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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings here, ladies and gentlemen, from your expansively genial host John Derbyshire, refreshed after a brief vacation, as will be told.
The first thing I had to do on my return from that vacation, on Monday this week, was watch the Presidential candidates debate Monday evening, so that I could offer you an opinion about it.
I was relaxed, reinvigorated, at peace with the world, and more than ready to find positive things to say in our cause — the cause of getting Donald Trump elected. I was ready and I tried, I truly did, but … oh dear. Well, listen.
02 — Debate impressions. I'm coming late to commentary on the first Presidential-candidates debate, September 26th. There has been a deluge of opinionating about the thing, making every possible case for and against both candidates. All I can do at this point is offer some brief impressionistic notes.
My first impression was, it's a snoozer. Twenty minutes in, I was fidgeting; an hour in, I was listening with one ear while I checked email on my laptop. The debate just wasn't very interesting.
I'll admit that most of that was just me. This was retail politics, and on TV. I can't take retail politics in large doses: the clichés and catch phrases, the artificial emotions, the cant and the lies. "Show business for ugly people," Jay Leno called it. I'd take it further: Show business for ugly people who are not very good actors and don't know how to sing or dance. I also dislike TV, a few sitcoms excepted. The debate wasn't for me.
All right, I know what you're thinking: I'm a snob. So I'm a snob; so sue me.
And to the degree I paid attention to the exchanges, they depressed me. I'm a Trump voter. To not be a Trump voter is to condemn this republic to another four years of Cultural Marxist BS, of demographic replacement, of money rackets dressed up as "social justice," of anti-white jurisprudence, of clumsy diplomacy and futile wars, and of truckling to globalist bureaucrats. Donald Trump might deliver some or even all of those things anyway; but with Mrs Clinton, every one of them is an utter certainty.
As a Trump voter, the debate was double depressing. I'm not going to mince words here: Trump was terrible. He rambled and flapped and whined and boasted. Worst of all, when Clinton dropped hundred-dollar bills on the stage for him to pick up, he let them lie, blathering on for what seemed like ten minutes — I was pretty disconnected at this point — about something Sean Hannity had said, or he'd said to Hannity, about Iraq, in 2002 or 2003 … Does anybody care?
Yeah, yeah, it was retail politics. On TV. It wasn't for me. Still, I was ready to make allowances, major allowances. I wasn't looking for Bertrand Russell debating the Archbishop of Canterbury. Even so, I was disappointed.
The more so, as I'd teed up a lot of the answers for Trump. Releasing his tax returns? Radio Derb, August 19th. The Birther issue? Radio Derb, September 23rd. What, Trump staffers don't listen to Radio Derb? That I refuse to believe.
Even without my prompting, some of these topics are no-brainers. Trump's income taxes? Why not just say, quote:
I pay what the law requires me to pay. What honest citizen does any different? If you think what the law requires of me is not fair, why didn't you try to change the law when you were in the Senate?
End quote, end of topic.
And as everybody on our side wondered: Where was the National Question? Tens of millions of Americans desperately want a President who cares about our national sovereignty; who firmly enforces the people's laws; who puts us and our interests ahead of foreigners and theirs. Tens of millions of us are looking for some assurance that our kids will grow up in a nation that is recognizably the U.S.A., not some bastard hybrid of El Salvador and Somalia. Mrs Clinton of course regards us with contempt as bigots and nativists; but we thought we'd at least get a few words of support from Trump.
To be fair, we did get a few words. Ctrl-F on the transcript gets one occurrence of the word "immigration," where Trump tells us he's been endorsed by the Border Patrol union. The word "border" occurred twice: once there in the phrase "Border Patrol," and once more in, quote, "I want to get on to having a strong border." Then at the very end, as an afterthought, Trump squinched in a remark about the 800-odd people scheduled for deportation who'd been given citizenship instead. That was it on the National Question, which has been a major factor in Trump's rise.
Mrs Clinton was terrible too, in her own unique way. Terriblest was that fixed, phony smile, when the whole world knows what a sour, ill-tempered, arrogant, lying, calculating, avaricious shrew she is.
Mrs Clinton in performance always puts me in mind of the phrase "Uncanny Valley." This is a term of art in robotics and movie animation. If your robot or your anime character is obviously not human, like Buzz Lightyear, everyone's comfortable with it. As you work to make it more and more human-like, though, your character eventually enters a zone where it creeps us out. That's the Uncanny Valley — almost human, but just not quite there.
That's where Mrs Clinton's stage persona dwells: in the Uncanny Valley. I wasn't the least bit surprised to learn that there's a theory buzzing around the Twittersphere that the candidate is, in fact, an android. Some Twitterers, watching the debate, claim to have spotted a wire trailing down her back underneath her jacket. "See!" they're saying, "that's her power source!" I wouldn't rule it out.
Clinton's edge was supposed to be that she would at least come to the debate well-prepared. Nobody expected Trump to: He's too lazy and too unwilling to take advice. She was supposed to be the political pro with a staff of handlers and researchers prepping her every word. Yet even there Mrs Clinton was lousy.
We expect a few little pork pies from candidates on the campaign trail; but Mrs Clinton already has such a problem with honesty, she should really stick to the truth. Instead, she was spitting out lies like a Pez dispenser. Stop-and-frisk is not unconstitutional; equal pay for equal work is already the law; it wasn't Bill Clinton who stabilized the budget in the 1990s, it was a Republican Congress; and so on.
Her killer line — the one about the Venezuelan beauty queen whose feelings Trump was supposed to have hurt twenty years ago — turned out to be under-researched. Bloggers the morning after, doing a few minutes googling, found out that Trump's poor, helpless victim is a low-grade slut: a gangster's moll who'd driven a getaway car for a murderer, threatened to off a judge, had sex on live TV, made a baby with a Mexican drug cartel boss, and acquired U.S. citizenship under dubious circumstances (unless they have changed the requirement that a citizenship applicant should be "of good moral character").
So much for Mrs Clinton's boasts about professionalism and thorough preparation. At the time of speaking, total narrative collapse has been averted by the mainstream media covering for her, saying as little as possible about the beauty queen's past; but a lot of people are reading the blogs or foreign news sites and snickering anyway.
Speaking of blogs: I liked the commenter on one of them — I think it was Steve's blog — who suggested that Mrs Clinton, if elected, might establish a federal Department of Hurt Feelings. That would definitely go over well with our sissified college students.
And so, with both candidates lurching incompetently at each other, we got into tangles of irrelevance and stupidity. Probably the nadir came when Mrs Clinton accused Trump of saying that, actual quote: "women don't deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men," end quote. Apparently Mrs Clinton, by contrast, believes that women deserve equal pay even if they don't do as good a job as men. Instead of highlighting the absurdity of that for the viewing audience to see plain, Trump just mumbled, quote: "I didn't say that."
It would all have been a tad less awful if the moderator had shown some rigor; but he was some affirmative-action stooge with a degree in blackety-black from Cow College, Cowville, totally in the tank for Mrs Clinton, pestering Trump with follow-ups but letting the lady skate by.
As I said, I wasn't expecting Lincoln-Douglas, but this was trashy stuff even by TV standards.
I guess I'll have to watch the next two debates, October 9th and 19th, as a matter of due diligence; but I'll let my email back up beforehand so I've got something to occupy my mind while they're quacking.
03 — Charles Murray inches towards National Conservatism. Here's some video that I did enjoy watching. It's intelligent, instructive, and thought-provoking, and so the opposite of retail politics. I watched the video right after watching the candidates debate: it was balm on my wounded psyche, 84 minutes of sunlit good sense after a raging storm of gibberish.
The event here was a panel held at the National Press Club last week, with the title: "Immigration and Less-Educated American Workers." The panel was organized by the Center for Immigration Studies. You can tune into it by going to their website, cis.org, mouse over the tab that says "Publications," and click on "Videos." You'll see it at or near the top of the list there: "Immigration and Less-Educated American Workers."
The occasion for the panel was a new CIS report by Jason Richwine. Jason, you may recall, is the brilliant young quantitative analyst at the Heritage Foundation whose Harvard Ph.D. thesis had argued that when selecting immigrants for settlement in the U.S.A., IQ should be a factor. In 2013, in the wrangling over the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill, CultMarx Central found out about the thesis. They ordered Heritage to fire Richwine, and Heritage of course obeyed. Honest quantitative analysis on issues relating to intelligence, race, and immigration is not wanted at Conservatism, Inc.
So Jason has this new paper out, published by CIS, the Center for Immigration Studies, and CIS set up a panel discussion last week to present and discuss it.
The whole thing is on video at the CIS site. They've broken it into five separate video clips. First Steve Camarota, Director of Research at CIS, gives a three-minute introduction. Then Jason does a brief presentation of his paper, seventeen minutes.
Then we hear from Amy Wax, one of the smartest people in the social-commentary business today. How smart is she? Well, she started out in the academy as a microbiologist, got an M.D. from Harvard Medical School; then switched to law, got a J.D. from Columbia, and is now a law professor at U. Penn.
We get fourteen minutes from Dr Wax, then twelve minutes from Charles Murray, the great quantitative sociologist. Finally came a Q&A session with a mostly-friendly audience, 39 minutes.
There are a couple of mentions of your humble Radio Derb host in there. The more striking of them came from Charles Murray, who brought up an exchange we had back in my days at National Review. I had posted a column titled "Libertarianism in One Country," exploring the territory where libertarianism meets immigration policy. I argued in fact that libertarianism refuses to meet immigration policy in any honest way, blithely assuming that mass immigration from the Third World will help the libertarian cause, when the evidence suggests that it would, in fact, burn libertarianism to the ground.
That column contained the following sentence. Quote from me, December 2006, quote:
Charles Murray's 1997 book What It Means to Be a Libertarian mentions immigration just once — to apologize for not having mentioned it!
Readers of my column emailed in to ask what Charles Murray's current views on immigration policy were — this is ten years ago, remember. Knowing that Murray followed the National Review blog, I invited him to tell us. He did, and I posted his reply. You can still read it in the National Review archives.
At last week's panel discussion, Murray started off by mentioning that, then told us that he had not at the time, in 2006, said anything about changing the laws on low-skilled immigration. He has since been doing some hard thinking — mostly in the past year or so, Murray told us, and mainly because of Donald Trump; although Murray insisted that there is still no way on earth he could ever vote for Trump as President.
The result of Murray's thinking was, he tells us, acceptance of a simple fact:
[Clip: The citizens of a nation owe something to each other that is over and above our general obligations to our fellow human beings. That there is a sense in which we should take care of our own; "our own" in this case meaning Americans — native Americans, in the real sense of that term.]
In other words, Murray's natural and instinctive patriotism, his love of America, which he has often expressed, has inched over, or is inching over, to, or towards, what we here at VDARE.com call National Conservatism. I hope I'm not misrepresenting Dr Murray here. By all means watch the video for yourself and make your own deduction.
If so, that's a very welcome shift. Charles Murray is one of our most rigorous and influential social scientists. I don't really anticipate he'll be publishing at VDARE.com any time soon, but to have him a few ticks closer to our positions on immigration is very encouraging. I hope he'll do some more rethinking on the issues of skilled immigration, which is a monstrous scam on our middle-class workers, and demographic replacement, which is destroying our social capital — a thing Murray implicitly acknowledges himself in the Q&A video.
The founder of the Christian religion promised us that "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." I don't think Charles Murray's epiphany really rises to that level, but it's worthy of note none the less.
The CIS event was altogether well done, and I urge you to set aside an hour and a half to watch some first-class social policy discussion. It'll make you regret the hour and a half you spent watching the Trump-Clinton debate.
As I myself viewed the videos, I was developing one small quibble.
That was, that the discussion of low-skilled immigrants was all about low-skilled immigrants. Surely, you may say, that's what it should be about, duh.
I beg to differ. Many of the things that were said about low-skilled immigrants — their agreeableness, willingness to work hard, reluctance to complain — apply to them only, not to their American-born children. A big tranche of the second and subsequent generations are as antisocial and unemployable as our native underclass. That always needs saying.
Then, just as I was shaping my quibble in words — my quibble, I mean, that none of the panelists mentioned this issue of the subsequent generations — Amy Wax did mention it, towards the end: around 28 minutes into the Q&A video.
So there went my quibble. I have no quibble. I am quibble-free. Well done to the guys at CIS for a fine presentation, well done to the panelists for their analytical efforts and lucid good sense; and for Charles Murray, a qualified welcome to National Conservatism.
04 — Justice v. order. Another month, another race riot, another case of narrative collapse.
Shortly before 4pm on Tuesday, September 20th, Officer Brentley Vinson of the police force in Charlotte, North Carolina shot and killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Both the shooter and the shootee were black.
As usual in these cases, we got a narrative about an innocent black man minding his own business when, for no reason whatsoever, he was shot by cops who just felt like shooting someone. The family of the deceased actually told media that Scott was reading a book in his car while waiting for his son to be dropped off by a school bus.
Riots ensued. For several nights local blacks ran wild. They blocked an interstate, forcing vehicles to turn and drive the wrong way. They threw rocks through car windshields. They burned and looted stores. They beat up a white guy. One protestor was shot dead, apparently by another protestor. They tried to throw a news photographer into a burning fire. A CNN reporter was assaulted on camera.
All the usual Black Lives Matter lies and nonsense were brought out for display, to whip up the mob: "Hands up, don't shoot!" "No justice, no peace!" … You know the script. If you don't, your local George Soros representative will be happy to advise you.
Then narrative collapse set in. Video was released showing the cops yelling at Scott many, many times to "drop the gun." There was no book. There was a gun. We even found out how Scott acquired the gun: A career burglar, who'd stolen the gun from a household, admitted having sold it to Scott.
Scott himself, far from being a model citizen perusing a copy of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason while waiting for the school bus, turned out to be a low-life hoodlum. October last year his wife had filed a restraining order against him. A Charlotte cable station published the actual order. Quote from what the wife wrote on that order, quote: "He says he is a killer and we should know that," end quote.
Scott was actually a tad short of being a killer. The closest he got was in Texas, where he shot another man, although not fatally. For that, Scott served more than eight years for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and evading arrest. He also had a conviction in North Carolina for DWI and assault with a deadly weapon.
At this point the social justice weenies pipe up saying something like: "Having a long and ugly rap sheet doesn't mean you deserve to be shot."
I agree, it doesn't. It sure makes it hard to summon up much sympathy for the guy, though.
Here's a story. A couple of years ago I was at a dinner with several other people — fifteen, maybe eighteen of us altogether. We were all white, middle-class New Yorkers, median age about 45. I forget the exact context; but the subject of crimes and police procedures came up and someone asked for a show of hands on how many of us had ever been arrested and booked for a crime.
Not one hand went up. I recall thinking at the time that I would have expected one, maybe two. As I said last week in a different context, everyone has a past. I myself have never been formally booked; but as a teenager once, I and a friend were caught by a cop when committing some serious vandalism. We were taken to the station house and humiliated in front of our angry parents.
But no, not one hand went up. I quietly wondered if everyone round the table was being totally honest. On reflection, I think probably we were. Ordinary middle-class people, raising families and doing humdrum jobs, don't interact with law enforcement, other than for an occasional traffic ticket.
It's worth keeping in mind the huge distance between the criminal classes, to which Keith Scott can fairly be said to have belonged, and the rest of us. Nobody has to be a criminal; nobody has to go to jail. If you're shaped like that, I have to say, I don't much care if you get shot. The shooting of Keith Scott — by a black officer, remember — was, in my opinion, to be blunt about it, a net gain for civilization.
Sure, I know: Law enforcement occasionally screws up, and the justice system is imperfect. Even there, though, a good helping of skepticism is appropriate. That gap I spoke about, between criminals and the rest of us, is one that I think law enforcement professionals have an acute awareness of. They know who the bad guys are. I'm sure there are people in jail right now who are innocent of the precise thing they are in jail for; but I doubt many of them are guys you'd want to have round your house for dinner.
Probably Shawshank Redemption cases do happen; but I doubt that your chances, if you are not a career criminal, are anything like as high as they are for being struck by lightning.
I guess I really have no patience with crime or criminals. I'll include rioters in that.
Watching footage of the Charlotte riots on TV, my main thought was: Why don't we get serious? This was a major civil insurrection, an act of war against the law-abiding citizenry.
OK, we're told that the National Guard came out, and North Carolina state troopers, and something called "conflict-resolution experts" from the U.S. Justice Department. I can just see those latter ones, can't you? With their clip-boards and soothing words, down among the rioters, asking: "How did the shooting of Mr Scott make you feel? …" We're told that tear gas and pepper spray were used.
On behalf of the law-abiding majority I'd like to ask: That's it? Hasn't anyone down there heard of water cannon? Of rubber bullets? Come to think of it, what's wrong with real bullets? If people are looting and burning stores, beating up random whites, tossing rocks through the windshields of family cars with kids in them, why should not those people be shot down?
In any organized society there's a point of balance to be sought between justice and order. History shows that if citizens at large are forced to choose between too much concern for justice and too much concern for order, they will choose order every time. Injustice is not popular, and shouldn't be; but major civil disorder is really unpopular. When order breaks down in a really serious way, the mass of citizens will throw justice out the window to get order back.
Is this a lesson our society needs to re-learn? I truly hope not, but I'm beginning to wonder.
According to CNS News, September 21st, some leftist outfit in — where else? — California has declared that for a teacher to mispronounce a student's name amounts to, quote, "disregarding the family and culture of the student as well," end quote.
"Mispronouncing a student's name truly negates his or her identity, which, in turn, can hinder academic progress," honks the head ninny of this organization. Anxious to avoid committing microaggressions, hundreds of school districts across the country have taken a pledge to pronounce students' names correctly.
Then — this is Radio Derb talking here — then they have pledged to do a thing that cannot be done.
Here is a fact about the world: a hard, cold, indisputable fact. For an adult human being to master the sounds of a language not his own, is an extremely difficult undertaking. It can be done only with long and strenuous practice; many people cannot do it at all.
The number of ways we can make sounds with our vocal apparatus — lips, teeth, tongue, cheeks, soft palate, vocal chords, nasal cavities, and one or two others — is in the thousands. Any given language makes a short selection from that vast menu, and builds up its spoken words from the selection. Children learn that selection when their speech abilities are flexible and adaptable. By adulthood, the thousands of sounds not in that selection are not available to us without, as I said, special training.
Look in a mirror at the very back of your mouth. There is a sort of tab or tail of flesh hanging down there, from the roof of your mouth down towards your throat. That tab is called the uvula.
Up in the Northeast Caucasus there is a language called Tsez. Their selection from the menu includes consonants made by jiggling the uvula: twelve different consonants. Think you can do that? Want to give it a try? Go ahead, I'll wait here …
So now, are you ready for when little immigrant Xoc'sztpllaha'f-ghuzz from the Northeast Caucasus shows up in your third-grade class and you have to pronounce his name correctly?
You don't even have to go so far off the beaten track. There is a consonant in Chinese that is so unlike anything in English that one common system for writing Chinese sounds with the English alphabet renders it with a letter "j." A different system, just as respectable, renders the same sound with a letter "r."
So what is this sound? Is it an English "j" or an English "r"? Of course it's neither: it's a Chinese "日." It took me months of practice to get that close, and that's not very close.
That's one sound in one language — to be precise, one dialect of one language, which happens to be the official dialect. Now imagine a teacher with a roomful of kids from all over the world. One speaks Tsez; one's from China; another speaks one of the click languages of southern Africa … And the teacher's supposed to master all their names? And do some actual, you know, teaching?
Plus, as I said, some people just can't do it. To keep our minds busy on a long road trip recently, Mrs Derbyshire and I listened to Kenneth Harl's Great Courses lectures on "The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes." Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University, so presumably a pretty smart guy. He sounds good on his history, but he had the Mrs and me in stitches with his attempts to pronounce Chinese place and personal names. I've been reading Chinese history for forty years, but this is the first time I ever heard of the Chihuahua Dynasty and the Shwong-nu.
Prof Harl sounds like he's trying hard — he sounds, in fact, like he's trying to swallow a whole rutabaga — but he just can't do it. And you want that nice Mrs Heffenbacker down at the elementary school to learn how to waggle her uvula? And make click sounds, and nasal vowels as in French, and two different alveolar stops as in Arabic, and the seven tones of Cantonese, and buccal sounds (those you make by squirting air between your gums and your cheeks, Donald Duck-style: this is an actual phoneme in some actual languages)?
Listen up, all you foreigners. When a foreign name comes to our attention and we need to say it, we'll say it any way we damn well please. There is a city in Sweden we call Gothenburg. The native inhabitants of that fair city don't pronounce its name anything like "Gothenburg," but we don't care. If you don't like the way we say your names, stay in your own frickin' country. OK?
06 — Poetry Corner. A listener recently asked me why I don't include some poetry in the podcast. It's a fair question; I couldn't think of any reason why I shouldn't include a few verses once in a while; so here are some verses, from one of my long-time favorites. They come, though, with a circuitous preamble. Here's the preamble.
In last week's podcast I ventured into taboo territory with some remarks on American-Jewish paranoia. This was in reference to the September 13th "Intelligence Squared" debate on the motion: "Blame the Elites for the Trump Phenomenon."
I noted that the two journalists arguing for the motion, that it was the elites who caused the rise of Trump, were both Gentiles; while the two opposed — arguing that, no, it was the ignorant peasant rabble who brought us Trump — were both Jews. I remarked, in I hope an inoffensive way, how clearly this division showed up in the debate, and how persistent were the underlying attitudes among many American Jews.
That brought in a fair-sized email bag, surprisingly little of it abusive. One of the emails alerted me to a tiny tempest going on this week over a Breitbart.com piece by Matthew Tyrmand, dated September 27th, title: [Washington Post's] Anne Applebaum Embarks On Kremlin-Style Disinformation Offensive v. the Anti-Globalist Right.
Anne Applebaum I am vaguely aware of as an opinion journalist for conservative papers in London thirty years ago. I recall her, also vaguely, as basically a good egg, for her opposition to communism through the late Cold War years. I did not know until reading this Breitbart piece that she is married to former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
Sikorski's political party is strongly globalist, pro-EU, and kindly (or at least not un-kindly) disposed to mass Third World immigration into Europe. That party was rejected by Poland's voters in an election last November. Poland's new government is strongly national-conservative.
This did not please Ms Applebaum. The September 27th Breitbart.com piece by Matthew Tyrmand is all about Ms Applebaum's displeasure. Tyrmand doesn't make an obnoxiously big thing about her being Jewish; nothing that, by my judgment, rises above the level of mere cattiness. It's intra-ethnic cattiness, at that: Tyrmand himself is Jewish.
Of Tyrmand's two references to the lady's Jewishness, here is the more pointed one, quote:
And hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned. Following the fall from grace, Applebaum began utilizing her global media contacts … to construct an anti-democratic global news narrative depicting the new democratically elected … government as far right fascists and illiberal anti-democrats.
As I said, catty, but hardly in the Stormfront league. It was enough to bring out the paranoiacs, though. MediaMatters published a scathing piece next day quoting half a dozen mostly Jewish journalists — Jamie Kirchick, John Podhoretz, and such — calling Tyrmand a fugleman of the New Third Reich.
What has any of this got to do with poetry? Well, it's a tenuous connection, I'll admit. I was just glancing my eye over these pieces at the prompting of my listener, while trying not to scratch my chigger bite and wondering when dinner would be ready. No offense, but I'm not all that interested in Polish politics or squabbling journalists.
Then my eye was arrested in its glancings by the name of one of those journalists: Sohrab Ahmari, who writes Op-Eds for the Wall Street Journal. Mr Ahmari, by the way, seems to be not Jewish, but an Iranian Muslim who recently converted to Roman Catholicism.
What arrested my eye was his first name, Sohrab. If you care about poetry at all, you know Matthew Arnold's re-working of the medieval Persian epic of Sohrab and Rustum.
As brief as I can make it: We are in Central Asia, up on the banks of the Oxus River. The Persians are at war with the Tartars. The Tartar champion is young Sohrab. Rustum is a great warrior of the Persians; but he's getting old, and tired of fighting.
The Tartars call for a truce, and for the issue to be decided between two champions. They put forward young Sohrab as their champion. The Persians persuade Rustum to be their champion. He agrees, but insists on fighting anonymously.
So the two champions fight. Rustum mortally wounds Sohrab. As the young man is dying, they learn that he is Rustum's only son, born to an Azerbaijani princess whom Rustum left before she delivered the child. So Rustum was unknowingly fighting with his son; and Sohrab, also unknowingly, with his father; and the father killed the son; and before the son dies, they both realise the truth.
Rustum lies down by his son's corpse on the bloody sand. Here are Matthew Arnold's closing lines, which I think are very beautiful.
And night came down over the solemn waste,
Those I think are some of the loveliest lines in English poetry. They have an added layer of melancholy now that the Aral Sea has well-nigh dried up, destroyed by Soviet agriculture.
I'm not totally sure, but I think that to be reminded of those lines, it was even worth having to pass through the febrile bleatings of Jamie Kirchick and the hippo bellowing of John Podhoretz.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Open-borders fanatics like the editorialists at the Wall Street Journal like to tell us about the futility and wickedness of building walls along national borders. You know the kind of thing: "If we build a ten-foot wall, the illegals will bring fifteen-foot ladders," or "We should build bridges, not walls," and so on.
A lot of nations are building walls none the less. Saudi Arabia's wall along her Iraqi border seems to be going nicely, the builders no doubt benefiting from their experience building a wall along the kingdom's southern border with Yemen. The Europeans are putting up walls and fences as fast as they can. Israel's border barriers are well-known, and apparently very effective.
Next into the club: Turkey. Quote from Reuters, September 28th, quote:
A concrete wall being built to stop illegal crossings along the length of Turkey's [560-mile] border with Syria will be finished by the end of February, an official at a Turkish state institution with knowledge of the project said on Wednesday.
As always with the Turks, there is an official rationale here, and an unofficial one.
Officially, the wall is to stop ISIS fighters infiltrating Turkey from northern Syria, a thing NATO has been nagging Turkey about.
Unofficially, and much more important to the Turks, the wall separates Turkey's Kurds from Syria's Kurds. Quote from last week's Radio Derb, quote: " Everything Turkey does is aimed at weakening the collective strength of the Kurds," end quote.
Still, it's nice to see another wall going up. Which nation will be next, I wonder? China, maybe; perhaps they'll build a wall. Now that would be a great wall! [Boo, hiss.]
Item: Meet 30-year-old Dominique Sharpton. Yes, this is Rev'm Al's daughter.
Rev'm Al, as we all know, has brought to a very high level of perfection the art of persuading people to pay him to go away. When Rev'm Al rings your doorbell, and you look out the window and see he has 200 of his followers with him, trampling the flowerbeds in your front yard and blocking traffic in the street, you get out your checkbook, write a suitable number, give it to him, and he goes away. Rev'm Al is the great grandmaster of this game: the Boris Spassky, the Garry Kasparov of Pay-Me-And-I'll-Go-Away.
Young Dominique aspires to follow in her Reverend Dad's footsteps. To this end, she has been suing the city of New York for five million dollars on account of a disabling injury she says she suffered when she slipped on some uneven sidewalk in downtown Manhattan two years ago.
Unfortunately Ms Sharpton hasn't quite got the hang of the game yet. Like so many of her generation, she lives on social media. While supposedly suffering this disabling injury, she posted pictures of herself hiking up a mountain in Bali, dancing in high-heeled shoes, and climbing in a Nevada canyon. She has also admitted under deposition that she attended a two-hour concert the very night of the day she slipped on the sidewalk. Soon afterwards she attended her Dad's Justice for All march in Washington, D.C.
In questioning by a lawyer for the city, Ms Sharpton complained that she was no longer able to run marathons since the injury. The lawyer, reasonably enough, asked her if she had run marathons before the injury. She admitted that she hadn't.
You'd think that Rev'm Al, with all his decades of experience at this sort of thing, would have given his daughter some intensive training, to raise her game. How is she going to continue the family business if she can't scam a lousy five million from New York City?
See, parents nowadays just don't want to take the time; that's the problem here.
Item: Continuing the Hungarian theme of the past few weeks: This Sunday, October 2nd, that nation will hold a referendum — that's népszavazás in Hungarian — a referendum on the European Union's refugee quotas.
The precise wording of the referendum, translated of course into English, is as follows, quote:
Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?
The National Assembly there is Hungary's parliament.
Polls suggest a huge No vote — that is, against mass settlement of illegal immigrants. The Hungarian government itself is campaigning for a No vote.
Opposition to a No vote comes not so much from a Yes faction as from people pointing out that under EU treaties that Hungary has already signed, the suits in Brussels do have legal authority to override Hungary's parliament; so No voters are really voting for changes to, or exit from, Europe-wide treaties, and the referendum ought to say so.
Nobody seems to think the referendum will make much difference. The EU does have those powers; but it's not likely they'll exercise them against stiff local opposition.
Sunday's referendum is a big symbolic event none the less: a push-back by nationalists against globalists, a loud assertion of national rights and national sovereignty. National conservatives everywhere should cheer for a No vote.
Item: Finally, an erratum. Radio Derb fan Dennis Luisi gently chides me for misplacing the polar bear cartoon I mentioned in last week's podcast, the cartoon that was my son's favorite. I said it was a New Yorker cartoon. In fact it was one of Gary Larson's; and Larson's work didn't appear in New Yorker.
I think Mr Luisi is right. He was kind enough to give me a link to the actual cartoon, and I see that my memory of the caption was slightly off, too. One polar bear is saying to the other, as he chomps into the top of an igloo: "Oh, hey! I just love these things! … Crunchy on the outside and a chewy center!"
My thanks to Mr Luisi, and apologies for these small errors of fact that have crept into the podcast since I lost my diligent research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy.
And in response to many queries about the subsequent careers of those fine ladies, my latest information is that Mandy is travelling with her new boss, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, in West Africa — they were most recently spotted in Ouagadougou; Candy is competing in some sort of beauty pageant in Brazil; and Brandy has assumed a very interesting position in the official residence of my dear friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan.
08 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, here in the early hours of October; and brace yourselves please for the accelerating slide towards the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year season.
I mentioned my lady and self taking a long car ride. That was to visit friends on the Maryland shore, with whom we spent a thoroughly delightful weekend. Not least of the delights was hearing our host sing the Maryland State Song, which I knew about but had never had sung to me by a native for my personal pleasure.
Here to play us out are the first and last stanzas. As a Northerner myself, I tried to feel some sectional indignation at the last stanza, but just couldn't summon it. When I told a different Southern friend about that, he said I must be a Copperhead. I'm going to have to look that up.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Brazilianconfederate, "Maryland, my Maryland."]