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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your anecdotally genial host John Derbyshire with some random commentary on the week's news.
For reasons that will become apparent at the end of the podcast, I must hasten forward without any idle banter. First segment!
02 — Lather, rinse, repeat. In the world of conspiracy theories, there's an extreme conspiracy theory you occasionally encounter that says all the news is just made up. Not just misrepresented, as some say the JFK assassination was; and not just certain particular news items, like the Moon landings. No, these people say the whole lot is just made up by storytellers in the media, with supporting video footage acted out on spare movie lots.
I'm getting to the point where I'm about ready to believe this. The news is starting to have a repetitive, predictable, scripted quality, like a low-grade sitcom.
This last few months, for example, we've been having the Gentle Giant narrative played over and over to us. Cops arrest, or try to arrest some black guy. The black guy puts up some kind of resistance and ends up dead. Precise details are at first murky, but underclass blacks and white anarchists don't wait for the investigation result. They're out there breaking, burning, stealing, and propagandizing, urged on by their auxiliaries in the media.
The deceased is idolized and infantilized. If his given name has a diminutive form, it becomes compulsory to use it; so "Michael" becomes "Mike." He's basically a good person pulled off the straight and narrow by some cruel twist of circumstance, usually related somehow to the malice of whites, who are always trying to put the black man down. He was getting his life back together, yearning to be a good father to his illegitimate children and a good partner to one or several of his baby mommas. The cops killed him because they hate blacks.
As more details come out and all the anfractuosities of evidence and testimony get unwound, we move into the phase of Narrative Collapse. The deceased turns out to have been a career petty criminal, with no concern for people or property. The cops did their honest best in a fraught situation, with at worst a wrong split-second judgment call. The demonstrators expressed their righteous anger by looting electronics stores and liquor stores. Narrative collapse! [Earthquake sounds.]
The media lefties, dodging the falling masonry, make their escape back to their cozy doorman buildings and gated suburbs. Everything goes quiet for a few weeks. Then … lather, rinse, repeat.
This pattern isn't new. It didn't start with Trayvon Martin three years ago. In a more generalized form it goes back decades, to Tawana Brawley and beyond. The pathology seems to have entered a new phase of virulence since the Trayvon Martin case, though. Now it seems that every month there is a Gentle Giant cut down by leering racist cops, demonstrators screaming, media blowhards scolding society for its faults, and a city block burning.
If the conspiracy theorists are right and it's all faked by the media, when will audience fatigue set in? Hasn't this show gotten a little stale, the incidents kind of repetitive, the jokes not funny any more? Don't we all know what's coming next? Can't we petition the media execs to get this show canceled?
Well, until we can, here's the latest episode: Season 4, Episode 2, Baltimore.
(Episode 1 this season, in case you haven't been keeping up, was Charleston, South Carolina. Concerning that case, I urge you with utmost urgency to read the questions put by crime reporter Nicholas Stix in his brilliant April 30th article on VDARE.com, headline: Why Don't They Just Crucify Officer Michael Slager And Have Done With It?. Someone should be asking those questions in Congress, but of course nobody will.)
OK, Season 4, Episode 2, of the series Postracial America. What did the Narrative scriptwriters cook up for us this time?
03 — Declaration of fed-upness. Outline story: a black guy was chased and apprehended by police on bicycles, morning of April 12th. The arrest was eventually made. Some of it was caught on a cellphone video. The perp was being dragged into the paddy wagon, apparently in pain. The other details we've heard about the arrest come from black witnesses. As the Ferguson case showed, they should be taken with a bucketful of salt.
The perp died a week later from spinal injuries. That's the extent of our knowledge right now.
His name was Freddie Gray. As I've already mentioned, an essential thing in these cases is to infantilize the deceased in order to pump up sympathy. Was Mr Gray's baptismal name Freddie; or was it Frederick, with Freddie as the infantilizing diminutive? I don't know. To be on the safe side — ain't nobody gonna out-Narrative the Derb! — I'm going to double down on the diminutives and refer to him as Freddie-poo.
Freddie-poo was 25 years old and had a long rap sheet. He'd been in trouble with the law since he was 17. The most recent entries, going back to the beginning of this year, are: drug possession, malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault, fourth-degree burglary, trespassing, drug possession, and drug possession with intent to distribute.
So he was a career petty criminal. None of the offenses on that sheet carry the death penalty in the state of Maryland, as the apologists for people like Freddie-poo are fond of pointing out. Neither does weekend rock-climbing; but if that's your hobby, don't expect life insurance companies to come begging for your business. If you live a certain way, a dangerous way, a way that involves frequent stops by cops, with a strong incentive on your part to resist arrest, you're not a good candidate for the 50 years' service award. Forcible arrest is a heated and approximate business, and stuff happens.
White liberal commentators are clinging to the Narrative, insisting that blacks have no agency, no will. It's all the fault of whites, of a white-dominated system. This,
Yet somehow whites are making it all happen.
Honestly, I'm fed up with it. Nonblacks get shot by police too — lots of us. Around seventy percent of all people killed by police are not black. The vast majority are white; yet we're not burning convenience stores and old-folks homes.
And that proportion's been rising: Forty years ago, half of all those killed by police were black. Now it's only thirty percent. Sure, that's two and a half times their proportion of the population; but then, as every statistical source we have shows plainly, they commit crimes at multiples of the nonblack rate — for homicide, the multiple is seven or eight.
Yes, I'm fed up with it. If life in the U.S.A. is so awful for blacks, why don't they go live somewhere else? I changed countries, several times in fact. It's not difficult, nor even very expensive. Blacks have a whole continent of their own, with a lovely warm climate. Or if they want to stay closer to home, there's Haiti, which massacred all its white people 200 years ago and has been independent ever since.
American blacks actually used to do this. Maya Angelou lived in Ghana for a while in the sixties. There was a fashion for it. Problem is, societies built by white people are a lot more pleasant to live in than those built by blacks. With some honorable exceptions like Stokely Carmichael, they came scurrying back to where they could milk the great fat cow of white guilt for a living.
Ah well, I guess we're stuck with it. The wisest course — for purposes of preserving one's sanity, I mean — is to regard the Narrative as just a form of Show Business, and enjoy the spectacle as each episode moves into Narrative Collapse. [More earthquake sounds.]
04 — Eternal recurrence. The philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche — who, if he'd been a black street criminal shot by cops, we'd be calling Freddie Billy Nietzsche — Nietzsche had a theory he called ewige Wiederkunft, or Eternal Recurrence.
No, I'm not going to pretend I understand it: I have no head for philosophy. Obviously it's something to do with the same thing happening over and over … which is getting to be a kind of running theme in this podcast — a leitmotiv, I may as well say while I'm showing off my German.
It's not just a question of lather-rinse-repeat from month to month. These short-wavelength oscillations are riding on much longer, historical cycles.
Did you see the cover of Time magazine this week? It's a black'n'white photograph of cops chasing a rioter, with the superimposed legend America, 1968 … except that "1968" is crossed out and "2015" handwritten above it. What has changed. What hasn't, says the subheading.
That about sums it up. I came of age in the mid-1960s, when the newspapers were full of race riots in the U.S.A. — Detroit, Newark, Washington, D.C., … And now, fifty years later, here we still are. Eternal recurrence.
The politicians are of course hopeless. Barack Obama says we should spend more money. What, the trillions upon trillions we've shoveled at social problems weren't enough? Hillary Clinton wants us to search our souls. We haven't been searching our souls diligently enough this fifty years past?
Does anybody have any original suggestions?
It's a bit worrying. It seems plain to me that the emptiness of our public discourse on race masks widening, deepening despair. What haven't we tried? What excuses haven't been made? What complaints haven't been addressed? Fifty years of turning society upside down, and we're pretty much where we started. Don't we know it? Of course we know it. Even the fool politicians know it at some level.
I've heard about the stages of grief. What are the stages of despair? How do people in the mass react when they finally have to face reality? I don't know; but given the track record of the human race, I see no reason to expect it'll be pleasant.
05 — Erratum: Trotsky v. Marilyn. Now for a couple of errata. No, that's not the same as erotica: stop that giggling, there in the back row.
First erratum. In my April 18th podcast I said the following thing about the emerging tensions between Hillary Clinton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, quote:
If Bill de Blasio were to end up in Mexico City with an ice pick in his head, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Listeners who know their 20th-century history will recognize that as an allusion to the murder of Leon Trotsky by his ideological rival Joe Stalin in August 1940.
However, my vigilant listener calls erratum, quote:
Mr Derbyshire: I think you've got it wrong. Trotsky was killed with what we climbers in the U.S.A. call an ice ax. An ice pick is a very different device that is essentially a sturdy awl, and probably a less efficient murder weapon … Although I have no clue what they call an ice ax in the U.K.
Well, Sir, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, they call it an ice ax over there, too. An ice ax, says the OED, is what mountaineers use for hacking steps in an ice slope. They have no listing for "ice pick," but it's as good a name as any for the object that Marilyn Monroe grasps and manipulates with such uncanny dexterity during the train scene in Some Like It Hot.
An ice pick used to assassinate Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky may have surfaced in Mexico, still bloodstained 65 years after his murder.
Note the BBC story says "ice pick" throughout; so there may be some transatlantic difference in usage here.
The story is that the granddaughter of one of the cops who investigated Trotsky's murder was saying, back there in 2005, that she had the weapon. There's a picture of it. To me, it looks like a small … pick-ax.
That BBC story is, as I said, ten years old. It reads as though the cop's granddaughter was hoping to sell the murder weapon. I have no idea whether she did so or not. I imagine lots of collectors would be interested: it would make a nice conversation piece for one's living-room coffee-table.
If Mrs Clinton wants to know the present whereabouts of the object, I suggest she has her people get in touch with the vendor. The lady's name is Ana Alicia Salas, and her last known address is Mexico City.
As a person who likes the idea of having different words for clearly different things, I'm going to yield to my listener here and confess an erratum. In future I shall say "ice ax" for what ended Trotsky's career and "ice pick" for what Marilyn Monroe thrust up and down so vigorously in that silly movie. Thank you, Sir.
06 — Erratum: Anecdote v. data. This second erratum isn't really an erratum; it's more of a complaint, voiced by three listeners, that I think I should respond to.
The complaint concerns last week's Radio Derb. I'll quote a couple of the listeners directly to let them make their point. Listener A, quote:
Mr Derbyshire: I just read last week's Radio Derb … and I am struck by an apparent contradiction. You mention how numbers are important in thinking about policy, and how unnatural it is to employ them. I certainly agree, but how does this square with all the stories that you repeat from the New York Post about corrupt black politicians?
Listener B, quote:
Strange Radio Derb this week! The first half builds a powerful case solely on anecdotal evidence, then the second argues the powerful point that that sort of thinking defies reality and can only lead to disaster.
Well, what do I say to this? What glib, slippery excuses am I going to offer?
First off, I think I am somewhat guilty. Only somewhat, though, so I'm going to try for a plea bargain. I'll get to the confession of guilt in a moment. First, the glib excuses.
Permit me to quote myself at some length, slightly edited, from 2012, quote:
At any given time there is some catch-phrase from the rigorous social sciences that has escaped into common circulation. A couple of years ago it was "correlation does not imply causation." Today's favorite is: "'data' is not the plural of 'anecdote'" …
Main point there: In my view, "data" is the plural of "anecdote"; but to get anything meaningful out of your data, the selection of anecdotes needs to be unbiased. So a pertinent question here is: Was my selection of anecdotes unbiased?
That's a good question, and I'll get to it. First, though, I'm going to tackle the charge that there is some contradiction between those two segments in the podcast: the one reading off white-collar misdeeds by blacks and the one where I say that thinking that's, quote, "personal, social, anecdotal, emotional" is not really thinking at all.
I confess I wish I had said it's not really reasoning. It obviously is a kind of thinking, a kind all of us do some of the time and some of us do all the time. The target I was aiming for, and perhaps missed, is that latter group: people who always think anecdotally, personally, emotionally — people who can't deal with the numbers and extract truth from them.
There's nothing wrong with anecdote. Not only is there nothing wrong with it, but a podcast like this depends on it. I build my commentary about news stories; and what's a news story but an anecdote? It'd be a dull podcast if all I did was read off numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics website.
So let's hear it for anecdote. What's wrong is to never look behind the anecdotes to do some numerical analysis. Of that wrongness, I confidently plead innocent; and a lot of opinion journalists much better paid than I am, writing for bigfoot outlets like the New York Times or Atlantic Monthly cannot so plead.
Now: was my selection of anecdotes biased? Within the usual parameters of polemic, and with a qualification I'll get to in a minute, I don't think so. I read the New York Post every day; I've long been noticing the black-over-white imbalance in stories about white-collar crime and questionable public officials, and I wanted to comment on it.
Is the Post biased? If it were, they'd be suppressing stories about nonblacks doing these things, which I don't see. Dean Skelos, for example, a white guy of Greek ancestry, currently the Republican leader of the New York State Senate, is being investigated on corruption charges. The Post ran at least seven stories on this in the month of April. The paper's editorial line is Republican neocon, but it doesn't affect their crime news coverage much, as far as I can tell.
Did I exercise bias in picking that particular day's Post to report on? I suppose you could say so: but I report news, and that a respectable newspaper has many stories about black miscreants and none at all about nonblack ones on a given day, is newsy, so I'm not going to apologize for that. Interesting things catch my eye, I report on them.
The latest two issues of the Post I have are for April 30th and May 1st. April 30th has no stories about white-collar crime at all. May 1st has two: A guy with a South Asian name, Ramgopal, suspected of fraud for putting a property in his wife's name so he wouldn't have to forfeit it, and a black football player, Plaxico Burress, up on tax-evasion charges in New Jersey.
Here's where I will confess fault. I should have buttressed all that anecdote with some analytical data on white-collar crime by blacks. My quick go-to here is The Color of Crime, the 2005 report out of American Renaissance.
Figure 12 in that report shows the multiple of the white incarceration rate in 2001 for four categories of white-collar crime: fraud, bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement. The black rate is four time the white rate for fraud, five point something times for bribery, three point something for racketeering, and a tad less than three times for embezzlement.
American Renaissance is of course a nest of vicious racists determined to keep the black man down, so let's do a spot check on their figures using a government source. This is Table 9, "Estimated number of sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction, by offense, sex, race, and Hispanic origin, December 31, 2010" from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Prisoners in 2011.
For fraud, the table shows 15,900 white prisoners, 8,400 black. That's a black-white ratio of 0.53. Hispanics are broken out separately, so let's take whites to be six times more numerous than blacks in the general population. Then per capita, the black multiple of the white rate for state prisoners is 3.2 to one for 2010. American Renaissance said four to one for 2001. Given that the numbers for federal criminals are likely even more skewed, because of the higher proportions of blacks in federal employment, I'd say the American Renaissance guys probably did their math right.
That's the kind of analysis I should have included in support of my entirely legitimate and allowable display of anecdotal evidence. That's as far as I'll go in confessing error. If you want more, you'll have to wrassle me for it.
07 — Lessons in multiculturalism. Speaking of American Renaissance, here's a story Jared Taylor, proprietor of that enterprise, told me some years ago. I hope Jared won't mind my retailing it.
Jared grew up in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese. He makes a living by contracting himself our to law firms as a court interpreter in cases involving Japanese clients. A typical case would be where a Japanese firm is suing a U.S. firm, or vice versa, for patent violation.
In the story, Jared was accompanying some Japanese plaintiffs to a court hearing in Trenton, New Jersey. Trenton is half black, one-third Hispanic, one-sixth white and Asian.
So Jared and these off-the-boat Japanese clients are stuck waiting in some back room at the courthouse, whose windows look out over a grungy black neighborhood: half-derelict houses, idle men loitering in the streets, obese women pushing baby carriages.
The Japs are standing there looking out on this sorry scene. Being Japanese, they are much too polite to say anything, but Jared claims you could tell what they were thinking: "This is America, the great superpower, the example we're all supposed to follow? This is one of her state capitals? Good grief!"
That little anecdote came to mind on Wednesday this week when I saw President Obama giving a press conference in the White House Rose Garden with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his side. Obama of course had to take questions about Baltimore. Abe stood there inscrutable while he did so.
A penny for your thoughts, Prime Minister. Probably something along the lines of: "Sheesh, things can get tough in Japan; but I'd way rather have our problems than yours."
I guess we'll have to wait for the memoirs.
08 — Signoff. I am embarrassed to confess, ladies and gents, that I was much too late getting to the studio today and am pressing up against the Radio Derb posting deadline. I must therefore make a hasty exit, after of course thanking you for listening and wishing you all a healthy, successful, and prosperous month of May. My apologies: This doesn't happen often: I hope I do not leave you unsatisfied.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]