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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. This is your summarily genial host John Derbyshire with news and commentary on the week's events.
I have no front matter at all to offer you this week, so let's proceed straight to the passing charivari.
That's especially the case with politics. Politicians have always said dumb things, of course; but in between the dumb things they generally, once in a while, said sensible, interesting, or thought-provoking things, too — occasionally even memorable things. Today it seems to be all dumb, wall-to-wall dumb, sea-to-shining-sea stupidity.
Case in point: Joe Biden's speech about voting rights in Philadelphia Tuesday. I listened to all nineteen minutes of it, with the idea to do a thorough tossing and goring. However, Pat Buchanan has beat me to it and I'm not going to compete with the master. I'll just throw out a few random comments.
Joe plumbed the deepest depths of idiocy at 16m19s in the CNBC video of the speech. Quote:
The assault on free and fair elections is just such a threat — literally. I've said it before. We're facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That's not hyperbole: since the Civil War.
In fact, as even some institutional never-Trump Republicans were moved to point out, that is a textbook instance of hyperbole. In saying, "That's not hyperbole," the President said a really dumb, stupid thing, inviting mockery from any literate person.
Perhaps Biden, or whoever writes his speeches, just learned the word "hyperbole" and has taken a fancy to it. He actually used it twice in this speech, the first time at 52s in, quote:
Twenty-twenty election … It's not hyperbole to say the most examined and fullest expression of the will of the people in the history of this nation.
Well, again, it is hyperbole to say that. Last November's election was a ramshackle affair, mainly because of disruptions due to the covid pandemic. We've had much better-run and more credible elections. Does anyone not think so?
That bit of the speech doesn't attain quite the lightless depths of dumbassery as the previous one, but it's pretty darn stupid.
When he wasn't saying dumb things the President was telling lies. He said, for example, that women were denied the vote until the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Not true: women got the vote in Wyoming fifty-one years before that, in 1869, closely followed by Utah, then Colorado and Idaho. Every smart high-schooler knows this stuff.
What wasn't dumb or false was just embarrassing: fake indignation, descents into inaudible mumblings, threadbare clichés. Biden Who-We-Ared us twice (14m26s, 15m31s).
It wasn't hard to see what psychologists call projection, too. Quote:
We're going to face a new test in 2022, a new wave of unprecedented voter suppression and raw and sustained election subversion …
Translation: We in the regime are really really worried that voters will vote the wrong way next year.
We all know what this is about. It's not about 2022 or 2020, it's about 2016. That election was a terrific psychic shock to the ruling class, a nine on the political Richter Scale.
The regime was smug; they were confident; they had one of their own on the Democratic ticket, a reliable bot for the academic-military-technocratic-intelligence-media-financial elites. The 2016 election was lined up nicely, all according to plan … then suddenly, from out of right field, came this wild man, this maverick, destroying all the ruling-class plans.
Everything out of the administrative state since November 2016 — everything from the big federal power centers, the universities and law schools and military staff colleges, the broadsheet newspapers and TV channels, Hollywood and the big internet companies, the FBI and the CIA and the NSA and the so-called Justice Department — everything has been said, done, written and broadcast with the sole aim of making sure that 2016 never happens again.
And that's not hyperbole.
03 — South Africa: It's the blecks. The video clips of riots in South Africa are a bit creepy, aren't they? I mean, in the way they remind us of last year's video clips out of Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, New York, …
There were some key differences. The South African riots seem not to have been explicitly anti-white. Most of the driving energy was tribal, if I'm understanding it right. One group of blacks were fired up because their guy, former president Jacob Zuma, has been jailed. The ex-president is a Zulu, and the worst of the disturbances are in the Zulu home province.
The businesses being burned and looted are mostly Indian, Indians being a market-dominant minority in South Africa. Those people you've seen shooting at the looters are probably Indian, too — sort of like the rooftop Koreans of Los Angeles back in the 1992 Rodney King riots. There are economic discontents in play, too … and so on.
Still and all, there are economic discontents all round the world, and political resentments, and market-dominant minorities, and tribes wanting to assert themselves. Yet the two big tranches of video clips showing rioters, looters, and arsonists that we've watched the past two years, from the U.S.A. and South Africa, have something in common that it's hard not to notice.
Time to recycle my South African story. This is a Radio Derb golden oldie that first showed up in my August 10th 2013 podcast. I apologize if you've heard it before. Never having actually been to South Africa, this is all I've got when news about the place pops up. Quote from self, slightly edited.
I recall a fine example of Occam's Razor … from thirty or so years ago when I was doing office work in London. I had a colleague, a white guy from South Africa, who spoke with those strange flattened vowels they use. He actually pronounced the name of his country as "S'thefriceh."
So it is; then, now, and for ever.
04 — Diversity not a winner for England. Diversity is our strength! Well, not necessarily.
Last weekend England's soccer team reached their first final in a major tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Before proceeding with the current story, please let me just pause to remember that. I couldn't care less about soccer, then or now; but I was a young student, 21 years old, and Britain was still struggling to come to terms with its retreat from governing half the world to being just a middle-rank nation with a balance of payments problem. Memories of World War Two were still fresh; and the nation we beat in that 1966 World Cup Final was … Germany! It was impossible not to get swept up in the general enthusiasm. I still have my Dad's commemorative beer glasses, decorated with images of World Cup Willie, the England team emblem.
Okay, back to last Sunday. After all those years — 55 years — the England team had made it to a major international soccer final again: not the World Cup this time, but the European Championship. They were playing the Italian team at Wembley Stadium in London.
At full time the game was tied, one goal to one. It went into extra time. Extra time was played, and the score was still stuck at one-one.
What happens then, according to the rules, is penalty shootouts. Each team selects five players to take solo shots at the enemy goal, which of course is defended by the enemy goalkeeper. An Italian player came up, shot at the England goal, and scored! An England guy came up, shot at the Italian goal, and scored! So, one-one on the penalty shots.
The second of the five Italian guys came and missed. The second England guy came up, and scored. Wild jubilation in the stands. England ahead two to one on penalties!
There were still three guys on each side to kick, though. Italy's number three came up, and scored. England's number three came up and missed. Italy's number four came up, and scored. England's number four came up and missed. Italy's number five came up, and missed. England's number five came up and missed. Score on penalties: three for Italy, two for England. Italy won. Wailing and gnashing of teeth in the stands.
What got everybody's attention was that of those five England players picked to take the penalty shots, the first two were white, and they both scored. The last three were black, and they all missed.
That led predictably to some rude commentary on social media; and that, in turn, stirred up a mighty howling gale of virtue signaling. There don't seem to have been a really large number of rude comments about the three black players, but any quantity is enough to stir up the establishment and those who, sheep-like, acknowledge the establishment's moral authority — which is to say, around ninety percent of English people today.
When I said "the establishment" there, that includes the soccer establishment. Gareth Southgate, the England team manager, is perfectly woke: so much so, he has supported his team genuflecting before each international game, taking a knee out of respect to the antiwhite violent anarchist gang BLM and to honor the memory of junkie street criminal George Floyd, peace be upon him.
Southgate's reflexive wokism inspired a July 9th essay by Ed West at Unherd.com, which I strongly recommend to your attention. Ed's column defies synopsis, but I'll give you a sample quote. Quote:
The past 50 years or so have seen a cultural revolution in western society comparable in scope to the Reformation. Most of us have known only that period of transition, when morality and norms were up for debate, but perhaps it is now over. Perhaps we have returned to the sort of world we lived in when England last reached a final, in 1966 — a world of strictly enforced social mores.
05 — Once a nation, now just a place. What does Radio Derb think of this little kerfuffle? Not much. Having, as I already said, no interest in soccer, and coming up to my twentieth year as a U.S. citizen with only feebly sentimental feelings about the Old Country, I'm not much bothered.
All right, I'll try to be bothered. First I'll take the side of those three black players who missed their goals.
They're all Englishmen, black Englishmen, born and raised there. Two are from London; the other is from Lancashire, my father's ancestral county. One of the Londoners has Nigerian parents; the other two are of West Indian parentage, or partly so — one I think is a quadroon.
Nobody can help who his parents are, or where he's born, so it wouldn't make sense to nurse any personal negativity to the three. Good luck to them. And on the same grounds, it's a bit ill-mannered to be abusing them on social media.
On the other hand, these are international-level soccer players we're talking about. That is a very well-paid line of work, much better-paid than any line of work I was ever in. If, shielded by all that moolah, one or more of the three was to have a nervous breakdown because someone called him a rude word on Twitter, he would have revealed himself to be a contemptible pussy and I wouldn't hesitate to say so.
Furthermore, bad manners towards groups favored by the establishment — blacks, Muslims, homosexuals, and so on — have been criminalized in the U.K. This week unknown hundreds, perhaps thousands, of British bobbies have been taken off homicide squads, anti-drug units, burglary investigations, and other lines of criminal investigation much less important than bad manners, and are now working double shifts to track down the social-media abusers and bring them to justice. I mean, of course, social justice, which is far and away the most important kind.
My opinion of the three black players would be higher if they would issue a joint public statement saying that they don't want anyone's door being kicked down by bobbies at 3 a.m. just on suspicion of the door's owner having tweeted, "Go back to Nigeria!" Whaddya say, guys? No, I'm not holding my breath.
And now, to take the side of the abusers: They are voices from out of the pit, the pit into which they have been cast by the cultural revolution Ed West writes about. Perhaps, like me, they remember the England team that won the 1966 World Cup, and are contrasting it in their minds with this year's team.
The cultural revolution over there is not complete. Lenin wanted to create New Soviet Man; our own cultural commissars have been striving to create New Multicultural Man. The latter effort has been considerably successful — much more so than Lenin's, and more so in Britain than in the U.S.A.
There are still resistors, though; still Englishmen who can't forget that not very long ago they were part of a nation, with a supermajority of people like themselves, people of the same race, sharing the same proud history, the same mythology, the same culture.
They can't forget that England was once a nation. Now it's just a place. The resistors resent that bitterly; and sometimes, ignited by something trivial like a soccer defeat, the resentment boils over into bad manners.
Not to worry, though. The authorities will soon have them all tracked down and hustled off to jail or re-education camps. You can't let people like that run around loose. Heck, there might be an insurrection!
06 — Gentlemen and hooligans. As I said back there, soccer's not my game. In the England of my childhood the class system was still going strong, and games that involved kicking balls had a class angle. Working-class people played and watched football, which is to say soccer, but the middle classes played and watched rugby.
(That's how it was in the Midlands, anyway. Up in the north of England there was a variant style of rugby called rugby league; it was working-class, like soccer. I tell you, the class system was complicated. In what follows I shall ignore rugby league. "Rugby," far as I'm concerned, is rugby union.)
The catch-phrase was: "Soccer is a game for gentlemen played by hooligans; rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen." The point of that, aside from the class angle, is, that rugby is a much rougher game, with lots of body contact.
Well, in my elementary school we all played soccer, in my case without enthusiasm or success. At age eleven, though, I graduated into the town's premier boys' school, which was a rugby school, determined to turn us working-class street urchins into gentlemen.
Did I mention that rugby is a rough game? In that opening season, while still learning the rules, and having failed to learn one particular rule, I had my very first experience of being knocked unconscious. Nothing deterred, I played rugby once or twice every week for four years thereafter, to no distinction whatsoever.
With the soccer-rugby contrast planted thus in my mind so long ago, I was curious to see whether the gentlemens' game — my game, rugby — is as woke as soccer over there.
Some quick googling brought back mixed results. Where genuflecting is concerned, the governing bodies of rugby have left it to the players' individual choice.
The Calcutta Cup, for instance, is a huge event in the rugby calendar played every year between England and Scotland. Before this year's game in London, February 11th, sixteen players on the England team genuflected before the game. There are 23 names listed on the squad altogether, including replacements, so that means seven England players did not genuflect.
Scotland also listed 23 players but only four took a knee to show their support for crime and anarchy in a country three thousand miles away where nobody ever heard of rugby. Oh: Scotland won the game 11-6. Heh.
So the English are genuflecting like crazy, the Scots much less so. What about the Welsh and Irish? As it happens they'd played each other at a game in Wales four days before the Calcutta Cup. None of the players on either team genuflected. Wales won the game 21-16.
Given what I've been telling you about modern Ireland being the Heart of Wokeness, that's a bit surprising. I'll have to dig around some more and find out what's going on there.
Congratulations to the Welsh players for that win, anyway, and good luck in your game against Argentina tomorrow, lads.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: I have a very, very slight interest in Walt Whitman. I find his poetry completely unreadable. If a poet wants me to give up my time to reading him, his verses must satisfy not less than two of the following three conditions:
The score on those three conditions has to be two or three. The few pieces of Whitman's verse that have been offered to me were ones and zeroes. Sorry, pal.
However, three miles south of my house here on Long Island is the Walt Whitman birthplace and museum. That's my very, very slight interest.
I have only been to the birthplace once. That's when Steve Sailer was staying over with us and we were struggling to think of local attractions Steve might find entertaining. We took him to the dwarf-tossing contest, the quilting social, the aardvark races, and the all-Island flatulence final; then, unable to think of anything else, we showed him the Whitman birthplace. Steve was quietly respectful. That aside, I have retained no memory of the birthplace at all.
Now I see that Whitman has been canceled. A statue of the old shirt-lifter on the campus of Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey is to be, quote: "relocated to a historically relevant site on campus and contextualized," end quote.
Why? Why do you think? Quote: "He … stood for white supremacy and racism against Black and Indigenous Americans," end quote. Translation: He was a white guy and not a communist.
That last quote was from a petition circulated by student activists last year.
I have a suggestion for those activists. The Whitman birthplace here on Long Island occupies a fair-sized slab of prime real estate on a main shopping street, right opposite Mrs Derbyshire's favorite mall. We sure could use another parking lot down there. Some of the birthplace buildings are old wooden structures. They would burn real easy …
Item: Just going back to the South Africa disturbances for a moment: I see that the son of jailed ex-President Jacob Zuma, who is said to have political ambitions of his own, issued the following plea to the rioters, quote:
For the people that are protesting and looting, please do so carefully and please do so responsibly.
I hereby nominate Zuma Jr. for the 2021 award of the Nancy Pelosi Looter Encouragement Trophy.
Item: Tuesday around 5:17 p.m. a George Floyd Memorial in Toledo, Ohio was destroyed by a bolt of lightning.
The jokes write themselves: so much so, the humble commentator can only direct you to what he thinks is the wittiest comment thread. My vote is for the one at Ace of Spades.
Item: I don't know much about Brazilian politics and am always ready to have my understanding improved, but current President Jair Bolsonaro seems like a pretty good egg. At any rate, he's hated by all the right people.
I am therefore sorry to report that President Bolsonaro has come down with a very bad case of the hiccups. He's been hiccupping uncontrollably since July 3rd. That's a lot of hiccups.
I don't have any medical expertise in this area, but I can offer some of the folk remedies current in my English childhood.
"Stand on your head and clap your feet," was my father's usual suggestion. I'm not sure he meant it seriously. At any rate, I never mastered that particular maneuver.
My mother favored dropping a key, a cold metal key, down your back between undershirt and skin. I can't remember if that ever worked, but at least it didn't involve knocking over large items of furniture.
Outside the family, among school classmates and neighbors, drinking a glass of water backwards, i.e. from the wrong side of the glass, was popular. I remember finding it efficacious, but impossible to do without getting either (a) water up your nose or (b) a soaking wet shirt front.
And then there was shock therapy: a sudden sharp noise right behind you: BANG! I was going to recommend that one to President Bolsonaro's colleagues. Then I thought, wait … a Latin American country … the Presidential palace … a sudden sharp noise right behind you … perhaps not.
I think, Mr President, you should try the glass of water backwards.
08 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention.
Having wished the Welsh rugby team well for tomorrow's game against Argentina back there; and being, because of a minor calamity, in need of something soothing, I thought I'd give you a Welsh lullaby to play us out. Nothing's more soothing than a lullaby, right?
Here is the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân, a lovely folk ditty at least two hundred years old. "Suo Gân" just means "lullaby," and the words are pretty much the words of every lullaby from everywhere: "Sleep, my precious, sleep, your Mommy's here, nobody can harm you, …" and so on. It's actually sung here in Welsh by the Welsh soprano Emilie Parry Williams, but it has a Wikipedia page with a translation if you're curious.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: "Suo Gân."]