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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is your authoritatively genial host John Derbyshire — tanned, rested, and ready after a delightful and very relaxing long weekend in the bosky Poconos.
First off this week I'd like to offer thanks to many kind listeners and readers who have emailed in asking about Toby, the Hound of the Derbyshires. Toby is stable; very much reduced in weight and unable to walk more than the length of the back yard, but not in any discomfort. By trial and error we've found some food items he can get down in small quantities, and we keep his water bowl full so he doesn't dehydrate. The vet's given us some steroid pills that seem to help. He's stable. Junior looked after him while Mom and Dad were in the Poconos, with no ill effects. Thanks again to all who've enquired.
OK, to the week's news. Thursday was our President's 72nd birthday of course. I shall not follow a multitude to do evil by offering the breathy Marilyn Monroe version of the Happy Birthday song, since every lefty comedian has already done that. I'll just offer my President a plain, sincere wish for a happy birthday and many more of the same.
Junior reminds me that Thursday was also the birthday of the United States Army, the 243rd if my arithmetic is right. Happy birthday to all of them: grunts, pogues, officers, REMFs, … all of them. Thanks, guys! … and of course gals. That's as far as I'll go with gender correctness. If you're not sure whether you're a guy or a gal, get out of the Army and seek help.
One more notable thing about Thursday: It was Flag Day, the 133rd I think. It depends where you count from. The history here is quite interesting; I'll leave you to read it up for yourselves at military.com if you're so inclined.
02 — The number one social-science issue of our time. In last week's podcast I got a bit carried away with congressional maneuvering over immigration issues, leaving myself no time for other topics in the news. Here's one of those topics: the assault on meritocracy.
Now, the whole issue of meritocracy is problematic. It needs some serious thought and public discussion, but isn't getting much of either.
I've spoken and written about this at length. Here I was, for example, in my February Diary at VDARE.com this year, commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of Michael Young's book The Rise of the Meritocracy, quote from myself:
I think most Americans, if put to the question, would say that meritocracy — rewards proportional to one's ability and effort — is an ideal; much more desirable, at least, than an aristocracy of birth. The notion that a meritocracy may not be stable, may in fact produce an aristocracy of birth, is not welcome to us. It may none the less be true.
End quote. And here I was three years ago, another quote from myself. Please pardon all this self-quoting, and remember the wise words of my literary hero Sam Johnson, quote from him: "Man needs more to be reminded than instructed," end quote. OK, here's me on Radio Derb, October 2015, longish quote:
This is in my opinion the number one social-science issue of our time. How do we avoid the trap Michael Young described in 1958, the meritocracy trap, of a society stratified by ability, especially now we know that ability is largely inherited, and so presumably stamped in the genome?
End longish quote.
OK, so what's the news item here? Well, it's kind of local. However, given that it pertains to what, according to me, is the number one social-science issue of our time — the issue of meritocracy and its discontents — I believe it's of general interest. I'll give it a segment of its own.
03 — Down with meritocracy! The news item concerns New York City's specialized high schools. There are nine of these very selective schools. One specializes in the arts and performing arts, though, and is generally left out of news items like this one. The others admit students via a rigorous written examination, the Specialized High School Admissions Test, SHSAT for short.
The news is that New York City's communist mayor Bill de Blasio wants to scrap the SHSAT. Why does he want to do that? Why do you think? Let His Honor explain. Here's Comrade Bill, in a June 2nd op-ed at an education website, quote:
Right now, we are living with monumental injustice. The prestigious high schools make 5,000 admissions offers to incoming ninth-graders. Yet, this year just 172 black students and 298 Latino students received offers. This happened in a city where two out of every three eighth-graders in our public schools are Latino or black …
End quote. I did a Ctrl-F for the word "Asians" in de Blasio's op-ed: no hit. That, to borrow a culinary simile from French politics, is like writing a 944-word article about jugged hare in redcurrant jelly without mentioning the jugged hare.
Asians, East and South Asians, comprise about twenty percent of New York City high-school freshmen. Whites are around ten percent. Sun People — blacks and Hispanics — are seventy percent.
At the elite high schools admitting via the SHSAT exam Asians are 62 percent overall. Once again: They are twenty percent of the relevant population, 62 percent of those passing the SHSAT.
At Stuyvesant, the most popular of the specialized high schools, Asians are 73 percent (whites twenty percent, Sun People seven percent). Brooklyn Tech — which, by the way, Mayor de Blasio's son attended, is a mere 61 percent Asian (and again twenty percent white). Queens High School for the Sciences is seventy-six percent Asian.
Staten Island Tech bucks the trend somewhat. It's only 41 percent Asian, 52 percent white, seven percent Sun People. Yet more diverse is the High School of Math, Science, and Engineering up in Harlem: a paltry 37 percent Asian, 25 percent white, 38 percent Sun People. They spoil the effect somewhat though by having a larger-than-average sex imbalance: seventy percent guys, thirty percent gals. The average for the specialized high schools is more like sixty-forty. Obviously some really flagrant discrimination going on there.
The local politics on this issue is getting pretty rancorous. June 10th there was a big demo outside City Hall: Asians — well-nigh all East Asians, to judge from the news pictures — protesting de Blasio's plan to scrap the SHSAT. Taking on those Tiger Moms, Comrade Bill, you're looking for trouble.
For people who don't mind facing the realities of human nature, the two takeaways here are, one, the folly of mass non-European immigration — what elsewhere I have referred to as importing an overclass — and two, race and sex realism.
To import an overclass is to invite resentment and disharmony. How is this not obvious?
On the second point, the truly depressing thing is how far outside the boundary of acceptable commentary race and sex realism remain.
Men and women display, in the statistical generality, different inclinations and preferences. The human races, again in the statistical generality, profile differently on intelligence, personality, and characteristic behaviors. None of this is astounding or outrageous; it's just basic biology.
Yet these truths are unmentionable. Even sensible, well-informed commentators — people as based as you can be while holding a job writing for mainstream publications — steer clear of them.
Here for example is Michael Goodwin, a very smart and sensible guy, writing in the New York Post last week about de Blasio's proposal, quote:
But those facts are ignored by de Blasio because they reveal the real problem — too many elementary and middle schools in black and Latino neighborhoods are perennial failure factories. He talks a good game about fixing them and is throwing a ton of taxpayer money at them, but has little to show for it. ["De Blasio's latest bad idea will hurt city's elite schools" by Michael Goodwin; New York Post, June 5th 2018.]
End quote. Just gotta fix the schools, see? Just gotta find a way to fix those schools! That'll get rid of all those discrepancies.
Here's another commentator I like and admire a lot: Heather Mac Donald, writing in City Journal, not about de Blasio's plan, but about the push for race and sex diversity in the sciences at large. Quote:
When it comes to URMs, math deficits show up at the earliest ages. It is only there where the achievement gap can be overcome, through more rigorous, structured classrooms and through a change in family culture to put a high premium on academic achievement. The institutional response to the achievement gap, however, is racial preferences. ["How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences" by Heather Mac Donald; City Journal, Spring 2018.]
End quote. So again: fix the schools — and the families! Gotta fix the families, too!
I hasten to say that I don't believe there is dishonesty here. Michael Goodwin, on my one personal encounter with him, seemed like a straight-up guy. Heather I count as a friend, and I don't doubt her sincerity. Not everybody can be interested in everything, though. These are graduates of the Humanities and law schools, lacking the cold eye of the scientifically inclined.
Plainly we need more and better education in math and the sciences. Here's a suggestion: Let's establish some high schools specializing in those fields, with admission by a rigorous written examination …
04 — The Singapore summit. On the foreign policy front, big news of the week was the Singapore summit between our President and Kim Jong Un, dictator of North Korea.
The structure of the summit was interesting. Trump and Kim first met privately, one on one — though with interpreters present of course — for 45 minutes. Only then was there a full-dress summit with diplomats and advisers present.
I wonder if that was really a good idea. A couple of times this past year and a half we've seen Trump in televised meetings agreeing with the last person who spoke, even when that last person was a Democrat talking nonsense. Then one of Trump's own people at the meeting had to gently put him back on the rails.
With none of his people present at that one-on-one with Kim, you have to wonder whether our President gave something away in return for nothing.
You could argue of course that he did so anyway just by agreeing to the summit. Meeting our President was a huge boost for Kim. The ratty little psychopath got major propaganda points with North Koreans, with South Koreans, and with China. He's in better political shape than he was a month ago, although his actual shape is just as bad.
What did we get in return? Basically nothing. Less than nothing, in fact. After all this bonhomie, there is no prospect of going back to the maximum-pressure strategy of strict sanctions with China on board. Sure, Kim made some noises about de-nuclearization. Believe them if you like. Clothed in my full authority as the only VDARE.com writer who has actually been inside North Korea, I declare them b-s.
My own definition of success in this area of our diplomacy would be a complete disengagement from Northeast Asia and all its tiresome historical baggage, with full repatriation of the 24 thousand troops we have stationed in South Korea and the 39 thousand in Japan. These are big, rich nations that can take care of themselves, as candidate Trump said on the campaign trail.
Yes, I know; he later said the opposite thing. Let me advise the President, speaking as a person who, in my teaching and lecturing days, marked a lot of examination papers: Your first answer is usually the right one. If you over-think and correct it, you're most likely wrong.
Bottom line here from VDARE.com's North Korea expert: Leave Northeast Asians to sort out their own problems.
05 — North Koreans locked in the basement. The world would of course be a safer, happier, and more civilized place if North and South Korea could be united under a single government of the rational, consensual type. Is there any more prospect of that following this summit?
Personally I doubt it. It's hard to see any path leading to that end that is not decorated, somewhere along its length, by a lamp-post with Kim Jong Un hanging from it by a rope round his neck. Alas, Kim seems to be smart enough and sufficiently well-placed to avoid that destiny; and even if he weren't, I doubt the ChiComs would let it happen. Still, we can hope, I suppose.
Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute has raised an interesting basic question about Korean unification. The question is: Supposing it ever came to pass, could it actually be made to work?
Rubin has doubts. North and South Korea have been separate nations under very different systems for seventy years now, he points out. There are actually physical differences between northerners and southerners, the northerners being on average two inches shorter. Their languages have diverged somewhat. The North has conducted relentless, systematic killing of ornery or independent-minded citizens, perhaps resulting in critical changes to the gene pool.
After seventy years of that — three generations, a whole human lifetime — you may have a population up there incapable of adapting to a rational open society.
Rubin reminds us of the initiative by Kim's father to open a tourist resort for South Koreans. That went along nicely for ten years. Then a South Korean tourist, a 53-year-old woman staying at the resort, was shot by a North Korean guard when she stepped off a designated walking trail. Now the place is a ghost town.
I don't know the answer to Rubin's question, and I doubt anyone else does. It did bring to my mind, though, a possible analogy from the science of human development.
We now know, as surely as we know anything in the human sciences, that parenting style has essentially no effect on the development of the finished adult personality, other things being even only approximately equal. A lot of people don't like to hear that, but the science is solid.
Judith Rich Harris's quip of twenty years ago, that if you took all the infants and children in an average street and randomly assigned them all to different families in that street, they would end up as adults just the same as they would have done in the initial configuration, has been amply confirmed by researchers.
That comes with a caveat, though: It's true only within the normal range of parenting styles. A severely ab-normal parenting style — keeping little Timmy locked in the basement his entire childhood and feeding him dog food — most likely would have consequences for Timmy as a finished adult.
That's my analogy. The people of North Korea, after a whole human lifetime of the most brutal repression, are little Timmy. It might take a generation or two — fifty years, perhaps — to work out the poison.
Again, though, that's a problem for Koreans to solve, if it's solvable. It's of primary interest to them, of secondary interest to the rest of Northeast Asia, of no importance to the U.S.A. Let's leave them with it: We have problems of our own.
06 — Return of the Gang of Eight. All right, immigration. I wasn't going to get through this week's Radio Derb with nothing at all on the immigration issue; although after last week's extravaganza, I'll keep the immigration segments short.
As promised last week, the GOP leadership in the House of Representatives has brought forth proposals for legislation, and those proposals are just as bad as I told you they would be.
Chris Chmielenski over at NumbersUSA has all the grisly details. As Chris says, it's basically the good old Gang of Eight bill from five years ago. Don't be looking for any originality from the Stupid Party, not even originality in folly. Paul Ryan and his stooges think they can pull the same stupid stunt all over again.
So what exactly is in the draft legislation? Mainly of course a huge amnesty: officially 1.8 million new legal residents, but for all anyone knows it could be twice that number.
Border security? Well, there is $25 billion for that, but no guarantee it will actually be spent, certainly not all of it on a physical wall.
The diversity visa lottery? Eliminated … but the annual 55,000 permanent residency cards will be re-assigned to more deserving cases, e.g. cheap computer programmers from India.
Chain migration? Some tinkering round the edges; but again, no reduction in numbers. The green cards not now issued to your fourth cousin's first wife's third cousin's step-brother's niece will now just go to yet more cheap programmers for Disney and Con Ed.
Compulsory E-Verify? Entry-exit visa tracking? Cutbacks on H-1B and other guest-worker visas? Not a hope.
Strict low limits on student visas? Cancellation of the investor visa scam? In your dreams, pal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who feels about immigration legislation the way vampires feel about garlic, mumbled that if Ryan's bill passed the House he would, quote, "take a look at it." Be careful that look doesn't last more than a millisecond, Mitch; you might be turned into stone … not that anyone would notice.
So here goes the GOP, once again strolling nonchalantly past that hundred-dollar bill lying there on the sidewalk: genuflecting to their donors while blowing raspberries at their voters. Way to look strong for the midterms, guys.
If the GOP plan is a total cuckfest, though, our President at least is showing some acknowledgement of the fact. In a TV interview this morning, Friday morning, the President said he would not support the Ryan bill.
07 — If there is hope … As a footnote to that, and a clue to what GOP voters actually think, I direct your attention to the case of Pablo Villavicencio, an illegal alien from Ecuador.
Villavicencio broke into our country some years ago, was discovered living here illegally, and given a court order to leave voluntarily. That — the court order — was in 2010.
Instead of obeying the court order, Villavicencio just went on living here. Not only that, he got married to an American woman and begat two children, girls currently aged three and two. ICE meanwhile issued a warrant for his arrest because he'd ignored the court order.
Well, June 1st this illegal, who works as a fast-food delivery man, brought an order to soldiers at Fort Hamilton, an Army base in Brooklyn. The base guard ran a background check before admitting him, as he is required to do for base security. He found the ICE warrant and notified them, and now Villavicencio is being held at an ICE lockup in New Jersey.
He should of course have been deported by now, eight years after having been ordered to leave; but a lefty judge — actually an Obama-appointed lesbian — granted him a stay of deportation and a court hearing for July 20th.
This case has generated a tsunami of immigration sentimentality in local media here in New York. When is daddy coming home? screeched the front page of the New York Daily News June 7th, following up the next day in an even bigger front-page font — their biggest from the look of it — howling Disgrace to Our Country.
Excuse me, guys, but if foreign vagrants can wander over our border, settle here, take employment, ignore the orders of our courts, marry and start a family with no paperwork at all, then HOW IS THIS STILL OUR COUNTRY?
It's not just the Daily News, it's all the local media. News 12 Long Island, my own local news outlet, has been running weepy little segments about scofflaw Villavicencio and of course the kiddies, the kiddies.
If you go to the News 12 website and look up those stories, though, the first-order comments — not the comebacks to them, just the level-one comments — are uniformly hostile to Villavicencio. Sample, quote: "His wife should face charges of harboring a fugitive and he needs to be deported," end quote.
That kind of gives the game away. The New York Post, while by no means — by no means — a dissident-right publication, is at least not crazy-left, like the News and the New York Times. I have it on good authority that the editorial-page manager strives to balance readers' opinions in the Letters columns in proportion to the letters that actually come in. I was therefore curious to see what letters looked like on the Villavicencio case.
The first batch of readers' letters was printed on Monday. Five letters, none of them sympathetic to Villavicencio.
Thursday there was a second batch: six letters, three expressing qualified sympathy, the other three clearly anti-scofflaw.
Balance of opinion so far: Eight out of eleven want the guy deported, three out of eleven don't.
Five years ago I wrote a piece for VDARE.com titled "If There Is Hope, It Lies In The Comment Threads." Maybe I was on to something.
08 — Non-miscellany. I'm afraid I've hit my time budget here, folks, so I shall forgo the miscellany of brief items.
I can't resist squeezing in just one brief item, though: a few words of congratulation to my friend and personal hero Jared Taylor for having won a preliminary round in his lawsuit against Twitter.
You may recall that back in December last year Twitter banned not only the American Renaissance account but also Jared's personal account. Jared has sued Twitter under California law, which is more friendly than most jurisdictions to the underlying free-speech issues.
Twitter tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming it was a SLAPP. That's S-L-A-P-P, legal shorthand for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — a frivolous lawsuit designed to shut someone up or stop them doing something they're legally doing by imposing big legal costs on them.
Since it's Jared that's being shut up here, you've got to think Twitter had a lot of nerve going with the anti-SLAPP strategy. California Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn seems to have agreed. He rejected Twitter's petition to dismiss Jared's suit, so the suit will now proceed. That doesn't mean Jared will necessarily win it; but, as I said, it's a victory in the preliminary bout.
Well done, Jared! Onward and upward!
09 — Signoff. And that's it, ladies and gents. Many thanks for your time and attention; double and triple thanks to listeners who have offered help and information on transcribing those very oldest Radio Derb sound files. As soon as I'm back up to speed after that way too relaxing weekend, I shall get to work on the issue.
The ideal signoff music for this week would be something that included the President, the Army, and the flag. Well, two out of three isn't bad. Here, coming up in just a minute, is the United States Army Field Band playing — and singing — "The Stars and Stripes For Ever."
A lot of people don't know that this marvellous John Philip Sousa march has lyrics to be sung to it. Well, it does, and they're quite stirring. The chorus, which you'll hear sung in my signoff clip, goes thus:
Hurrah for the flag of the free!
One of the things a foreigner notices when he comes to live in the U.S.A. is how many really first-class patriotic songs this country has. It's almost a national art form. Radio Derb's going to do our small part to keep those songs alive.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Here's the Army.
[Music clip: United States Army Field Band, "The Stars and Stripes For Ever."]