• Play the sound file
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano'n'kazoo version]
01 — Intro. … I dunno … does the kazoo really count as a musical intrument? When I was a kid we used to wrap tissue paper round a comb and get pretty much the same effect.
Whatever. Radio Derb is on the air, and this is of course your authentically genial host John Derbyshire with some gems from the week's news.
I have rather a lot to say this week, so let's press right ahead with it.
02 — Soo-ee! Farmer Don fills trough for "refugee" racketeers. Today — Friday, September 29th — is the penultimate day of our federal government's Fiscal Year 2017. Sunday October 1st marks the beginning of Fiscal Year 2018.
As Radio Derb told you last week, that means among other things that this week the feds had to tell us what the ceiling number for refugees in Fiscal 2018 would be.
Based on the very well-documented fraud and abuse in our refugee-resettlement programs; and on the discord and disorder in America's towns and small cities caused by mass settlement of so-called "refugees"; and on the security risks, given that a majority of refugees are Muslims; and on the health risks, given that half are from Africa, the home of all diseases; we at VDARE.com have argued that the correct ceiling number for these resettlements is zero.
Since President Trump told the U.N. General Assembly last week that, quote, "For the cost of resettling one refugee in the U.S., we can assist more than ten in their home region," end quote, we have been nursing the not-unreasonable hope that the President was similarly inclined.
We have hoped in vain. On Wednesday they announced their number, that will apply through Fiscal 2018. The number is 45,000.
The internal White House decision-making dynamics here are not known, not to me; but there is no legal or constitutional reason why the President could not, on his own initiative, and in line with his own public statements — like that one to the U.N. General Assembly last week — why he could not just have suspended the program, as George W. Bush did after 9/11.
This weakness on the part of the President is disheartening to those of us who voted for him hoping for real change.
On the refugee front, in fact, this week has been double disheartening. This week saw the first batch of arrivals under the agreement between the Obama administration and the government of Australia.
Just to remind you on this: Australia was plagued for years by "boat people" — illegal aliens, mainly middle-class young men from West and South Asia who'd paid a lot of money to people-smuggling gangs to ship them across the sea to Australia, where they claimed refugee status. One of the first articles I ever wrote for VDARE.com was about this, back in 2001.
Australians got so fed up with this at last, they handed the problem off to their military. Australia's navy started intercepting the boats and towing them back to Indonesia. When this couldn't be done, or when illegals slipped by the navy and landed in Australia, they were arrested and sent to camps in small Pacific island nations that contracted with the Australian government to run the camps.
Illegals were banned for life from ever entering Australia. They could write off their investment and go home; they could persuade some other country to take them; or they could stay in the camps.
Enter Barack Obama. In the closing weeks of his administration last year, Obama made an agreement with Australia to resettle 1,800 of the illegal boat people from the island camps to the U.S.A. Most were Muslims from Iran, Sudan, and Somalia. At some point the number was scaled down to 1,250.
In the getting-to-know-you round of courtesy calls to foreign leaders during the first days of the Trump administration, courtesy broke down when Trump called Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on January 28th. Our President expressed his disgust with the Obama deal in very forthright terms, quote:
I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. As far as I am concerned, that is enough Malcolm. I have had it.
The President talks a good game; but under pressure from the State Department seat-warmers, the cheap-labor lobbies, the refugee-resettlement racketeers, and the media, he soon folded. In June this year, less than six months after Trump's testy exchange with the Australian Prime Minister, we heard the Obama agreement would be honored.
The administration put a smudge of lipstick on the pig. In return for us taking Australia's illegals, they would settle a few dozen Central Americans arrested in Costa Rica while heading north to break in to the U.S.A. So we get several hundred jihadis, they get a few dozen Salvadoran gangbangers. Great deal, Mr President.
03 — Authentic lentils from India! I guess you, like me, are now way past the point of hoping that Trump would do anything radical with the powers he has under our Constitution. And yes, I understand that the strong language he uses, as with the Australian guy back in January, may be just an opening bid, with the understanding being that we end up with something milder.
Even so, who thinks these are good deals? Forty-five thousand bogus "refugees" beats Obama's 110,000, but it's still 45,000 too many. It's nice that a handful of MS-13 hoodlums will be cutting throats in Sydney and Melbourne rather than on Long Island; but what would have been wrong with leaving the critters in Costa Rica, and the jihadis in those balmy Pacific islands?
We don't need any of these people, and they don't need us.
You've been hearing a lot recently about the Rohingya Muslims of Burma, which is a majority Buddhist country. Check out your atlas: Burma has a 200-mile border with Bangladesh, a Muslim country. Population of Bangladesh: 158 million. Total number of Muslims in Burma: less than two million. The 158 can't take care of the two, in a spirit of Muslim solidarity and brotherhood? Why is this any of our problem?
Or consider the sob stories in our media about particular refugees, always presented as industrious and enterprising, as of course some of them are … while some others are low-skill laborers displacing American workers, others are welfare moochers, others are petty criminals, and others are homicidal terrorists.
Here's one of those sob stories from NPR, September 27th. The model refugee in this story is Jay Subedi, who arrived in Syracuse, New York eight years ago from Nepal.
Mr Subedi owns a store in Syracuse, the Himalayan Store, where, quote from the NPR article, "you can buy traditional clothing from Nepal, authentic lentils from India, or a plate of fried rice," end quote.
Authentic lentils from India … Wow! What would we do without refugees?
We're told that Mr Subedi, originally from Bhutan, spent 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal before coming to the U.S. So presumably he's one of the ethnic Nepalis that Bhutan has been harassing and expelling since the 1980s. Bhutan and Nepal are separated by a fifty-mile-wide strip of India.
Bhutan's ethnic cleansing of Nepalis may be deplorable, although I'd like to know more about the collective behavior of Nepalis in Bhutan before I make a judgment. Even if it is deplorable, though, look at what we have here. Mr Subedi was a Nepali who fled, or was expelled, from Bhutan to Nepal. He spent 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal.
A Nepali, in Nepal, in a refugee camp. For eighteen years. That would be like some English-speaking group expelled from Mexico into the U.S.A., then being kept in refugee camps in Arizona for eighteen years.
You don't have to be hard-hearted about this. There are true refugees — people suffering displacement from their homes. I'm only pointing out that there are ways to help those people other than resettling them in the U.S.A. Muslim Bangladesh could deal with refugee Muslims from Burma. Nepal could deal with refugee Nepalis from Bhutan.
We don't have to bring all the world's problems to America like this. If the consensus among Americans is that we should, as a nation, do something to help these people, there are ways to do it in their home regions, among people like themselves … as our President told the U.N. last week.
04 — The Puerto Rico non-Question. Here's a refugee issue in our own neighborhood: Puerto Rico
The island took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria last week, and the damage is tremendous. Ten days on, most of the island still has no power. Half the inhabitants have no running water. Roads are washed out so that relief supplies aren't getting distributed. Food's getting low and there's been looting.
This is unavoidably the United States' direct responsibility because Puerto Rico is an American something-or-other.
A what, precisely? You tell me. Not a state, for sure. Most Puerto Ricans would like to be a state, but the U.S. Congress will never let it happen, not while the congresscritters are responsive in any degree at all to the wishes of their voters. Not an independent nation, either. There used to be a strong sentiment for independence; but once the welfare mentality settled in, that sentiment faded to insignificance: it polls nowadays in single digits among the islanders. A third of Puerto Ricans are on food stamps.
What Puerto Rico is, is a colony; we're just not allowed to say so. And when one of your colonies suffers a calamity like this recent hurricane, the colonial power has to step up with relief. Far as I can tell, the U.S. government has been fulfilling its responsibities here.
Long-term, the hurricane damage will just accelerate the emptying-out of Puerto Rico. The place was in dire straits before Maria hit, stuck for years in a debt crisis caused fundamentally by the place having an unproductive population and corrupt, inefficient leadership.
That was the truth behind President Trump's tweet on Monday night, that so horrified liberal commentators. Tweet from Trump, tweet:
Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.
Later Trump enlarged on his theme, tweeting that Puerto Rico's electrical grid was already "in terrible shape" and that Puerto Rico owed billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks, quote: "which, sadly, must be dealt with" end quote.
More outrage ensued, a popular theme in the outrage being that Trump as a businessman had made full use of the bankruptcy laws, so why shouldn't Puerto Rico do the same? To which the answer is that a government is not a business, mainly because a business can go out of business, but a government can't.
Prominent among the complainers was a chap named Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Puerto Rican who made a cart-load of money by writing a musical featuring Alexander Hamilton in blackface. Wait a minute; wouldn't that be cultural appropriation? Possibly I have misapprehended Mr Miranda's achievement. Whatever it was, he had harsh words for the President, tweeting that Trump would have American deaths on his watch if he didn't speed up the relief. In fact FEMA, the federal relief effort, had been on the case, shipping supplies in, for several days at that point. You're welcome, Mr Miranda.
With the debt crisis these past few years, Puerto Ricans were leaving the place in droves even before Hurricane Maria: half a million had left, from a population of less than four million, just in the last ten years. A lot more must have been thinking of leaving. Now, after Maria, they'll make the move; and they will be disproportionately people who are better-educated, better-off, and more inclined to take charge of their lives.
So as well as being on the hook for seventy-some billion dollars in defaulted debt, we American taxpayers and small investors are now liable for billions more in relief. And at the end of it all, the island will still be broke, and even further depleted of useful and productive inhabitants.
Oh, and we, the states of the actual United States, especially Florida and New York, will have acquired some hundreds of thousands more Democratic Party voters.
There's no avoiding our responsibilities to the people of Puerto Rico. I just wish I could believe — which I can't — that all this would prompt our legislators and opinionators to some action on the Puerto Rico Question.
Heck, the Puerto Rico Question isn't even a Question. It should be. Why are we running a colony in what is supposed to be a post-colonial age? Since there is no prospect that Americans will ever admit Puerto Rico as a state, why not give the place its independence?
The Caribbean is full of small independent nations that were once colonies. They're not doing great — I mean, none of them is Norway or Singapore — but they're not doing desperately badly … except for Haiti, I guess, which made the mistake of massacring all its white people early on. The rest are coping all right, with tourism, offshore banking, and … I dunno … bananas? Let Puerto Rico join them.
Why don't we even talk about this? Why is the Puerto Rico Question not a Question?
05 — Yearning for unity. Genuflecting is in the news. The topic here is of course those football players, mainly black ones, genuflecting — "taking a knee" — during pre-game playing of the National Anthem. What's up with that?
I can only give a personal take on this; and it's not, I'm aware, a thoroughly American take.
I am an American, a citizen for fifteen years now, and very glad to be one; but I grew up elsewhere, in a monoracial country — England had few blacks, in just a few areas, until I was well into my teens. I came here as an adult, 28 years old; so I don't see the American racial scene the way born Americans see it and grow up with it.
To an outsider like me, one very striking thing about that scene was the deep, hungry yearning among most white Americans to think well of blacks.
After the Civil Rights reforms of the sixties, there was a widespread sentiment that with the injustices of the past set aside, we ought to be able to get to a place where we would be all citizens together, equal under the law and regarding each other in a spirit of equality. It might take a few years (people felt) and need some temporary remedies — affirmative action, contract set-asides, and so on — but we should get there, and be a united, reasonably harmonious nation by, oh, the year 2000, for sure. That was the mood in the early 1970s, as I perceived it.
And as I said, one part of it was a strong wish among whites to think well of blacks. Statistics bore this out. A survey in 1978 asked white Americans to estimate what proportion of black families were headed by a female. The estimates were from eight to twelve percent. The actual figure at the time was 21 percent. White people under-estimated black-white differences. They wanted to. They wanted to think well of blacks.
A lot of that yearning still persists. If you engage with the statistics much, you're struck by how staggeringly big the black-white differences are — bigger than most people are aware, way bigger than estimates you'd get from average white Americans.
Try asking some white acquaintance how much more likely a random black American is to commit homicide, than a random white person. "Heck, I don't know," he'll say, displaying considerable embarrassment at having been forced to think about the matter. "Is there really a difference? What is it, twice as likely?" The actual answer is six times as likely.
If you replace "homicide" by "street robbery," the multiplier is thirty times. You wouldn't hear that as an estimate from any white person, though. White Americans just don't want to think that badly of their fellow citizens.
Professional sports play into that yearning. I recall sitting in bars or private homes back in the seventies, when I was new to the States, watching football or basketball on TV. What jumped out at me was the peculiarity, the strangeness, of stadiums filled with mostly white people cheering on teams that were mostly black.
Occasionally I got the chance to talk to other expats like myself. Was it just me, or did they notice that strangeness, too? Yes, they did. It wasn't just me. That strangeness was a very American thing, a thing foreigners noticed.
The core issue there was patriotism, the American style of patriotism. White Americans love our country. We want to think well of it; we want foreigners to admire it. By the late 1960s, when there was a consensus among white Americans that blacks should have full equality under the law, there was an eagerness to welcome any kind of sign that blacks were doing well.
In professional sports, blacks do do well; so sports fed that yearning to think well of blacks.
Our own Steve Sailer, who is way more interested in sports than I am — you could hardly be less interested in sports than I am — Steve has superb insights in this area. Here he was writing in Taki's Magazine last week, quotes from Steve:
Blacks have come to dominate most positions in football, which reassures white conservatives of the fundamental fairness of American society. It's difficult to believe the conventional wisdom in the press about how racist America is when the NFL is phenomenally popular despite being 68 percent black …
Reading passages like that, I find myself wondering again, for the umpteenth time, why shallow mediocrities like David Brooks or John Podhoretz have high-paid opinionating slots at major mainstream publications while Steve's material is out beyond the fringes of respectability.
I don't wonder for long, though, because I know the answer. It was spelled out for us a hundred years ago by T.S. Eliot: "Humankind cannot bear very much reality." For broad marketplace appeal, tragic truth doesn't stand a chance against feelgood falsehood.
06 — White America's national pastime. What about black Americans, though? Those millionaire ball players, disrespecting the flag and the anthem like that — do they love the country?
Some of them, I'm sure, would insist that they do. The more literate ones, if there are any, might quote Senator Schurz at you: "Our country — when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right."
That's not the strongest impression you get, though, watching those footballers take the knee. The strongest impression I got was, that I was looking at a bunch of spoiled brats.
Those hopes Americans had in the sixties and seventies, that the whole damned wretched race business would just go away under legal equality, came up against reality, and reality won. Unwilling to accept that, white Americans shifted to a different posture, a sort of paternalism.
When China was struggling to come to terms with modernity a hundred years ago, the writer Lu Xun said: "It seems that we Chinese just can't treat foreigners as equals. We either look down on them as coarse, crude barbarians, or else we worship them as masters of science and democracy."
American whites seem to be in some similar relation to blacks. Either they are an undeveloped, immature type of humanity, for whom endless excuses have to be made, or they are solemn, grave repositories of wisdom and high spirituality — Magic Negroes. The notion that they are just men and women like ourselves, seems to be difficult to keep a firm grip on at any level above the one-on-one.
That first option, the paternalistic one, the infantilizing one, is the one we mostly opt for. It's been the one mostly on display in coverage of the genuflecting footballers. They whine, they pout; they pretend they are oppressed, when by any objective standard they are petted and pampered; they sputter about "police brutality," when all the statistics say the opposite thing.
Quote from Heather Mac Donalds's analysis of those statistics, sample quote:
In 2015, a police officer was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was to be killed by a police officer … That 18.5 ratio undoubtedly worsened in 2016, in light of the 53 percent increase in gun murders of officers — committed vastly and disproportionately by black males.
They stamp, and pout, and, sputter, and snarl; and white America smiles sadly, shakes its head, and says, "Well, what can you expect, poor things? After all that slavery and discrimination, all that prejudice …"
It is, as I said, like watching clueless parents dealing with spoiled children. They have no agency. They can't help it.
Football may be our national sport; but the national pastime of white Americans, I often think, is making excuses for blacks.
07 — Decades of effort, billions of dollars. The beginning of wisdom here is race realism.
The truth about race is that it's real, and the statistical differences between blacks and other races — in temperament, behavior, intelligence, and personality — are big and intractable.
You don't like to hear "intractable"? Here's a random news story from last week. This is the San Francisco news outlet SFgate, Wednesday September 27th, headline: California releases annual test scores — stagnant results, persistent gaps. Sample text, quote:
Education officials across California released their scores Wednesday, each highlighting what they saw as positive news in the data while lamenting the stubborn, and in some cases widening, achievement gap.
Lotsa luck there, Vince.
You might think, mightn't you? that after all those "decades of effort and billions of dollars in funding," reality is trying to tell us something.
One of Dr Johnson's friends had an unhappy marriage. Then the wife died, and the friend remarried. Johnson called this: "The triumph of hope over experience."
The continuing yearning of white Americans to think well of our black compatriots is a triumph of patriotism over experience. The experience is all those futile "decades of effort and billions of dollars in funding." The patriotism is the deep unwillingness to believe that our country, which we love, is fatally, structurally, flawed.
Well, is it? Is a harmonious multiracial society just not possible — beyond the design limits of human nature? Was Abraham Lincoln right when he told the freedmen that, quote:
You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races … We suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.
Well, maybe he was and maybe he wasn't; but separation is no more feasible now than it was in 1862. We must struggle on forward as best we can, white and black alike.
I'm happy to give it my best shot, as an American; but I do wish, I so do wish, we could cut out the hypocrisy about "white privilege" and "police brutality," and cut out the futility about "closing the gaps" and "fixing the schools."
That's my formula for an enlightened patriotism: for black and nonblack to face up honestly to reality, to our group differences, which aren't anyone's fault, except Mother Nature's — as citizens united in a common enterprise, with a common collective fate as Americans.
Is it really impossible? I sure hope not.
08 — Authenticity trumps Trump. Radio Derb's wish came true: Upstart Roy Moore, the candidate of the Old, Weird America, easily beat Luther Strange, candidate of the GOP donor class, in the Alabama Republican primary Tuesday.
This was in spite of Luther Strange having spent, by some reports, seven times as much as Roy Moore; and in spite, too, of Strange having the endorsement of no less a figure than President Donald Trump.
It wasn't hard to figure what the Republicans of Alabama were telling us: They like Trumpism more than they like Trump. Many commentators noted this, most pithily Mark Steyn. Quote from Mark:
This election was a primary between the industrial-strength Bannonite MAGAlicious Donald J Trump (as represented by Moore) and the house-trained semi-neutered General Kellyfied McMasterized Donald J Trump (as represented by Strange). And the house-trained Trump lost. There's a lesson in that: The man who said he could shoot a guy on Fifth Avenue and his base would stick with him was essentially told by the base that, when he wanders too far down the GOP establishment end of things, the base is just as happy to shoot him.
I'd add to that the following thought: Never underestimate the appeal of authenticity.
You may think that Roy Moore believes some wacky things; but my goodness, he believes them. He'll go to the mat for them — and has done.
What does Luther Strange believe? I'm sure he'd be glad to tell you. But then, if you asked him a week later, after he'd had lunch with a different donor, or consulted a different focus group, he'd quite likely tell you a different thing.
And most of our politicians are like that. There has been much shrieking and swooning among Progressive types over the fact that Roy Moore opposes same-sex marriage. Well, ten years ago, every politician of consequence opposed same-sex marriage — including, if memory serves, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Since then, they will tell you, they have … evolved.
Roy Moore hasn't evolved. Heck, he doesn't even believe in evolution! Like the immutable species that God placed on the Earth six thousand years ago, Roy Moore's views are the same today as they were in 2007.
That strikes many Americans as a refreshing and encouraging thing, a still point on a world that's in flux. Perhaps it especially strikes Trump voters that way.
Authenticity was, after all, one of Donald Trump's selling points in last year's campaign. You might not like the things he said; they might not even necessarily make much sense; but you could at least be sure he wasn't saying them to curry favor with some faction, or please some donor group, or because some consultant told him to say them.
To be sure, you could turn up some examples of him having said the opposite thing ten or twenty years ago. That was a genuine change of conviction, though, Trumpians will tell you, not an opportunistic scurrying to keep up with the zeitgeist. Trump just isn't a scurrying-to-keep-up-with-the-zeitgeist kind of person. Which is true: he's not.
The President has lost some of that luster of authenticity this past eight months, though. Even making fair allowance for politics being the art of the possible, and for the frustrations of dealing with a comatose Congress, Trump has left undone those things which he ought to have done (like building a border wall); and he has done those things which he ought not to have done (like giving a new lease of life to DACA).
Into this authenticity desert, Roy Moore appears like manna from Heaven.
It was a Frenchman — not, as you will often hear said, Richard Nixon — who said: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." Well, you can't fake authenticity, not at the Roy Moore level.
09 — Commie nostalgia in the Times. We're coming into October this weekend, October 2017: a hundred years on from the October Revolution of 1917, one of the greatest political earthquakes of the modern age.
There is some calendrical tiresomeness to get out of the way. Tsarist Russia was still on the Julian calendar, one of the last European countries to be so. England had switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian in 1752; Wednesday, September 2nd that year was followed by Thursday, September 14th, causing the London mob to come out in the streets shouting "Give us back our eleven days!"
Well, the Bolshevik coup in Russia happened on October 25th in the old calendar (also a Wednesday). Once Lenin was installed in power, though, he switched Russia to the Gregorian calendar, which by that time had accumulated two more days on the Julian, putting it thirteen days ahead. So if you want to be precise about it, the anniversary of the coup is November 7th.
Russians went on calling it the October Revolution regardless. Some of the more enthusiastic Soviet citizens in fact named their children Melsor, M-E-L-S-O-R, for Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, October Revolution. I believe there are still living people in Russia bearing that name (which works equally well in the Cyrillic alhpabet).
You might not have to go to Russia to find a Melsor; there were plenty of keen communists in the West.
If you wanted to go looking for a Melsor in today's U.S.A., a good place to start would be the offices of the New York Times. The Gray Lady has been running a series they call "Red Century," quote from them: "essays about the history and legacy of Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution," end quote. I assume that this is preparatory to a special commemorative centennial issue of the Times on November 7th.
September 25th, for example, the Times ran a piece by one Helen Gao, bylined as "a social policy analyst at a research company." Title: How Did Women Fare in China's Communist Revolution?.
Ms Gao seems to be trying for a balanced view. Quote: "'The Communists did many terrible things,' my grandmother always says at the end of her reminiscences. 'But they made women's lives much better.'" End quote.
Ms Gao doesn't tell us any of the terrible things, though. She allows there were downsides to communism for women, but they are mostly Hillary-Clintonish grumblings about workplace inequality. Quote: "Mao's words and policies did little to alleviate women's domestic burdens like housework and child care," end quote. Worse yet, quote:
Women were shunted to collective neighborhood workshops with meager pay and dismal working conditions, while men were more commonly employed in comfortable big-industry and state-enterprise jobs. Party cadres' explanations for this reflected deeply entrenched gender prejudices: Women have a weaker constitution and gentler temper, rendering them unfit for the strenuous tasks of operating heavy equipment or manning factory floors.
Those darned "gender prejudices"! Why, I bet that bigot that Google fired last month would have been right at home among those cadres!
All in all, though, Ms Gao takes an upbeat line. Quote: "For all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big." That was too much even for Times readers. Sample comment, quote:
Didn't the communist revolution in China also lead to millions of women (and men) to not dream at all, by killing them?
Indeed it did. If you have a strong stomach, I refer you to Chapter 21 of The Black Book of Communism, 84 pages describing the horrors of Mao Tse-tung's revolution — real horrors like public torture, mass murder, and cannibalism, not "meager pay and dismal working conditions."
I wouldn't trust too much to Ms Gao's grandmother's reminiscences, either. It's common, for example, to meet mainland-Chinese people who believe that the communists abolished the atrocious custom of foot-binding, that left women crippled with deformed feet. The communists claim that they did, or at some point claimed it, and people heard them and believed it.
In fact foot-binding was abolished in Nationalist China, decades before the communists showed up. It had been shamed out of existence in all but a few backward localities by the 1920s.
To anyone well-acquainted with 20th-century history it's infinitely annoying to hear this cant about, well, yes, communism had some downsides — "mistakes were made," as Stalin's apologists used to say — but net-net it brought old nations into the modern era and improved the lives of the common people.
Lives were improving before the communists showed up. To the degree that communism accomplished any positive things with its mass killings, deportations, and suppression of liberty, those things would have happened anyway, probably sooner. The balance sheet shows nothing in communism's favor, with mountains of corpses and oceans of blood on the debit side.
I'll be interested to see how the red-diaper babies at the New York Times cover Cambodia.
10 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Last week I warned you that the podcast might be our last, as the world was scheduled to end last Saturday.
Plainly that didn't happen. The person who said it would, biblical numerologist David Meade, has revised his calculations. Yes, he tells us, he got it wrong — sorry! His revised date is October 21st.
That's getting suspiciously close to the anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Maybe this guy's on to something. Lenin may well have been the Antichrist — I can't think of a better candidate.
So perhaps after a hundred-year reign of the Antichrist — he's still there in his mausoleum in Moscow — there comes the Day of Judgement.
Takeaway from this item: Don't buy any green bananas.
A reader emailed in on that, pointing out that the original #MAGA hats would serve just as well. You just need to change the meaning of MAGA to "Make Amnesty Go Away." Duly noted, Sir — thank you.
Item: Archeologists digging at the site of Paul Revere's house in Boston's North End believe they have found the famous horseman's privy.
Quote from lead archeologist Joe Bagley, quote:
We're hoping to find the individuals' waste themselves, which, we can get seeds from what they were eating, we can find parasites, find out what their health was, but then everything else that they threw out from their house.
This is one of those news stories whose main entertainment value is in the comment thread. "Midnight rides" … "Number Two if by sea" … The jokes pretty much write themselves.
Item: If that was the grossest news story of the week, this one's the weirdest.
This is from an auction house, Alexander Historical Auctions of Chesapeake City, Maryland. Last week the auction house sold a pair of Adolf Hitler's underpants, embroidered with his initials. The sale price was $6,737 — a strangely precise number, I don't know why.
How did they come to own a pair of the Führer's knickers? Well, Hitler left them behind when he stayed at a hotel in Austria in 1938, right after the Anschluss. They went to the hotel laundry, but Hitler and his party had moved on by the time they came back. The family that owned that hotel kept the underpants for almost 80 years, then decided to cash in.
I found myself wondering if this was a one-off for the buyer; or is he perhaps a collector of dictator personal effects? Does he own a pair of Stalin's socks, Kim Il Sung's hanky, Chairman Mao's shoehorn?
Whatever: that's a hell of a conversation piece.
11 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and apologies for running slightly over time here today.
Here's Gracie to sing us out. There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, "Sing As We Go."]