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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And, yes, Radio Derb is on the air! This is your ambrosially genial host John Derbyshire with our weekly roundup from the tabloids … Oh, I beg your pardon: I mean, from the news wire services.
My staff of superbly-trained professionals are at their stations, the producer is making gestures through the glass wall there … not sure what that one means … and we're off!
02 — A populist moment? For us traditional conservatives, and especially for those of us with family connections in the British Isles, the big news this week is the elections taking place for the European Parliament.
The Europarliament itself is a waste of space, and no sensible person pays any attention to what happens there. The 700-odd legislators, known in English as MEPs — Members of the European Parliament — are voted for every five years. The candidates come from various political parties in their own countries — there are 28 countries in the EU, remember — and in the Europarliament they organize themselves into blocs: a big leftist bloc, a big centrist bloc, and smaller blocs of greens, conservatives, and independents.
What makes Euroelections interesting is precisely the fact that no-one much cares about the parliament. That leaves Europeans free to make the Euro-election a protest vote. One curious result is that the Europarliament contains a hundred or so Euro-skeptic MEPs: legislators who, to various degrees, are opposed to the whole Euro project, including the parliament and their own jobs.
In this week's election, British voters have a Euroskeptic party of their own to vote for: UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, led by the affable, laddish, but deceptively intelligent Nigel Farage. Farage has been an MEP, a Euroskeptic one, since 1999.
The interesting thing about the UKIP vote this week will be that it will act as a thermometer, measuring the temperature of anti-elitist sentiment in Britain. Britain's political elites are even more detached from the lives of ordinary people than ours are, if you can imagine that. They live in an upper-class metropolitan cocoon in which everyone holds more or less the same opinions about everything.
The narrowness of public discourse in Britain is quite astonishing. Part of Nigel Farage's appeal is his willingness to say things that would have been boringly acceptable twenty years ago, but that nowadays send British elites and their hangers-on into swooning fits.
A few days ago, for example, Farage defended one of his party's candidates, a 70-year-old gent from a religious background who had said he found homosexual relationships, quote, "viscerally repugnant." Defending the man, Farage said the following thing about homosexuality, quote:
If we asked the 70s and over in this country how they felt about it, most of them still feel uncomfortable.
Of course they do. So probably do a lot of younger people. In today's Britain, though, it is very daring to say such a thing out loud. Farage has been denounced by all the Great and Good for his mild words.
Britain's print and broadcast media, who are all completely controlled by the elite establishment, have been pulling out all the stops in an effort to discredit Farage and his party as fascists, Klansmen, oppressors of women and homosexuals, and all the rest. How much success they have had, we shall find out when the results come in on Friday morning.
For Americans the hope should be that a good showing by Farage's party in this election and then in Britain's own national elections next year, will encourage people over here who believe that different opinions on social issues ought to be permitted, that national sovereignty should trump globalist technocracy, and that the cocooned elites of Washington, D.C. need to be reminded, preferably with a good hard kick in the rear end, that their jobs and privileges are held on sufferance from us, the people.
This could be a real populist moment in the Anglosphere.
As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin. The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?
It's a common sentiment around Europe. Marine Le Pen, leader of the surging National Front party in France, has also expressed her qualified admiration for Vladimir Putin. Her party's candidate for the Paris region in this week's Europarliament elections told the Russian parliament last year that, quote, "Russia has become the hope of the world against new totalitarianism."
It's quite a turnaround from the Cold War years, when the Europeans were huddled under the U.S. nuclear umbrella like newborn chicks around the mother hen, and Europeans and Russians glared at each other fearfully across the Iron Curtain. What's changed?
What's changed is that big numbers of Europeans are fed up watching their countries melt away into multicultural globalism — watching their politicians sell out their interests and their patrimony for cheap Third World labor and self-hating ideologies. They look across at Putin and see, or think they see, a leader standing up for his own people, for his own nation and its interests, for its traditional culture and pride.
There's a lot more to be said about Putin than that, and if it wasn't for oil and gas, his Russia would be down there in the international league tables with Cambodia and Sudan. Still, the appeal is obvious enough.
Just imagine: A national leader who puts his own people first, and gives the finger to foreigners who complain. When did the U.S.A. last have a President like that? … Yes, I've had to stop and think for an answer, too.
04 — The case against monarchy. It's not all Putinmania over there, mind. Here's one chap who rather disapproves of King Vlad: Charles Windsor, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and great-grand-nephew of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who was murdered by the Bolshevik Party of which Vladimir Putin was for many years an enthusiastic member.
Touring Canada with his wife earlier this week, His Royal Highness paid a visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia — a sort of Canadian Ellis Island. Immigration into the New World is of course very popular with British Royals: it's been their least messy method for getting rid of troublesome subjects.
Anyway, there was the Prince in this museum, and he got chatting with one of the Museum volunteers, an old Jewish lady who'd fled from Poland with her family to escape the Holocaust. She told him her tale and the Prince replied, quote: "Now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler."
Sure, it wasn't very diplomatic, but spare a little sympathy for the bloke. He's been making small talk all his life, all day long. That's his job, making small talk. It's not easy, and there's bound to be a slip-up once in a while. And of course, as a further mitigating factor, there was that spot of unpleasantness with his great-grand-uncle Nicholas.
I would love to have been in the room when they told Putin about the Prince's remarks. I wasn't, so I can only tell you what a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. He called the Prince's comments, quote, "outrageous, unacceptable and low." A certain amount of sympathy is justified on that side, too. The Russians had some issues of their own with Hitler, you may recall.
As an ex-Brit, I must confess, when I see the dear old Queen and summon up fond memories of the coronation party my street had when she formally ascended the throne, I get a lump in my throat and a misty film over my eyes.
When I see Prince Charles, on the other hand, I recall that my home town in England made the boots for Oliver Cromwell's army, and I experience a surge of municipal pride.
The place is even tackier and more dubious than I supposed. Quote from a New York Post report, May 18th, quote:
The 9/11 museum's cavernous boutique offers a vast array of souvenir goods. For example: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts ($22) and caps ($19.95); earrings molded from leaves and blossoms of downtown trees ($20 to $68); cop and firefighter charms by Pandora and other jewelers ($65); "United We Stand" blankets.
And yes, the public emoting goes on … and on, and on. Quote:
"I think this is a great tribute," said Kathy Yamato, 49, a Bank of America employee who worked in the towers but had a start time after the attacks. "I'm glad they finally got it done."
With all respect to Ms Yamato, couldn't she be overwhelmed in the privacy of her chambers while the nation gets on with correcting the blunders that led to 9/11 — by, for example, putting a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries?
When something this crass is on display, you have to know there are a bunch of lawyers behind it somewhere. Sure enough. From the New York Post again, quote:
A plaque says the gift shop was "made possible through the generosity of Paul Napoli and Marc Bern," partners in a law firm that reaped $200 million in taxpayer-funded fees and expenses after suing the city for nearly 10,000 Ground Zero workers.
Ah, the old taxpayer bonanza. Is this a great country, or what?
06 — The war on hurt feelings. Last week the mailman brought me my latest adventure in offbeat literature, a slim volume in the Wordsworth Classics paperback series — that's a British publisher — titled Valmouth and Other Stories by the early 20th century English novelist and eccentric Ronald Firbank.
Valmouth is a bit of an oddity: the only novel in English, outside the realm of science fiction, in which most of the characters are over 100 years old. I have a taste for curiosities like that and wanted to give it a try after I read about it in a magazine. So I ordered the book from a second-hand book site.
Firbank's novels are short — Valmouth is just 86 pages. Because of this, publishers tended to bundle two or three of his novels together. So this little volume contains Valmouth and two other stories. The title page of the second one shows the title, Sorrow in Sunlight, with an asterisk. Following the asterisk to the bottom of the page we read, quote:
Sorrow in Sunlight was Firbank's preferred title for this story, but the American title, Prancing Nigger, is the title by which it is best known.
Well, if that slender little volume by an almost-forgotten novelist were to be set as reading matter for American college students today, it would come with a "trigger warning." That's the new fad on campus this season, "trigger warnings."
Let the New York Times explain, quote from the May 17th issue, quote:
Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as "trigger warnings," explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.
A draft guide circulated to professors at Oberlin College in Ohio clarified the issue, quote:
Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic, and that your students have lives before and outside your classroom, experiences you may not expect or understand.
Oh right: Oberlin College students have such wide-ranging, mind-shattering experiences outside the classroom. No sooner are they through with this semester's classes on Critical Gender Theory than they're off swimming the Hellespont, rappelling down the North Face of the Eiger, or leading a squad of mercenaries in the Congo.
Yeah right. What these pampered little mimosas are actually doing outside class is sitting in their dorm rooms playing Angry Birds and updating their Facebook pages — "Hey everyone, I found this really cool little Tunisian restaurant" — while waiting for the phone call about that Goldman Sachs internship.
Dedicated Radio Derb listeners will recall that Oberlin College is the place where the term "microaggression" originated. We reported on this in March last year.
A microaggression is a teeny tiny act of aggression, or something imagined to be such. If I tell you that you act like a screaming pansy, that's full aggression. If, on the other hand, I were to murmur that you seem rather unusually fond of Broadway show tunes, that would be a microaggression. Oberlin College actually had a web page where students could record the microaggressions they'd been victims of.
The last word on microaggressions was uttered by one of Steve Sailer's commenters at the time, channeling Jonathan Swift, quote:
Microaggressions have nanoaggressions
Well, the microaggressions panic was last year's effort at removing from the universe anything that might draw tears from the ever-moist eyes of a millenial child. This year it's trigger warnings; and, as George Wallace might have said in the extremely unlikely event he'd been appointed President of Oberlin College: "There ain't nobody gonna out-trigger Oberlin."
Now if you'll excuse me, there's another novel of that period I want to order, one of Joseph Conrad's. I had the title written down here somewhere …
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: A little multicultural snippet here. Seventy-five-year-old Mr Noor Hussein of Brooklyn, New York beat his wife to death with a stick for making him the wrong dinner.
Mr Hussein had asked for goat meat but Mrs. Hussein cooked lentils instead.
Well, yes, that can be very upsetting. Listen to Mr Hussein's defense, though. In her opening statements to the Brooklyn court, Hussein's defense attorney Julie Clark told the bench, quote:
He comes from a culture where he thinks this is appropriate conduct, where he can hit his wife. He culturally believed he had the right to… discipline his wife.
In further mitigation of Mr. Hussein's actions, I'd point out that at least his wife wan't nine years old, like Mohammed's.
Mr Hussein is described as a "Pakistani immigrant." I have no doubt that if he lives out his prison sentence, he will be promptly deported back to Pakistan. [Laugh.]
Oh, I beg your pardon: That item should have been prefixed with a trigger warning, as it was, I hope, offensive to both feminists and Muslims. Perhaps Radio Derb listeners should just take the trigger warning as understood up front in all future podcasts.
Item: There's been a military coup in Thailand. No, I know, this isn't very interesting. It twangs a sentimental chord for me, though.
I lived in Thailand for three months back in the Upper Paleolithic. I believe I can still remember a few phrases from the language: Thanon Kroongkasem bai tinai krap? — there you go. In Thai it's considered the height of good manners for a gentleman to end every sentence with a krap — I mean, with the syllable "krap." Don't blame me, I'm just a reporter.
Anyway, the Prime Minister, a rather attractive lady named Yingluck Shinawatra, was deposed by the nation's army, who have declared martial law, suspended the constitution, and done all those other really boss things you can do when you're in charge of an army and have pulled off a coup.
This is not a good season for national leaders with "luck" in their names. Over in Nigeria the President, Mr Goodluck Jonathan, is having no luck at all against the terror group Procol Harum, who this week carried out further lethal attacks on remote villages and towns before fleeing back into the bush in a blur of flowered shirts and bell-bottomed pants.
My commiserations to both Yingluck Shinawatra and Goodluck Jonathan. Perhaps they might get together and share their hardluck stories.
I'm a little frustrated here. Seems to me I should be able to get a married name joke out of Yingluck Shinawatra and Goodluck Jonathan. You know the kind of thing: If Oprah Winfrey married Depak Chopra, she'd be Oprah Chopra. There's one there somewhere but I'm just not finding it … krap.
Item: Forty-nine-year-old Lonnie Hutton was arrested at The Boro Bar and Grill in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on the evening of May 19th. According to the police report, Hutton walked to the bar's ATM machine, "pulled down his pants and underwear exposing his genitals, and attempted to have sexual intercourse with the ATM."
After the police officer escorted Mr Hutton from the bar he was told to sit at a wooden picnic table outside. Mr Hutton at first complied but then, further quote from the police report, "again exposed himself and engaged in sexual intercourse with the wooden picnic table."
The comment thread to this story contains, in among numerous tasteless jokes employing the words "deposit" and "withdrawal," some criticism of the police for their bigoted attitude towards Mr Hutton's plainly very heartfult affections toward large inanimate objects. Plainly there's another lobby for reform of the marriage laws being born here.
Mr Hutton is scheduled for a July 1st court appearance. I just hope that courthouse has a good robust dock for him to stand in.
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Not just another week gone by; not just another year, even; but a whole decade. Yes, Radio Derb will be ten years old next Tuesday, May 27th. We'll be having a low-keyed celebration here on the island, and I shall try to dredge up some golden oldies from past broadcasts.
Meanwhile I urge you all to go about your day's work with a cheerful smile, cherish your families and friends, and above all: Keep your peckers up!
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]