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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes listeners, this is your prodigally genial host John Derbyshire, reporting to you once again from my refuge here in the sun-kissed Aegean after a couple of weeks on the road.
I'm sorry to say that as usual after a few days away, I find the studio in a state of disorder. There has obviously been some partying going on here with young men from the village — I am finding empty ouzo bottles in odd corners, that sort of thing. I have imposed Level Three discipline on the staff here, and set the girls to clean-up duties. I shall have things shipshape in no time!
Meanwhile let's see what's been happening in the news.
02 — Camp of the Saints (cont.) Back in 1973, French author Jean Raspail wrote a novel titled Camp of the Saints in which France is overrun by boat people from India and the French are too humane to resist the invasion.
The plot's a bit implausible. I mean, it's a long way from India to France; and India, even back in the 1970s, wasn't doing too badly. Someone's told me, however, that M. Raspail made the invading hordes Indian rather than African because he didn't want to offend racial sensitivities too much.
Perhaps he should have been more forthright. There's an invasion of Europe building up all right, and it's African, not Indian. With the collapse of authority in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, the endless civil war in Syria, and the ease of modern travel, even across the Sahara Desert from south to north, desperate and impoverished people from Africa and the Middle East are gathering on the south shores of the Mediterranean.
In the first three months of this year 11,000 people made it across the Mediterranean just to Italy, according to an Italian government official. He added that, quote: "between 300,000 and 600,000 people are on the other side of the Mediterranean on the North African coastline, waiting to cross sooner or later."
Spain has similar problems with its little patches of territory in Morocco on the North African coast. They're surrounded by 20-foot-high fences, but there are now regular news stories about hundreds of Africans, mostly from south of the Sahara, storming the fences and sometimes successfully climbing over them into European territory.
These stories are only going to get worse. The comfortable, rule-governed, low-fertility welfare states of Europe — not so much Italy and Spain but northern Europe — are paradise for young people from chaotic, high-fertility countries like Mali, Niger, and Chad, bursting at the seams with people they can't feed, educate, or employ.
Humanitarianism is coming under increasing strain. Read the comments to the news stories about these invasions in the European papers. I think Jean Raspail got it wrong: At some point the European people will insist their governments act to stop their countries being overrun. Australia is already setting an example, using their navy to turn back boat people from Indonesia. This won't end well.
03 — Screw the Third World. Boko Haram? The first time I heard about them, I mis-heard and assumed the news announcer was talking about Procol Harum, the late-1960s London rock band. [Clip: "A Whiter Shade of Pale"] Ah, bliss was it in that dawn to be alive; to be young was very heaven.
I'll confess I liked Procol Harum, although from this distance in time they look a bit silly and pretentious, like a lot of what we thought was cool in the sixties. Someone at the International Astronomical Union must have liked them, too: Procol Harum has an asteroid named after them. No kidding. There's your useless fact of the month, brought to you by Radio Derb.
Sorry, didn't mean to bleed nostalgia on youse. What was my topic here? Yes, Boko Haram — nothing to do with the Summer of Love. Boko Haram is a black Islamist gang operating in Northern Nigeria. The words "boko haram" mean "Western education is forbidden" in the local language.
These Islamists especially don't like women getting a Western education, or any kind of education once they're of child-bearing age. They accordingly kidnapped 200 or so teenage girls from a boarding school in the region April 14th.
In a video released a few days ago the leader of Boko Haram, whose name I can't be bothered to look up but I'll bet is Mohammed Something-or-other, said he planned to sell the students. He opined that the girls should not have been in school anyway, but rather should get married.
From a narrowly demographic point of view Mohammed is on safe ground there. If it's true that demography is destiny, 200 teenage girls popping out babies for Allah beats the same number of maidens studying AP Calculus. The problem with Mohammed's strategy is that AP Calculus gets you some spiffy technology, so that those of us who favor it end up as the first-person pronoun in Hilaire Belloc's lines about colonial warfare:
Whatever happens we have got
Of course, you don't just need the calculus geeks to design your weapon, you also need the will to use it. That's a separate topic, which I'll leave you to discuss among yourselves.
The relevance of this for U.S. politics is, that our ruling classes are stirred up about the Nigerian kidnappings. My Thursday New York Post, which I have delivered by drone from the Greek mainland, featured on its front cover a picture of Michelle Obama wearing her concerned face and holding up a card saying #Bring Back Our Girls.
This first-person pronoun I have a problem with. Our girls? How are they yours, Ma'am? Who are the "we" you derived that "our" from? Obviously not "we Americans," since so far as I can determine the missing lasses are all Nigerian citizens. "We negroes"? No, it can't possibly be the case that Mrs. Obama is that ethnocentric. Unthinkable! "We progressive women of the world" is probably closer to what the First Lady's thinking.
That would be fair enough but for the fact that Mrs. Obama is the First Lady. That makes it appear that by referring to the kidnappees as "our girls" she sees them as being the concern of the United States, which they are not and should not be.
Private citizens of a humanitarian inclination may feel distressed for the kidnapped girls, and should of course do anything lawful they can think of to help them; but this is not government business — not unless you think everything is government business, in which case you have plenty of company but the company doesn't include me.
No doubt dire things are happening to schoolgirls all over the world, not just in Nigeria but in North Korea, Nicaragua, Namibia, and Nepal too. There are charities you can subscribe to for helping them; but if you think it's the business of our federal government, you'd better pony up for a whole lot more federal government to take care of it all.
The New York Post, which used to be a sensible newspaper, is on board with Mrs. Obama's possessive pronoun. Quote from their editorial:
These terrified girls in Nigeria have become our girls. And if we don't regard them the same way we would 300 girls from Brooklyn or Chicago who had been abducted from their school by Islamist terrorists, the horrors we see in Africa today will become America's horror tomorrow.
End quote. Good grief! I'm supposed to regard Nigerian schoolgirls with the same concern I'd have for American schoolgirls? I flatly refuse to do so. In fact I refuse to give a damn about what people in the Third World are doing to each other unless it impacts my country's national interests in some obvious way. Screw the Third World.
As for "the horrors we see in Africa today will become America's horror tomorrow," they might, if we're such fools as to let crazy Islamists into our country. Which, as a matter of fact, we are, via our feckless immigration policies and fraud-riddled "refugee resettlement" programs.
If you let all the world's crazy lunatics come settle in your country, then yes, other countries' crazy-lunatic problems will become your problems, and Mrs. Obama and the New York Post editorialists will have a point. The solution is sensible, strict immigration policies. Will the New York Post editorialize for that? Will Mrs. Obama hold up a card for that? Don't hold your breath.
04 — Monica mouths off. If the sixties doesn't flip your nostalgia switch, how about the nineties? You remember the nineties. Joey Buttafuoco; Rodney King; Seinfeld; Boris Yeltsin; Titanic; O.J. Simpson; Harry Potter; Married with Children; Windows NT; … Ah, the nineties.
We got a little reminder of the nineties last week when Monica Lewinsky opened her mouth in public for the first time in ten years to write an article for Vanity Fair magazine. The actual article doesn't hit the newsstands until May 13th, but extracts have been released to whet our appetites, get our saliva flowing.
To whet some people's appetites, anyway. Personally, if an angel had told me fifteen years ago that I was going to make it clear through to the Garden of Rest without ever hearing Ms. Lewinsky's name again, I would have gone down on my knees in gratitude.
To judge from the extracts, Ms. Lewinsky doesn't have anything new to tell us. She feels sorry for herself. Quote:
Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position …
Well, yeah: but if you'd kept your hand on your ha'penny (excuse an old British expression) and minded your virtue, you wouldn't have been anybody's scapegoat, and would have left the White House without a stain on your … character.
Ms. Lewinsky claims that after the scandal, quote:
I turned down offers that would have earned me more than $10 million, because they didn't feel like the right thing to do.
I find that hard to swallow. Putting out for the President in the Oval Office felt like the right thing to do, but talking about it for money didn't? And Ms. Lewinsky did in fact submit to a prime-time interview with Barbara Walters, for which I presume she was paid, and hosted a cheesy TV dating show, for which ditto, and took part in an HBO documentary about herself, and pitched for a diet company.
Perhaps she just can't get her tongue around saying that she wishes she'd made more of her celebrity while it lasted.
There have been some deep speculations, by former Second Lady Lynne Cheney for example, that Ms. Lewinsky's recent re-emergence has been engineered by the Clintons to clear the air before Mrs. Clinton announces a 2016 bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. I wouldn't be a bit surprised. As I have noted before, Mrs. Clinton brings to my mind Dr. Johnson's remark about Alexander Pope, quote: "He could not drink tea without a stratagem."
Supporting Mrs. Cheney's speculation is the fact that back in February we learned from a close friend of Mrs. Clinton that Hillary had referred to Ms. Lewinsky during her White House years as, quote, a "narcissistic loony toon." That seems to have stuck in Monica's throat. Quote: "If that's the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky."
If it's truly the case that the Clintons are behind all this, though, I doubt it will do them much good. It's going to take more than a little air-clearing to make Mrs. Clinton a plausible candidate after her lackluster performance as a Senator and her even-less-than-lackluster spell heading up the State Department. So, nice try, Mrs. Clinton, but no cigar.
There: I got through a whole segment on Lewinsky and the Clintons without any tasteless double-entendres or off-color allusions. I'm pretty sure I did, anyway.
05 — Cultural Marxism's greatest triumph. Speaking of Hillary Clinton, here's a thing that she said back in January of 2000, quote:
Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.
End quote. Nothing very surprising about that. Pretty much any American could have said the same thing in all sincerity fourteen years ago. There has perhaps never in human history been such a dramatic reversal in public opinion over such a short space of time as there has been this past decade on same-sex marriage. This complete redefinition of a fundamental social institution has been Cultural Marxism's greatest triumph.
OK, that's what Mrs. Clinton said fourteen years ago. Here's the present-day news story. It follows on from the dismissal recently of Mozilla CEO Bernard Eich for having donated money in support of California Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in the state. Just to remind you, Proposition 8 was passed by California voters 52-48 percent just 5½ years ago. By California voters.
The Media Research Center, which does good work on the traditionalist-conservative beat, sent a reporter to the campus of George Mason University down there by Fairfax, Virginia. The reporter read out that quote to random students and asked them who they thought might have said it.
[Clip: "Who said that?" … "A man and a woman … Well, I'd have to say probably someone conservative …" etc.]
When the reporter asked students if they would be okay with a person who holds those views speaking on campus, several said they would not.
What left-liberal politicians felt it necessary to take a stand against fourteen years ago, what California voters expressed themselves opposed to 5½ years ago, is now ironclad social orthodoxy. Intelligent young people at a good-quality university are so locked in to it, they would ban from their campus those who disagree.
If the unthinkable can become the indisputable that fast, what does the future have in store? What that seems bizarre, freakish, or out of bounds today will be conventional wisdom among the college students of 2028? Bestiality? Necrophilia? Human sacrifice? I guess we shall find out.
Whatever it is, I'll guarantee that ambitious politicians who'd speak sternly against it if asked today, will be enthusiastically in favor when the time comes. Their thinking will have evolved, you see?
06 — Minoritarianism gone wild. Some years ago I wrote a piece with the title "Minoritarianism," around the question: "How far should society go to accommodate the wishes of minorities?" Here was my answer, quote of myself:
In a civilized liberal democracy, majorities owe certain things to harmless minorities: tolerance, civility, and the rights affirmed in the Constitution — freedom of speech, assembly, etc. However, it seems to me that minorities owe something to the majority in return: mainly, a proper respect for their tastes, beliefs and sensibilities, and a decent restraint in challenging them, if there are some reasonable grounds for challenging them. This contract imposes some costs on minorities, of course, but I think they should look on those costs as the price of the tolerance they enjoy. Is that patronizing? Well, then add "being patronized" to the list of costs — none of which, in any case I can think of in American society today, is much more arduous or oppressive than that. There are, after all, reciprocal costs on the majority when they make those accommodations.
End quote of myself. At the time I thought I was writing something reasonable and fair. I see now that in fact nothing could be more at odds with the spirit of the age. My views, as I've just quoted them, were hopelessly quaint and old-fashioned.
The general expectation in Western societies nowadays is that people of the majority — whites, heterosexuals, Christians — should rip out our internal organs and stomp on them, if that's what minorities want us to do. The ground rules are that minorities — blacks, homosexuals, Muslims — are always right and must be appeased at all costs. That's what I meant by "Minoritarianism."
Britain is much further down the road of fanatical minoritarianism than the U.S.A., though we're all headed in the same direction. Here's a story to illustrate the point.
If you're a devout Muslim you can't eat pork; and meat that you do eat has to come from animals slaughtered a certain way. The slaughter has to be carried out with a blade, wielded by a Muslim who murmurs the name of Allah while doing the act. The animal must not be aware of other animals slaughtered nearby, e.g. by smelling their blood. Meat produced according to these rules is called halal.
There's nothing objectionable about those rules in themselves, unless of course you like ham, pork chops, or bacon, which I personally do. Muslims should be free to adhere to them, just as Jews have always been free to follow their dietary laws. No problem with any of that.
Recently though there have been a spate of news stories over there about schools and fast-food chains like Subway switching to halal meat for all their customers.
Sample headlines, quote: A stealthy takeover of Britain's supermarket shelves: Unlabelled halal meat has become the 'default' position. Quote: Now halal sneaks into our schools: Parents angered by move by councils to ban pork sausages and bacon and replace them with ritually-slaughtered meat. Quote: Pizza Express — that's another fast-food chain — reveal ALL the chicken they use is halal — but they don't tell customers unless they ask staff.
Here's columnist Brendan O'Neill writing in the London Daily Telegraph, quote:
The thinking seems to be that it's better to make every Brit eat halal meat than it is to risk one Muslim accidentally eating non-halal meat.
End quote. Minoritarianism: five percent of the population imposing their standards on the other 95 percent.
Minoritarianism: It's the spirit of the age.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Remember Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire who was openly homosexual? A traditionally-minded Episcopalian of my acquaintance used to refer to him as the Buggering Bishop.
Robinson's consecration as bishop in 2003, when I myself was still a practicing Anglican, split the American church. It went ahead, though. He became a bishop and stayed one for nine years, stepping down from episcopal duties in 2012. In 2010, when New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage, Robinson and his boyfriend got married.
Well, now they're getting unmarried. In an email to the New Hampshire diocese, the Buggering Bishop announced he'll be seeking a divorce from the chap he's been living with for 25 years. It just didn't work out.
Before moving in with this guy, Robinson had been married to a female person and had two children with her. He got a divorce from her, too, so this will be his second.
I can remember — it wasn't that long ago — when a man of the cloth was supposed to give an example to his flock by leading a restrained and godly life. It used to be considered scandalous for a minister to get divorced. Well, here's a bloke who will soon have been divorced twice from persons of both sexes. Did I mention that he's been treated for alcoholism, too? Yet not only was this buffoon allowed to retain his dog collar, he was made a bishop.
And they wonder why the churches are empty.
Item: Here's my gadget of the week: the flying 3-D printer.
I guess you've heard about 3-D printers. They make three-dimensional objects by laying down layer after layer of some plastic or metal compound according to a stored program. And I'm sure you've heard about personal drones, like the quadricopter thing you can buy at Brookstones for a few hundred bucks.
Well, some imaginative engineers have put these two cutting-edge technologies together to make a drone that can repair bridges and such by hovering over them and spraying the repair material; or covering dangerous objects like nuclear waste with insulating foam then picking them up and flying them off to somewhere safe.
It all sounds like a bit of a stretch to me, and confirms my notion that technology is running out of ideas. Still, if they can hook it all up to a Segway somehow, I'll buy one.
Item: Finally, a Darwin Award here to 43-year-old James Hunter of Portland, Oregon. Mr. Hunter removed himself from the gene pool early on the morning of May 4th. He was struck and killed by a car while doing pushups in the middle of a busy road, stark naked.
The news report says that, quote: "The Oregon State Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy, including toxicology, to determine the pedestrian's cause of death," end quote. If they'd like to save themselves a few hundred bucks, I think I could write that toxicology report for them without leaving my desk.
While in New York last week I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Rossini's Cenerentola at the Metropolitan Opera, with the beautiful and talented American soprano Joyce DiDonato in the title role.
Cenerentola is just the Italian for "Cinderella," and that's what the opera is: the Cinderella story, minus the Fairy Godmother, the pumpkin, and all the other magical stuff.
If opera's not your thing, just let me explain the difference between 19th-century German opera and 19th-century Italian opera. In 19th-century German opera you get gods and spirits, dragons and dwarves, magic bullets, ghost ships, guys turning into swans, myths and magic. In 19th-century Italian opera you get people like ourselves, doing the people things you and I do — chasing the opposite sex, mostly. Opera-wise, the Italians are the humanists, the Germans are the mystics.
So Cenerentola is Cinderella minus the magic. A thing I like about this opera is that the best aria is right at the end, so even if it's not a great production, you have something to look forward to. To see us out, here is Joyce DiDonato herself singing a wee bit of that aria: Nacqui all'affanno, al pianto — "I was born to sorrow and tears …" but hey, everything's worked out fine!
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Joyce DiDonato, "Nacqui all'affanno."]