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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your patriotically genial host John Derbyshire, none the worse for the July 4th festivities, which I have been enjoying with my family here at the Derbyshire estates on Long Island.
Well, not much the worse for the festivities. Well … to be perfectly frank, just a tad under the weather, so that this week's broadcast may be somewhat abbreviated, for which my fulsome apologies.
In fact, even aside from the July 4th arrangements — you know: organizing a fireworks display for the servants on the estate, and so on — it's been a stressful few days, with a lot of traveling. For example …
02 — J-Lo's disappointing bottom For example, last weekend I flew over to Turkmenistan to take part in the birthday celebrations for our dear friend President Gurbanguly Malikgulyevich Berdymukhamedov. The Great Leader of the Turkmen people was 56 years young last Saturday. Happy birthday, Mr. President!
This was actually an informal event, not a state occasion, organized by friends and admirers of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov; principally by China National Petroleum Corporation, a major customer for Turkmenistan's reserves of natural gas, and in which — full disclosure here on Radio Derb! — I have a modest shareholding. The party was broadcast throughout Turkmenistan by Radio Derb's wholly-owned subsidiary over there, Radio Turkmenistan.
Somewhat to our surprise, given that this was a private function, the birthday party generated some press coverage here in the United States.
Our Chinese co-organizers for the event had suggested that we bring in a popular singer from the West to serenade President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. I agreed that this would be a nice touch; but, knowing nothing whatsoever about popular music, I deputed the selection of performer to my young research assistants, Mandy, Candy, and Brandy. They came up with a person named Jennifer Lopez, who, they told me, was famous for her bottom.
Now, as an opera fan, I of course know the jargon of the singing profession very well. When we speak of a singer's bottom, we are referring to the lowest notes that he or she can deliver with full effect. A soprano's bottom, for example, is usually around Middle C, while a tenor's may be a full octave below that.
Imagine my disappointment, then to discover that Ms. Lopez is a mediocre contralto with a narrow range, whose bottom extends no further than the E below Middle C and whose top barely escapes the treble staff.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov seemed pleased by the performance none the less, so perhaps it is petty of me to complain. In any case, the Western press criticisms were not of Ms. Lopez's vocal powers, certainly not of her bottom, but of so-called "human rights abuses" by the administration of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
We have of course heard this nonsense before. It is nothing but base slander put about by enemies of Turkmenistan's Great Leader. The President assured me in a private audience on Sunday that these slanders have been organized by a tiny clique of conspirators who will soon be brought to justice, to face the righteous wrath of the Turkmen people.
I hope the Western media outlets who have so uncritically accepted the tales put about by malcontents and emigrés will correct their scurrilous misrepresentations of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. And let me take the opportunity to deny certain other rumors concerning family connections between Mrs. Derbyshire and Mr. Zhou Jiping, Chairman of China National Petroleum Corporation. There are no such connections; and if there were, they would have absolutely no influence over the business operations of the Radio Derb global organization.
Having thus cleared the air, let us join the proud people of Turkmenistan in giving thanks for the security and prosperity that has been brought to them under the presidency of Great Leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov! All stand, please; and by all means join in if you know the words.
[Clip: Turkmen National Anthem.]
03 — Mob rule in Egypt. As I think most educated Americans know, the Founders of our nation did not think highly of democracy, which they believed would be liable to degenerate into mob rule. Neither the word "democracy" nor any of its derivate words appears in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.
The wisdom of our Founders in this respect has been illustrated this week by the people of Egypt. Recall that a year and a half ago a chap named Mohamed Morsi became President in the first election held since the deposition of the late lamented King Farouk in 1952. The Arab Spring, we were told, had brought forth its first green buds of democracy, with a little help from our own State Department.
Alas for such hopes. Discontented with Mr. Morsi's rule, the Cairo mob last month took to the streets, Egypt's military took their side, and Mr. Morsi's removal from office was announced on Wednesday this week by his Defense Secretary, whose name is Abdul al-Sissi. I'm going to assume here that General al-Sissi is not related to my favorite Washington D.C. mayoral candidate, Luke Sissyfag.
General al-Sissi placed Mr. Morsi under house arrest, suspended the constitution, and declared Adly Mansour as the interim president of Egypt. Again, I'll assume that Adly Mansour is unrelated to long-ago U.S. presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, whose campaign slogan — surely one of the lamest ever in U.S. political history — was, quote: "We need Adlai badly."
What Egypt needs badly is for the 1.5 billion dollars annually in U.S. aid to continue flowing in. Under actual U.S. law, if this recent change of government is determined to have been an unconstitutional coup d'état, we must suspend the aid. General al-Sissi is therefore on somewhat of a sticky wicket here.
How sticky? I wish I could tell you. Unfortunately my young research assistants traveled to Turkmenistan with me last weekend; and as you may recall has happened before, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov prevailed upon me to lend him their services to assist in a research project he himself is undertaking. So there the girls are, ensconced in the presidential palace in Ashgabat, gathering data and collating for our dear friend the president.
Thus bereft of researchers to help me dig to the bottom of things in Egypt, I can only resort to replaying the backgrounder segment on Egypt from Radio Derb's January 26th broadcast, title: "The Next Failed State."
05 — Here come the Libertarian Millenials. Edward Snowden is still holed up in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport as we go to tape, his U.S. passport revoked and none of his 20-something requests for asylum in other countries having come to anything.
Radio Derb gave Snowden's case a thorough working-over in our June 15th broadcast. I didn't think much further about the matter in the couple of weeks following. The occasional news items I read or saw had the overall effect of hardening my attitude to Snowden, who has a bit too much of the yuppie narcissist about him for me to feel sympathetic.
Then this Wednesday I read Bonnie Greer's article in the Daily Telegraph — interestingly, in the Technology section of the newspaper.
Bonnie Greer is a blackety-black black black lady who writes plays, novels, and commentary about blackness, black people, being black, being black and female, being female and black, and allied subjects. She is of course left-wing — what else would she be? — but she belongs to that small subset of blackety-black black leftists who occasionally say something interesting, and so it proved in Wednesday's Telegraph.
Ms. Greer comes at the Snowden story from the technological angle. Quote:
Snowden is part of the global town square, created by social media, which is effectively running politics in Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, and will do so in the West, too.
End quote. That left me skeptical. I'm always skeptical of people who tell me that some technological advance will cast down the mighty from their seats of power and exalt the meek and lowly. The internet was supposed to do it for China; but last time I looked the mighty over there were still pretty comfortably secure in their seats of power. Political power, said Chairman Mao, comes out of the barrel of a gun. That's still true over large parts of the world, and my bet is that the gun will continue to be a match for the iPhone, political-power-wise, for a while longer yet.
I read on, though. Ms. Greer quotes Snowden himself, quote:
I don't want to live in a society that does these [surveillance] sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded.
Well, boo hoo hoo. Here I'm smelling moral equivalence: the old Cold War notion that because the Soviets do something, and we also do it, then we are just the same as the Soviets. Moral equivalence is just as nonsensical today as it was then. We have our constitutional freedoms; and if we guard them jealously we'll keep them.
I personally have committed numerous gross offenses against the state ideology of the U.S.A., and it's brought me some rude emails. The federal authorities, however, have never shown the least interest in me. I haven't even been audited by the IRS. If I'd said or written equivalent things in China, I'd be breaking rocks in some labor camp on the Qinghai Plateau. Let's keep things in proportion.
And I repeat the main point of my previous remarks on NSA snooping: If we took more care about who we permitted to settle in our country, we wouldn't have one tenth of the security concerns we have. The 9/11 attacks were committed by people we should never have allowed into the U.S.A. So were the Boston Marathon bombings; so was the Fort Hood massacre.
We have to do a deplorable amount of the kind of thing Edward Snowden deplores because of our stupidly lax immigration policies — policies that Snowden, as a self-described libertarian, presumably thinks are too restrictive!
Bonnie Greer actually coins the term "Libertarian Millenials" to describe Snowden and his ilk. Then she says the thing that struck me as interesting. Longish quote:
In Boston, the hijacking of a car and the revelation of his crime to its passenger was not simply a mistake or youthful stupidity on the part of the alleged bomber who survived. Tweeting his whereabouts, his thoughts, his feelings was apparently necessary to what he set out to do. Tweeting completed the act. In Woolwich, the alleged killers of Drummer Rigby remained at the scene seemingly in order to be filmed for YouTube.
End quote. I think Ms. Greer is on to something there. When I saw that crazy Muslim terrorist in London, one of those who murdered a soldier in the street, capering and proselytizing for the camera instead of getting the heck out of there like an honest criminal, or like the previous generation of terrorists — the IRA, for instance — when I saw that, I remember being struck by the strangeness of it. Yes, there was something going on there that was new.
Now of course Edward Snowden is not as crazy as that — although his actions might indirectly cause just as much mayhem — but I think Ms. Greer is right: he and the London killer showing off his bloodstained hands are two sides of the same coin, two aspects of the same phenomenon.
What is that phenomenon? I'm not sure I've got it completely pinned down yet, but its outstanding traits are:
Bonnie Greer quotes Snowden again as saying that, quote, "the truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped," end quote. She herself then adds the following, quote: "His breed of Libertarian Millennial is coming, too. It is they who cannot be stopped." End quote.
Again, in my old-fashioned way, I'm betting that they can be stopped, although not by any methods that Edward Snowden or Bonnie Greer would approve of.
06 — Miscellany. Straight to our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: One of the iconic images of traditional English life is the cricket match played on the village green. Well, you can forget about that. Cricket is played with a hard ball, about the size and hardness of an American baseball. The ball is delivered to the batsman very fast, bouncing up at him often unpredictably; he hits it with a large, heavy wooden bat.
All that is much too dangerous for the authorities of Bacton, in the county of Norfolk. They have banned cricket practice on the field where a local club has been playing for 37 years. "To protect the public," they say, although British commentators believe the real issue here is the increasing litigiousness of British society, now approaching American levels. Time was when a sporting Englishman who lost an eye to an errant cricket ball would laugh it off philosophically while keeping his upper lip stiff; now he gets lawyered up.
As columnist Richard Littlejohn asks rhetorically in the Daily Mail, quote:
How long before they insist that all cricketers have to wear hi-viz jackets and hard helmets, even when fielding in the deep?
End quote. "The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton," said the Duke of Wellington, referring to the famous boys' school he himself had attended. Hard to imagine any battle being won by people afraid of a loose cricket ball. Perhaps next time push comes to international shove, the Brits can send the lawyers out to do the fighting for them.
Item: One more from across the pond. Back on June 8th Radio Derb updated you on the case of Englishwoman Emma West, who a year and a half previously had been filmed saying rude and unkind things about her fellow passengers on a tram — mainly, complaining in colorful language that they were not English. Ms. West, we then reported, had pleaded guilty to a "racially aggravated section 5 public order offense" and was awaiting sentencing.
That sentencing has since come down. For publicly expressing her feelings about the invasion of her country through mass immigration, Ms. West has been given a two year "community order." She has also had to perform a communist-style self-criticism.
What's a community order? According to the London probation service website, you have to report to a probation officer, do unpaid "community work," observe a curfew, submit to mental health treatment, and attend many, many hours of, quote, "Offending Behaviour Programmes" — that is, re-education sessions to correct your bad thoughts.
If that was me I'd plead with the court: "For pity's sake send me to jail! I'll work the treadmill, I'll pick oakum, I'll do hard labor — anything, anything, but an Offending Behaviour Programme! Please, please don't make me sit there in some Community Centre listening to some 25-year-old Community Organizer telling me to celebrate diversity! Do what you will with my poor body, but leave my thoughts alone!"
That plea would fall on deaf ears, though. It's precisely your thoughts they want, these tinpot totalitarians. Emma West has held out against them for a year and a half, which is pretty heroic; but the Thought Police win in the end. Soon now she will love Big Brother.
Item: Finally, since I am here on Long Island this week, here's a Long Island story. These bosky suburban precincts have been suffering an unusual infestation: alligators. Here's a report from the local Fox News channel:
[Clip: "Neighbor Steve Hickey tells us he was on his way to go fishing when he spotted the gator …"]
Scary stuff. Still, Long Islanders survived the defeat of the Continental Army, the landing of Nazi saboteurs in WW2, and the depredations of Joey Buttafuoco 20 years ago — all, as Neighbor Steve Hickey desmonstrated in that clip, all without any loss of the distinctive Long Island accent. I'm sure these staunch pioneers will survive the gators.
And for Long Islanders' information, a Texas friend tells me that, quote, "they taste pretty good if you cook 'em up right." Take note, you folk out there in Amagansett, Ronkonkoma, and Speonk.
07 — Signoff. Once again, listeners, I apologize for the somewhat truncated quality of our broadcast this week.
To see us out, here's Vera Lynn expressing sentiments every bit as reactionary as those of Emma West and the Norfolk cricketers.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Vera Lynn, "There'll Always Be an England."]