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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your glibly genial host John Derbyshire.
This has been one of those weeks when the main political news, domestic and foreign, didn't much stir my interest. I am therefore going to take an aimless ramble though the broader cultural scene
02 — Emmanuel Weinstein. As I'm recording this podcast on Friday, it's Day Five of the trial of movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein faces five charges: two counts of predatory sexual assault, two of rape, and one more of a criminal sex act. Altogether he could get 28 years in prison. He's 67 years old.
Weinstein is actually a Goldstein. I mean, he's being put in front of us the way Emmanuel Goldstein was put in front of the workers at the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: as an Enemy of the People, whose image was to be cursed and spat at during the Two Minutes Hate.
Looking up the relevant passage in that novel just now, to make sure I got Goldstein's name right — the fact-checkers here at VDARE.com can be pretty ferocious, let me tell you — I found myself reading this passage from Chapter One. Everyone is seated in the conference hall and the Two Minutes Hate has just started. Quote:
As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust.
It so happened that just half an hour before reading that, I had been enjoying my breakfast over this morning's copy of the New York Post. Here's a quote from page 14 of the Post. The story is about events on Thursday in the Weinstein trial. That was the third day of jury selection. Quote from the New York Post:
After Justice James Burke summoned 120 jurors into the courtroom, packing the gallery and jury box, he announced the name of the case: "The People of the State of New York Against Harvey Weinstein."
Obviously this is the little sandy-haired woman from Orwell's novel, escaped somehow from the realm of fiction into the so-called "real world." Or if not anything so metaphysically improbable, it is surely at least a very exquisite instance of life imitating art.
You may infer from all that that my sympathies — you can say "prejudices," if you like — are with Harvey Weinstein here. Well, yes, they are.
I don't know Weinstein personally — never met him. I do know him very slightly at one remove. I mean, I know someone who knows him. That would be Taki Theodoracopulos, who I worked for in the decade we just left — who, indeed, once granted a full 38-minute interview to Radio Derb. Taki was friends with Weinstein, and so far as I know still is. He speaks well of him.
So I have trouble getting on board with this particular Two Minutes Hate. In fact I have double trouble. I was strongly impressed by Dorothy Rabinowitz's 2003 book No Crueler Tyrannies, about the child sex-abuse hysteria of the 1990s. I was so strongly impressed, I see on a site search that I have mentioned the book six times over the years. At fifty podcasts a year over fifteen years that's not obsessive, but it tells you how well the Rabinowitz book sensitized me to the weird mass hysterias that sweep over the American public from time to time.
The MeToo movement is, according to me, one of those hysterias. It has all the components: fantasizing plaintiffs coached by avaricious trial lawyers, jurors carefully selected for ignorance and gullibility, politically ambitious prosecutors, trial judges steeped in the Cultural Marxism of lefty law schools … it's all there.
And the real driving force, the energizing principle behind these hysterias, is the CultMarx loathing of some aspect of normal human life. In the child sex abuse hysteria it was loathing of the family; in MeToo it's loathing of male sexuality — or, as the Social Justice Warriors say, "toxic masculinity."
I see I'm going to need another segment on the Harvey Weinstein case. Before I go to it, let me just give you another quote from this morning's New York Post story.
This quote follows immediately on from the previous one. So the little sandy-haired woman, a prospective juror, just cursed out loud on discovering that she's being considered for the Weinstein case. Now the judge, James Burke, reacts to that. Quote:
[Inner quote.] "Now I noticed that there was some reaction when the defendant's name was read," Burke said mildly. "I heard a gasp from my left, over here, so I have to tell you that having heard of Harvey Weinstein or even being familiar with the allegations made against him in the press or elsewhere are not by themselves disqualifying." [End inner quote.]
So I guess I should revisit what I said about jurors being selected for ignorance and gullibility. Ignorance is not essential to qualify as a juror. Knowledge of Weinstein and the charges against him is not by itself — note that emphasis — is not by itself disqualifying for jury service in the case, Judge Burke instructs us.
You can know who Weinstein is, and you can even know the charges against him; just so long as you understand that he's an Enemy of the People, the court is fine with you.
03 — Vagabonds and strumpets. I'm not precisely clear how the charges against Harvey Weinstein align with things we've heard about what he's supposed to have done.
What precisely, for example, is the "criminal sex act," listed as separate from the rape and assault charges? If it's not rape and it's not sexual assault, why is it criminal?
Sure; I know that back in the dark, hateful past of forty or fifty years ago, when Americans groaned under the iron heel of puritanical heteronormative oppression, all kinds of sex acts were criminalized. But wasn't that all swept away in the glorious dawn of late-twentieth-century enlightenment?
One of the plaintiffs, name of Mimi Haleyi, accuses Weinstein of performing oral sex on her against her will. Was that the "criminal sex act"? It's not clear.
And — I'm sorry to be indelicate here, but it's germane to my argument — I'm struggling with the idea of nonconsensual cunnilingus. Weinstein's a big guy, but it seems to me some determined wriggling and leg-crossing, with some well-aimed slaps to his head, perhaps with the assist of a table lamp or some such, would have made the whole engagement highly unrewarding from Weinstein's point of view.
Similar skepticism applies to the rape charges, as I've seen them reported. Rape is certainly a real thing, but I don't see how it can be carried out between two adults without serious violence or the threat of violence. Here are some scenarios I can imagine where rape actually happened.
I'll certainly allow those as genuine rape scenarios. A man convicted on sound evidence in any of Scenarios One, Two, or Three should, in my opinion, go to the chair. Scenario Four is more debatable …
None of the charges I've seen against Weinstein look like any of those scenarios, though. None of them, to my eyes, look like anything worse than gross bad manners.
And what's with all the helpless passivity on display from the "victims" here? My dating days are decades behind me, I'll allow; but I don't remember women being such trembling, shrinking violets.
Yo, ladies: Scream, break something, throw some large object through a window. The thing he's intending to do to you involves exposing his most sensitive parts to your nails, your teeth, your feet, the shards of any dish or bottle you can break. If he doesn't have a knife to your throat, doesn't have a couple of buddies holding you down and stuffing a towel in your mouth, and the room you're in isn't scientifically soundproofed, the advantage is all yours.
Sample story from the Weinstein case. Quote:
Prosecutors allege that Weinstein met Jane Doe 2 during a business meeting at a restaurant inside a hotel. They were with a female acquaintance. After that, the three spoke in the lobby and eventually went to Weinstein's hotel suite, prosecutors allege. Jane Doe 2 said she unwittingly made it into Weinstein's hotel bathroom, and the female acquaintance shut the door behind her.
All my previous remarks apply. "He took a brief shower"? What, while she stood and watched? Hotel bathroom fixtures come apart with a good pull. You then have a weapon in your hands in a room rapidly flooding and a naked guy trying to protect his family jewels. She'd "unwittingly" made it into the bathroom? What, she mistook it for an elevator? And who's this "female acquaintance"? Is she charged with being an accomplice to sexual assault? Shall we hear courtroom testimony from her?
And all this is within the larger world of showbiz. I said in the last segment I am double skeptical: first from knowledge at one remove of Weinstein the person, then second from reading about a previous mass hysteria in Dorothy Rabinowitz's book.
The environment here being showbiz, you can make that triple skeptical. Flocks of pretty young women desperate for a movie part; rich old guys who can make it come true for them; what does anyone think is going to happen? Are we really now so deep into denial of our own human nature?
Showbiz is the province of vagabonds and strumpets, just as much today as in Shakespeare's time. If vagabondage and strumpetry aren't your choice of society, stay away from showbiz people. Find some other line of work.
The Harvey Weinstein case? Mass hysteria, pumped up by unscrupulous lawyers, delusional showbiz airheads, and CultMarx media ideologues. That's my verdict. Case dismissed!
04 — The order-liberty cycle. A listener has chidden me for saying, in my December 27th podcast, quote: "If voting made a difference, they wouldn't allow it." That was in reference to the many cases where a referendum or ballot initiative was voted one way by the people, then squashed, reversed, or gutted by judges and/or politicians.
My listener, quote:
This is the sort of slogan that we might have believed in when we were teenagers. We're a long way from being stupid teenagers now, and you should know better than to simplify the world into bumper stickers.
Hm. I don't know; I kind of like the glib look … That itself is glib, though, so I'm sliding into an infinite regress there — whoa!
My correspondent of course has a point. Sometimes voting does make a difference. I have a point too, though: all too often it doesn't. That was the case in the examples I cited: Oregon giving driver licenses to illegal aliens in defiance of Ballot Measure 88, and the crushing of California Proposition 187 back in 1994, when Californians voted to deny welfare benefits to illegal aliens.
Those of us afflicted with Trump Disappointment Syndrome often find ourselves wondering what good our Presidential vote did in 2016. America is still inviting the world and invading the world. Would things really have been much different in a Hillary Clinton administration?
So voting doesn't make any difference, except when it does. I'd argue that the doesn'ts way outnumber the doeses, and we ought to be thinking hard what we can do to improve on that.
We, along with all the other developed democracies, have a huge administrative state managed by a vast, entrenched nomenklatura of bureaucrats, time-servers, ideologues, and political seat-warmers. That's a mighty big ship, and she doesn't turn easily.
On the general subject of political change in a democracy, there is also what I call the order-justice cycle.
It's a cliché of course that there is a tension in any society between order and liberty. You can have too much order, by stifling liberty altogether: think of North Korea. And then, you can have too much liberty, where antisocial people run wild without restraint. For a fair and happy society, you need to find the point of balance.
Bertrand Russell visited Lenin's Russia in 1920. The following year he went to warlord China. Commenting on these trips, he said: "I went to Russia, where I found too much government. Then I went to China, where I found too little."
We are not actually very good at finding that point of balance, as we see right now with all this prison reform in the air. Our rulers have made a collective decision that too many people are going to jail and too many of those we arrest are being asked to post bail. I bloviated about this last week, speculating that white race guilt is driving all that liberalization.
So the lever is getting pushed all the way over to maximum liberty, with the corresponding decline in order. That only goes on, though, until public unhappiness about the decline of order rises to some critical mass. Then, yes, democracy works its magic. We vote in a Rudy Giuliani to push the lever back towards more order.
Can't we just find the right point of balance and lock that lever in place? On the historical evidence, no we can't. Voters just aren't that active or attentive. They adjust, put up with a decaying state of affairs, until it gets to be too much for them.
Compulsory voting might help. New York City has a crazy communist mayor because hardly anyone in the city bothers to vote in mayoral elections. Turnout in the two elections de Blasio won were thirteen percent and eighteen percent. In New York, you get what you don't vote for.
So democracy, yes; but our current system has problems we should be thinking hard about … and we're not.
05 — Joe Biden was right! Big news of the week was the arm-wrestling bout with Iran. Again, as I said last week, there is no market here at Radio Derb for Great Game strategizing. I'd like for us to tip over the chess-board and walk away.
The whole thing just fills me with despair and disgust at the sheer colossal stupidity of American foreign policy. Trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, tens of thousands of maimed and disfigured, for what?
Doesn't anyone have to answer for it all? Doesn't anyone at least get reduced to the ranks of ordinary citizens with ordinary jobs, instead of wallowing in extravagant government pensions, corporate directorships, and six-figure speaking fees?
I guess not. They're the nomenklatura. They can do as they please. I more and more find myself thinking there are tumbrils and guillotines in our future, and not minding the thought very much.
I have a couple of sidebar points about the Iran business, though.
First sidebar point. I read with interest that there were mass casualties from a crowd stampede at the funeral for General What's-his-name, the Iranian bigshot we blew up with a drone last week. Apparently the streets of the general's home town were too narrow for the crowds to be properly managed. Quote from the New York Times:
The head of Iran's emergency medical services said 56 people had died and 213 were injured … as millions of people flooded the streets of Kerman to witness the [funeral] procession. [Iran Fires on U.S. Forces at 2 Bases in Iraq, Calling It 'Fierce Revenge'" by Alissa J. Rubin et al.; NY Times, January 7 2020.]
For us Cold War babies, that brings to mind Stalin's funeral in Moscow, March 1953. Again, crowds overwhelmed the crowd control measures and many people were crushed or trampled to death. Nobody knows the numbers: estimates start at a few dozen.
So, one for the memo file: If you're in a totalitarian dictatorship when someone really important dies, stay away from the funeral procession. It'll be on TV anyway.
(If you're in a civilized country, the issue doesn't arise. I followed Winston Churchill's funeral cortege all through the streets of 1965 London without mishap. That was when Britain was a civilized country. Nowadays things might be different.)
Second sidebar point. I know, Joe Biden is a figure of fun. I enjoy laughing at the seat-warming old fool just as much as you do.
Stopped clocks are right twice a day, though, and Joe Biden has occasionally been right. I'm looking at the op-ed cosigned by Joe Biden and Leslie Gelb, a Council on Foreign Relations panjandrum, back on May 1st 2006.
That op-ed makes melancholy reading thirteen years and eight months later. Sample:
It is increasingly clear that President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. Rather, he hopes to prevent defeat and pass the problem along to his successor. Meanwhile, the frustration of Americans is mounting so fast that Congress might end up mandating a rapid pullout, even at the risk of precipitating chaos and a civil war that becomes a regional war.
Our frustration was mounting so fast! Thirteen years and eight months ago! That's precisely five thousand days ago this Wednesday, if my calculator has not deceived me. Five thousand days! Imagine how much more frustrated we must be now!
And: "Congress might end up mandating a rapid pullout." Congress! [Laugh.]
That's not my man point, though. My main point is a bit further down in Joe and Leslie's op-ed. After noting the ineffectual nature of Iraq's so-called "governments of national unity," Joe writes, or agrees with Gelb writing, the following, quote:
The alternative path out of this terrible trap has five elements.
Yesssss! Partition! Iraq is a bogus country. It should be three countries. All right, that's not precisely what Joe wrote, but he and Gelb were headed in the right direction.
The rest of the foreign policy establishment was of course aghast. Iraq's borders are sacrosanct! they swooned. If only they'd felt the same way about America's.
So yes, sure, Joe's a clown. Even a clown is right once in a while, though.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Race-denialist item of the week comes from a website called StreetsBlog, which bills itself as, quote, "Informing The Movement To Improve Walking, Biking, And Transit." Oh, you didn't know there is such a movement? Me neither; but as someone who walks a lot, bikes a bit, and rides New York City public transit, I have no objection at all to there being one.
Headline from them, January 8th, headline: NYPD Targets Blacks and Latinos for "Jaywalking" Tickets. There are scare quotes around "jaywalking."
It turns out, you see, that 89.5 percent of summonses for walking against a traffic light, or crossing mid-block, that's just short of ninety percent, went to blacks and Hispanics, who are together only 55 percent of city residents. That's flagrant racism, obviously.
And as if that isn't bad enough, 44 percent of the tickets go to people aged 18 to 25, even though that group comprises just 7 percent of the population. So New York City cops are not only racist, they're also ageist.
When will there finally be justice and equal outcomes for all? How long, O Lord, how long?
Item: On the snowflake front, National Review reports that Lecturers at a college in Britain — in the journalism department, yet — have been warned that when writing, texting, or emailing to students, they should not use all capital letters. Apparently students find all-caps scary and … what's the cant word? — triggering?
The best reaction to that came from our own Steve Sailer on twitter. Tweet:
I was in an email group with a Nobel Laureate who always typed in all caps.
Item: Back to New York City: This Latino guy on the City Council — a body that I can tell you, from years of reading about it, has way too much time on its hands — this Latino guy Francisco Moya wants to pass a bill that will ban the use of the terms "alien," "illegal alien," or "illegal immigrant" in official municipal documents.
Wait a minute: Didn't New York do that already? Not precisely. Checking back, I see that back in September last a directive from the city's Commission on Human Rights made it illegal to refer to someone as an "illegal alien" when motivated by hate. Violations can be punished by fines of up to $250,000 per offense.
Has that ever been tested in a court of law? How would it be?
What we need is some objective way to measure the degree of hate in someone's heart when they say "illegal alien." But again, we already have one: the prejudometer, as advertised by British newspaper columnist Michael Wharton twenty years ago. Quote from his column, April 13 2001:
Inexpensive and handy for pocket or handbag, you simply point [the prejudometer] at any person (including yourself) you suspect of "racism," press the easy-to-find "action" button and read off the result in prejudons, the internationally recognised scientific unit of racial prejudice.
Plainly I'm going to need one of those for my occasional jaunts into New York City. I'd better get on Amazon looking for a reasonably-priced prejudometer — or, as I suspect it is nowadays called, hate-ometer. You'll have to excuse me …
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening and for your emails, including those that chide. A little chiding now and then keeps a writer on his toes.
For our sign-out, here's something new. We've had music, both instrumental and vocal, and we've had poetry. Here for a change is some plain spoken English.
In my December Diary I mentioned the British politician Stanley Baldwin, whose first spells as Prime Minister coincided quite closely with Calvin Coolidge's Presidency, and whose governing style was Coolidgean. I noted that unlike Silent Cal, Baldwin was not wise enough to quit while he was ahead. He was Prime Minister again in the mid-1930s, with unhappy results.
Still, Stanley Baldwin seems to me to have been a pretty good egg. Curious to hear the man's voice, I went looking for sound recordings. Here, from a CD that's been gathering dust on my bookshelves, is a bit of his last speech as Prime Minister, May 18th 1937. It touches on some of what I said earlier about order, freedom, and the point of balance.
Baldwin was addressing the Empire Rally of Youth here. And yes, that's the British Empire [sigh].
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Stanley Baldwin, Address to the Empire Rally of Youth.]
Let me end in this, the last speech I shall make before a great audience as Prime Minister of this country. Let me proclaim my faith, which is the faith of millions of all races from end to end of the British Empire. Here we have ceased to be an island, but we are still an Empire.
And what is her secret? Freedom, ordered freedom, within the law, with force in the background and not in the foreground: a society in which authority and freedom are blended in due proportion, in which state and citizen are both ends and means. It is an empire organised for peace and for the free development of the individual in and through an infinite variety of voluntary associations. It neither deifies the state nor its rulers …