the pressure, a key outside conservative today requested access to the retreat to brief lawmakers on the issue.
End quote. That key conservative is Peter Kirsanow, the only thing remotely resembling a conservative on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. You may remember that when George W. Bush appointed him, the Chair-commie of the Commission fought all the way to the Supreme Court to prevent him being seated.
So it's not all self-loathing in the House GOP. With Senator Sessions' help, the GOP congresscritters may even be persuaded to defy their leadership and vote for the interests of Americans instead of foreigners. Stranger things have happened.
07 — My line on Steyn is really quite benign. Listeners are clamoring for me to pass some comment on Mark Steyn's differences with National Review magazine, as described in part on Mark's website this past Wednesday.
"Clamoring" is perhaps too strong a word. All right, it's way too strong a word. Okay, one listener emailed in to ask me. Can one email be classed a "clamor"? Discuss among yourselves. Anyway, I shall pass comment.
Just to give the background here: Mark, along with National Review and a couple of other defendants, is being sued for defamation by Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. The gravamen of the charge is that in July 2012 the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is a Washington, D.C. free-market think-tank, published a piece by Rand Simberg, who is an aerospace engineer, defaming Dr. Mann; and that Mark Steyn at National Review Online quoted what Simberg had written and embellished it with a further defamation.
In October of that year Dr. Mann filed a lawsuit with the Civil Division of the Washington, D.C. courts alleging, quote, "libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress," end quote, by Steyn and the other parties. That was fifteen months ago. Those fifteen months have been spent in procedural wrangling, not over the gravamen of the case itself, but over whether the case should proceed to actual arguments over the gravamen. There have been motions, counter-motions, appeals, counter-appeals … Our courts can't hear any case now without a few years of lawyers' preliminary jostling over whether the case should be heard, whether the case that the case should be heard, should be heard, and so ad infinitum.
Well, apparently Mark Steyn was unhappy with the way the lawyers were doing things, so he's separated himself from them, and from the other defendants, including National Review. Quote from Mark:
The lesson of the last year is that you win a free-speech case not by adopting a don't-rock-the-boat, keep-mum, narrow procedural posture but by fighting it in the open, in the bracing air and cleansing sunlight of truth and justice.
End stirring quote.
To further confuse matters between Mark and National Review, there was an unrelated dust-up shortly before this Christmas just past, when Mark published, on the National Review website, some biting commentary about the Duck Dynasty affair. Mark's commentary included a couple of old showbiz jokes about homosexuals. Here's one. Dean Martin asks Frank Sinatra, "How do you make a fruit cordial?" "I dunno," says Frank, "How do you make a fruit cordial?" Dino: "Be nice to him." [Laughter.]
One of the editors at National Review publicly chid Mark for retailing that joke, which he (the editor) called "derogatory," "puerile," and "disappointing." Mark lashed back at that editor in a quite unrestrained and devastating fashion.
Mark posted just once to the website after that, on Christmas Eve. He'd posted pretty much daily up to that point, so after a few days of his not appearing, readers of the National Review website began to ask what had happened to him. It's still not clear if he's left National Review for good. That December 24th post remains his last on the website, and we now have his own statement that he's parted company with them on the Michael Mann lawsuit. That's where things stand.
Having been a contributor to National Review for fourteen years, and had some slight acquaintance with Mark Steyn, and once reviewed one of his books, what do I have to say about all this? Next segment.
08 — Truth and consequences on Global Warming. First: Regarding National Review, while there are a couple of employees there I wouldn't hesitate to refer to as snakes in the grass, I don't think ill of the rest, and hope I count some of them as friends. Taking the magazine as a whole, though, as steered by the collective will of its editors and management, there is definitely a theme emerging here.
Thomas Fleming said the following thing in the current issue of a different magazine, Chronicles, quote:
I find it difficult to believe that the attacks on John Derbyshire … were motivated by righteous indignation rather than by simple cowardice.
End quote. There's your theme: cowardice. One incident of truckling to the Cultural Marxists might be forgiven as an absent-minded lapse. When incidents pile up as they have been, it starts to look like a habit.
Conservatives want their magazine to, in the words of the late William F. Buckley, Jr., "stand athwart History crying 'Stop!'" As I once told a roomful of subscribers at a panel discussion on a National Review cruise, the magazine's posture in recent years has been more a matter of running along behind History squeaking: "Would you mind slowing down a teeny bit, please?"
Much of it just comes down to youth. The younger generation are a timid lot. Even when not completely broken to the PC orthodoxy, they instinctively defer to it, the way that editor did when scolding Mark for telling a joke about homosexuals. It's what their school and college teachers all believed; it's what most of their coevals believe; it's what their priests and ministers believe; it's what most of the authority figures in society at large believe. You need to be made of stern stuff to stand consistently against all that. Not many of us are made of stuff that stern.
As I said, I don't think ill of these people. Cowardice is far too common a failing to be worth getting angry about. In fact I nurse the hope that some of these timid creatures will mature into fine reactionary curmudgeons in a decade or two. Let's all hope for that.
In the particular matter of Mark Steyn, I can't say much, as I only had the slightest acquaintance with him other than through his writings. He's a fine polemicist and a very witty speaker; and there can never be enough of those things in the world. He said words on my behalf at the time of my own dismissal from National Review; or at any rate, he didn't join the lynch mob. Reviewing one of his books, I noted the breadth of his knowledge and his mastery of style. On the slight personal acquaintance I had, he seems like a gentleman. Hearsay is that he has a fierce temper and a sharp tongue when crossed; but I don't know that those count as very grievous faults in a man. They certainly don't disqualify one from being a gentleman.
Mark's problem, as the tangle he's gotten into with Dr. Mann illustrates, is that he has no science. I don't mean that he has no scientific credentials — although he hasn't — but that he has no natural feel for scientific thinking, no instinctive understanding of what scientists do and how they do it; at root, no curiosity about the natural world.
That's not a failing, either; or if it is, it's another one too common to get bothered about. It does, though, disqualify you from saying sensible things about scientific topics. The scientific consensus on Global Warming is as solid as it can be, given the noisiness of the underlying datasets. It's just possible that it might be overturned, but that's not the way to bet.
A lot of the climate scientists, including Michael Mann, have made a political cause of their findings — a socialistic cause, demanding expansions of power for governments and globalist organizations, and huge expenditures of public money.
I part company with them on that. I think you can be opposed to the globalist-socialist solution without denying the problem. That's a minority view. Most conservatives part company with them on the politics, and assume the science must be wrong too — a logical error, but a natural one if you have no science. That's where the anti-Warmist fervor comes from.
So there's this anti-Warmist passion among conservatives, and it spills over into vituperation against the scientists, which is justifiable when they venture into politics, and against their results, which is not justifiable. Data is data; results are results; some things are true even though the Party says they are true. That's where Mark got into trouble.
I hope he gets out of it. I like spirited vituperation in politics. Mark's very good at it, and I wish there were more like him. I wish National Review would do more spirited vituperation, instead of assuming a fetal position and squealing for forgiveness every time the Cultural Marxists call them on something.
I understand of course that there's a legal line here somewhere, on the other side of which is malicious defamation. I hope the court finds Mark Steyn to be on this side of that line, and sends Dr. Mann off with a flea in his ear.
Good luck, Mark.
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: An elementary school in northeast England has forbidden children to run in the school playground. I'm not clear if the kiddies have to stand dead still during recess, or if they are allowed to walk around at a sedate pace.
The school is at pains to assure parents that children may still run in designated areas around the school, at designated times. Well, that's something, I guess.
This kind of story makes me want to run as fast as I can, backwards out of the 21st century.
Item: You've heard about the disappearing middle — about our society fracturing into a super-rich elite at the one end, a great sullen lumpenproletariat at the other, and nothing much in between? Well the evidence mounts weekly that this is exactly what's happening.
Here for example are Department of Agriculture figures on food stamp usage in 2013. The term "food stamps" is of course outdated, though everyone still uses it. The poor nowadays get their government food subsidy via an electronic card, the EBT card.
Well, the number of households on "food stamps" in the average month of 2013 was over 23 million. That's twenty percent, a fifth of the country. Just nine years earlier, in 2004, the figure was ten percent.
The middle class is being wiped out, and it's happening faster than you think. You may be middle class, but your kids will either be poor or rich. Make sure you let them know.
Item: As I am sure Radio Derb listeners know, this year sees the anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. British people call it the Great War, because it was the bloodiest war in their history. The British government has planned commemorative events.
Here's a thing, though. In 1914 Britain wasn't just a country, it was an empire, with colonies and dominions spread all over the globe. Soldiers were recruited, sometimes conscripted, from these territories, as well as from the homeland.
So … guess what the focus of the government's commemorative events will be. That's right: the contributions to the war effort made by black and brown soldiers.
This emerged when a British government flunky briefed journalists in Australia about the upcoming events. The Australians made a major contribution to the war; 62,000 of their men died, along with 18,000 New Zealanders. However, no events have been scheduled to mark those sacrifices. Instead, the journalists were told, the Brits are concentrating on promoting the role played by India, Bangladesh and Nigeria, along with other west African countries. This, it was explained, is to promote, quote, "community cohesion" in Britain.
Translation: To stroke the collective egos of black and brown immmigrants. Well, what could be more important than that? Certainly not the feelings of fellowship and cultural solidarity that once existed between Britain and her white-settler nations. White, euiw!
Item: Speaking of which here's a reminder that the annual American Renaissance conference will take place the weekend of April 25th to 27th in Tennessee, in a lovely state park with some fine hiking trails. I'll be there, in fact I'm a scheduled speaker.
If you can get away for that weekend and would enjoy some stimulating talks and conversation in a beautiful setting, sign up at the American Renaissance website. If you come up to me at the conference and tell me you're a Radio Derb listener, I'll buy you a drink. I can't say fairer than that.
10 — Signoff. And there it is, ladies and gents: a week of treason, timidity, and truculence.
To see us out, here's a cautionary song addressed to any future editor who might want to try conclusions with Mark Steyn. It's my old friend Jim Croce again: You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask of that ol' Lone Ranger, and you don't mess around with Mark.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Jim Croce, "You don't mess around with Jim."]