• Play the sound file
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! And Spring is in the air! Yes, this is your vernally genial host John Derbyshire bringing you news and views with a reactionary spin, scented I hope with the gentle Aegean breezes wafting in through the studio window as I speak.
[Would somebody shut that damn window, please? … Thank you.]
All quiet here on Taki's private island, so let's go straight to the news wires.
02 — Islands in the slum. The further we get away from the age of slavery, the more angry people seem to be getting about it.
Well, some people. You know … black people. Slavery was a nearly universal feature of human society until the early-modern period, and was no respecter of race or nationality. A few years ago I reviewed Robert Davis's fine book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters. Davis is a professor of history at Ohio State. In his book he tells the story of Muslim slave-raiding across the Mediterranean. Quote from my review, after I've cited some of Prof. Davis's numbers, quote:
This implies a total number of slaves, from the early 1500s to the late 1700s, of one to one and a quarter million. This is an astonishing number, implying that well into the 17th century, the Mediterranean slave trade was out-producing the Atlantic one. Numbers fell off thereafter, while the transatlantic trade increased; but in its time, the enslavement of European Christians by Muslim North Africans was the main kind of enslavement going on in the world.
The Muslim slave-raiding was well known down to the 19th century — Rossini wrote an opera about it. Whole stretches of the south European coast were rendered uninhabitable because of the Muslim slave raiders. It didn't stop there, either: In 1627 the Muslims kidnapped 400 men and women from Iceland.
Nobody's angry about that, of course. Nor is anyone agitated about white Englishmen sold into slavery. That's gone down the memory hole, too, though our grandfathers' generation knew enough of the history that Errol Flynn made a movie about it: Captain Blood, in which, according to the IMDb synopsis, Flynn is sold in the West Indies for ten pounds sterling — around sixteen dollars nowadays, though I suppose it meant more in the 1680s.
Ah, the West Indies. Been there, done that. Back in my National Review days I was a speaker on some of the Caribbean cruises the magazine sponsors for their readers. I must say, in parentheses, I found the readers to be very good company, with no exceptions that I can recall. Some of them, I happen to know, are now Radio Derb listeners, and I extend my cordial greetings and thanks for the good fellowship. Karl Rove had a different experience, but that's a story I'll tell another time …
Anyway, I'm as well acquainted with the islands as you can be from a handful of one-week cruises. To be perfectly frank, you can keep 'em. There are of course some pretty places there, if you can afford to live in them, and the weather is wonderful when there's no hurricane blowing.
Away from the tourist traps, though, the Caribbean is a slum. As I heard it described by one of my National Review colleagues — no names, no pack drill — the place is, quote, "The South Bronx with donkeys."
Where was I going with this? Oh yes: slavery reparations. I've used up my segment, though. New segment …
03 — 180 years a slave. Right: the West Indies. Here's the news story, from Associated Press. Headline: Caribbean Adopts Plan To Seek Slavery Reparations. The byline is from Kingstown, St. Vincent, March 10th. First graf, quote:
Leaders of Caribbean nations on Monday unanimously adopted a broad plan on seeking reparations from European nations for what they say are the lingering ill effects of the Atlantic slave trade on the region.
It goes without saying that there is no mention of any request for reparations from the West African tribes who actually sold the slaves.
The whole thing is of course a lawyers' ramp. There is some sort of grouping of Caribbean nations called CARICOM, and they've hired a British law firm to press their case — a "human rights" law firm. "Human rights" … That's pronounced [ker-ching].
Here's what the lawyers say. I'm just quoting here from the AP report. Quote:
The Caribbean Community wants reparation payments to repair the persisting "psychological trauma" from the days of plantation slavery …
O-kay. Plantation slavery in the British West Indies, which is what most of these CARICOM countries were, ended in 1834. That's 180 years ago. Anyone around in the West Indies and old enough to experience slavery would be the great-great-great-grandparent of a person my age, and I'm no spring chicken. So "psychological trauma" can be transmitted down through six generations? I'd like to see some scientific evidence of that.
The lawyers continue, quote:
And …" (this is the stuff they're asking for from the Europeans), "… And assistance to boost the region's technological know-how …
Oh sure, they'll have a little Silicon Cay up and running in to time. Right. Desmond Zuckerberg there in Kingston is just champing at the bit.
Sorry. Continues, quote:
… since the Caribbean was denied participation in Europe's industrialization and confined to producing and exporting raw materials such as sugar.
Isn't that what economists call "comparative advantage"? And did the Caribbean nations have the necessary raw-materials basis for participation in the Industrial Revolution? Did they have good deposits of coal and iron ore? I dunno, I'm just asking.
And what about Haiti, an independent self-governing republic since 1804? How were they, quote, "denied participation" in the Industrial Revolution? They could have had their own little Industrial Revolution there, nobody would have stopped them.
More from the lawyers, quote:
The plan further demands European aid in strengthening the region's public health, educational and cultural institutions.
I don't wish to give offense to anyone, and I'm sure that there are plenty of West Indian people who are just as disgusted by this latest shakedown as I am. To the rest, including the leaders of the CARICOM set-up, I'd just like to ask: Don't you see what it looks like when black people are for ever asking white people to give them money and favors? Is that how you want to be remembered in history, as the beggars of the world? Really?
04 — Ragin' Asians. There's been an interesting political development in California.
Back in 1996 voters in the Golden State passed Proposition 209, banning race preferences in college admissions. Recently the state legislature has been mulling a constitutional amendment to restore the preferences.
A measure actually passed out of the State Senate, and was scheduled to go before the Assembly, but … didn't have the votes. This Monday the Assembly speaker, Democrat John Perez, said he was sending it to a task force for "further study." Translation: he deep-sixed it.
Why did he do that? Democrats have a total lock on the legislature. Mexicans are now the biggest racial bloc in the state at 39 percent, and of course they are all Democrats and favor race preferences, as of course do the blacks and liberal whites. So what's the problem here?
The problem, it turns out, is the Asians. Three Asian American state senators — Leland Yee, Ted Lieu (Vietnamese spelling), and Carol Liu (Chinese spelling) had helped vote the measure through the Senate but then been swamped with calls from fellow ethnics who understand that race preferences work against their kids and want to keep Proposition 209.
The Asian Senators told Perez he could lose Asian voters big-time if he persisted with the amendment. Since Asian Californians are thirteen percent of the state's population, and Asian parents care about their kids getting into college roughly four hundred times more intensely than Mexican parents do, Perez took the fall.
This is interesting — a crack in the Democrats' minority coalition. Will Asians peel off from the coalition and join the Republican Party?
I wouldn't bet on it. In matters of opinion, Asians are conformists, who will defer to the dominant social ethos. In the U.S.A. today that means left-liberalism, the ethos of the media, of Hollywood, of the big corporations, of the established mainstream churches, of all the high-tech movers and shakers like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
The old quip about Jews was that they earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans. The Asians will follow that path.
If the blacks and Mexicans really pressed the race preference issue, that might change, but there's not much chance of that. They just don't care about the issue that much. If it looks like splitting the coalition, they'll dump it, as Speaker Perez just did. Black agitators and white liberals will grumble, but at last they'll want to keep Asians on the plantation, so they'll fold.
Still, it was nice to see the Mexican race hustlers get a poke in the eye.
05 — Governor KO's Mayor. Last week I mentioned the former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, and said, quote: "I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I'm missing Michael Bloomberg," end quote.
After mature reflection I believe I may be saying the same thing about the new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, four years from now, though for different reasons. Let me explain.
New York Mayors come in three basic varieties.
Three months into his first term, it's obvious that de Blasio is Variety Three. He is one of the few people in public life today that you could fairly call a communist. I'm not sure if he was ever a Party member, but he was hot for the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, and he and his wife took their honeymoon in Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1994, violating a U.S. travel ban to do so.
Of course, it's tough to be an old-line traditional communist nowadays, when the U.S.S.R. is one with Nineveh and Tyre and only Cuba and North Korea are keeping the revolutionary flame alive. Like others of his inclination, de Blasio has taken refuge in Cultural Marxism. The actual industrial proletariat having proved a bit of a disappointment, various "surrogate proletariats" have been recruited to bring down capitalism: blacks, feminists, homosexuals, and so on.
Along with, of course, public-sector employees, whose lobbies — which have the audacity to call themselves "unions," — were the main funders of de Blasio's mayoral campaign, and who are now clamoring for payback. In an effort to give them that payback, de Blasio's been pushing universal pre-K education, which, as Radio Derb explained to you back in December, is mainly a scheme to recruit masses of new public-sector workers, with side appeal to feminists and a poke in the eye for churches.
The universal pre-K push isn't going de Blasio's way, though. His idea was to pay for it by jacking up taxes on the wealthy. This didn't sit well with Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York State. Cuomo understands a thing de Blasio does not: that wealthy people can live where they please, and will go live somewhere else if they feel unfairly treated by New York.
So there was a nasty little spat there between the Mayor and the Governor. The operative word there is "little": the bout ended with a knock-out in the first round.
Governor Cuomo is a skillful, experienced, and ruthless political operator: de Blasio, the whole world now knows, is a clumsy amateur. Cuomo is reflexively left-liberal, but he doesn't have an ideological bone in his body. He took his honeymoon in the Caribbean, too, but … not in Cuba.
Bill de Blasio and his public-sector lobby funders will get their pre-K, but on Cuomo's terms. To console himself for his defeat, de Blasio's been doing what Cultural Marxist love to do: He's been kissing up to the black racial socialists. Next segment.
06 — A tale of three lawsuits. What follows is a tale of three lawsuits.
Last June the far-left City Council, New York City's legislative body, passed a law allowing people to sue for relief in state courts if they feel the police have profiled them for any reason whatsoever — race, sex, national origin, citizenship status, disability, … anything you, or a creative lawyer, can think of. The object of the law is to hogtie the police. I mean, that's the secondary object: the primary object is of course to provide indoor relief for unemployed lawyers.
Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the law, but the Council passed it anyway over his veto. Bloomberg then filed suit to have it struck down as overstepping the city's authority. That's the first of my three lawsuits, filed by Mayor Bloomberg. It was pending when de Blasio came in.
Last October, when it was clear that de Blasio would win the Mayoralty, the city's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and Sergeants' Benevolent Association filed a separate lawsuit, suspecting that the Mayor's lawsuit would be dropped if de Blasio got in. That's the second of my three lawsuits, filed by the cops' associations.
Sure enough, earlier this month de Blasio dropped Bloomberg's lawsuit. A few days later he asked a Manhattan judge to dismiss the cops' lawsuit. We haven't heard back yet from the judge; but we do know that Bill de Blasio means to do all he can to make rational police work impossible in New York City.
While working to destroy the police force with one hand, with the other de Blasio's trying to destroy the city fire department. You probably know some of this story already.
Entrance to the New York City Fire Department is by a competitive written exam. As is always the case with exams, black and Hispanic applicants pass at much lower rates than whites and Asians.
In 2007 the George W. Bush Justice Department, under the ethnocentric Hispanic activist Alberto Gonzales, on behalf of black firefighters, filed suit against the city charging that the exam was discriminatory. That's my third lawsuit, by federal Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who I assume was looking for a speedy judgment …
The case went to a far-left federal judge who ruled for the plaintiffs and accused the Fire Department and then-Mayor Bloomberg of intentional discrimination. The judge basically tried to put himself in charge of recruiting firefighters.
This judge was so egregiously biased, an Appeals Court removed him from key parts of the case. Again, Mayor Bloomberg went to bat for the city and its Fire Department. The whole case was to be heard by a different judge later this month, and the Fire Department was optimistic that they'd be cleared of intentional discrimination.
Well, last Tuesday de Blasio abandoned the fight, obviously fearing that the city — the city of which he is the Mayor! — might win it. He agreed to have the city pay $100 million dollars to the twelve hundred black firefighter plaintiffs.
The crazy judge who insulted the city, and whom the appeals court found to be, quote, "lacking in impartiality," is now back in charge of the whole thing, including settling the attorneys' fees [ker-ching]. The Fire Department will henceforth hire by quota, taking in blacks at their proportion in the workforce plus three percent.
As I began by saying, I shall miss de Blasio when he's gone, assuming he isn't consumed in the flames when the city burns to the ground while Deshawn and Shantavious try to figure out how to attach the hose to the nozzle. He's kind of awesome to watch: so ideologically fixated, so politically clueless, so brazenly hostile to his own race and class and city.
And look at it from my point of view, as a commentator: I just got two segments out of the guy.
07 — Reparations for the Brits! This past week saw St. Patrick's Day, when — as the old New York joke goes — all the Jews of the city go out into the street to watch and applaud as their employees parade by.
St. Patrick, in case you don't know, was a fifth-century Brit who was captured by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland as a slave. He escaped back to Britain, which had no Fugitive Slave Laws, got an education, and went back to convert the heathen Irish, which he did very successfully.
That business about Irish raiders taking British slaves confuses a lot of people. Weren't the poor suffering Irish under the heel of the cruel heartless Brits, like, for ever?
Well, it's gone back and forth a couple of times. We're talking here about the fifth century, when the Roman legions had packed up and left Britannia to go and help the tottering empire back in Europe. The Romans, as everyone knows, were damn good soldiers and kept good social order; so much so that after 400 years of occupation the native Brits had forgotten how to fight.
So after the legions had gone the British, people we nowadays call "Welsh," were helpless before raiders from beyond their borders: people like the Picts, who lived in Scotland, the Scots, who lived in Ireland, and of course the filthy unspeakable English, who lived in Denmark. For a few decades there it was open season on the poor cowering Brits.
John Morris's book The Age of Arthur tells the sorry tale. Quote from page 162:
After each expedition, some Irish captains settled in Britain, but many more came home, accompanied by young warriors enriched by slaves and other booty. The Irish word for slave-girl, cumal, became the normal standard of value, equivalent to three cows.
I smiled when reading that phrase "slaves and other booty." It actually sounds like booty was part of the slave deal, but perhaps it's impertinent to speculate. And I must say, three cows seems a high price for a British slave-girl. I mean, compare it with the ten pounds Errol Flynn brought. Nowadays you can get a British girl for a couple of gin-and-tonics … but that's a subject for another day.
So here's my main point here: REPARATIONS! I'll grant that my British and English ancestors did beastly things to the Irish, but I don't think we ever enslaved them, or used their women as a unit of currency.
In the spirit of those Caribbean nations, and on behalf of the poor enslaved British folk of sixteen hundred years ago, and the Brits of today who still suffer "psychological trauma" from the days of being slaves to people who eat boiled cabbage and drink inferior whiskey, I demand reparations! Any firms of human rights lawyers keen to take up my case may contact me through Taki's Magazine.
08 — Signoff. There I must leave it, I'm afraid, ladies and gents, with no time for a closing miscellany this week. My apologies.
There was a bit of a fire sale on slavery stories there; but to judge from the number of news items, not to mention movies, it's a thing people are interested in, so I endeavor to give satisfaction.
To play us out, here's something a little off the wall.
At this point in the evolution of the internet I have developed an expectation that absolutely every kind of performance I ever heard of is on YouTube.
Well, the other day I was thinking about my Grandad's songs, which I wrote about in the Virtual Attic pages on my website.
My Grandad, John Henry Knowles, was an ordinary English working man born in 1873. The main form of entertainment for English people of that time and class was the music hall — what in the U.S.A. was called Vaudeville.
The Victorian music hall was of course steeped in the taste of its time, and a peculiar feature of that taste — I mean, it seems peculiar to us nowadays — was a fondness for sentimental songs about death.
Grandad knew dozens of these songs, and I can vividly remember him singing them. So thinking about him the other day, I went looking for those songs on YouTube, and I drew a total blank.
Here then, I think — I mean, unless I missed something, which is possible — here is a song that is not on YouTube. Since I don't have a recording of it, other than the sixty-year-old one in my head, I shall have to sing it to you myself. "Swans sing before they die," goes the old quip, "'Twere better if some folk were to die before they sing." That probably applies to me; just try to savor the uniqueness.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Added when archiving in November 2019. At the time I recorded this podcast in March 2014, it was indeed the case that there was no recording of "Ticket to Heaven" on the internet, none that I could find at any rate. Today, however, I see that YouTube has posted a performance of the song by operatic baritone Benjamin Luxon. The performance was aired on British TV in March 1978. Thanks to whomever uploaded this clip to YouTube!
And P.S.: Knowing only the song's first verse, I have gone through life assuming that the speaker is a boy. It seems in fact, as the song develops, that it is a girl.]
In this song a little boy comes to the ticket window at a railroad station. As well as being sentimental about death, the Victorians were sentimental about kids. Put the two things together, you had a hit.
So this little urchin comes up to the ticket window, stands up on tiptoe, and addresses the ticket clerk thus:
Give me a ticket to heaven, please.[Applause.]
That's where Dad's gone, they say.
He'll be so lonely without me
Travelling all that way.
My mother died when I was born, Sir.
And left Dad and me all alone.
So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
Before the last train has gone.