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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 eirenically genial host John Derbyshire, here with a survey of the passing charivari.
I don't engage very much with retail politics, mainly because I find it boring. It's a citizen's duty to pay attention, and I give it my best shot; but personal life aside, my interests are social and cultural, not political.
In the cultural revolution we are undergoing today here in the U.S.A., however, it's getting harder and harder to untangle the social and cultural from the political. I think — I'm not sure, but I think — this week's podcast illustrates that. Let's see.
02 — The wokester's burden. In my April Diary I made a passing mention of Anthony Esolen's essay titled "Deconstructing the Decolonizers" in the April/May issue of Chronicles magazine. Permit me to quote myself, concerning that article. Self-quote:
Esolen argues a parallel between the ideologues who have taken over our schools and colleges, and the European colonial powers in times past. In this parallel our youngsters, our school and college students, are like colonial subjects being robbed of their customs and traditions by those colonizers, albeit often with good intentions.
Anthony Esolen isn't the only one thinking this way. This parallel between woke-ism and colonialism is in the air.
Case in point: Stephen Balch at American Greatness, May fifth, title: Toward a National Liberation Movement. Sample quote from him:
Previous revolutionaries — Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis, Maoists, etc. — all professed love for their countries' common people, ours accuse them of systemic villainy.
Here's another guy who's got the bug: Z-man, one of the most perceptive and prolific commentators in the anti-anti-white resistance. May 6th, in a post titled America The Mini-Series, Z brought forth this insight, quote:
Modern America increasingly feels like colonialism. The people in charge are not only alien to us, but they are relatively unknown. A real flesh and blood character with a genuine backstory sticks out like a sore thumb. Even Trump, with all of his flaws, was a real person, which is why he was such an oddity. The overclass has become alien, in part, because it is now run by poorly drawn characters in a poorly written melodrama. America is colonialism, the mini-series.
I think these guys are on to something. In fact they have inspired me to verse.
The greatest poet of European colonialism was of course Rudyard Kipling. One of his best efforts, first published in 1899, was addressed to the people of the U.S.A., exhorting us to colonize the Philippines, which we had acquired in the Spanish-American War. The title of that poem was "The White Man's Burden."
If our present cultural revolution is indeed a kind of colonialism, it shouldn't be too hard to adapt Kipling's lines to it. Here is my attempt, title: "The Wokester's Burden." Ahem:
Take up the wokester's burden —[Applause.] Thank you, thank you …
03 — The White Guilt Trap. Confession is good for the soul, and white people all over the U.S.A. are reaping the psychic and social rewards of confessing their guilt for the part they have played in systemic racism.
This is of course a good and healthful thing, to cringe and kneel before our moral superiors of other races. We white people are addled with sin, and need to cleanse ourselves before the altar of anti-whitism … oops, sorry! I mean of course anti-racism.
There are some hazards here though. At a simply personal level it is certainly praiseworthy to curse ourselves and our ancestors for participating in systemic racism. The danger comes when we do so on behalf of some institution we represent.
For institutions to practice racism is against the law; so if I apologize on behalf of my institution, I am confessing not only to moral failing, but also to illegality.
In September last year the Trump administration's Department of Education opened an investigation into racial bias at Princeton University. The grounds for the investigation were in an open letter sent on September 2nd to Princeton faculty and students by University President Christopher Eisgruber.
Edited extracts from that letter, quote:
We must ask how Princeton can address systemic racism in the world, and we must also ask how to address it within our own community …
In other words, President Eisgruber was confessing to being the President of a racist institution, one receiving public funds. That put Princeton University in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Hence the investigation by Trump's Department of Education.
This is an instance of what I'm going to call the White Guilt Trap. By all means kneel, grovel, and confess your personal participation in systemic racism. Keep it strictly personal and individual, though. Don't let your confessional enthusiasm slop over into some organization you are involved in managing. There are legal hazards there, at least in theory.
Those hazards may remain theoretical. Following last November's glorious victory at the polls, the federal judiciary is itself pretty thoroughly woke. Judges' clerks have to attend seminars in Diversity and Inclusion, and are given copies of White Fragility to take home for weekend reading. That Department of Education investigation into Princeton University was deep-sixed in February without a verdict.
Still, you can't be too careful. The White Guilt Trap is still there, waiting to snap shut its jaws on the ankles of unwary administrators. Last month it caught the Missouri school district of Webster Groves, an affluent St Louis suburb that is ninety percent white.
"Affluent and ninety percent white" of course translates to "stuffed up to the district boundaries with white guilt and virtue signaling." In June last year, as the race hysteria following the death of George Floyd was rising to fever pitch, the Superintendent of Webster Groves school district, an invertebrate named John Simpson, posted a confession of guilt to the district's website. Edited extracts, quote:
I'm not saying that all police officers are bad or all educators are bad, but they (we) operate within systems that, by their outcomes, clearly privilege one race over another. It's undeniable …
That's a pretty standard white guilt grovel; but Superintendent Simpson is speaking for his school district, asserting that it, quote, "clearly privileges one race over another," end quote. Sorry, pal, but that's illegal.
Last month an advocacy organization called Parents Defending Education filed a federal civil rights complaint against Mr Simpson's school district, alleging racial discrimination. Since Superintendent Simpson has already confessed, in writing, to racial discrimination, the case should be a slam dunk, just so long as the Biden administration doesn't find some way to kill it.
Moral of these stories: It is good for your soul, and for your social credit and professional advancement, to confess your deep shame for being white and to apologize for your disgraceful participation in systemic racism. If you do so on behalf of some organization or institution you control, however, you may be opening that organization to a federal lawsuit.
The White Guilt Trap; try to avoid it.
04 — Winter for RINOs. Spring is in the air! The trees are in blossom and daffodils are bursting out all over, along with a lot of other flowers I don't know the names of. Mrs Derbyshire is the horticulturalist in our union.
For RINOs, though — and I don't mean the big lumbering charismatic megafauna, I mean institutional Republicans, R-I-N-Os — for RINOs and Never Trumpers, it must feel as though winter is coming on mighty early this year.
Case in point: Mitt Romney. Last Saturday, while you were enjoying your weekly dose of Radio Derb, Mittens was addressing the Republican Party's Utah convention.
Well, he was trying to: He was booed — "lustily booed," according to The Salt Lake Tribune — by the convention delegates when he stepped up to speak. Among the shouted words from the floor that could be picked out from the general booing were "traitor" and "communist."
Romney defended himself thus, quote:
Aren't you embarrassed? … I'm a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president's character issues … You can boo all you like. I've been a Republican all of my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.
You can put negative constructions on that. The sincerity defense is no defense: Lenin was perfectly sincere in his intention to end private property and massacre his opponents. Sure: we'd prefer our politicians to be sincere about the things they claim to believe, but we have a preference at least equally strong that their beliefs agree with ours.
And the mention of Mitt's 2012 presidential run just brings to our minds the title of Sam Francis' 1994 book Beautiful Losers, subtitle "Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism." We conservatives are tired of failing, Mitt, however gallantly. We want some success.
As for your Dad having been governor of Michigan: What's that got to do with anything? What do you think we have going here, a hereditary aristocracy?
I feel a twinge of guilt, mind, about those negative constructions. Romney is no Lenin. He's decent and humane. On my one personal acquaintance with him, I found him well-mannered, thoughtful, and honest about what he didn't know. As governor of Massachusetts, he took a firm line on illegal aliens — firmer than the average Republican, anyway. His 2012 presidential run was well-fought and not any kind of a disgrace — he took 24 states and 47 percent of the popular vote against Barack Obama, darling of the media.
The problem is, he's an institutional Republican, a critter as obsolete as buggy whips. We — we, the voters who've kept institutional Republicanism afloat long past when it ought to have sunk without trace — we don't want what Mitt Romney's selling. Sorry, Mitt, really sorry. It's nothing personal, just politics.
Another case: Representative Liz Cheney, currently chairman of the House Republican Conference, the GOP's House caucus. When the conference has its scheduled meeting next Wednesday it seems probable members will remove her from that chairmanship. Why? Mainly because she's a Never Trumper, in fact a Never, Ever, Over-My-Dead-Body Trumper. She really hates the orange man, and voted to impeach him the second time around.
Speaking of hereditary aristocracies, it doesn't help — although there's no sound reason why it either should or shouldn't — that her Dad is Dick Cheney, George W. Bush's Vice President, a neocon's neocon.
Looking up Liz Cheney's report card on immigration votes at the NumbersUSA website, they have her as a career grade A, A-plus in this Congress, so she's not all bad, just too much a Never Trumper and, yes, a neocon on foreign policy issues.
We're hearing that if voted out of her chairmanship on Wednesday, Rep. Cheney will be replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents New York's 21st district, up there in the Adirondacks. Here we come up against somewhat of a mystery.
I didn't know much about Rep. Stefanik, so as is my wont I first looked her up in the NumbersUSA immigration report cards for congresscritters. They have her as a career C-minus, a D-minus in this Congress. When you drill down to the details, there are a couple of A-pluses on particular issues, but they're swamped by Cs, Ds, and Fs.
And yet I see on Breitbart, May 7th, that the National Border Patrol Council has endorsed her to replace Liz Cheney: a NumbersUSA D-minus to replace an A-plus. Weird. This has to be the Trump factor again. Trump has given Rep. Stefanik a whole-hearted endorsement.
The only things I can deduce from all that with any certainty are, (a) Trump really doesn't care that much about immigration, and (b) this really is Trump's GOP now.
The larger context here, the tension between institutional Republicanism and popular Republicanism, needs another segment, though. So … here's another segment.
05 — Should we vote for the Uniparty? I haven't lived in England for thirty years now, and have been a U.S. citizen for nearly twenty, so I don't have much interest in politics over there. I do browse some posts by British commentators, though, as part of my morning trawl through the internet looking for items of interest, and now and then something catches my eye — something I think is pertinent to our own politics here in the U.S.A.
This one didn't just catch my eye; it had me jumping to my feet, fist-pumping to a degree that endangered the ceiling light fixture, and emitting rebel yells.
It was on the Breitbart website, May 5th. The writer is James Delingpole. I thought I remembered that name as belonging to the ballet critic at the London Spectator circa 1980. Looking James Delingpole up, though, I see he was born in 1965, so that seems improbable. He's married with three children, too, so … ballet critic? Eh, whatever, probably a false memory.
Mr Delingpole certainly got my attention with this May 5th piece. You need just a little background here.
Britain has two big political parties: the Conservative Party, a.k.a. the Tories, and the Labour Party. The Tories currently control Parliament under party leader and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. There are also some minor parties represented in Parliament, the most troublesome one currently being the Scottish Nationalists.
The Conservative Party naturally advertises itself as the more conservative of the two big parties, standing against radical change. The Labour Party was historically the party of, duh, Labour: of horny-handed sons of toil — coal miners, steel workers, ship-builders, and working-class folk in general. A lot of big names in the old Labour Party — for example Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary in the post-WW2 Labour government — came up through the ranks of the union movement.
Like our own Democratic Party, though, Britain's Labour Party has in recent decades been taken over by gentry liberals. To the degree that unions still play a role, they are the fake "unions" of the public sector, lobbying not for a bigger share of the profits of capitalism, but for a bigger share of the public fisc. A typical Labour member of parliament seventy years ago had started his working life as a coal miner; the typical one today drew his first paycheck as a lecturer in sociology at some minor college.
Well, Thursday this week there were elections over there. These mostly weren't parliamentary elections. There was a national general election two years ago, and the next one isn't due for another three years. Thursday's elections were for regional and municipal positions — mayors, town councillors and such. You could think of it very approximately as like our mid-terms, although more heated than usual because last year's elections were postponed on account of covid.
There was one parliamentary seat up for grabs Thursday: Hartlepool, a grimy seaport in the far northeast of England. Hartlepool is old-school Labour, hasn't had a Tory M.P. for sixty years. The Labour M.P. resigned in March under a cloud of allegations of sexual harassment, so this was a special election to replace him.
OK, enough background. What about this James Delingpole piece at Breitbart that I liked so much?
The thrust of the piece, and what will return an echo from the bosoms of American conservatives, is the pathetic uselessness of institutional conservatism.
In Britain, institutional conservatism means of course the Conservative Party, who have held power over there for the past eleven years. You have to qualify that, and Delingpole does, by noting that for the first five of those years the Tories were in coalition with a junior partner, the Liberal Democrats, a sort of concentrated essence of gentry liberalism, so they were under some restraint. For the last six years, though the Tories have ruled supreme.
Delingpole's beef is that those eleven years were, from a conservative point of view, an utter waste of time. The three big-"C" Conservative Prime Ministers accomplished nothing of a small-"c" conservative nature.
The only small-"c" conservative advance in those years was Brexit. That was by referendum, though, and against the inclinations of big-"C" Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned when the referendum result came out. The signature achievement of Cameron's Prime Ministership was the legalization of homosexual marriage.
Brexit aside, Delingpole gives a wish-list of seven things that a small-"c" conservative person, eleven years ago, might have hoped for from a big-"C" Conservative government. Here's his list. I've abbreviated the entries, with just a couple of short direct quotes.
End of list.
Eleven years of Conservative Party government have, says Delingpole, delivered nothing, zip, zilch, nada, nichts, rien, ничего, nothing on any of those items. The solution? Stop voting for institutional conservatism.
In the U.S.A., institutional conservatism means the Republican Party. The GOP has controlled both houses of Congress for twelve of the past twenty-six years; for six of those twelve it had the White House, too. Those twelve years have, like Britain's eleven, delivered nothing to conservatives. The last time our Republican Party had trifecta control — Congress and the White House — its signature accomplishment was a minor tax cut.
The solution here is the same one James Delingpole recommends to his countrymen: Stop voting for institutional conservatism. I shall follow his advice.
I'm sorry to say the Brits did not follow it on Thursday. This week's elections over there were a triumph for institutional conservatism and for the perfectly useless big-"C" Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
So in Britain, the downward spiral continues. I don't care; let's just try to stop it happening here. Don't vote for institutional conservatism!
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: This item really should have been in last week's podcast, but I missed it until a listener emailed in to ask me what I thought of it.
On April 24th, a week ago last Saturday, Joe Biden publicly condemned the genocide of Armenians by Turkey in 1915.
What do I think of that? I think it's dumb. Not because I'm pro-Turk or anti-Armenian, or pro-genocide. I have no interest in the issue and very little knowledge of the evidence. If respectable historians agree that a gross atrocity was committed against the Armenians, I'm willing to believe them. I just don't see the point of my country's president bringing it up.
Is this part of some deep diplomatic game, alienating Turkey in pursuit of some geopolitical advantage? I can't see it. Neither can the New York Times, normally a Biden mouthpiece, which wrote that the declaration could, quote, "prompt a backlash from Turkey that risks its cooperation in regional military conflicts or diplomatic efforts," end quote.
When Calvin Coolidge was leaving office, someone asked him what the main achievement of his administration had been. Replied Cal, quote: "The main achievement of my administration has been minding our own business." End quote. Now there was a Republican worth voting for!
Item: Wednesday this week the South Carolina House of Represenatives voted to bring back the electric chair, and also to introduce the firing squad as an optionally alternate method of execution. If the state Senate agrees, the bill will go to Governor Henry McMaster, who has said he will sign it into law.
At present the only way the state can execute felons is by lethal injection; and that's been getting difficult, in fact impossible, in recent years because the big woke drug companies don't want to be associated with capital punishment.
If this new bill becomes law, the chair will be the default method, but a felon could elect to be shot by firing squad instead … at any rate until the manufacturers of guns and ammo get woke.
I support capital punishment but deplore lethal injection as a way to do it. In a July 2014 podcast I called it "cowardly and dishonest." It also requires the injecting physician to violate his Hippocratic Oath.
The chair, and especially the firing squad, are great improvements. From somewhere down below, Gary Gilmore is nodding agreement. Remember him? That was the murderer executed by firing squad in Utah back in 1977.
Gilmore wanted to die, and was annoyed by attempts to get him a stay of execution. When the fatal moment arrived and he was asked if he had any last words, Gilmore famously replied: "Let's do it."
I lived in the U.S.A. at the time, and for a year and a half thereafter. For all that time there were T-shirts on sale at novelty stores with a big circular target printed on them, and, underneath, the words "Let's do it."
"Child" here is defined to be 14 or younger. Japan's child population peaked in 1954 at almost thirty million: the figure at April 1st this year is just less than fifteen million — half the 1954 figure.
Across the water in China, meanwhile, the ChiComs are being awfully cagey about releasing their census numbers. On the usual schedule, the 2020 census data should have been released in early April. It wasn't; the authorities said it would be late April; and … we're still waiting.
A common theory among China-watchers is that the numbers for fertility are lower than expected, and the ChiComs don't want this known.
Other experts pooh-pooh this. There are, they say, a lot of complicated algorithms involved in modern head-counting, and the covid pandemic has buggered them up.
I don't know the truth of the matter. I do know, though, that I called this in my galaxy-spanning 2009 best-seller We Are Doomed, chapter eleven, quote:
Not long ago, giving some talks after returning from a trip to China … I was asked about the possibility of a future Japan-China conflict. I replied that unless it happens very soon, any such conflict will have to be fought out on the shuffleboard court.
07 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and don't forget Mothers Day on Sunday. If your Mom is still among us, do something nice for her. I lost mine 22 years ago, and still miss her.
Some signout music. This week, a request. I do occasionally take requests. This one's from a friend who wanted to hear a Stabat Mater. Mater is of course the Latin for "mother," in this case Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, so a Stabat Mater is entirely appropriate for this weekend.
I'm ashamed to say that when my friend asked for a Stabat Mater, my first reaction was negative. "A what? Stabat Mater, isn't that one of those Papist things?" That was disgracefully sectarian of me, I admit. Let bygones be bygones, Derb. Bloody Mary, Guy Fawkes, James the Second … water under the bridge.
Always keen to improve my musical knowledge, I then went on YouTube and sampled some Stabat Maters, of which there are rather a lot. Verdi, Vivaldi, Schubert, Pergolesi, Poulenc, Scarlatti, Dvořák, … Looks like well-nigh every big-name composer took a stab at it. Stabat Mater … took a stab at it … did you get that? Never mind.
I settled at last on this lovely one by Palestrina, here sung a cappella by the choir Of King's College, Cambridge.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The choir Of King's College, Cambridge; Palestrina's "Stabat Mater."]