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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, from your overwhelmingly genial host John Derbyshire.
Strewth, it's feast or famine in this news business. Some weeks there's nothing to report on but some B-list congresscritter talking nonsense on an issue you don't much care about; then suddenly there are two or three big fat stories all at once.
It's been more like two and a half this week. The big two have been the conclusion of the Mueller investigation and the dropping of all charges against hate-hoaxer Jussie Smollett. The generic headings there are, one, the criminalization of policy differences, and two, black privilege.
The half story is the vote on Brexit this afternoon. It's half a story because, in the first place, everyone's so utterly fed up with the endless wrangling over Brexit, it's hard to focus attention on it; and two, to be blunt, because Britain's not a very important country any more.
The Brexit story is mainly interesting in a symbolic way, as a flag in the wind — the wind of populist ethnonationalist rebellion against elite multiculturalism that has been blowing through the whole Western world this past three years.
I'll squinch in some remarks about the Brexit vote after the news comes through this evening. Meanwhile, some thoughts on the Big Two.
Three hundred years ago parliamentarian Robert Walpole was imprisoned for a spell in the Tower of London, an episode he survived to later become Britain's very first Prime Minister, and one of the most successful.
Two years after Walpole's imprisonment Robert Harley, the leader of the party that had imprisoned Walpole, found himself in the Tower for a somewhat longer spell — long enough to destroy his health, according to Dr Johnson. Early eighteenth-century British politics definitely wasn't beanbag.
There are key differences between then and now, though. The foremost one is, that Anglo-Saxon politics soon got much more civilized. By the end of that century the criminal prosecuting of British Prime Ministers and American Presidents was thoroughly out of fashion. It didn't really surface again until the Watergate crisis of the 1970s.
Watergate is vivid to me because it was at the front of political news when I first arrived here in August 1973. I was living among Chinese people in New York's Chinatown. I was amused at how they all saw it in terms of the palace intrigues of Imperial China. "Who is the leader of the faction trying to depose President Nixon?" they kept asking me.
Looking back on Watergate now, I think historian Paul Johnson nailed it in his 1983 book Modern Times. Longish quote:
By 1972, Nixon and the nation were already engulfed in the maelstrom of hysteria known as "Watergate." America seems peculiarly prone to these spasms of self-righteous political emotion in which all sense of perspective and the national interest is lost …
It's hard to miss the parallel with Trump Derangement Syndrome.
A second key difference between Britain of the 1710s and America today is that it was the big names who ended up in the Tower back then: Walpole, Harley. The witch-hunters of our own time are more skillful. They go after the small fry. In Watergate, Nixon did not go to jail, but Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt did.
Likewise today. It's not likely we shall see Donald Trump in an orange jump suit; but Paul Manafort and Roger Stone are having their lives systematically wrecked. In Chinese this is called "killing a chicken to scare the monkey."
Overall, what we are seeing here is, as Peter Brimelow wrote, a regression to a much older, more brutish style of politics. The gentlemanly political exchanges of our grandfathers' time are a fading memory. We live in a cruder, stupider time.
03 — The TDS Rapture? The Russian collusion hysteria was, like Watergate, "run by liberals in the media." Now that their efforts have apparently come to naught, we see them reacting in a way that professional anthropologists must find fascinating.
What comes to my mind, watching them, is those end-of-the-world cults that appear from time to time. I wrote up one of the more amazing cases here at VDARE.com four years ago. That was the Xhosa cattle-killing in South Africa in the 1850s.
A prophet came up among the Xhosa, telling them the world would be gloriously renewed and the white men driven into the sea, but first the Xhosa had to kill all their cattle and scatter their corn. They obediently did so; but on the date the prophet had declared the world would end, nothing happened.
What followed is very revealing about human nature. Some of the prophet's followers, disappointed, fell away. The rest doubled down. The date was recalculated. Another disappointment, another recalculation. There were several cycles like that, with a hard core of believers clinging to hope through each cycle. With their cattle all dead, tens of thousands starved to death at last.
It's not likely that any of the talking heads at CNN, MSNBC, or the Washington Post will actually starve to death, but their disappointment must be acute. As with those other apocalyptic cults, some portion will fall away, while the hard core will double down.
It's a cliché by now, but true none the less, that modern left-liberalism has a strongly religious flavor. The impeachment and conviction of Donald Trump is, in this schema, equivalent to the Rapture. All evil will be swept away, and the righteous will be raised up to sit at Maxine Waters' right hand.
But who knows? Perhaps the new world of perfect justice and peace actually will arrive at last, and all we badwhites will be driven into the sea. Keep hope alive!
04 — Black privilege: Chicago. The Jussie Smollett fiasco was the second big national headliner this week. It's been amusing to see so many commentators grumbling that Smollett got off because he is rich and famous.
Smollett is not actually all that rich or all that famous. Had you even heard of him before he staged that "hate crime"? I hadn't.
He is, though, black, or at any rate black-ish, and seems to be well-connected in Chicago's Mulatto Mafia: that concentration of blackish power that includes Jesse Jackson, the Obamas, Valerie Jarrett, and other players. It was those connections that got the charges against Jussie Smollett dropped.
The phrase "black privilege" is being thrown around in connection with this story. That's not altogether inappropriate. That Smollett's blackness — black-ish-ness, whatever — was an important factor in the charges being dropped, can't be denied.
(If you feel like you want to try denying it, first just run through a thought experiment where a white TV actor during the Obama administration staged a fake mugging by two white guys he described as black, wearing Hope'n'Change hats, who doused him with chocolate sauce while snarling, "This is Obama country!" Right.)
Smollett is also a homosexual, and so a twofer, victimologically speaking. We all know how cruelly oppressed homosexuals are. That surely can't have hurt his case; though how much it actually helped, I have no idea.
It was those connections to the Mulatto Mafia that helped the most, though. Since blacks moved into municipal big-city governments in a big way through the seventies, eighties and nineties — Tom Bradley, Harold Washington, David Dinkins, Willie Brown — they've proved to be skillful players, advancing and enriching themselves and their co-ethnics in fine old Boss Tweed style.
David Dinkins notwithstanding, my own nearest big city, New York, was late to this particular party. There is something bracing and fortifying in the air out there in the West and Midwest that we just don't have here on the Atlantic frontier.
We're catching up, though. A case of black privilege almost as brazen as the Jussie Smollett non-prosecution has been on display in New York recently. Next segment.
05 — Black privilege: New York. The beneficiary of black privilege in this case has been Chirlane McCray, the black wife of New York City's white mayor Bill de Blasio.
The city's First Lady has of course never been elected to anything. On her husband's initiative, however, she was given management of a city-wide mental-health initiative called ThriveNYC, with a current budget of $250 million a year. Thrive was launched at the end of 2015. To date it has spent $565 million of taxpayers' money.
Was all that money well spent? Nobody knows. There seems to have been no attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of Thrive's programs. So far the New York papers have found no successes to report, and there is no clear accounting of how the money was spent. Five hundred and sixty-five million dollars.
Under pressure from the public and local media, New York's City Council, a hive of far-left Social Justice Warriors, has been looking at Thrive and questioning the First Lady, very respectfully of course. After a two-hour session with her, City Councilman Ritchie Torres opined that, quote: "We know as little about the program after the hearing as we knew before the hearing," end quote.
The evening after that hearing, Ms McCray went on a local radio station and denounced her critics as "haters."
The chance that anything bad will happen to Ms McCray for flushing half a billion dollars of public money down the toilet is, of course, infinitesimal. She has black privilege.
New York City politics is depressing to contemplate. Bill de Blasio is a simply awful Mayor. There's nothing much political about that; even left-liberals say he's awful. He is ill-informed and politically maladroit. He is lazy and chronically late even to grave and important events. New Yorkers are so used to his tardiness they don't even joke about it any more, just roll their eyes. The New York Post gifted him with an alarm clock, but it didn't help.
De Blasio seems now to be contemplating a run for President next year, and has been on the road in Iowa and New Hampshire, arousing no perceptible interest from voters in either state. The New Hampshire event on March 17th drew a crowd of … twenty. Fourteen of those were on the panel, though; only six actually wanted to hear de Blasio speak. And yes, for the Iowa event he was eleven minutes late.
Politics aside, the guy is simply awful: vain, lazy, and clumsy. Yet city voters in 2017 gave him a second term, rejecting a smart and presentable opponent, a lady of considerable ability and accomplishment. What's up with that?
What's up with it is, an eighteen percent voter turnout. If there is no pressing crisis — no crime wave, no impending bankruptcy, no 9/11 — New Yorkers, other than the public-sector union workers who run the place, don't bother to vote much; and if they vote, it's for the status quo. De Blasio won in 2017 with around twelve percent of the vote.
I don't know what the opposite of the word "advertisement" is; but whatever it is, where democracy is concerned, New York City is that word.
06 — New York's Special High Schools. Black privilege is in fact rampant in New York City.
Another running story recently has concerned the city's Special High Schools. This is a handful of public schools, most specializing in science and math, that admit students strictly on the passing score of a standard written exam. You pass the exam, you get in. You don't pass, you don't get in.
These schools and their admissions procedures are protected by a state law. Mayor de Blasio hates that law, and is moving heaven and earth to switch the special high schools to "holistic" admissions. That word "holistic" is education-speak for "completely subjective," as Andrew Ferguson has pointed out.
Why would the Mayor want to do that? Why do you think? Those strict admissions standards mean that hardly any blacks get in, few Hispanics, a decent number of whites, and masses of Asians. Discrimination!
Stuyvesant, the most selective of all the schools, had 895 slots to fill this year. Blacks, who are 28 percent of the city's eligible students, got just seven of those slots — 0.8 percent. Sixty-six percent of those admitted to Stuyvesant were Asian; Asians are 15 percent of the city's eligible students.
It's been depressing to read and watch local commentary on these numbers. Race realism is totally absent.
Yet race realism offers a simple and complete explanation for the numbers. Black Americans test at a mean IQ around 85; Hispanics around 90; whites 100; East Asian 105. I don't know a number for South Asians, but it's probably between whites and East Asians.
Given the "magnifying effect" out in the far tails of statistical distributions, big discrepancies like those evident in the Stuyvesant results are to be expected.
You'd never know any of that from reading the mainstream commentators. None of them dares venture into race realism. That includes some of my own favorite commentators like Michael Goodwin and Heather Mac Donald. All they dare say is: "Fix the schools! We need better elementary and middle schools so the black and Hispanic kids are better prepared!" Uh-huh.
Those differences in mean IQ explain most of the school admittance numbers, I'm sure. In conversation around the city, though, and in comment threads on various websites, you hear about black privilege also being in play.
Like this: Tony private high schools in the New York area are keen to have a sprinkling of black students. They let them in on scholarships and waive the fees, just so they can virtue-signal in their promotional brochures.
So if you are a smart black middle-schooler in New York, you have a choice.
A necessary condition for having that choice is that you be black, or at least black-ish. Nonblacks need not apply.
That, at any rate, is the talk among Dissident Right types around town. I'd like to see some actual numbers, but it doesn't seem at all implausible that here, too, black privilege is in play.
07 — Kiwi Snowflakes. Fallout from the March 15th killings in New Zealand continues to drift down. The main effect of it all, far as I'm concerned has been to trash my entire image of New Zealand.
I've mentioned before that my Dad spent happy years in New Zealand ninety years ago, and transmitted his nostalgia for the place to my infant self.
I didn't have much to do with New Zealand thereafter until the early 1980s, when I was doing contract systems-development work in London. For some reason New Zealand was at that time a major exporter of computer programmers. I worked with half a dozen of them, all twenty- or thirty-something young men.
They ran to a distinctive type. Their principal characteristic was sportiness. I have never known people so sporty. Rugby was a big thing, of course, but they seemed up for pretty much anything in the sporting line. The only competition water-skier I ever met in England was a Kiwi. I knew a keen paraglider, too, though I don't remember whether he was competitive.
Sportiness aside, these young guys were earthy and fun-loving. One of them, I recall, had a beach party in his London flat. He actually brought in big bags of sand and spread it over the floors. They had a ribald sense of humor, and were great beer-drinkers.
After all that, the next memorable encounter with a Kiwi that I recall was with Sue Pockett, the philosopher. Yes, that's right: New Zealand has philosophers.
I met Sue at the 2008 Consciousness Studies conference in Tucson, Arizona. She is a sturdy, square-built lady with a blunt style of speaking. Later I read her book, The Nature of Consciousness, and in my online diary I quoted from her Introduction to that book. Re-quote:
When I first started thinking seriously on this question about five years ago, I had no clue as to what such a theory would look like … However, being a New Zealander and thus imbued from childhood with the notion that I was a rugged individualist who could fix anything with a piece of number eight fencing wire, I was not as daunted by these obstacles as a more socialized person might have been …
It's hard to believe, and sad if true, that a nation of boisterous young sportsmen and ruggedly practical Sue Pocketts solving deep problems in metaphysics with number eight fencing wire has been sissified and PC-ified into a trembling, emoting liberal-arts campus of safe spaces and Bias Response Teams. That's what seems to have happened, though.
Back in those London days when I was working alongside Kiwi programmers in London, the New Zealand Prime Minister was the somewhat Trumpish Robert Muldoon, a figure of much fun among my colleagues. I gave him a passing mention in We Are Doomed, quote:
As late as 1980, I am told, the prime minister of New Zealand had his domestic telephone number listed in the phone book. Farmers used to call him up and grumble about the price of sheep dip.
What a falling-off there has been! Today's Prime Minister is Jacinda Ardern, whose pictures, much in the news recently of course, bring irresistibly to my mind the snippy, frigid, over-controlling wife of Alan Harper in that excellent Oughties sitcom Two and a Half Men.
Ms Ardern has taken Brenton Tarrant's rampage as an opportunity to unleash all her control-freakishness on the people of New Zealand. She's banning guns, censoring the Internet, restricting liberties — including freedom of speech — and stepping up surveillance of citizens.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if she hires in the ChiComs to impose their social-credit system on the nation, complete with facial-recognition cameras all over and restrictions on low-credit Kiwis buying plane tickets. There would be a bitter irony in that: Brenton Tarrant admires the ChiCom system of government.
New Zealand seems to have been trending in the direction of control-freakery anyway. I did not know until this week's news reports that the nation has a Chief Censor, an employee of the government's Office of Film & Literature Classification. This bloke, name of David Shanks, has banned possession of Tarrant's manifesto and the video he took of his killings. If either item is found among your belongings you face ten years imprisonment. For distributing them you can get fourteen years.
These measures are not likely to meet much resistance from young New Zealanders, at any rate to judge from this report in the New Zealand Herald about an event at a pop concert last Saturday in the capital, Wellington.
Headline: Evacuations of Homegrown Music Festival reportedly sparked by a tattoo. Some concert-goer saw this tattoo on the arm of some other concert-goer, and panicked. The panic spread, and the whole venue was evacuated.
Quote from the story:
It has been reported the tattoo was thought to be linked to far-right ideology, however, it turned out it was traditional.
Well, thank goodness for that! How distressing it must have been to all the Kiwi snowflakes in attendance, though, to know that there might among them have been a person with a far-right tattoo.
I'd dearly like to know what, exactly, the triggering tattoo was, but none of the news outlets want to tell me. Perhaps they fear that an explicit description would bring down the Chief Censor on them with a ten-year prison sentence.
So much for my fantasies of a nation of hearty sheep-shearing yeoman preserving the old Anglo-Saxon liberties down there in the antipodes while those liberties wilt and decay in the northern-hemisphere homelands. The Kiwis seem actually to be ahead of us in stamping out freedom.
I shudder to think what my Dad would have said.
08 — A dash of diversity for Democrats. We are hearing more and more names in connection with the Democratic Party primaries for next year's Presidential election. Here are four names that I've chosen for a reason.
• Andy Yang. Yang is a 44-year-old successful New York entrepreneur who has made Universal Basic Income his signature issue. His policy positions are center-left — he favors Puerto Rican statehood, for example — but eclectic enough to have attracted the support of Richard Spencer.
(That was at any rate the case until a video surfaced of Yang saying, in mid-March, quite exceptionally silly things about the danger of rising white hostility against successful Asians. The indispensable Colin Flaherty has the grisly details at American Thinker.)
Yang talks a good game on border security and takes a strong line — for a Democrat, I mean — on illegal aliens. He'd give 'em citizenship, but only after 18 years.
• Amy Klobuchar. The 58-year-old Senator from Minnesota is being talked up, for example by The Economist, as a safe pair of hands with good electability. Quote from them:
In 2018, when she was re-elected as one of Minnesota's senators, she performed vastly better in the state than Hillary Clinton did two years earlier … Mrs Klobuchar is the opponent Mr Trump would least like to face.
• Pete Buttigieg. This is the 37-year-old Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, where he grew up. He's climbing in the polls — now ahead of Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — claims to speak seven languages, and served seven months in Afghanistan as a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserves, doing counterintelligence work.
Buttigieg hasn't said a whole lot about immigration, and the little he's said is squishy — he supports DACA, for example.
He's a homosexual, married to another guy, who has taken his name. The name is of Maltese origin. Given the guy's orientation, the name has attracted some unkind comment, which I decline to engage with.
Buttigieg doesn't seem to be the more intolerant, vindictive kind of homosexual, the kind who sues Christian bakers for not baking same-sex wedding cakes. He seems in fact to be Midwestern Nice, although not with any policy positions I could vote for.
• Beto O'Rourke. And then of course there is Beto O'Rourke, the 46-year-old Irish-American from Texas with the Hispanic nickname. O'Rourke is as close to being open borders as makes no difference and of course supports DACA.
O'Rourke is cultivating an image as young for his age, and hip, having himself filmed skateboarding and so on. James Antle at The Week allows that he's a gifted public speaker but says he has an authenticity problem; a sort of latter-day John Edwards, says Antle. Oh dear.
Those are my four names: Yang, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and O'Rourke. What do they have in common, other than they all want to win the Presidency for the Democrats?
What they have in common is a dash of diversity. It's the very merest dash in O'Rourke's case: just a smidgen of Hispanic flavor from that nickname. With the others it's more substantial, although still slight enough to be unthreatening. Buttigieg is homosexual, Klobuchar is female, Yang is Asian-American.
If I were running the Democratic Party that's what I'd be looking for in a 2020 candidate: unthreatening, not obviously nasty like Kamala Harris, obnoxious like Cory Booker, crazy like Elizabeth Warren, or geriatric like Bernie Sanders, and with just a dash of diversity.
If the Democratic Party hasn't totally lost its mind, that's the kind of candidate they will go for … although of course that's a big "if."
There is now just two weeks to the April 12th deadline, and a good possibility of a "hard" Brexit on that date — one with no deal. I hope that's what happens.
There are alternative possibilities, though: Mrs May might try for a fourth vote, she might call a snap election, the EU might even extend the deadline again.
The moral of this horrible, degrading fiasco — other European nations please pay heed — the moral is: If your citizens vote to leave an open-borders supranational bureaucracy you have foolishly gotten yourself involved with, just leave. Allow perhaps one week to pass statutes as necessary declaring that in future you'll make your own laws and negotiate trade agreements nation-to-nation. Then leave.
There'll be some chaos for a while; but at the end of it you'll be a nation again, independent and free. That's worth a spell of chaos.
I bet Robert Walpole would have done a much better job of Brexit.
10 — Signoff. That's the ration for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; now get out into the garden and plant something. It's April! (Well, very nearly.)
Talking back there about the Kiwi programmers I worked with forty years ago, I mentioned that the prime minister of New Zealand at the time was a chap named Robert Muldoon. I am sorry to say that my colleagues' attitude to Mr Muldoon fell far short of the respect due to a man of such high position and accomplishment. They didn't hate him in the modern political style, but they were irreverent and sometimes rude about him.
It so happened that some years previously the English comedian Peter Cook had recorded a silly song with the title The Ballad of Spotty Muldoon, about a person afflicted with some unfortunate dermatological condition.
Cook did not have Robert Muldoon in mind: that Muldoon was unknown at the time the song was recorded; and so far as one can judge from photographs, the New Zealand prime minister was not significantly spotty. My Kiwi colleagues attached the song to him anyway, and down at the pub after work, with a few rounds of beers inside them, would respond to any mention of him with a lusty rendering of the Ballad, accompanied by appropriate hoots and guffaws.
As Radio Derb listeners surely know by now, I can't resist a silly song; so here is Peter Cook from the mid-1960s with The Ballad of Spotty Muldoon.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Peter Cook, "The Ballad of Spotty Muldoon."]