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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Good day, ladies and gentlemen, from your ambitiously genial host John Derbyshire.
In this week's podcast I shall attempt some bloviational acrobatics, yoking together the problems of distant regions, formulating bold hypotheses, and peering into the misty veils of the future.
Let's see how it goes.
02 — Helsinki's Angels. I was just reading this MailOnline article about Finland. Headline — and it's a long headline; here you go: Nazi daggers, SS hats and a hangman's noose: On night patrol with the "Soldiers of Odin," neo-Nazi led vigilantes vowing to "keep Europe's women safe from migrant sex attacks". That's the headline. They don't stint on headlines over there at the Mail.
The story concerns that group mentioned in the headline, the Soldiers of Odin. It's a vigilante group that's come up in response to Finland taking in 32,000 illegal immigrants last year, most from Iraq.
I'll just pause to note how many that is: 32,000 in a country whose entire population is less than 5½ million. That would be like the U.S.A. taking in two million in one year.
And that understates the case. Finland has been far more homogeneous, racially and culturally, than the U.S.A. ever was. In the country profile at the CIA World Factbook, on figures dated from 2006, the ethnic breakdown in Finland was: Finns 93.4 percent, Swedes 5.6 percent, all others one percent — mostly Russians. Imagine that: your only significant minority group is Swedes!
The Finnish politicians, like their clueless counterparts elsewhere in Europe, hung out the welcome sign to illegal immigrants. In fact in September last year the Prime Minister of Finland did so well-nigh literally, offering to open his own country house to the illegals.
Reality seems to have taken a grip, though. Last Sunday the Prime Minister withdrew that offer, quote, "because of security concerns." Wednesday this week the President of Finland — that's a different guy, and in fact from a different political party — told the country's parliament that too many illegals were claiming asylum and most were just economic migrants. Now the Finnish government is talking about deporting two-thirds of the 32,000.
Anyway, back to that original story about vigilantes. Not surprisingly — unless you're as stupid as a European politician — this flood of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern Muslims, mostly obstreperous young men, into Finland's exceptionally homogeneous society, has generated a reaction. These Soldiers of Odin are part of that reaction.
A hardened cynic like your correspondent here naturally rolls his eyes at words like "neo-Nazi," mention of the SS, and so on. The threshold for being called a neo-Nazi is just too low nowadays. The Southern Poverty Law Center will call you a neo-Nazi if you disapprove of affirmative action. I must say, though — and even taking the MailOnline story with a pinch of salt: it's a tabloid newspaper, after all — the Soldiers of Odin look like an unsavory bunch. Boocoo tattoos, criminal records, and yes, Nazi memorabilia.
What really caught my eye in the story, however, was this line, quote: "Fewer than 8,000 police officers are employed in the country, making it one of the smallest forces per capita in Europe," end quote.
That took me off on a tangent, wondering how policed different countries are.
With 8,000 cops for 5½ million people, Finland has 143 officers per hundred thousand, against a world median of around 300. So yes, Finland's is a low number. The U.S.A. has 256, eighty percent more than Finland, though still below the median. Russia has 546, nearly four times as many as Finland.
Those are numbers I got from Google queries; goodness knows whether the counting methodologies match up. Scanning comparison tables, in fact, you don't see much correlation between how policed a country is and one's general impression of its lawlessness. Places like El Salvador and Colombia have sensational homicide rates, but policing densities not much above the world median. The lowest number I see there is for Mali, 48 per hundred thousand. I wouldn't say that Mali is my notion of an exceptionally law-abiding country; but what do I know? I've never been to Mali.
I guess there are several variables in play there. The meanness of cops, for example. Really mean, corrupt cops, in a country that allows them to be mean and corrupt, has to have more deterrent value than a friendly, unarmed bobby on a bicycle. And then there's how urbanized a country is; and how much crime citizens are used to, or willing to put up with; and whether citizens are armed … Many variables.
But all right, Third World aside, by European standards — First World standards — Finns don't need much policing, or didn't, before they laid out the welcome mat. Now they've got thirty thousand leering, groping Muslims and skinheads with whole-body tattoos and rottweilers out on patrol.
Way to mess up a quiet, sleepy, homogeneous little Scandinavian country, guys.
03 — Corruption? Who cares? Here's a different story, but I'm going to try and make a connection. Be patient, please.
OK, different story. If you drive along Interstate 90 into Albany, the capital of New York State, you will see a big bright-yellow billboard saying: REPORT CORRUPTION: New York Public Corruption Task Force, with a phone number and a website URL. The actual website URL is: tips.fbi.gov.
There's a lot of corruption in New York State. No, let me rephrase that: New York State government is so crooked, no self-respecting corkscrew would shake hands with it.
Just last year, both the majority leader of the state Senate, a Republican, and the Speaker of the state Assembly, a Democrat, were convicted on federal corruption and extortion charges — within two weeks of each other, in fact, although the particular charges were unrelated.
These convictions surprised no-one. The Assembly Speaker in particular had been quite blatant about enriching himself via favors to property developers and the trial lawyers. I've been grumbling about it over the breakfast table for years.
Notice the word "federal" there. Then notice that the website URL on that REPORT CORRUPTION billboard belongs to the FBI.
Why is it the feds prosecuting the crooks in our state government? Why is it the feds asking us to report corruption? New York's pretty big: 20 million people, nearly four times as many as Finland. The state can't deal with its own crooked pols?
Well, no. Sure, there's a state Ethics Commission; but the people who run it are appointed by politicians — people like, you know, the majority leader of the state Senate and the Speaker of the state Assembly. And the Governor, of course, who for five years has watched the shenanegins from up close without doing a darn thing about any of it.
Veteran New York reporter Bob McManus, writing in the New York Post on Tuesday, explained it all. Money quote:
Monday, the upstate Siena College Research Institute reported that nearly 90 percent of New Yorkers believe the state is fundamentally corrupt — but only 18 percent think doing something about it should be a top priority in the … 2016 legislative session.
End quote. Bob goes on to mention some of the goodies being promised to voters this session: a minimum wage hike, more paid family leave, more earned-income tax credits, and so on. Can the state afford these goodies? Of course not, but that's some future politician's problem.
OK, now let me try to work up a connection between Finland's problems and New York's. Next segment.
04 — Waiting for the barbarians. So, what's the connection? In a phrase: the sinking-down to Third World standards. In a word: decline.
Finland then: A quiet, homogeneous nation of industrious, well-behaved people that didn't need much policing.
Finland now, or soon: Another doomed experiment in multiculturalism, with unassimilable Muslims demanding privileges, angry disaffected underclass natives breaking windows, and decent people staying away from public spaces.
New York State then: a busy, industrious place full of farms and factories, entrepreneurs getting rich building better mousetraps, or financing the mousetrap sector.
New York now: a sluggish, overtaxed dump with a net outflow of people, run by crooks who buy votes with goodies bought on borrowed money.
First let me pre-empt some quibbles. Come on, Derb, some listeners are muttering. New York State? Corruption isn't exactly a new thing. What about Boss Tweed?
I never said corruption was a new thing. The new thing is the one Bob McManus put his finger on: Nobody gives a damn. About Boss Tweed, New Yorkers did give a damn. They got rid of him by themselves, with very little federal help.
All right, says my listener, but the feds today are cleaning up New York. So there's recourse there; the federal government's still clean.
Is it? Sure, the favor-trading is less blatant in DC, but nobody leaves office poor any more, as they used to. From We Are Doomed, Chapter 12, quote:
When Harry Truman left office in 1953, he had no income but his army pension of $112.56 a month. He had to take out a bank loan while negotiating a deal to write his memoirs. That was the way of things all over the Anglosphere. It was part of the tradition of modest Anglo-Saxon government. When Bob Menzies, Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, left office in 1966 after 18 years in power, having given up a lucrative legal career for politics, he could not afford to buy a house in Melbourne. (Some wealthy supporters eventually put up funds for a house in a respectable suburb.) As late as 1980, I am told, the Prime Minister of New Zealand had his domestic telephone number listed in the phone book. Farmers used to call him up and grumble about the price of sheep dip.
End quote. It sure does.
Thinking about these things, it's hard not to fall back on speculations about mass psychology. You have a pleasant, orderly nation or state, supported by responsible people who work hard, managed and legislated for by public-spirited citizens who mostly don't take advantage of their positions and often leave office broke. Your state is pretty homogeneous ethnically and culturally, so there aren't too many internal strains, citizen against citizen.
But after a generation or two you forget how remarkable that is. You take it for granted, and decide to try some big social experiments — mass immigration of millions of aliens, perhaps. So the U.S.A. got the 1965 Immigration Act, and Europe got the current flash mob from Africa and the Middle East.
Then your speculations wander off into darker regions of the collective psyche. Perhaps social stability, clean government, and a long peace just make us bored. Anything for a change!
The end point of that line of thought is a poem, well-known to all cultural pessimists, written 120 years ago by the Greek-Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy. The poem is titled "Waiting for the Barbarians." It describes a city, presumably Alexandria, expecting to be sacked by advancing barbarians. Quote:
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
End quote. The poem goes on like that for a while. By nightfall, though, the barbarians still haven't arrived. The reaction of the citizens is … disappointment! Quote:
… some who have just returned from the border say
Cavafy of course leaves you wondering: If barbarians are the solution, what was the problem?
05 — Another civilizational clash? Since I got the Greeks and the Finns together in one segment there — not easy to do, let's hear it for bloviational virtuosity [applause] — here's an even wilder civilizational speculation.
First, the news from Greece. Numbers of illegals arriving across the Aegean from Turkey are way up. This year so far, to February 4th, the number is nearly 69,000. For the whole of January and February last year the number was less than 4,000.
Sixty-nine thousand in five weeks; Put it arithmetically, if the inflow continues at that rate, it will double Greece's present population in fifteen years.
Greek policy is of course to wave the illegals through to the wealthier nations of northern Europe, which is also what the illegals want. The European Union, the EU — which I think is pronounced in Greek as "eeuiw!" — is not cool with this. They are now threatening Greece that if the Greeks don't get a grip on the numbers, there'll be more sealing of Europe's internal borders, and the Greeks will be stuck with, at the current rate, a million illegal immigrants every sixteen months.
Meanwhile of course Greece is still roiled by economic woes. There's a general strike going on right now, and protests and riots, against the latest bailout package. The illegals pouring into Germany and Sweden are at least entering fairly well-ordered and prosperous nations; the ones coming in to Greece are entering a corrupt, penniless political slum.
To Germany and Sweden there you could of course add Finland. I got curious about how the illegals make it to Finland. Other than a few hundred miles up in the far Arctic north where Finland meets Norway and Sweden, Finland's only land border is with Russia.
Some small but fast-growing proportion of Finland's illegals actually come across that border. As with our own illegals, people-smuggling is big business, a major operation by international crime syndicates. Post-Soviet Russia hasn't amounted to much economically, other than by sucking stuff out of the ground and selling it, but in international crime, Russia's a major playah.
I'm looking at a report here from Reuters, February 1st, quote:
According to the Finnish border guard, about 500 asylum seekers have come from Russia to Finland this year, compared with about 700 in the whole of 2015.
End quote. Pro rata that's an increase of nearly eight hundred percent. There have been some naughty suggestions that this is Russia's way of getting back at Europe for the sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. The EU prolonged those sanctions at the end of last year. With those sanctions and the collapse in oil prices, Russia's almost as much an economic basket case as Greece.
Well, possibly. Seems to me, though, that if Putin and his pals wanted to retaliate aganist the EU, the retaliation would have more smoke and broken glass to it.
Remember Samuel Huntington's book from back in the nineties, The Clash of Civilizations? Huntington divided the world up into a handful of big cultural zones: a Western zone, an Islamic zone, a Hindu zone, and so on. He predicted that in the post-Cold War era, which of course had then just begun, conflict would mainly happen at or near the borders between zones.
So perhaps at a civilizational level, Finland's issues with illegals from Russia, and northern Europe's ditto with illegals from Greece, are both part of the clash of civilizations Professor Huntington foretold: in this case, a clash between the corrupt and dysfunctional Orthodox zone — Russia, Greece, Bulgaria, the Balkans — and the tidier, more law-abiding Western zone.
Hey, let's collapse two problems into one: Encourage the Muslims to take over the Orthodox zone!
Never let it be said that Radio Derb is short on constructive solutions.
06 — Race, the movie. For black Americans, and the fast-dwindling numbers of nonblack Americans who still enjoy wallowing in racial guilt, there's a new movie out titled just Race. General release is scheduled for February 19th. Yeah, I know, you can't wait to rush out and buy tickets. right? I know my audience.
From the blurb for the movie at IMDb, quote:
Jesse Owens' quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler's vision of Aryan supremacy.
End quote. I must say, I'm surprised it's taken Hollywood this long to do a Jesse Owens movie. There was a TV biopic of Owens 30 years ago — it won an Emmy — but I don't know of any full-dress movies. Oh, I see there's another one in development, for release in 2019. Sell Nelson Mandela, buy Jesse Owens!
As I said, I'm surprised it's taken the movie world this long. A black hero and a disgruntled Adolf Hitler: You can't get much more Narrative-compliant than that! For a hit movie you need a good guy to cheer for and a bad guy to hiss. Goodness-wise, nothing can trump a well-behaved black guy; badness-wise, nobody in the history of the world was badder than Hitler. So again: What took them so long?
Hearing about this movie, I was sufficiently stirred to hike down to the library and borrow William Baker's 1986 biography of Owens. Owens does indeed seem to have been a very decent and likeable guy, and of course a great athlete, although deeply unreliable on points of fact — not maliciously, I think, but just tending to make up colorful stories and then contradict himself. Hey, there are worse faults to have.
I had heard that the story about Hitler snubbing Owens was an invention of the American press, and Baker confirms that. Hitler may have snubbed high jumper Cornelius Johnson, or he may just have wanted to get out of the rain, it's not clear, but he did not snub Jesse Owens.
Owens himself denied the snub story, at least to begin with. Quote from Baker, quote:
Jesse denied it to interviewers at Berlin and to reporters on his return home. He would soon find, however, that the constant denial was too much of a bother and that to claim the "snub" for his own would work to his advantage. "And then," as [movie director] Bud Greenspan says it simply, "Jesse kept on using the story."
End quote. Hitler of course thought blacks were an inferior race, but then so did a lot of white people at that time, probably a majority. He told Baldur von Schirach that the U.S.A. disgraced itself by allowing blacks to represent them in an international competition; but again, probably a lot of Americans agreed.
Hitler was a wicked man who did some dreadful things: invading France, co-invading Poland (along with Stalin, let it not be forgotten), massacring Jews, … we all know the charge sheet. In looking down on blacks, though, he was just a man of his time, not very remarkable. I have, or had, English relatives who hated Hitler, who suffered and fought to defeat Hitler, but whose opinion of blacks was the same as Hitler's.
The Narrative must be upheld, though. If you want an evil hate figure, there's old Adolf, waiting to be brought down from the shelf once again.
Couldn't Hollywood at least ring the changes a little? How about some more movies with Stalin as the villain? Or one — I can't recall ever seeing one — with Mao Tse-tung as the embodiment of evil? Both men killed far more people than Hitler.
A footnote here, from that Jesse Owens biography. I didn't know until I read it that Owens was a pack-a-day cigarette smoker, and died at last from lung cancer, aged 66. We forget how near-universal cigarette smoking was, even among athletes.
Owens' biographer has a nice quote from swimmer Eleanor Holm Jarrett, who held world records for the backstroke at all distances, and who traveled over to Europe for the 1936 Olympics with Owens and the rest of the American team. Mrs Jarrett trained, she said, quote, "on champagne and cigarettes." Ah, those were the days.
07 — Edging our way back to Segregation Lite. I'm going to bundle up three stories here, and hypothesize that perhaps they represent a trend.
First story. Last week I mentioned the excellent website campusreform.org, which does great work exposing the absurdities of political correctness in our colleges. Here's another one from them, dated January 30th. Headline: Segregated dorms for males "who identify as Black" coming to UConn.
UConn is the University of Connecticut, out in the sticks 20 miles east of Hartford. And yes, they are building a new residence hall just for blacks, in fact just for black men, in fact just for 43 black men. Why? Explanation from Dr Erik Hines, faculty director for the project, who is himself black. Quote:
African American males graduate at a lower rate than their peers … It is a space for African American men to, one, come together and validate their experiences that they may have on campus. Number two, it's also a space where they can have conversation and also talk with individuals who come from the same background who share the same experience.
End quote. Boy, I'm confused. Isn't the whole rationale for Diversity and affirmative action that it's enriching to be around people from different backgrounds with different experiences? Doesn't Dr Hines want these 43 black guys to get their enrichment experience?
It's true that the graduation rate for black men at UConn is only 54 percent, against a campus average of 82 percent. The parsimonious explanation for that is that when colleges admit any black person with a pulse just to fulfill their affirmative action quotas, they end up with a lot of people who can't handle college-level work.
Probably athletic scholarships have something to do with it, too. That's been the case since at least 1933, when Jesse Owens came up short on his high school transcript but was admitted to Ohio State anyway on the strength of, quote from William Baker's biography, "special tests."
Second story. A couple of weeks ago I suggested, jocularly of course, that the fuss about there not being enough blacks in the nominations for this year's Oscars could be settled by just having a separate Black Oscars.
Well, I was behind the curve on this one. Los Angeles Times, February 3rd, headline: There's talk about bringing back the Black Oscars.
The reporter here is a black person named Tre'vell Anderson. That's Tre-apostrophe-vell, but I don't know how to pronounce the apostrophe. Is it a glottal stop, like in Arabic? Tre-'-vell? I don't know.
Anyway, Mr or Ms Anderson — from the photograph it could be either — let's say Mx Anderson, tells us that from 1981 to 2007 there was an annual ceremony named the Tree of Life Awards, held at a swank hotel in Los Angeles right before the Academy Awards. It honored black people who had achieved something notable in the movie industry, and was informally known as the Black Oscars. Quote: "Winners received black and bronze carved statuettes."
Following this year's fuss, there's now talk of reviving these Black Oscars. So either the ones talking are fans of Radio Derb, or I am gifted with clairvoyance, or for once I managed to grab a corner of the zeitgeist's cloak as he, she, or it flew past me the other day.
Third story. This Monday, February 8th, is New Year's Day on the traditional Chinese calendar. It's the first day of the Year of the Monkey.
So last Monday, February 1st, the marketing people for the basketball team Sacramento Kings decided to distribute T-shirts with a monkey logo as a freebie for fans attending that night's home game. February 1st was, please note, the first day of Black History Month.
[Klaxon sound.] Basketball … black people … Black History Month … monkeys … One of the players, DeMarcus Cousins, objected to the T-shirts as racist. He raised the alarm, and before you could say "microaggression" the shirts had all disappeared.
Quote from Chris Granger, the team's business President, who is of course a white guy, quote: "We all need a lesson in sensitivity," end quote. Of course we do: and then another, and another, and another. The lessons in sensitivity must never end! Beatings will continue until morale improves!
OK, those are my three stories; here's my hypothesis.
My hypothesis is, that American society is edging its way back, slowly and hesitantly, towards segregation. Not legally enforced segregation, but a sort of segregation lite, where we all get our own "spaces," like those 43 students at the University of Connecticut.
This has already happened a lot, but always with the understanding that everyone but whites can have their own spaces and full access to everyone else's. You can live in a black residential dorm or in a dorm that's majority white. You can go to the Black Oscars and to the regular Oscars.
Whites haven't had the corresponding … what's the word I want here? … the corresponding … privilege, that's it. We can go to the regular Oscars, but there's no White Oscars just for us. We can live in a white-majority residential dorm, but we can't have an all-white dorm just for us.
Eventually, surely, white people are going to look at that black dorm and say: "OK, we're fine with it, and absolutely no offense to anyone; but can we now please have a white dorm? If not, why not?"
As time goes on the sort of convoluted sociobabble answers you get to questions like that will sound less and less convincing, and sooner or later the white guilt will all run out. A generation from now there'll be white dorms, White Oscars, and possibly white basketball teams.
When that new arrangement has arrived, we shall need a name for it. I suggest: "Freedom of Association.".
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just a couple of queries here about those Finnish vigilantes, the Sons of Odin.
First query: Odin was a Norse god, a god of the Germanic people. The Finns aren't Germanic. Their language is not even Indo-European. The hero god of the Finns is actually a chap named Vainamoinen, conceived in Ilmatar, Goddess of the Air, by the East Wind.
I think what we have here is a case of cultural appropriation.
Second question: It's commendably thorough of them to have had those T-shirts made up with the words DEFEND FINLAND printed on the front; and those windbreaker jackets with the words SOLDIERS OF ODIN printed on the back, and the caps printed with S.O.O. for "Soldiers of Odin," but … why are all those things printed in English?
If Google Translate can be depended on, "Defend Finland" translates into Finnish as Puolustaa Suomi. "Soldiers of Odin" would be Sotilaat Odin; although as I just pointed out, Sotilaat Vainamoinen would be more ethnically authentic.
So for a group claiming to defend their people and culture, I must say, I think the Sons of Odin are putting on a pretty poor show.
If they want to get some properly authentic T-shirts and jackets printed up, I know a firm in Sacramento that could use the business.
Item: I'm way too late to say anything that hasn't already been said about the Iowa primary. I'm just going to express dismay, as my colleagues have done, that Marco Rubio did so well.
I'm not totally a single-issue voter, but I could never vote for Rubio, just because of the help and support he gave to Chuck Schumer and John McCain on the 2008 amnesty bill. Rubio is the donorist candidate, and he's very happy to be it. When he moves around you can, as the saying goes, see the strings.
Next up, the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday. I'm rooting for The Donald, of course, and the indications are he'll do well.
I'm also rooting for Bernie Sanders, just on the principle that any enemy of Mrs Clinton is a friend of the Republic, but also because my wife is close friends with Bernie's cousin, and a night in the Lincoln Bedroom would be fun — a nice consolation prize for not having the opportunity to be Trump's Press Secretary.
Item: Finally, old sci-fi fans will remember that 1953 Pohl & Kornbluth novel The Space Merchants, which is about an over-populated world of the future. One feature of that world is a huge hangar-like building with, inside it, an enormous lump of chicken meat thirty feet high.
They've figured out how to make chicken meat without having to raise actual chickens, see. The colossal lump slowly regenerates itself from the inside. Workers harvest it by strolling round it with power saws, shaving off huge slices so it doesn't get too big. This thing is known as, of course … Chicken Little.
Well, we're getting there. A firm named Memphis Meats, which, I'm going to hazard a guess, is based in Tennessee, has announced the first laboratory-grown meatball. They say they've figured out how to grow meat from animal cells, without any animals being involved.
Quote from the CEO, quote:
This is absolutely the future of meat. We plan to do to the meat industry what the car did to the horse and buggy. Cultured meat will completely replace the status quo and make raising animals to eat them simply unthinkable.
End quote. I hope so. I have a hobby-level interest in neuroscience and the study of consciousness. I am currently, for example, listening to Professor Joordens' lectures on memory from the Great Courses company.
The more you learn about this stuff, the more certain you become that all those mental phenomena that Descartes believed to be uniquely human — self-awareness, the emotions, memories — are present in some lesser form in the higher animals, including the ones we kill for food.
I intend to go on eating those animals, and paying people to kill them for me, and occasionally killing them myself, because social norms allow it and I love the taste; but yes, one day it will all seem unthinkable.
That day is not here quite yet. Quote from the news story: "As of right now, it costs about $18,000 to produce one pound of Memphis Meats' ground beef, compared to the $4 a pound in most U.S. grocery stores," end quote.
That's a lot to pay for beef. Perhaps they should try chicken?
09 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and those of you who live in the Granite State, Radio Derb urges you to do your citizenly duty next Tuesday.
As a spur to your doing so, I offer this: [Bugle call: the charge.] That's the old British cavalry bugle call to charge. There was a bugle call for everything, though people nowadays have only heard of Reveille and Taps. Here's the call for the rally, i.e. pull back and regroup: [Bugle call: the rally.]
And here is a song about it all, from the late great Peter Dawson.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Peter Dawson, "The Trumpeter."]