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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your educationally genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you a cold-eyed look at the week's news.
And yes, I'm having a fire sale on education stories this week. Also a parallel fire sale on quotes from We Are Doomed, because the education chapter of that book was the most fun to write and it's pertinent to this week's stories.
Here's a sort of keynote quote from that chapter, to get you in the right frame of mind for the segments that follow. Quote:
The whole topic of education is a glorious feast for pessimists of all kinds.
End quote. You'd better believe it. In case you still don't, for further evidence, although from a somewhat different viewpoint, I suggest getting a copy of Bryan Caplan's new book The Case Against Education, which I have been reading with relish.
02 — Eternal recurrence. If you make a living by commenting on public affairs from a viewpoint of realism about human nature, there are certain items that correspond to what gardeners call "hardy perennials" — precise places, persons, or situations that come up again and again in the same context, year after year.
The recurrence of these items is, to a commentator, both depressing and heartening at the same time.
Depressing, because it's sad to see one's fellow human beings banging their heads against the same wall year in, year out, apparently in the conviction that if they bang long enough the wall will disappear. Encouraging, because these hardy perennials offer evidence to the commentator that he will never run out of material and become unemployed.
In Britain, back in the heyday of children's weekly comics like the Beano and Dandy, there used to be an urban legend that the publishers of these kiddie periodicals would just reprint the same stories on a cycle of ten years or so, confident that people who'd read the prior version as children would have grown up and stopped subscribing. This wasn't actually true, but I've always thought there was a viable business model lurking there somewhere.
Well, here's a hardy perennial for you. Its name is PS 199. "PS" of course stands for Public School. PS 199 is an elementary school, kindergarten through fifth grade, on West 70th Street in Manhattan. That's a tony neighborhood. A two-bedroom apartment on West 70th will currently cost you around two million dollars.
I wrote about PS 199 in the education chapter of my 2009 book We Are Doomed, which I started writing just about ten years ago. I was in fact writing about a kerfuffle that broke out in November 2008, when an apartment up there only cost one million dollars.
What was the 2008 kerfuffle about? Quote from We Are Doomed:
New York City's education department wanted to make some adjustments to school district boundaries in Manhattan. You see, a lot of these people bought those million dollar condos so that their kids could attend PS 199 on West 70th street. It's a really good elementary school with great test results. If the proposed rezoning were to go through, though, their kids would have had to attend PS 191 at West 61st and Amsterdam Avenue. That's a lousy school with dismal test results.
OK, forward ten years to this week. This week's story isn't actually about PS 199 and PS 191, except indirectly. It's basically the same story, though, and a key meeting took place in PS 199.
The story is that New York City has a new Schools Chancellor, Richard Carranza, appointed last month by the city's communist Mayor Bill de Blasio. Carranza is of Mexican parentage and of course fiercely anti-white.
So the city Department of Education has cooked up a scheme to diversify city middle schools by reserving places in the best ones — 25 percent of places — for kids with the lowest test scores in state exams. That means of course that a corresponding number of kids who scored high on the exams will be placed in crappy middle schools.
Just as in 2008, the Upper West Side Ice People are furious about this. It's their kids that do well on exams, so it's their kids that will be assigned to sinkhole middle schools while the most dimwitted and misbehaving Sun People kids will be bused into their schools.
You can actually see their fury on YouTube: search for "Upper West Side parents." You'll find a video of a meeting of parents held at, yes, PS 199 on April 25th. There are thirty or forty parents in that room screeching angrily at Department of Education honchos; and you can't help but notice there are not many raisins in that bun — none at all that I could see.
That video upset Schools Chancellor Carranza. He tweeted it under the headline, quote: "Watch wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools," end quote.
See, Chancellor Carranza didn't get the memo that while it is of course fine to be anti-white, the proper targets of one's anti-whiteness are middle- and working-class white Americans. You are not supposed to direct your anti-white wrath against rich and gentry whites. That is, as the kids say, "not OK."
The political line-up in the U.S.A. today is top and bottom versus the middle. Rich whites and aggrieved Mexican-Americans are supposed to be on the same side against deplorable Trump voters — of whom, I venture to speculate, there are very, very few living in two-million-dollar apartments on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
So now, ten years on, there's another little tornado of efforts to diversify schools raging through the Upper West Side.
How did that last one work out? I just looked up today's student stats for those two schools I wrote about in We Are Doomed. In 2008 PS 199 was 80 percent Ice People; today it's 79 percent. The other school, PS 191 was only 12 percent Ice People back then; today it's 20 percent, reflecting ongoing gentrification.
Upper West Side Ice People have held their own this past ten years and even made some advances. My bet would be on them having their way over the Schools Chancellor on this latest scheme.
I shall report back again on efforts to diversify Upper West Side schools in the year 2028.
03 — White school flight. Second item on the subject of diversity in our schools. To preface it, may I include just one more brief quote from We Are Doomed, please? Just one sentence? Thank you. Quote:
The recent history of modern public-education reform in this country is very nearly a history of the determination on the part of white and East Asian parents that their children not attend schools with too many black and Hispanic students.
End quote. Well-nigh every week there's something in the news illustrating the truth of that.
Here's one from the Associated Press, April 27th, headline: District move to keep white students cites "racial balance".
The district in that headline is Liberty School District, north of Youngstown, Ohio. The nub of the story is that white students, which I assume means whites plus East Asians — Ice People — white students who live in the Liberty district are enrolling in schools outside the district, because the Liberty district is getting too minority, there are too many Sun People coming in.
The authorities in Liberty want to stop this happening, and they're invoking a state law from the year 2000 that lets them. If you're an Ice Person and you live in the Liberty district, the law says you can be barred from sending your kids tuition-free to a public school outside the district.
Note this is the opposite of the old problem where Sun People kids were bused into Ice People schools. Liberty isn't trying to keep its schools white by keeping blacks out; it's trying to keep its schools white by keeping white kids in.
Usually the way to figure out what's going on demographically in a school district is to find big public elementary, middle, and high schools in the same zip code and look at the proportions of Ice People versus Sun People in each school. If there's a definite gradient — if there are more Sun People (blacks and Hispanics) in the middle school than in the high school, and more yet in the elementary school, you know this is a district that is demographically "turning."
I tried this out with the Liberty School District. High school: Liberty High School, student body 39 percent Sun People. Middle school: William S. Guy Middle School, student body 36 percent Sun People. Elementary school: E.J. Blott Elementary School, student body 40 percent Sun People.
I don't know what to make of that. There is actually a negative gradient from high school to middle school, with more Sun People in the high school. The elementary school does have a higher proportion than both, but only by a slim margin.
Perhaps it's high school that concentrates the parents' minds. Without them fleeing at that point, the high school's Sun People proportion would be lower.
All those figures are close to twice the proportion of Sun People living in the district, though, so there is definitely white flight.
The AP story quotes neighboring Girard School District as the one white students are fleeing to. I looked up their high school: Sun People eight percent.
The Girard school board president said his district doesn't do targeted recruiting and welcomes any students who choose to attend as long as they're in good standing and the school has room. The AP report quotes him as saying, "I don't care what color they are," and says he was frustrated to be talking about race at all.
Well, duh. Of course it's frustrating. It's frustrating because everyone knows the plain realities here, but everyone also knows that speaking honestly about them can get you fired and ostracized.
This is life under a regime of compulsory public dishonesty.
04 — Trump shills for the cheap-labor lobbies. Do you mind if I just air once again my grumble about misuse of the word "immigrant"? There are hardy perennials among Radio Derb grumbles as well as among news stories.
The word "immigrant" has a precise meaning: it's someone who has been granted an immigrant visa. All other foreigners in the U.S.A. at any given time are either nonimmigrants — which is to say, they are here bearing some category of nonimmigrant visa — or else illegal aliens.
When I landed here in October 1985, for example, I did so as a guest worker on a nonimmigrant visa. It says it plainly in the visa stamp in my passport: NONIMMIGRANT VISA. There are lots of other categories of nonimmigrant visas: students, visitors, business exchanges, diplomats, and so on. They are all nonimmigrant visas. Bearers of them are not immigrants; they are aliens, as I was in 1985, given permission to live here temporarily.
The bedwetters on the hysterical Left don't like the word "alien." It's xenophobic, they say, intended to bring to mind the critter that came bursting out of John Hurt's chest in that movie.
Speaking as a former alien, I don't mind the term a bit. If it'll calm down the bedwetters, though, I'll deploy a euphemism. How about "outlanders"? There you go; a bit Germanic-sounding, perhaps, but why would anyone object to that?
Now you may ask why, since I entered the U.S.A. 33 years ago on a nonimmigrant visa, why I'm still here. Answer: If some employer brings you in on a guest-worker visa like mine, it's a common thing for them to sweeten the deal by offering to sponsor you for an immigrant visa, so long as you work hard and don't make trouble.
And that's what happened to me. My employer sponsored me, I graduated to an immigrant visa, and in the fullness of time applied for citizenship and was naturalized.
So you can understand my skepticism when I hear a politician say: "No, no, I don't favor more immigration. I do think we need more guest workers, though — people brought in to do some specific job, who will go back to their home countries when the job's done."
Do politicians actually say things that dumb? Oh yeah. Matter of fact, President Trump said it just the other day at a rally in Michigan.
[Clip: For the farmers its going to get really good. We're going to let your guestworkers come in, because we have to have strong borders, but we have to let your workers in. Our unemployment picture is so good and so strong that we've got to let people come in, they're going to be guestworkers. They're going to work on your farms, we're gonna have the H-2Bs come in, we're going to have a lot of things happening, but then they have to go out. But we're gonna let them in because you need them … Guestworkers, don't we agree? We have to have them.]
Many in the crowd applauded gamely, but if you watch the video there, some of the faces bring to mind the girl in the Monty Python lumberjack sketch: "Oh Bevis, I thought you were so rugged."
All right, all right: Donald Trump is still not Hillary Clinton, for which we should be eternally thankful. And all right: the President can't be expected to know the fine points of U.S. visa procedures; although he has plenty of people to advise him, if he'd care to listen to them. And all right: elsewhere in the speech the President said stern words about illegal outlanders and even seems to have promised to shut down the federal government this fall if he doesn't get funding for a wall.
On the campaign trail, though, Trump sounded like he knew what was needful to be done to halt the demographic transformation of our country into an unstable stew of squabbling tribes. Why is he now truckling to the cheap-labor lobbies? Why is he shutting American teens out of summer jobs just so hotels and resorts can improve their profits?
This was a flagrant betrayal of his voter base. For shame, Mr President, for shame.
05 — When lovely woman stoops to folly. Here in this week's news is a blast from the past, a name to raise echoes in my poor drink-sodden brain: Linda Vester.
Many many years ago, before I was blacklisted as a Thought Criminal, I was occasionally invited on TV for a five-minute opinionating spot as a talking head.
This happened one time early in the last decade. I think it was when the ChiComs forced one of our reconnaissance planes to land in China. I wrote something about that and someone at Fox News noticed it.
I got the call from Fox. They sent a limo and I rode into the city. After ten minutes with the makeup girl and some hanging around in the green room, I was taken into a studio with two chairs. I sat in one chair while they fitted me up with a mike. Then in came the interviewer. After greeting me, she sat in the other chair to have her mike fitted.
At this point I had slipped into a catatonic trance. I'm more than usually susceptible to female beauty, and this interviewer was knock-out beautiful. I don't think I've ever before been that close to such a lovely woman.
That was Linda Vester. I've done some scanning on Google Images and YouTube, but as is often the case the full force of the lady's appeal is not transmitted by mere recording devices. In any case she is twenty years older now; and we all know that time is even less kind to her sex than to mine.
Whatever, I was tongue-tied. I very much hope no footage of that interview has survived. If it has, you get to see your genial host mumbling incoherently while staring fixedly at Ms Vester's lips.
Well, to the news. It turns out I was not the only guy smitten by young Ms Vester's charms. In an interview published April 26th Linda Vester told the showbiz magazine Variety that Tom Brokaw tickled her in an NBC office in Denver back in 1993, when she was 28 years old. Quote:
Tom Brokaw enters through the door and grabs me from behind and proceeds to tickle me up and down my waist.
End quote. She further alleges that Tom tried to kiss her in her hotel room that same year, and again in a restaurant the next year.
The fact of the accused here being Tom Brokaw adds an extra layer of curious interest to the story. What, ol' Tom, a groper? It's like going to the local S&M parlor and finding your maiden aunt there in a black leather Nazi outfit brandishing a whip. I mean, really, Tom Brokaw? I'd have thought he'd be even more paralyzed in the young Ms Vester's presence than I was eight years later.
I can't say I ever warmed to Tom. There's that strange style of enunciation he has, that doesn't quite rise to the level of an amusing speech impediment, pronouncing every letter in every word: "The streets of Los Angeles tonight are collum …"
Tom Brokaw never picked my pocket or broke my leg, though. He seems like a decent sort of guy. I suppose he's a liberal — aren't they all? — but he's a patriot by his own lights, he's worked hard and he's stayed married.
Ms Vester claims she, quote, "suffered years of humiliation and isolation" from these incidents. Poor thing!
If the memory of some guy trying to cop a feel from you or give you a goodnight kiss twenty-five years ago counts as suffering, then Ms Vester's generation are the most fortunate human beings that have ever lived.
Tom handled the nonsense well, I thought. Quote:
She couldn't pick up the phone and say, "I'd like to talk. I have issues from those two meetings 20 years ago"? Instead she became a character assassin. Strip away all the hyperbole and what has she achieved? What was her goal? Hard to believe it wasn't much more than Look at Me:Too.
End quote. Right on, Tom.
Most likely the real suffering and humiliation here is the fact of Linda Vester's career not having gone anywhere much since … when? Looks like about 2001 … about the time she interviewed me.
Hm. Could it be that she was already out of favor with the suits at Fox, and that her failure to get any sense out of me was the last straw that sank her career? And that her subsequent resentment has just transferred itself to Tom Brokaw? So that this little sex harassment flap is, indirectly, all my fault? Hey, anything's possible.
However that may be, the magic is gone. The bloom is off the rose. The spell is broken. Fled is that music. My enchantress turns out to be just another vindictive harpy, shrieking about gender inequality and toxic masculinity. What a fallen world this is!
06 — Weapons of mass migration. I've just been reading Amy Chua's new book Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations. I shall comment more fully on the book another time. Here I'll just note what she says about Libya, and our overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.
This was, says Professor Chua, the latest in a long tradition of our leaders blundering into disaster because of a failure of imagination by them and their advisors: the failure to understand the depth and strength of tribal and ethnonationalist feeling. Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela: time and again we defaulted to the belief that if only some bad dictator were removed from the scene or defeated in war, the people he'd governed would join in celebration, dancing round the maypole together in happy harmony, uniting to form a Jeffersonian democracy.
She quotes Barack Obama following Gadaffi's fall, quote: "One thing is clear: the future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people … It will be the Libyans who build their new nation." End quote.
In fact of course there was no such thing as the Libyan people, only a salad of tribes and factions who hated each other to the death.
I can recall fifteen years ago being told by a senior American journalist — no names, no pack drill — that of course we could rebuild Iraq. We'd rebuilt Germany and Japan, hadn't we?
In this mentality there is no difference between monoracial, monoethnic, monolingual, monoreligious nations like postwar Germany and Japan and an Iraq, a Libya, a Yugoslavia.
Of all these unimaginative blunders, Libya may prove to be the most disastrous. That thought was prompted by the scariest article I have read this week. It was posted at OrientalReview.org on April 28th, though I picked it up via ZeroHedge. Headline: Migrant Crisis 2.0 Might Come From Africa. Read it and tremble.
Executive summary: The Sahel region, that big east-west swathe of Africa just south of the Sahara Desert, between the sand and the savannah — countries like Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic, and bits of some others — this whole Sahel region is deeply unstable, and the collapse of Libya has made it even more so.
The Sahel can't feed its people, yet they have sensationally high fertility. Niger has 20 million people; it will have 200 million by the end of the century on present fertility levels.
Governance in the region is bad and getting worse, where it even exists. The problems are bleeding over into West African states like Nigeria and Senegal. Inevitably there will soon be a massive refugee exodus.
The article quotes David Beasley, Executive Director of the UN World Food Program, addressing the people of Europe. Quote:
If you think you had a problem resulting from a nation of 20 million people like Syria because of destabilization and conflict resulting in migration, wait until the greater Sahel region of 500 million people is further destabilized. And this is where the European community and international community have got to wake up.
End quote. Note please that is not Doomster Derb saying that, or Steve Sailer, or Pat Buchanan: that is a senior official of the United Nations.
If you're not having nightmares about this, you should be. This is, as the author says, an existential challenge to Western civilization. Five or ten years from now, we shall be talking of nothing else.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Political hero of the week is undoubtedly Michael Caputo, who told the congresscritters what they badly need to hear.
Caputo was a consultant to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. That has caused him to be pulled in to the everlasting efforts to pin some illegality on to that campaign in hopes of bringing down our President.
So Michael Caputo's been investigated, and investigated, and investigated. Tuesday this week he delivered a statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That statement should, if I had my druthers, be carved on a huge block of stone — huge enough to be dropped onto the Senate Intelligence Committee from a great height. Then, after the blood has been hosed off, the block should be placed in a prominent place on the National Mall as a warning against the criminalization of policy differences.
Money quote from Michael Caputo's statement, quote:
Forget about all the death threats against my family. I want to know who cost us so much money, who crushed our kids, who forced us out of our home, all because you lost an election.
End quote. Political hero of the week? This guy is my political hero of the Trump presidency so far.
Item: Just one more on the education beat. This one is about higher education, college education, for students from poor families. "Poor" is defined to mean a family income below $40,000.
How well do colleges do at educating these students from poor families? Well, no surprise, some colleges do better than others.
Strikingly, though, one state system stands out. Quote:
Schools in the University of California system are doing significantly better than other four-year colleges and universities in the country when it comes to enrolling low-income students and seeing them across the finish line.
End quote. That quote is from a thoughtful and quite long — over a thousand words — May 1st article in The Atlantic monthly, headline: The University of California Stands Out Among Top Schools When It Comes to Serving Poor Students.
OK, here's the punchline to the story — I mean, the story about this article. The observation is not mine, by the way. It was made by Charles Murray on Twitter, and I'm just retailing it.
Punchline: Nowhere in that thousand-word article is there any speculation that California might have more poor East and South Asians than other states.
Does it, actually? I don't know, but on general principles I'd think it likely. Wouldn't it be something that would occur to an investigative reporter, something worth a mention — a sentence or two, perhaps — in a thousand-word piece?
No it wouldn't, not to a totally CultMarx-compliant writer, one who has schooled himself rigorously in the belief that but for social disadvantages, all human races are perfectly equal in capabilities, and in the meta-belief that to believe otherwise is wicked.
Item: And now, the news you've all been waiting for: This year's Miss BumBum pageant in Brazil. Online voting begins August 6th; the fifteen finalists will present themselves to the judges on November 5th.
This is the eighth and final Miss BumBum contest; there will be no more after this one, say the organizers. After this year the whole spectacle will be left … behind, a historical curiosity.
The theme of this year's pageant is Diversity. Transgender contestants will be allowed for the first time; so if you enjoy gazing at callipygian persons of indeterminate sex — and for goodness' sake, who doesn't? — feast your eyes on the photo spread at the Daily Mail website.
Apparently the inspiration for many of the contestants is an American heinie, the one belonging to famous-for-being-famous Kim Kardashian. Quote from the Daily Mail:
Cacau Oliver, the creator of the Miss BumBum pageant, believes it is a national concern that so many Brazilian women are desperate to emulate the reality star's famous backside.
End quote. I couldn't agree more. I urge the Miss BumBum contestants to honor their proud nation and present a united front to the onlooking world at this year's pageant. Together with, of course, a neatly divided back.
Are we allowed to submit a write-in vote, I wonder? I only ask because, in spite of everything, I still have Linda Vester on my mind …
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and thanks once again for your many emails, concerning which I am as usual hopelessly backed up. Everything non-abusive gets read, pondered, and where appropriate plagiarized; but finding the time to answer is problematic.
Last weekend's podcast came from the vicinity of Nashville, Tennessee. I was working with a slow hotel wi-fi link, so I didn't have the time for a proper signout clip. Being so close to Nashville I should of course have signed out with a clip of country music, but time was pressing.
Mentioning that to a friend afterwards, I said I'd sign out this week with something country by way of compensation. My friend knows way more about music than I do, so I asked him for a recommendation. He answered with no pause for thought at all.
Here is his recommendation, recorded by legendary country music star Roy Acuff … who, by the way, once ran for Governor of Tennessee. There's no escape from politics.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Roy Acuff, "Wabash Cannonball."]