• Play the sound file
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your nontrivially genial host John Derbyshire, here with Radio Derb's weekly feast of news, commentary, and mean-spirited mockery.
First up, of course, the swamp-draining exercise our new President has embarked on in the nation's capital. How's it going?
Well, the swamp is fighting back. This week, in fact, I'd have to say, President Trump's fine feisty performance at Thursday's press conference notwithstanding, I have to score this week for the swamp. This week's score: Swamp 1, Administration 0.
The battle goes on, of course, and plainly our President is full of fighting spirit. So with hope in our hearts, minus some slight reservations to be noted later, let's take a look at this week's events.
02 — The spooks and the hacks. Well, if you were wondering who really runs things in Washington, D.C. — where the real power lies — now you know: It's with the intelligence agencies.
That's the conclusion we can reasonably draw from the defenestration of General Michael Flynn this week after his serving just 24 days as President Trump's national-security advisor.
December 29th, the day still-President Barack Obama expelled a raft of Russian diplomats on suspicion of having influenced our election, General Flynn — at that point merely a private citizen — had a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador.
Nothing wrong with that. Or perhaps not quite nothing. There is a federal law called the Logan Act that prohibits private citizens from talking to foreign governments. The Act was passed in 1799 when one George Logan, a Pennsylvania state legislator, had talks with the government of France, ticking off the John Adams administration, which had majorities in Congress.
In the subsequent 218 years there has been just one indictment under the Logan act, and zero actual prosecutions. The Act is regarded as a bit of a joke, and the jurisprudential consensus seems to be that it is in fact unconstitutional, although with zero prosecutions in 200-plus years, nobody thinks it's worth the trouble to test the matter.
For sure, American private citizens have been blithely talking to foreign governments in recent decades without anyone bothering to bring up the Logan Act — ex-President Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson, Dennis Rodman, and some incalculable number of senior business moguls come to mind, very likely including our current President. We even have a smiley-face phrase for what these guys have been doing: "personal diplomacy."
Well, our spooks listened in to that December 29th episode of personal diplomacy. Then they passed on what they'd heard to the FBI. Then someone — either a spook or a G-man — leaked to the press.
That is seriously illegal. It's also highly irresponsible, as it gives the other party meta-intelligence — that's intelligence about intelligence. Without knowing what we're doing or how we're doing it, the Russians now know a thing we can do: listen to their ambassador's phone conversations in defiance of whatever kind of subterfuge or encryption he's using.
If there's been a media hue and cry over that illegality and that irresponsibility on the part of our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, though, I missed it. All the fuss has been about what Flynn told or did not tell Vice President Pence, and how the President was then briefed.
It's penny-ante stuff; so much so you have to wonder — as some commentators have wondered — whether Trump used the whole nothingburger as an excuse to dump Flynn because he was dissatisfied with him.
It got blown up into a major story because of synergy between the intelligence people and the media, the spooks and the hacks. Dwight Eisenhower famously warned us about the military-industrial complex. What we've seen this week is the intelligence-media complex showing its strength.
Here was me back in my January 13th podcast, talking about the bogus dossier claiming Trump had been honey-trapped in Moscow three years ago. Longish quote from myself, bracketed by beeps.
[Beep] As any reader of spy fiction knows, intelligence is a hall of mirrors, with layer upon layer of duplicity. Anything's possible in this zone. Our own intelligence agencies may even be involved.
The spooks can of course do major damage on their own. In alliance with the media, though, they are lethal. A leak is just a leak; the media decides what to make into a major story and what to leave as a filler item on page 23. Working as they do in a pillar of the CultMarx establishment, the media hacks are happy to take what scraps and fragments the vengeful spooks pass on to them and work them into bricks to throw through Trump's windows.
That January 13th Radio Derb segment was titled "Revenge of the spooks." Maybe I should set that title up as a one-key macro. Looks like I'll be using it a lot.
03 — A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. As a footnote to that, again I ask: Whence all this hostility to Russia?
I am honestly baffled by it. In what way is Russia a threat to U.S. interests? They have no claims on our territory. They're not a commercial rival. They're not flooding us with cheap workers to depress our own people's wages and burden our welfare services. They haven't sent any terrorists to fly planes into our skyscrapers. Why are we even supposed to be bothered by their espionage activities?
It's true that the present Russian government is unlovely. It's true they might do mean things, like invading Estonia. That would be deplorable, but no sane person thinks the U.S.A. would go to war over it, as the NATO charter requires. Indeed, the temptation to show up NATO for the hollow sham it is, is the only reason I can think of for why Russia would invade Estonia.
The Estonians should make what arrangements for mutual defense they can with neighboring countries, and avoid provoking the bear. They face nothing worse than small countries with big neighbors have faced since the beginning of time.
Russia's just another country, like Brazil or Indonesia. I can't see any reason we shouldn't get along with them on the same terms as with those countries. The Cold War's been over for a quarter of a century, for Heaven's sake.
I can't even figure out a conspiracy theory about our establishment's hostility to Russia. Has the Homintern been at work, stirring up anti-Russian feeling because they won't legalize same-sex marriage? Does someone think they want to dominate the Middle East so they can control the Arabs' oil? Do influential American Jews still nurse resentment for the Kishinev Pogrom? None of that strikes me as even remotely plausible.
Is it just inertia? The Cold War created huge, entrenched sub-establishments within the federal government — lots of iron rice bowls. These sub-establishments don't want their rice bowls broken. They don't want their corner of the swamp to be drained. Swamp-draining-wise, they are massively conservative, in the style of the Third Duke of Norfolk, quote: "I would all things were as hath been in times past."
That's not much more plausible than the conspiracy stuff, though. After twenty-six years, years that saw the War on Terror and the rise of China, are significant power centers in the U.S. government really still obsessing about Kremlin plots and tank divisions rolling through the Fulda Gap? Hard to believe.
Is it just the perception that Vladimir Putin is a nationalist — a nationalist that will help other nationalists any way he can, funding Ms Le Pen's political campaigns and hacking the emails of Donald Trump's opponents? Possibly, and I can see that would rile up the CultMarx globalists; but why are the rest of us supposed to care?
It's a mystery to me. I throw it open to the listenership. Why am I supposed to believe that Russia is our enemy? Why am I supposed to care about their hacking, so long as they don't hack into my bank account?
Winston Churchill, following the Hitler-Stalin deal of 1939, said that Russian policy was, quote, "A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." I'm feeling the same way about our own current Russia policy. Can anyone enlighten me?
04 — Not even wrong. Meanwhile, Trump Derangement Syndrome rages on in the intelligentsia. Here's a data point at random from that demographic.
Among the non-political blogs I follow is one called "Not Even Wrong," run by mathematician Peter Woit of Columbia University. It's one of the better blogs on math and physics.
The title of the blog, by the way, is taken from an anecdote about the great mid-20th-century Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Pauli was asked to review a paper by a younger physicist. Pauli thought the paper so incoherently bad, so mistaken as to the most fundamental principles, he is supposed to have said that not only was it not right, it was, quote, "not even wrong."
Well, on January 28th, following President Trump's executive order suspending entry of people from the most dysfunctional Muslim nations, mathematician Peter Woit over at Columbia felt moved to comment.
You can read what he wrote for yourself over at the blog. Here are just some scattered highlights, representative of the whole post — whose title, by the way, is "Fascism and the Current National Emergency." Just from that title, you can see the general zone we're in here. Quotes … or rather, sputters:
The actions ordered today that are now being carried out by US officials around the world are the product of a deranged and dangerous personality who has surrounded himself with similar others. This is a national emergency with no parallel in our history …
And so on, and so on. These are the words of a first-class mind at one of our premier universities. "Fascism," … "deranged," … "delusional," … "incapable of dealing with reality," … "a national emergency with no parallel in our history …
Has Dr Woit ever heard of the Civil War, with its death toll of one in fifty Americans? Does he really think that President Trump will incite us to kill six million of each other?
And "fascism"? Does he know the major distinguishing characteristic of fascism? Since he plainly doesn't, I'll remind him: It was street violence. That's how fascists came to power.
We saw some nasty street violence last week in Berkeley, California, but it wasn't coming from Trump supporters.
Come to think of it, we've seen some even nastier street violence this week in Paris, France. Two weeks ago a 22-year-old black man claimed that he suffered violence at the hands of the French police. Street mobs — blacks and Muslims — came out in sympathy, and they're still causing mayhem, right into the heart of Paris. Dozens of cars have been burned, shops looted, police attacked.
Those aren't national conservatives out there burning cars, Dr Woit. What we're seeing in Paris are the consequences of mass Third World immigration — the very thing that President Trump's supporters wish to see addressed and curtailed.
"Fascism"? "National emergency"? Sorry, Dr Woit: You're not even wrong. As for "incapable of dealing with reality" — well, pots and kettles come to mind.
I'm sorry to pick on Dr Woit — not very sorry, but somewhat sorry. He's just a random example from the intellectual division of the anti-Trump opposition.
He's a useful reminder, though, that Trump Derangement Syndrome can be passionately sincere. It's not all cynicism — a calculated strategy by government-work log-rollers defending their iron rice bowls. A reminder, too, that Trump Derangement Syndrome can strike at any point of the cognitive bell curve: at super-smart high-cognitive types like Dr Woit as well as vaporing showbiz airheads like Madonna.
I doubt Dr Woit would have come to any misfortune if he'd declared himself a Trump voter, or just kept shtum and toiled away quietly on differential forms and the metaplectic representation. He felt moved to speak, and out the words came: "Fascism," … "deranged," … "a national emergency with no parallel in our history" …
We have a President constitutionally elected, who is implementing policies he promised to implement when he was campaigning, using standard executive procedures. This, say Dr Woit and thousands like him, is grounds for impeachment, or for declaring our President unfit for office.
Who are the fascists here? Who are the "deranged and dangerous" personalities?
05 — DHS, Labor, Justice: worrying signs. Meanwhile, we National Conservatives are fretting that already, one month into his term of office, our President may be showing signs he's going to cuck us.
Last week I ruminated on the possibility that Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court may be a milquetoast conservative — a Squishy Con — an easy roll for the Court liberals. We haven't heard much from him this week, but the doubts linger.
There have been more negative indicators on other administration appointments.
John Kelly, our new Secretary of Homeland Security, is showing a depressing lack of energy at enforcing the nation's immigration laws. VDARE.com correspondent "Federale" wrote this up for us last Tuesday.
To the anti-Trump media of course, every deportation of an illegal is a major story, a focus of outrage. There doesn't actually seem to have been much of an increase in deportations since Trump came in, though. Quote from Reuters, February 13th, quote:
Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said on Monday there has not been a rise yet in the number of deportations of Mexicans from the United States under President Donald Trump …
It would be interesting to know whether there has at least been an increase in interior enforcement. It's well-known, at least among those of us who follow the National Question, that Barack Obama doctored the deportation numbers by including in them those people turned back at the border. Is that still being done? Are raids being stepped up on employers of illegals?
"Federale" says that the DHS enforcer in Los Angeles has denied carrying out any raids or sweeps for illegals. Meanwhile the New York Times on Sunday reported breathlessly that, actual headline, Immigration Agents Arrest 600 People Across U.S. in One Week.
Hoo-kay: At six hundred per week, it would take eighteen thousand weeks to rid us of eleven million illegals. That's 346 years.
It's a start, I guess; but we're looking here for some energy in the Executive … and not seeing much.
That's number one negative indicator. Number two is the continuing inaction on DACA, D-A-C-A, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Barack Obama's pet initiative to give work permits to illegals who came here aged 16 or less, or who can acquire fake documents to that effect.
The DHS website is still inviting applications for DACA. Why? This racket should have been shut down no later than January 21st.
Here's number three: Trump's replacement pick for the post of Labor Secretary in his cabinet, Alexander Acosta. He's a professional lawyer, a former U.S. Attorney, currently a law school dean.
Acosta is advertised as a conservative, and he may well be one on fine points of constitutional law. He sure as statute ain't a National Conservative, though. He's spoken out on behalf of amnesty for illegal aliens, and worked on preference policies for Latinos, with help from MALDEF, that's the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and La Raza. Looks to me like an ethnocentric Hispanic activist.
Most heartbreaking of all — this is number four negative indicator — was Jeff Sessions putting in a phone call to Al Sharpton last Friday, just two days after Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General by the Senate.
That's just inexcusable. Nobody with any respect for the laws of our country should be seen walking out with Rev'm Al.
The gold standard for dealing with Sharpton was set by Rudy Giuliani when Mayor of New York. Rudy instructed his security staff that the rabble-rousing, defaming, tax-cheating, arson-inciting man of God should not be allowed through the door of any mayoral office building.
We're told that Sessions wanted to discuss the Eric Garner case — the case of a black guy who died while resisting arrest in 2014. A grand jury declined to indict the arresting officer — who, by the way, was being supervised by a female black police sergeant when the arrest took place. Obama's Justice Department thereupon declared they'd carry out their own investigation. Jeff Sessions has inherited that investigation.
OK, so he needs to get up to speed on it, to decide what to do. Surely the people in his own Department could give him all the necessary information, though. What need to call Sharpton?
You have to assume that Jeff Sessions thought it would be a good idea to do some virtue signaling to blacks. Even supposing it is a good idea — which I doubt — why go to Sharpton? Do honest black Americans really want this illiterate scofflaw as their representative?
So there's cause for worry here. Energy in the Executive, Mr President: and have Rudy Giuliani sit down with your Attorney General for half an hour to explain a few things about Sharpton.
06 — American schools for American citizens! I've met more than my share of famous people, just because I've lived mostly in big metropolises and hung around with journalists a lot.
Among those encounters was one with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, back in 1984. I wrote up an account of the meeting in a column years ago, and the column's on my website — I'll put a link in the transcript.
Well, His Holiness is still among us here in the material world; now 81 years old, but still doing speaking engagements.
One of those engagements has caused a bit of a fuss over on the left coast. Here's the nub of it, from Quartz Media, February 15th, quote:
On February 2nd the University of California, San Diego, formally announced that the Dalai Lama would make a keynote speech at the June commencement ceremony.
The rest of the story is hard to read with a straight face. These Chinese students at an American university — a public university, yet — have twisted the language of political correctness — "inclusion" "diversity," "respect," and so on — to enforce the line of the Chinese Communist Party that His Holiness is a scheming terrorist who seeks to destroy China.
It's all preposterous enough, but the underlying issues are nontrivial.
A lot of these Chinese students are quite sincere. Nobody in China ever hears anything about Tibet but the official line. They believe it. Since their parents are paying full tuition — tens of thousands of dollars — they are entitled to feel that they shouldn't be insulted by the presence of a speaker who, as they have been told all their lives, is plotting against their home country.
Some others among the students — my guess would be somewhere between twenty and thirty percent — know that the Communist Party line is a lie. However, they also know that the Chinese government monitors its citizens, both at home and abroad, very closely. If you think privacy is an issue here in the age of Big Data, try imagining how much privacy there is for Chinese people, under a government unrestrained by any constitutional protections.
If you're a Chinese citizen, just for the authorities to know you were in the same room as the Dalai Lama could wreck your life. So even students who haven't swallowed the ChiCom lies are rightly fearful.
Well, all that is a problem for Chinese people; but why is it any problem for us? Why is the chancellor of an American university — a public university, on a salary paid out of tax receipts from American citizens — why is he being vexed by delegations of foreign students urging him to enforce the dogmas of a foreign communist party?
Short answer: Because our immigration systems is nuts.
Further down the news story reporting this we read that, quote:
More overseas Chinese students are studying in the US than ever before. According to the Institute of International Education, more than 304,000 international students were attending university in the US during the 2014-2015 academic year, marking a nearly fivefold increase from a decade prior.
Why are we issuing that many student visas? Our universities are a resource, a great educational resource. That resource should be for the benefit of our people.
If you say things like that out loud, of course, you mark youself down as a hater. Well, the hell with that. I've been living among Chinese people for forty-five years. I've been married to one for thirty years. I've written two novels with Chinese protagonists sympathetically portrayed. I love my country and I think her citizens should have first claim on her abundance. That's not hate.
I'll tell you what I hate: I hate the stupid, bogus, degraded vocabulary of "hate" and "bigotry" and "exclusion" that is now the default vocabulary for talking about national issues. I sure do hate that.
It's not as if the universities who admit all these foreign students are doing it from high morality and a sincere desire to improve the world. They're doing it for money: foreign students pay full tuition. It's not an open-hearted spirit of national generosity: It's a cash racket. [Ker-ching.]
So there's another action point on immigration for you, Mr President: a ceiling on student visas. And here's a slogan to go with it: "American schools for American citizens!"
07 — Islam in Europe: the wheel turns. Now listen to this sound clip. It's a caller to a British radio show hosted by Nigel Farage, who is the Trumpish former leader of Britain's national-conservative UKIP party. If the caller's accent sounds vaguely familiar, it's because he's from Liverpool, so he talks like a Beatle. That's "B-e-a" Beatle: "B-double-e" beetles don't talk.
[Clip: Well, I went to a mosque in Liverpool. People have been talking about trying to understand Islam, to try and get a grasp of what Islam's all about. And the Imam, who was standing in front of the congregation, he said: "Allah has given us this country, and every knee will bow at the name of Allah."
Nigel Farage was left somewhat aghast at that. "That's strong stuff," he mumbled.
OK, I'm not going to go all Brit-centric on you. That's not my country any more, and I watch what is happening over there with a calm, detached despair.
I am going to say, though, that this little exchange captures the zeitgeist in the modern West rather neatly, and the direction the zeitgeist is headed. To put it bluntly, it's headed from Nigel Farage's position to the caller's.
Farage is a decent sort, and he's done real service to his country, and to the West at large, by putting a cheerful, likeable, moderate face on National Conservatism. That hasn't stopped the CultMarx screamers telling us that he's Literally Hitler; but the bar for being Literally Hitler is now so low that if you like your country, and would prefer it not be swamped with foreigners, then you too are Literally Hitler.
The zeitgeist is, though, moving in a certain direction, and I believe it will leave Farage behind. Earlier in that radio program he'd told listeners he couldn't agree with President Trump's executive order suspending entry to the U.S.A. for citizens of seven exceptionally disorderly Muslim nations.
The public in Europe is headed away from that mild, tolerant position to something closer to the caller's. Farage, and European politicians of similar views, and possibly our own President, are transitional figures: place-holders, until someone more frankly and unapologetically nationalist comes along.
A very respectable British think tank, the Royal Institute for International Affairs, carried out a big survey between mid-December and mid-January, covering ten European countries, with at least one thousand respondents in each country, total more than ten thousand.
To the statement, "All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped," overall 55 percent of Europeans said they agreed.
In Nigel Farage's Britain the figure was 47 percent. Given that some unknown proportion of the survey's respondents must themselves have been Muslims, it would be interesting to see the survey re-done with respondents drawn only from the legacy populations. I'm betting you'd get over half of legacy British people — I mean, white non-Muslims — agreeing. And I'll further bet that ten years from now, that half will be three-quarters.
And note that the statement they were responding to in that survey doesn't restrict itself to seriously dysfunctional places like Somalia and Iraq. It covers all, quote, "mainly Muslim countries," of which there are at least 48.
The survey reveals the usual differences between groups of respondents: city-country, young-old, more or less educated. Younger, more educated, more urban people show less agreement.
There are some suggestive counter-currents moving there, too, though. Here's a poll out of France, taken at the end of January, on support for the candidates in the upcoming presidential election there. It shows support for National Conservative candidate Marine Le Pen at its strongest in the 18-24 age group: 35 percent in that group, falling to just 16 percent in the 65-and-overs. If Ms Le Pen comes first in the April vote, it won't be geezers who put her there, it'll be millenials.
I said the zeitgeist is moving in the nationalist direction, but it has a way to go yet. If Le Pen does place first in April, she'll likely get swamped in the run-off vote in May, when voters for the other four candidates consolidate against her.
Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders is also looking strong for the election in his country next month; but not as strong as Ms Le Pen in hers, and like her he faces opposition parties that will unite to keep him out of power.
So there is major support over there for demographic stability and National Conservatism, but not likely major enough to be decisive this year, for all Mr Wilders' happy talk about a "patriotic spring." The wheel probably needs to turn a while longer before we see major electoral victories.
It's turning, though. Five years ago Le Pen, Wilders, and Farage were written off as extremist fringe candidates. The Brexit vote last June and Donald Trump's victory in November showed how much things have changed.
And just as here, public discussion about the National Question is all constrained in the narrow, dishonest vocabulary of "hate," "racism," and the rest. We have to work at changing that.
A person who opposes mass Muslim immigration may indeed hate Islam. I think Geert Wilders does. A great many other people, though — including this one — don't mind Islam at all, and wish nothing but long life and happiness to Muslims in Muslim countries everywhere. They're entitled to live under their own laws and practice their own religion just as much as we are. As we say here on the nationalist right: That's what separate countries are for.
Muslims have forty-odd countries of their own to be Muslims in. That's surely enough; and there is surely nothing hateful in saying so.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: I got a chuckle out of this story. The headline tells the tale: Romania scraps plan to decriminalise corruption after over 100,000 took to the streets of Bucharest in protest.
That's right: The government of Romania wanted to decriminalize corruption. Well, actually they just wanted to lighten up the penalities, with jail time only for serious cases.
The reason I was chuckling is because Romania has a longstanding reputation as a nest of thieves. There's an old Cold War joke on that theme, that I've told elsewhere.
Romanian people get indignant when you mention this. "It's not true Romanians who got us that reputation," they tell you, "It's the damn gypsies."
I'm willing to believe it, having trekked through Romania and back meeting nothing but kindness and hospitality along the way.
You can't help but smile, though, at the idea of a government decriminalizing corruption. Isn't that a thing all governments would like to do? I bet a corruption decriminalization bill would pass through our own Congress faster than a dose of salts through a widder-woman. Perhaps I shouldn't have included this item: it might give them ideas.
Jong-nam sounds to have been a fun guy with no interest in politics. That doesn't get you off the hook when a despot's working on his survival strategy, though, as relatives of despots down through history could testify.
If Kim Jong-un worries about any threat to his rule, it'll be a threat from some faction of his generals. The plotters, though (assuming there are some), might feel that their people have been so thoroughly Kim-ified — so intensely, for so many decades, taught to think of the Kim family as the sacred embodiment of their nationhood — that bumping off Jong-un would be more acceptable to the populace if there was another Kim to put in his place, however politically apathetic and clueless.
Once they got to thinking about it, in fact, the plotting generals might conclude that apathy and cluelessness could be a feature, not a bug, giving them more scope to do whatever they wanted to do, so long as they kept the booze and the girls coming to the palace. Students of the Roman, Chinese, and Ottoman empires know where they are here.
Whether or not the generals thought that, Kim Jong-un might have thought they thought it, and acted to remove the threat.
From America's point of view, this is another mess we don't need to get involved in. We are involved because we have 38,000 troops in South Korea — a country well able to defend itself against the smaller and poorer North.
China is known to be fed up with the Norks, only fearful of a flood of refugees if the regime collapses. We should tell them to build a wall — nobody can say the Chinese don't know how to build walls — then pull our troops out and let nature take its course.
It's bad enough that our defense bureaucrats are still gaming the Cold War after 26 years. That they are still gaming the Korean War after sixty-four years is sheer gibbering lunacy.
Item: Finally, leaving aside the small doubts already expressed, we can still hope for great things from the Trump administration, and give thanks that President Hillary is not disfiguring our TV screens.
With that in mind, and all the vitriol being spat at Trump by the media, the intelligentsia, showbiz glitterati, and the creatures of the Washington, D.C. swamp, our President needs all the support he can get.
If you'd like to help with that, I draw your attention to the Spirit of America website, which is promoting rallies to be held across the nation on February 27th and March 4th. There are details on the website, region by region.
Here on Long Island, for example, there is a rally at noon on Saturday March 4th, assembling at the Dennison building in Hauppauge. I'll be there, and look forward to socializing with Radio Derb listeners and other kindred spirits. Be there, or be square!
09 — Signoff. That's your portion for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; please lend whatever support you can to our President as he fights back against the security-journalistic complex.
I had a segment back there about Chinese students in the U.S.A. There are way too many, to the disadvantage of our own citizens; and we should put our own citizens first.
To play us out, here's a glimpse of the other side. I do not mean the other political side. God forbid everything should be about politics! No, this is the human side — the personal, not the social.
I've listened to a lot of Chinese pop music this past forty-odd years. Most of it is forgettable dross, of course, like pop music anywhere; but there's also some surprisingly good stuff.
One thing I've noticed, from the very beginning, is what a high proportion of Chinese pop ballads are laments for unwilling separation across the width of an ocean for a period of unknown length. That's just a cultural reflection of the fact that so many young Chinese people — people in those romantic late teens and early twenties — were going abroad to study, leaving their sweethearts behind.
Here's a random sample of the genre, one of hundreds. This is the late, sad Teresa Teng singing in Cantonese. The song title is 一水隔天涯, which translates as "An Ocean Apart." See what I mean?
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Teresa Teng, "一水隔天涯."]