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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your defiantly genial host John Derbyshire, here to bring you up to date on some recent events.
First off, a vent.
02 — The world gone nuts. I am feeling more and more oppressed by the notion that our culture has become unhinged in some way.
To take a recent news story at random: The San Francisco Chronicle reported October 12th that the Governor of California has signed into law a measure allowing illegal aliens to serve on state policy-making boards — for example, the boards that recommend bond issues, make prison policy, or supervise state judges.
So illegals will be in positions of power and authority over citizens in California. Furthermore, as Monica Showalter points out at American Thinker, this new law allows a board to be made up entirely of illegal aliens.
We can't be very far away from the Golden State electing its first illegal-alien governor.
This is nuts. So is much else of what's going on in our public life.
Thursday this week New York City Council approved the mayor's plan to close Rikers Island, the city's main jail, and replace it with four new facilities. Rikers currently houses 7,000 inmates; the planned four new facilities will house total 3,500. That leaves three and a half thousand inmates in limbo — actually, of course, out on the streets of New York.
But in the woke imaginations of our mayor and council members, those inmates are pathetic, helpless victims of a racist criminal-justice system, as is proved by the fact of their being mainly black and Hispanic. So no harm will come from letting them out onto the streets. You see? We'll actually be a more just society for doing it!
It's nuts. So much of what I see in the news feeds is nuts, nuts.
I'm not the only person who feels this way. Browsing Twitter this morning I came across this tweet from Sarah Braasch, a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Yale University.
Radio Derb has had occasion to mention Ms Braasch before: in May this year, when the Thought Police were hounding her. Her offense was, she had called campus police on black people she found herself alone with at night in her dormitory building, people who seemed to have no business there.
Well, here was Ms Braasch tweeting this morning, tweet:
Has everyone lost their bleeding minds? I'm not the only who feels this way, right? I can't be the only one who feels like the last sane person left in the world. Yes — I am actually asking for validation. This is NOT a rhetorical question.
Ms Braasch has two summa cum laude engineering degrees (aerospace and mechanical) from the University of Minnesota and a JD from Fordham Law School, and she is a member of the New York State Bar, now studying for a philosophy Ph.D. This is a very smart lady. Her tweet inspired a long thread of people agreeing with her.
"What is life … but a long dialogue with imbeciles?" asked Pierre Ryckmans twenty years ago. It's not so much of a dialog any more. The imbeciles have the megaphone now; those dwindling numbers of us who are still sane are being systematically shut up.
03 — White people not all pussies. Trying to look on the bright side, there have been some stirrings of resistance to the general lunacy. I very much enjoyed this news item from the literary world.
The actual literary item here is a novel, title Make Your Home Among Strangers. It came out three or four years ago. I regret to say I have not read it, so I can't pass any literary judgment on it.
The author of this novel is a young lady named Jennine Capó Crucet. The book's Amazon page tells us she, quote, "was born to Cuban parents and raised in Miami, Florida," end quote, and is a graduate of Cornell University. From one of her columns at the New York Times it seems she went to Cornell in 1999.
As I said, I haven't read the novel and don't plan to. From the reviews quoted on that Amazon page, I gather that it concerns a Cuban-American girl, raised in Miami, entering a high-ranking northeastern university in 1999, struggling with issues of race and class.
So apparently Ms Crucet didn't perform any very strenuous stretching of her imagination when writing the book. It's autobiographical.
That's not a crime, not even a literary crime. Wikipedia has a list of seventy-odd famous autobiographical novels, some of them worthy literary classics like David Copperfield.
This novel of Ms Crucet's, however, seems to have a theme of whiny resentment against white non-Hispanic America. According to her website, the novel's Latina protagonist, quote:
begins her first semester at Rawlings College, but the privileged environment feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority.
More recently — just this September, in fact — Ms Crucet published another book, title My Time Among the Whites, described on her personal website as, quote, "a collection of essays on feeling like an 'accidental' American and the tectonic edges of identity in a society centered on whiteness," end quote.
This kind of thing will get you on the required-reading lists of our colleges. That earlier book, the novel, is already on them. I'm betting that My Time Among the Whites, soon will be, too, if it isn't already. How could the kind of people who compile college required-reading lists resist a title like that?
Well, one of the colleges that has Ms Crucet's novel on its required-reading list is Georgia Southern University. The author was accordingly invited to the Statesboro campus of that university on October 9th to give a talk about her books.
The event did not go well. In the Q&A session following her talk, several students pushed back against Ms Crucet's anti-white sentiments. Sample question, quote:
I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged. What makes you believe that it's okay to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we're taught. I don't understand what the purpose of this was.
After more of what Ms Crucet later called "aggressive and ignorant comments," several students walked out in protest against her. They congregated outside and commenced burning copies of Ms Crucet's books on a barbecue grill.
I leave you to imagine the subsequent howls of outrage from anti-white progressives. Book-burning! Nazis! You get the idea.
I'm not a fan of book-burning, and I wish the offended students had found some other way to express their indignation at this woman's insults to them and their ancestors. A mass walkout followed by a mass tossing of Ms Crucet's books into a dumpster would have made the point just as well.
Still, it's hard not to think the lady was asking for it; and it's hard not to smile at the thought of an anti-white progressive getting the kind of treatment that is normally reserved for us on the Dissident Right, on the rare occasions we're allowed on campus at all.
Now it looks as though I'm going to have to work up a revised version of my 2012 column titled "White People Are Pussies." Apparently not all white people are pussies, not in Georgia at any rate.
04 — Democrats debate. I totally missed Tuesday night's Democrat candidates' debate, I'm glad to say. The third Tuesday of the month is when one of my dinner clubs meets. Enjoying a good meal with kindred spirits, addressed by an invited speaker, easily trumps listening to a bunch of progressive wack jobs telling me how they will totally reorganize American society to the further marginalization of us white males.
Reading the news stories about the debate, I don't think I missed anything. Joe Biden didn't make things either better or worse for himself; Bernie Sanders was surprisingly chipper for a guy who just had a heart-attack scare; Tulsi Gabbard continued to get no respect; and with Biden fading, the others were snapping around Elizabeth Warren's heels like a pack of loose puppies going for the mailman.
Outside the debate stage, Michael Bloomberg's signals about stepping in to replace Joe Biden are getting stronger, but they're still just signals. Bloomberg is, as Radio Derb has been telling you, an open-borders gun-grabber; but he is still less crazy than all the other open-borders gun-grabbers on display there Tuesday night.
And a Bloomberg-Trump match-up next November would be between two seventy-something self-made billionaires — a first in American politics. On Inauguration Day 2021 Donald Trump will be 74½, Michael Bloomberg will be a month short of 79. For other septuagenarians such as myself, it would be encouraging to see such vitality in our age cohort.
I've heard no more talk about a Hillary Clinton run for the Presidency, perhaps because after she seemed to suggest the idea a couple of weeks ago, she was visited by a posse from the Democratic National Committee making her an offer she couldn't refuse.
I found it hard to concentrate on those news stories about the debates — I guess it shows. At one point I got to wondering what I would ask those guys if I were one of the debate moderators.
Here is a thing I'd definitely like to ask Joe Biden: Isn't he embarrassed to be so rich?
I'm not implying any corruption here, although there may be some — I wouldn't be surprised. Even absent corruption, it seems odd and un-republican (small "r") for politicians to get so stonking rich from politics. Other than a few months' lawyering in his twenties, Joe Biden has never had a job outside politics; yet his net worth is at least nine million dollars
And that's small potatoes. Barack Obama's worth seventy million. Bill Clinton's worth eighty million; Mrs Clinton forty-five million.
These are all people who have never had anything much of a working life outside politics. They are also, of course, all Democrats — the party of the little guy.
How did standing up for the little guy get to be so sensationally lucrative? Don't they feel at all awkward when they descend from their twelve-bedroom mansions in their chauffeured limos to talk to the little guys? Aren't they embarrassed about it? They don't seem to be.
I usually bring up Harry Truman in this context. After leaving office, Truman had to take out a bank loan so he could write his memoirs. Then this week I thought I'd come across a more recent case, though in a different country.
The Daily Mail on Thursday ran a piece about Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher. The third volume of that biography has just come out. It covers her third term of office, from mid-1987 to her defenestration by scheming colleagues three and a half years later.
One of the things we learn is that after losing the Prime Ministership in 1990, Mrs Thatcher was broke. Quote from the Daily Mail story:
"There was no money in her bank account," one of her aides discovered, "and I mean no money" … She'd paid for everything out of her prime ministerial salary.
This wasn't a disaster for Maggie: Her husband Dennis was a successful business executive, so they weren't in any danger of starvation.
And then, down at the end of the Daily Mail story, there was this, rather spoiling the effect. Quote:
The money and domestic problems solved themselves. Old friends and admirers were generous, there was a massive book deal for her memoirs and she went on to earn a small fortune on the international lecture circuit.
Well, that was money honestly come by, to be sure. Speaking fees and book advances emerge from a free market. If people are willing to pay $200,000 to hear Mrs Clinton speak, hey, it's their money. Personally I wouldn't cross the road to hear Hillary speak, but other people feel differently, I guess.
I can't shake off the feeling, though, that there is something unseemly about politicians who have never been anything but politicians attaining such great glutted wealth. Hard to believe the Founding Fathers would have approved.
No, I don't have a solution; just this nagging feeling that [clip: Hattie McDaniel, "It ain't fittin', it just ain't fittin'."]
05 — The Uighurs are doomed. October 12th here on VDARE.com Lance Welton had an interesting post on the Uighurs. The Uighurs, that's the ancestral population of what on today's maps is shown as the Xinjiang region of western China. Lance's post stirred some distant memories.
Living in London in the mid-1980s I got involved with the Tibet Society there. Their newsletters sometimes included reports about the Uighurs, with whom the Tibetans in exile felt a kind of solidarity, both their homelands having been taken over by communist China.
Those reports piqued my interest, and I had a couple of snail-mail exchanges with leading Uighur activist Erkin Alptekin, who at that time was working for Radio Free Europe in Munich.
My acquaintance with the Uighurs never advanced much beyond that, though I did once do a column about them for the Weekly Standard. They have my sympathy in a general way, as do the Tibetans, but absent revolutionary change in China, of which there is no sign, they are a doomed people.
In a just world the Uighurs would have a nation of their own. Uighurs would rule in Eastern Turkestan — which is their name for Xinjiang — Tibetans would rule in Tibet, and Chinese would rule in metropolitan China, just as the French rule in France, Russians rule in Russia, and Australians rule in Australia.
Of course history rarely allows such neat outcomes. France is named for the Franks, a German tribe who took over the place from the Romans, who had taken it from the Celts, who no doubt took it from someone else. Russian rule over Russians goes back only twelve hundred years, with some serious interruptions by Mongols, Cumans, Bulgars, Swedes, Lithuanians, etc. Australians have ruled Australia for only a hundred years; before that it was British, before that a mess of stone-age tribes with no conception of nationhood. And so on.
As Lance Welton pointed out, the Uighurs themselves are genetically only half Asian. That they speak an Asian language while carrying a load of European genes suggests the conquest of a European people by Asians in the distant past.
Still, they feel themselves to be a distinct people; and in this modern, highly civilized world, it ought to be possible to aim for an international order in which distinct peoples, who've inhabited reasonably distinct territories for several centuries, with credentials of civilization like literacy, organized religion, and so on, should not have to submit to be ruled by people they consider alien. Wouldn't that be a more harmonious, better-ordered world?
I suppose it would, but we're a long way from it. Imperial impulses die hard. When Mao Tse-tung took over China in 1949 he quite deliberately set about re-creating the old pre-1911 empire of the Manchus. He actually wanted to include the territory that is today the nation of Mongolia, but Stalin vetoed that.
Mao had better luck with Tibet and Eastern Turkestan. Chinese dominion over these territories, however unjust, is a done deal. If you ask a ChiCom spokesman about these territories nowadays, he just tells you that they have always been part of China. If you try to counter that with historical facts, he walks away.
And to be perfectly fair to the ChiComs, although it hurts me to be so, they have, or in Mao's time had, a sort of a kind of a case. Tibet and Eastern Turkestan were sparsely populated and at a low level of technology — easy pickings for any neighbor country looking to expand its territory.
Mao would have told you that if China didn't take over those places, someone else would: India or the U.S.S.R. Better China should hold them as nice big fat buffer zones against ambitious geopolitical rivals, with possible natural resources — oil, minerals — as a side benefit.
Until the dynastic cycle has turned to China's next spell of disintegration, the Uighurs are stuck with being under Chinese rule, and with the forced assimilation you may have read about in your newspapers — destruction of their mosques, prohibition of their language, mass imprisonment of anyone who even looks like thinking about being a dissident, and so on.
It could be worse. Back in the 18th century a different group of Central Asians, the Dzungars, made themselves a serious nuisance to the Manchu rulers of China. If you want to know what happened to them, google the phrase "Dzungar genocide." I hope my mentioning that doesn't give the ChiComs any ideas.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The African country of Niger holds a special place in the affections of us demography mavens. Niger comes top of all the tables listing Total Fertility Rate. The 2018 estimate at CIA World Factbook is 6.35 children per woman. Runner-up is Angola, considerably behind at 6.09. The U.S.A., in case you're wondering, is 1.87 children per woman. Bottom of the table: Singapore, 0.84.
The president of Niger, a bloke named Mahamadou Issoufou, recently had words to say about that. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in London, published October 17th, he blamed the problem on Islam, the religion of 98 percent of his countrymen, and also presumably of himself. Quote:
Before Islam came, women used to be married at the age of 18 but, due to a misreading of Islam, young women were having babies at the age of 12 or 13.
With all proper respect to President Issoufou, there has to be something else going on. Scanning down that table of Total Fertility Rates, I see plenty of Muslim nations down below the replacement level of 2.1: Morocco, Turkmenistan — [clip: Turkmen anthem] — er, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Turkey, … lots of them.
There's something you're missing there, Mr President. Perhaps next time you're at a gathering of Islamic leaders you could ask President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov for some friendly advice.
Item: Here's an item about slime mold, always an interesting topic.
Fans of the late Arthur Koestler — or just of my monthly diaries — will recall how, in his 1972 book The Roots of Coincidence, Koestler introduced us to this fascinating organism.
Slime mold is a kind of amoeba, a single-celled life form, that lives on bacteria found among the decaying leaves in forests. When the forest floor gets too dry, the slime mold cells come together and coalesce into a large tube the shape of an erect phallus, which then topples over onto its side and slithers across the forest floor to somewhere more damp. Then it stands up on its tail once more and ejaculates a mass of spores.
It's an amazing performance that has baffled and intrigued biologists for decades.
Now this critter is in the news again. The Paris Zoological Park has put it on display as "the blob," claiming that, among its other attributes, the slime mold has 720 sexes. So says this report I'm reading at Metro UK, although it seems to me that the language police would insist on "720 genders" — almost as many, I think, as you're allowed to choose from when registering at Oberlin College.
Further quotes from that same report, quote, referring to the blob:
Although it has no mouth, stomach or eyes it can apparently digest food … It also moves (despite not having arms or legs) and is able to heal itself in under two minutes if it gets cut in half … It has no brain but is able to learn, and if you merge two blobs, the one that has learned will transmit its knowledge to the other … The unicellular being is believed to be about a billion years old.
Amazing what a single-celled organism can do after a billion years of practice.
Item: Some welcome news from the Old Country: Queen Eleanor's Cross is safe after all. It's been taken off the endangered list of Britain's historic structures following some restoration work.
The cross is a beautiful stone monument erected by King Edward Longshanks, a.k.a. Edward the First. Eleanor of Castile was Edward's wife. They were betrothed in childhood as a political arrangement, as was usual among medieval European royalty; but it turned into a love match, and they were a devoted couple for 36 years.
Then, in the year 1290, Eleanor died near Lincoln, 120 miles north of London. Edward had her embalmed body brought to Westminster Abbey for burial; and at every place where the funeral cortege stopped for the night, he later had one of these stone monuments erected.
There were either eight, twelve, or fifteen of these crosses altogether, depending on which antiquarian you believe. Only three have survived the centuries.
The one at Hardingstone, outside Northampton, is the one I'm concerned with here. The reason I'm concerned with it is totally personal: It stands on a grassy knoll about four hundred yards from the house I grew up in. As a child I used to play on the steps leading up to the cross. I named my daughter Eleanor out of sentimental attachment to Edward's queen.
On the slight chance you'd like to know more about Queen Eleanor's Cross at Hardingstone, my personal website contains reproductions of a booklet published by Northampton Town Council thirty-odd years ago, following earlier restoration work on the cross. The whole booklet is there, 28 pages of text and diagrams, with some front and back matter, in my Virtual Attic: go to Places … Northampton … Queen Eleanor's Cross. You're welcome.
Item: Finally, just a note about something I haven't seen reported anywhere, something I've heard privately, but which I think a lot of people will be concerned to know. This is about James Watson, the Nobel-Prize-winning geneticist and co-discoverer of DNA, currently 91 years old.
You may remember that back in 2007 Dr Watson was subjected to a Two Minutes Hate for some politically incorrect remarks about race and IQ. The Two Minutes hate turned into a Twelve Years Hate: Dr Watson was subsequently stripped of titles and honors for continuing to voice opinions that, while reasonable and scientifically well-supported, are unfashionable and, you know, "hurtful."
I've been told that Dr Watson is quite seriously unwell. I hope his condition improves. I hope he lives many more years, and continues to vex the self-appointed guardians of ideological orthodoxy. Get better, Sir!
07 — Signoff. That's it for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and if you too keep thinking that our country is losing its collective mind, I hope I have at least reassured you that you are not alone.
Even in the best of times our personal sanity can hang by a thread. Don't take my word for it; here is the Temperance Seven.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Temperance Seven, "You're Driving Me Crazy."]