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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners, to what I am sure must be one of the internet's longest-running podcasts, now well into our nineteenth year. This is, at it has always been, your everlastingly genial host John Derbyshire, with news from and commentary about the passing scene.
There were two international headliners this week: the killing, by an American missile, of the Al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's brief trip to Taiwan. I shall start with those.
02 — A war America lost. "Al Qaeda," remember them? The name has a quaint sound to it, doesn't it? It summons up vague recollections of the early 2000s: Windows XP, Bill O'Reilly, Blackberry (I mean the mobile phone, not the fruit), the Numa-Numa Song [Clip] … oh, stop.
Twenty years ago, but it seems like the Middle Ages. Heck, the Rolling Stones were still giving concerts! No, wait …
Well, here was Al Qaeda in the news again. In the early morning hours last Saturday the leader of Al Qaeda, a 71-year-old Egyptian named Ayman al-Zawahiri, originally trained as a surgeon, underwent some drastic surgery himself at the hands of our CIA.
The surgical instrument used was an R9X Hellfire missile. That's the one with no explosive payload. It just uses its own momentum and six very sharp, very strong blades to slice through anything it encounters: wood, automobile bodywork, concrete, or 71-year-old Egyptian gentlemen.
This happened in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Al-Zawahiri was standing on the balcony of a well-appointed house in downtown Kabul, presumably taking in the early-morning air. He had moved to that house with his family soon after the U.S.A. pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan last September. The house seems to have been a rental; it belongs to a senior official in the Taliban government.
To be perfectly fair to the Biden administration — and yes, it hurts, but I do strive to be fair — this strike was in accordance with the president's address on August 20th last year, while our evacuation from Afghanistan was under way. Responding to a question from a reporter, the president said this, quote:
Look, let's put this thing in perspective here. What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as … getting Osama bin Laden. And we did …
So administration spokesmen can now make a case that we didn't lose the war in Afghanistan. We went in there in 2001 because the Taliban government had hosted Al Qaeda. We left last year because they were no longer hosting Al Qaeda. Then, when they hosted them again, in the person of al-Zawahiri, we took appropriate action.
Yeah, there's a case you can make there, and I'm sure the administration and its media shills will make it. To a lot of us, though, that case looks like lipstick on a very ugly pig.
This was a missionary war. Our war aim was to replace the Taliban government with a more modern, open and westernized republic. We actually did that. The republic, however, was a dysfunctional Third World kleptocracy: shambolic, incompetent, unpopular, and of course sensationally corrupt. It was no match for the Taliban in ethnic appeal and fighting spirit.
After seventeen years of ruling Afghanistan, the republic and all its institutions blew away like dust in the wind. We threw up our hands in despair and left. Al Qaeda moved back in.
Now perhaps they have gone, at any rate from downtown Kabul. Whether they are still holed up in mountain caves somewhere, who knows? I'd be very surprised to learn that the answer is: us.
The cost of all this futility: two thousand dead American soldiers and corresponding thousands maimed and disfigured. Two trillion American dollars, according to Joe Biden in the aforementioned speech. Some tens of thousands of Afghans — estimates vary.
So technically, working the lipstick, our political and military chiefs could — and I'm sure will — claim: Mission accomplished! Seeing those numbers, though, and thinking back across twenty years — twenty years! — Afghanistan looks to most of us like a war America lost.
03 — Nancy does Taipei. And yes: Nancy Pelosi stopped in at Taipei on her Far Eastern tour.
The ChiComs were mad as hell. They responded with military "exercises" around the island — not just to give their troops a workout, of course, but to intimidate and harass. They imposed a partial blockade, too, reminding us that they could bring Taiwan to its knees with a protracted full blockade, without the bother of a military assault.
Here's a thing I wrote about Taiwan after visiting the place in 2016, quote:
The young Saint Augustine asked the Lord to give him chastity and continence, "but not yet" (sed noli modo). Taiwan's approach to its National Question is Augustinian in that sense.
I got that one right, didn't I? From the ChiComs' shrieking and frothing this past few days, it's looked as though that "cheerful blurring of reality" may not outlast the current year.
The ChiComs are six years more confident in their own military prowess now than they were when I wrote that. The rattling of sabers is correspondingly more deafening.
Will they act sometime soon, either by blockade or assault? My guess is no better than anyone else's.
There are considerations that surely deter them: economic and diplomatic considerations, embargoes and sanctions. Whatever you think of Russia's attack on Ukraine, it's made Russia a lot less popular in a lot of places that matter, and had some dire economic effects; and China is way more of a commercial nation than Russia.
And China's military self-confidence may be misplaced. For pros and cons on that I refer you to the Z-man's August 4th blog titled "China Thoughts" and the responses from readers in the comment thread. An all-out military assault may not be the way to go. If I were Xi Jinping I'd favor blockade.
The ChiComs are certainly feeling their oats, though. One way or another they are all set to hammer the final nails into the coffin lid of post-Cold-War optimism.
Remember post-Cold-War optimism? The End of History? With industrial totalitarianism discredited by the collapse of the U.S.S.R., liberal democracy was to be the wave of the future. No more infallible leaders, stifling of dissent, socialized commerce, one-party politics, wars of naked aggression, … No more!
A lot of that optimism was directed at China. "The Soviet Union's present is China's future" Chou En-lai had said seventy years ago. "No, sorry, pal," we jeered from the early 1990s. "The Soviet Union's gone. The Chinese people — clever, commercial, four thousand years of civilization — will head the other way, to liberal democracy. They are perfectly capable of it: look at the recent reforms in Taiwan! Remember the Tiananmen Square protests a couple of years ago: the spirit of democracy is there!"
That was the common opinion. China just needed a little help from us. We had to get them into the WTO, open up our universities to them, export our industries to help them expand, … Then, with our help — our open hearts and open hands — China would soon be a free, fair, open republic, just a great big Denmark!
Well, here we are thirty years on. It looks as though Chou En-lai may have been right after all.
Footnote: I can't leave this topic without registering the hearty belly-laugh I got reading Darren Beattie's August 2nd tweet. Here it is, tweet:
04 — Why are we in NATO? Setting up this podcast as a transcript, I gave this segment the title "Why are we in NATO?" Then I paused, thinking to myself: Surely I must have used that as a segment title before? I've been banging on about it for years, haven't I?
I went to the archives and checked. No, actually I haven't used that as a segment title before now. I have indeed been banging on for years about NATO, though.
Here I was fourteen years ago in April 2008, snarking about the admission into NATO that week of Croatia and Albania. Sample snark:
So if anyone should attack our good friends and trusted allies in Albania, America's sons and daughters will be sent over there to defend the place … wherever the heck it is.
I have nothing against NATO, you understand. I think NATO is a jolly good idea. For Russia, as for China, the End of History is nowhere in sight. The natural condition of these nations is lawless despotism, and their smaller neighbors need to co-operate in collective defense.
So: Good for NATO! I just don't understand why we are in it. Aren't the nations of Europe populous enough, rich enough, and even nuclear enough to take care of their own collective defense?
Of course they are; and soon they will be even more so. Sweden and Finland have applied to join the alliance, and on Wednesday this week the U.S. Senate approved the necessary treaty.
That will add sixteen million people to NATO's population — equal to eleven percent of the population of Russia right there. With Sweden and Finland the total European population of NATO — I mean, not counting the U.S.A., Canada, and Turkey — will be over half a billion — three and a half times Russia's population. Go NATO!
I sincerely wish all success, security, and — should the necessity arise, which God forbid! — victory to NATO. I still don't understand why we're in it, though.
05 — Killing our cattle. We are a small brotherhood, we dissident bloviators, with the usual portion — usual, I mean for argumentative types like us — the usual portion of disagreements and occasional animosities.
A small brotherhood, as I said, pissing defiantly into the gale-force winds of regime triumphalism, media dishonesty, and general stupidity. With that in mind I like to give credit when it's due to other members of the fraternity, as I did back there somewhere to the Z-man.
In that spirit let me direct you to another one of the Z-man's recent pieces: his August 1st piece over at Taki's Magazine titled "The Valley of Greta," which I think is very ingenious. And yes: that's bloviator's courtesy talk for, "Darn, I wish I'd thought of it."
The Greta there is teenage Swedish climate scold Greta Thunberg. The Z-man ties her very cleverly to another teenage girl from back in 1856: Nongqawuse, the Xhosa maiden down in Southern Africa who persuaded her people, the cattle-raising Xhosa tribe, to kill all their cattle on the instructions of a vision she'd had.
In the vision angels had told Nongqawuse that they would return in a mighty host to bring happiness and prosperity to the Xhosa and drive out the white men who were starting to encroach on them; but first the Xhosa had to kill all their cattle and scatter all their corn. And not to worry: When the angels returned they'd bring new cattle and new corn!
The Xhosa fell under Nongqawuse's spell and did as she told them. Alas, the host of angels never showed up, and unknown thousands of Xhosa starved to death.
(I have told the story myself here at VDARE.com, as an instance of attempted national suicide.)
The Xhosa didn't blame Nongqawuse for the catastrophe. That's not how mass hysterias work. They assumed that they, or some doubters among them, had failed to follow the angels' instructions faithfully enough. The place where the Xhosa maiden had her vision is to this day respectfully called the Valley of Nongqawuse.
Hence the Z-man's title to his piece: "The Valley of Greta." Our current climate change hysteria is, says the Z-man, a global 21st-century analog of the Xhosa cattle-killing.
I haven't yet heard of a direct edict from our own federal government for American farmers to start killing their cattle and scattering their corn, but it can't be far away.
06 — Dissident Hispanophiles. That's my tribute to the Z-man. Permit me one more nod to a brother, a different brother, also at Taki's Magazine.
This brother is posting anonymously in TakiMag's regular column "The Week That Perished," which carries no byline. On stylistic and other grounds, though — I shall get to the other grounds in a minute — I strongly suspect that the writer here is David Cole. I don't always agree with David; but he usually makes me think, and often makes me laugh.
Here, on July 24th, he is writing about the spasm of race hysteria that followed an incident at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania.
Sesame Place is an amusement park for kids themed on the TV show Sesame Street. One of its features is that local teenagers desperate for a few dollars dress up as characters in the TV show — encase themselves in what must be stifling hot Muppet outfits, and parade past the kids and parents.
Well, a few days ago in this parade, two little black girls visiting the park reached out to hug one of the dressed-up characters, a Sesame Street regular named Rosita. To their chagrin, Rosita rebuffed their advances and went right on marching, notwithstanding she had just previously paused to high-five some white kids.
National outrage of course ensued. I don't think any police stations or car dealerships were torched, but things got pretty bad. Lawsuits are of course under way. The family of the little black girls are looking for $25 million.
It was left to David Cole — if indeed it was he — to point out what, so far as I am aware, no-one else noticed.
This Rosita character, who so shamefully disrespected the little black girls, is Sesame Street's first bilingual Muppet. She's supposed to be Mexican. I'll let David Cole wrap it up from there, quote:
With that, Sesame Street provided its first useful lesson in fifty years.
Now I can reveal my non-stylistic reason for thinking that's David Cole writing there.
Among white Californians of a Dissident Right inclination, there is a subset who don't much mind immigration from south of the border.
They don't much mind it because while the Latino immigrants sure do litter a lot, and play loud music in the parks, and drive drunk, and bring with them some serious nuisances like MS-13, they are still far preferable to our own low-class blacks. They're polite, they work hard, and they don't hate white people.
In parts of California, I am told, the Latinos have driven out blacks from some neighborhoods altogether. Where have they driven them out to? I don't know: this is second-hand information I am retailing here.
To some white Californian dissidents, all that is very welcome, so they don't mind Latinos at all, even to the degree they sometimes don't care very much about illegal immigration.
On the evidence of his columns, of which I am a keen reader, David Cole is one Californian so inclined. I can think of a couple of others whose names you almost certainly know if you hang out at Dissident Right websites … but they are less outspoken than David, so I shall leave their names under a cloak of discretion.
In hopes of cooling down some before I proceed to my main commentary, let me first read you a quote from Christopher Caldwell's brilliant 2020 book The Age of Entitlement, Chapter Eight. Quote:
Civil rights never became self-regenerating as the Americans of 1964 had hoped it would. The legitimacy of civil rights legislation rested on the belief that it would be a transitional measure, leading to a stable, racially mixed society. Professing to oppose racial distinctions in the South, while introducing them on a nationwide basis via affirmative action and other programs, would have been illogical, hypocritical, and unjust if done on a permanent basis. The extra rights of protection and redress that minorities enjoyed were admissible as stopgaps — not as permanent parts of the Constitution.
Yep, that's where we are, the instability all around us and in plain sight. Civil rights is an antiwhite grift.
Come on, honestly: When you hear the expression "civil rights attorney," what comes to mind? What comes to my mind is a black celebrity lawyer in a $2,000 bespoke suit going up against some corporation or city government for the ghetto lottery.
Chief enforcer of the grift in the current administration is the sinister, ghoulish U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. No surprise to hear that on Thursday this week Comrade Garland brought civil rights charges against four Louisville police officers — one of them a female, or whatever we're supposed to say nowadays — involved in the March 2020 fatal shooting of black female — birthing person, whatever — Breonna Taylor.
Note that word "involved." Of the four officers charged, only one was actually at the scene of the shooting. He fired his weapon, but didn't kill Ms Taylor. His bullets all went wild. He was criminally charged on that account, but was acquitted at trial.
The cop who did kill Ms Taylor was dismissed from the police force. He didn't face any criminal charges, though, and he's now suing to get his job back. But main point: he's not one of the four Comrade Garland is going after.
So if only one of the Garland Four was present at the scene and fired his weapon, who are the other three? Well, the two males are alleged to have violated Ms Taylor's civil rights by preparing a false search warrant affidavit. The female allegedly conspired with them to falsify the warrant.
If they can't get you on what they really want to get you [on], they get you on improperly stapling paperwork.
And of course, only black people have civil rights. A white woman shot by a black cop? Well, he might get some jail time. Mohammed Noor served three years for shooting Justine Damond in Minneapolis in 2017. He's a free man now. No federal civil rights charges were ever brought against him. Michael Byrd of course faced no charges at all, federal or otherwise, for shooting Ashli Babbitt.
These are, to quote Christopher Caldwell again, "the extra rights of protection and redress that minorities enjoy," end quote. Equality under the law is nowhere in sight.
To remedy occasional and local injustices against blacks we instituted frequent and universal injustices against whites, apparently with no plan ever to de-institute them.
Civil rights? Ptui, I spit.
08 — Larkin at 100. This segment isn't really news or commentary, it's more of a cultural note.
This coming Tuesday, April 9th, is the centenary of English poet Philip Larkin. He was born August 9th 1922 and died December 2nd 1985 at age 63.
I am very susceptible to Larkin's poetry, to the degree that, as the saying goes, I can remember where I was and what I was doing when I got the news of his passing. So this is December 1985.
I'd moved from England to the U.S.A. five weeks before on an H-1 visa to work for First Boston, a New York bond brokerage. Our office was in 7 World Trade Center. In some idle time I read in a newspaper — probably the New York Times — that Larkin had died. I expressed my dismay out loud to my coworkers in neighboring cubes. Larkin wasn't much known in the U.S.A., though, so I just got blank looks, which somehow made it worse.
Larkin's verse isn't for everyone. One of his critics complained that, quote: "Larkin doesn't affirm anything," end quote. Although he lived an uneventful and useful life, with about the average mix of good and bad fortune, Larkin was a pessimist and an atheist who didn't hope for much. Death and the finitude of life seem never to have been far from his thoughts. He famously said, quote: "Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth." End quote.
Although heterosexual, with a good scorecard in that area, he never married and had no children. In fact he strongly disliked children, writing in one poem of, quote, "their shallow violent eyes," end quote. So perhaps he didn't so much dislike children as feared them.
With all that in mind, I'll read a short poem Larkin wrote on or about his fiftieth birthday. At any rate it's dated in the book of his collected poems as "August ? 1972," just fifty years ago, with a question mark after the "August."
If you yourself have reached and passed your fiftieth, you'll know all the things people say, or have said, about it. "Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age," for example. Or my favorite, from George Orwell, quote: "At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves." End quote.
Here is Philip Larkin's take.
"The View" by Philip Larkin
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: We got a sentencing in the case of a January 6th defendant, 49-year-old Guy Reffitt. Mr Reffitt did not enter the Capitol building, but he advanced up some of the outer steps until a cop pepper-sprayed him. Then he urged some other protestors to advance up some different steps.
For that Reffitt got 7¼ years in federal prison. He had no previous criminal record.
That sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a birthing person who once dated Brett Kavanagh. Judge Friedrich was going easy on Reffitt: the federal prosecutors wanted 15 years.
Oh, wait, sorry: It wasn't just ascending those steps and egging on protestors that got Reffitt his 7¼-year sentence; he also confessed to having made statements that were hyperbolic.
So apparently hyperbole is now a federal crime. Hm: perhaps I should check the federal laws on zeugma, metalepsis, and aposiopesis before commenting further.
Guy Reffitt's wife Nicole spoke to reporters after the sentencing. Edited extract from her speech, quote:
We didn't expect anything more from the two-tiered justice system here in the DC area … If we allow our country to be driven into the ground by the corrupt, evil politicians here in this city, one day at your kitchen table the FBI is going to come in and tell you that you stood up at the school board meeting and you are now a domestic terrorist. So wake up America. This isn't just about Guy Weley Reffitt. This isn't just about 1-6. This is about our liberties being stomped on.
Item: Emmett Till news! We can never have enough of that.
The Daily Mail has tracked down the woman whose accusation against the blessed martyr Emmett led to his lynching back in 1955. Carolyn Donham is now 88 years old and lives in a small apartment with her son, who is 71, and their pet shih tzu.
From the Mail, quote:
She suffers from cancer, is legally blind, and is receiving end of life hospice care in the small, shared apartment — the exact location of which DailyMail.com has chosen not to disclose. Tubes delivering oxygen loop over her ears and into her nose.
You're never too old or sick to face the consequences of your actions, lady. Comrade Garland's prosecutors are right now drawing up indictments of you for violating that poor boy's civil rights. No justice, no peace!
Item: As I notified you back in June, this month, August, will see the finals of the Miss Bumbum pageant 2022 in São Paulo, Brazil. Contestants have been letting the newspapers in on some of their training secrets.
Contestant Carolina Lekker, for example, who (The New York Post tells us) has graced the cover of Playboy Africa. Hm. I'm going to have to take that on faith. I let my subscription to Playboy Africa lapse, unfortunately. I just didn't have room for it.
So what does Ms Lekker's training schedule involve? Sex. that's what; lots of sex. Quote from her:
To burn the calories, I started the sex diet. It's five hours of sex a day, at least four days a week. I want to lose 13 pounds.
As usual with these stories, the fun is in the comment thread. Here's one of the more printable contributions, quote:
I get confused on the rules day to day from the leftists. Is this empowering her as a feminist or is she being exploited by toxic masculinity?
10 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and thank you for your emails and donations.
It's odd, and just a little bit depressing, that I get more email about my signout music clips than I do about my commentary. A frequent request is that I feature some one particular musical instrument, I suppose an instrument that the emailer has invested hundreds of patient hours learning to master.
A recent request of this kind was for some ukulele music. Now, for an Englishman of my generation, the word "ukulele" immediately summons up the toothy face of George Formby, a comedian and ukulele-player of the 1940s and -50s.
Formby was a Lancastrian with a strong Lancashire accent somewhat like Peter Brimelow's, not to mention my paternal ancestors'. If you have difficulty understanding Peter you may not be able to follow the words of the song. If that's the case just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ukulele.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: George Formby, "When I'm Cleaning Windows."]