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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is back in harness. Yes, listeners, this is your metrically genial host John Derbyshire, rested and refreshed after a most invigorating week tramping around Civil War battlefields.
A reader emailed in to chide me for having referred in a blog post to the events of 1861-65 as "the Civil War." He wanted me to say "The War Between the States," or "The War or Northern Aggression," or "The War for Southern Independence," or some such.
Eh, I'm not unsympathetic. The question we always used to ask back in England — Harry Flashman asks it in one of the "Flashman" novels — is: If it was okay for the thirteen colonies to forswear their allegiance to the Crown and secede from the British Empire, why was it not okay for the Confederate States to forswear their allegiance to the Constitution and secede from the U.S.A.? I've never heard a really satisfactory answer to that, certainly not one that convinced me the issue was worth sacrificing 620,000 young lives for.
Ah, well; history is written by the victors, I guess. Or as the Chinese say: If you win, you're the Emperor; if you lose, you're a bandit.
As to what I should call the affair: Since the outcome has all long since been decided, seems to me the least controversial name — the one that vexes the smallest number of people — is the one to use. That would be "Civil War." And may they all rest in peace.
OK, on with the show.
02 — Israel-ISIS issues. Before going off on vacation last week I recorded & canned an open-mike conversation with Taki, and used it as a filler for last week's podcast.
There wasn't actually much conversation. It was mostly just Taki talking. If you have issues with anything he said, by all means take them up with him. Taki is perfectly capable of defending his own views.
However, some listeners did take exception to my speculation that the government of Israel might be helping ISIS. "Hey," they complained, "aren't you supposed to be the pro-Israel voice at Taki's Magazine?" So let me start off this week by addressing this.
The fundamental problem here, that I have to grapple with every time this topic comes up, is that I'm not very interested in Israel. The last full-length piece I wrote about Israel here was five years ago, June 17th, 2010, title: "Taking Israel's Side."
That's an unusually low level of interest for a commentator out on the nationalist Right. There are two loud factions out here. Loud faction one is ethnocentric Jews who bristle at any criticism of Israel. Loud faction two is antisemites, who think Jews cause all the trouble in the world.
Both these loud factions are interested in Israel, for of course opposite reasons.
My problem is that I don't belong to either faction. Believe it or not, there really are such people. I'm not Jewish and I'm not an antisemite. Israel is not Holy Zion to me, and it's not Mordor; it's just a country. I speculate about Israeli state policy as blithely as I would about Belgian, Brazilian, or Bangladeshi state policy.
This seems to be an awfully hard thing for either of the loud factions to grasp. I could show you my inbox, which contains about equal numbers of emails calling me (a) a frothing antisemite and (b) a dupe of the international Zionist conspiracy.
In a general sort of way, I'm well-disposed towards Israel, as I explained back in that 2010 piece.
For one thing, I'm a nationalist. I'd like every people, every ethnically self-conscious human population, to have a homeland of their own, under the rule of their own people. I'm glad that Armenians, Bulgarians, Chinese, and Danes have their own countries. I'm glad that Jews have a country of their own. I think the world would be a better place if Kurds and Tibetans had countries of their own. Nationalism: I'm all for it.
For another thing, I nurse a loyalty to Western Civilization, the civilization I was raised in. No disrespect to other civilizations; and if you try to use the word "hate" in this context, you'll see my eyes roll. I have in fact made efforts throughout my adult life to acquaint myself with Chinese civilization, which I find an interesting study, and with which for thirty years I've had family connections.
Western Civ. is the one I'm at home in, though. I'd hate to see it go down, and would like to see it defend itself at all points. Israel belongs to Western Civilization, which makes me doubly well-disposed to the place.
That all said, I would say precisely the same things I just said about Switzerland, or Portugal, or Canada. Israel isn't the particular emotional draw for me that it is for those two loud factions I mentioned, pro or anti. For them, the name "Israel" comes with strong emotional coloring. For me, it simply doesn't. There is only the vaguely favorable disposition I just described.
I therefore don't feel any inhibitions about speculating on Israeli state policy, any more than I would speculating on Swiss or Canadian state policy.
Might Israel be giving quiet support to ISIS? It doesn't seem implausible to me. The big divide in the Muslim world is Sunni v. Shia. Iran, whom Israelis regard as their Number One enemy, is the champion of the Shia. The governments of Iraq and Syria line up with the Shia. ISIS is fighting the governments of Iraq and Syria. "My enemy's enemy is my friend." So … what's implausible?
One correspondent argues that Israel wouldn't help ISIS because of the outrage they'd face if the fact got out. I'm skeptical about that. I don't suppose Israel welcomes international disapproval any more than any other nation does; but goodness knows, they've had enough of it to be pretty well inured to it. Could Israel-haters be any more angry, any more vituperative, than they already are?
I have more to say about this; but as a set-up for saying it, I'll first take a wide detour through geopolitics. Next segment.
03 — The Philippines: Shall we return? One of the most interesting articles about geopolitics I've read recently was one dated June 8th by Richard Fernandez at PJmedia.
Title of the piece: "The Vast Pacific." Executive summary: China wants to dominate the Western Pacific, and is taking steps in that direction. Japan and the Philippines want to stop China from dominating the Western Pacific, and they are taking steps in that direction.
Inspiration for the piece: a news report in a diplomatic magazine that Japan is seeking access to military bases in the Philippines, and negotiations are under way. Presumably a further inspiration was the recent news about China building military bases on disputed islands in the Western Pacific.
For most of the Pacific century the Philippines has been, like Poland, in the dubious position of being in the way of great powers going both ways. If the Pax Americana collapses, the Philippines will, as in December, 1941, be the first to know.
For most of the last human lifetime, both the Philippines and Japan have looked to Uncle Sam as their defence against a not-very-formidable China. Well, now China is getting more formidable, the U.S.A. less so. Western Pacific nations are looking to their own mutual defence.
The article comes with a good comment thread. Quote from one commenter, quote:
I feel fairly sure that at least one non-Chinese nuclear deterrent will become apparent in Asia. Look at the missiles and space boosters built in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Their CEPs [that's a measure of a missile's accuracy] make no sense with conventional warheads. All three have strong nuclear technology bases. Japan is said to be able to measure the distance to a nuclear force in turns of the screw.
Interesting stuff. Somewhat scary, too.
It's easy to see the point of view the Western Pacific nations are taking here. Plainly the U.S.A. — the electorate, I mean — is less keen on the World Policeman role than at any time since WW2. China is a young superpower — as bumptious, aggressive, and foolhardy as young male homo sapiens … of which, because of artificially lopsided SRB — sorry, that's demographer's code: "sex ratio at birth" — they are running a surplus. China is also awash with hot nationalistic emotions and resentments, carefully nurtured for decades by the ruling dictatorship for their own political legitimization.
On top of that, here's a report in the New York Times, June 10th, headline: China's Troubling Robot Revolution. Sample quote:
In 2014, Chinese factories accounted for about a quarter of the global ranks of industrial robots — a 54 percent increase over 2013. According to the International Federation of Robotics, it will have more installed manufacturing robots than any other country by 2017.
Why is that "troubling?" For the same reason the march of the robots is troubling anywhere: There will be way fewer jobs for the left-hand side of the Bell Curve to do. So those nationalistic young Chinese males, already disgruntled by the difficulty of finding a mate, will now be double digruntled by the difficulty of finding a job.
There is a case for not being bothered about China. Matched off ship for ship, tank for tank, and plane for plane against the U.S., their military isn't that strong, and is completely un-battle-tested. They've had the one-child policy for two generations now, and Mom and Dad, Grandmas and Grandads, are not keen to sacrifice their one boy.
And SRB-wise, as I have pointed out elsewhere, Hitler's Germany had a large surplus of females. Further, China is a trading nation, and has to factor her commercial interests into her geostrategic calculations.
Nations sometimes do dumb things, though — especially nations whose leaders' decisions are not subject to any audit from popular opinion, representative institutions, or constitutional restraint. I know China well; I read a lot about the place; on my worry-ometer, the China needle is wobbling around the halfway point.
Should we be worried about China? Yes, we should be somewhat worried.
What has any of that got to do with Israel and ISIS? Next segment.
04 — World Policeman hangs up nightstick. The main point in that last segment was that Western Pacific nations, in particular Japan and the Philippines, are deeply un-confident that the U.S.A. is willing to go to war against China on their behalf.
I think they're right. Our being willing is only part of the story, though. With our forces as currently configured, we may not have a choice.
We have major forces stationed out there: almost 50,000 in Japan, almost 30,000 in South Korea. We still have some naval and air base rights out there, for example at Subic Bay in the Philippines. We actually have territory out there: Guam, "where America's day begins," but which is also regarded by the Chinese as part of the Second Island Chain — that is, on the outer border of the stretch of ocean they seek to control.
So if things go pear-shaped in the Western Pacific, we may not have a choice about fighting, unless we want to see 80,000 of our guys shuffled off into Chinese POW camps without firing a shot.
This is an unstable situation. We have massive military commitments in a region whose national leaders don't believe we are willing to fulfill those commitments. (And if the leaders of Japan and the Philippines don't believe it, imagine what the leaders in Beijing, with the added force of wishful thinking, believe.)
What would I do about it? I'd draw down those troops. WW2 ended 70 years ago. We have means available to us to defend our territory, and assist our allies, that we didn't have back then; and those allies are themselves rich and productive nations, capable of defending themselves. The Chinese might be able to take Taiwan and Okinawa, but there is no way they could take and hold Tokyo and Manila.
Nor is there any strong reason why they should. They want to be the hegemon, the dominant power in the Western Pacific, as we are in the Americas. They don't want the Japanese and Filipinos as their galley slaves, any more than we want Guatemalans and Ecuadorans as ours; they just want them to acknowledge Chinese hegemony, and stay at arm's length from powers hostile to the hegemon. To be perfectly blunt, I'm fine with it, and I suspect most other Americans are too.
So where does Israel come in? Through that same door labeled World Policeman.
When you state opinions like those I stated in my first segment, someone asks: "OK. Suppose Israel is under imminent threat of national destruction, as they have been quite recently: 1967, 1973. Would you favor a U.S. expeditionary force, or not?"
Basically: not, but with some qualifications.
First qualification: I think the question is highly hypothetical. Israel seems pretty well able to defend itself; and her enemies don't seem very formidable. If I'm going to worry about geopolitical problems, the Middle East isn't actually that high on my worry list. Issues like those in the previous segment are way higher.
Second qualification: I don't think the question's a trivial one. I have, as I said — and I hope we all have — civilizational loyalties as well as national ones. I'd hate to see Western Civ. lose any territory to barbarians, and Israel would be a major loss. Our statesmen and diplomats should do all they can to prevent such losses. That's part of what we hire them for.
As in my first segment, though, I'd say just the same about any other nation in the sphere of Western civilization. I'm not sure that Japan and the Philippines really come under that heading, but Australia and New Zealand surely do.
If — I find it hard to imagine, but if — Israel's enemies destroyed Israeli sovereignty, that would be a grievous loss for our civilization. I'd say the same of a Chinese occupation of New Zealand.
I really hope neither thing happens, but I don't see any imminent probability of either. Let's hope our diplomats are doing what they should do to earn their salaries.
05 — Those damn dots. Lincoln Chafee, a transgendered former U.S. Senator from Rhode Island and then Governor of that same state until January this year, 62 years old and currently unemployed as far as I can tell, has announced that he's running for President on the Democrat ticket. He made the announcement June 3rd, at a …
Hold on a minute. Did I say "transgendered"? That's not right. Mr Chafee was born and remains an Andro-American. What he changed was not his sex, but his party. As a Senator, he was Republican; but he left the party in 2007. So he's transpartied, not transgendered. Sorry about that.
OK, so Chafee's running for President. What are his positions?
I have no idea, and frankly couldn't care less. He's about as likely to be elected President as I am. Well, a tad more likely, perhaps; but we are comparing very minute numbers there.
This being the case, why is Lincoln Chafee getting a Radio Derb segment? Because math, that's why.
You see, there is one position of Chafee's that got my attention. Announcing his candidacy at George Mason University in Virginia, Chafee dropped in the follwing titbit, quote:
Let's be bold — let's join the rest of the world and go metric.
In a follow-up interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Chafee enlarged upon the idea, quote:
This is just one piece, as I said, of becoming internationalist as a country and getting away from that unilateralist approach, that muscular approach to the world, that I don't think is working in our best interests.
Chafee added that converting to the metric system would be, quote, "good for our economy, bottom line."
I'll just pause to note that when a politician says something is "good for the economy," I instantly and automatically translate that to mean that it's good for one or more of his big donors. An alternative translation, when the speaker is a Democrat, is that it's good for expanding the size and power of the federal government by two or three new billion-dollar bureaucracies.
Is metrication a good idea? In some areas, yes. To that degree, though — to the degree that it is a good idea — we've already done it. U.S. manufacturers that trade internationally use metric measures; the military uses metric measures — remember your pal the Vietnam vet, talking about distances in so many "klicks"? — and so do several other federal agencies, those involved with health services, for example. If you have a foreign car with metric nuts, bolts, and gaskets your local auto parts store will gladly supply you with identical parts, and Home Depot will sell you metric wrenches. If you're doing a science or technology course at a school or college, most likely you're working with metric every day.
What is not metric in America is ordinary life. If someone asks us our height or weight, we answer in feet, inches, and pounds. If we take our kid's temperature, we take it in Fahrenheit. If we buy gas at the pump, we buy gallons.
I don't see why any of that should change. People at the interface who need to do the conversions, can do them instantaneously with a calculator or smartphone; they don't even have to carry slide rules around any more. What's the necessity for all the disruption and confusion that a change to our everyday measures would cause?
Why do politicians always have to be so damn busy, always doing something? Leave things alone, for crying out loud. I'll vote for the candidate who promises to take a four-hour nap after lunch at the White House every day, with the blinds down. That's my candidate.
Was it Ronald Reagan who said that some national problem or other had caused him, quote, "many a sleepless afternoon"? That's my kind of politician.
Here's another one, addressing the metrication topic more directly: Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston's father, who was Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer — which is to say, Secretary of the Treasury — for a few months back in the 1880s. When someone asked him to peruse a column of figures that included decimal points, His Lordship grumbled: "I never could make out what those damn dots meant."
Ah, there were giants in those days.
06 — Generation Snowflake. May I tell you how old I am? Here's how old I am: I've lost track of the generation names.
You know those names. I think the Boomers were the first ones to get a generation name: the Boomer generation. Next — well, I think it was next — there came Generation X. After that there came Generation Y. Then we got the Millennials. Or are "Generation Y" and "Millennials" two different names for the same thing? See, I've totally lost track.
And please don't call me a Boomer. Technically I'm a pre-Boomer. That's how old I am.
Well, whatever. I feel pretty sure I know what to call today's college kids, though: Generation Snowflake. Was there ever such a cohort of timid, blushing, swooning, fearful little precious snowflakes?
That's not just my opinion. On an ESPN podcast June 4th, host Colin Cowherd had the following exchange with comedian Jerry Seinfeld:
CC: Does the climate worry you now? I've seen … I've talked to Chris Rock and Larry the Cable Guy. They don't even want to do college campuses any more.
With all respect to Jerry, whose style of comedy I like, I disagree. I think they do know what they're talking about. When Jerry's daughter said, "That's sexist!" her meaning was, that someone, somewhere might take the words said as wounding to her psyche.
I don't think Jerry's daughter herself was the one claiming to be wounded. I think she meant that there are other girls out there who prefer their own sex, who don't want to see boys, and whose feelings would be hurt by their preference going unacknowledged. Young Ms Seinfeld believes that if words like those Jerry spoke are freely uttered in public, the net quantity of hurt feelings in the world will be increased, and that is a deporable thing.
She's right about the hurt feelings. That's how easy it is to hurt people's feelings nowadays, at least the feelings of people under thirty — Generation Snowflake.
Is this nuts? It sure seems nuts to me. Also to Jerry, who's a Boomer, born 1954.
I'm going to try to be broad-minded, though. Times change, manners change; and the world belongs to young people, not to geezers like me and Jerry.
Old manners: "You're maybe going to wanna be hanging around the city more on the weekends so you can see boys."
Spelled out like that, it sounds even more nuts. But what do I know? I'm a geezer.
I am quietly wondering how any kind of comedy is possible when people are this mealy-mouthed. That's really Jerry Seinfeld's problem, though, not mine. If I want comedy, I can always buy a DVD pack of Married with Children.
There had been a news story about the pool that week. In brief: McCarren Park is in a neighborhood that was fast being gentrified, but was still within easy distance of some public housing projects. The swimming pool was built back in the Depression. Then in 1984 it was closed and emptied.
Come 2012, the Bloomberg administration, seeing the area gentrify, gave the pool a $50 million dollar renovation and re-opened it. Immediately there was race trouble, with "teens" assaulting lifeguards and cops, several arrests, and something that sounds like a riot.
I say "sounds like" because it was hard to tell from the newspaper reports what had happened. That was the point of my Radio Derb commentary: the convoluted language our media used in reporting the event.
Here's a relevant snippet from that Radio Derb of July, 2012:
Linguistically, this whole zone is a mess. It's a mess because we're afraid to speak honestly about what's going on. When people are afraid to speak honestly, it's because there are true facts in the world that they'd prefer not to face.
OK, that was 2012. Things haven't gotten any better. This week's pool riot story comes from the small town of McKinney, a suburb of Dallas in northeast Texas, June 5th. Here is what happened in McKinney.
McKinney includes a subdivision named Craig Ranch. The subdivision has a park. The park includes a gated clubhouse and swimming pool, for use by residents. Residents have a scan card for access to the pool and the clubhouse. There are strict rules posted for residents, concerning proper use of the facilities.
Among the residents of Craig Ranch is 20-year-old Tatyana Rhodes, who is black. Ms Rhodes has quite an entrepreneurial streak. She organizes parties through social media, usually charging for admittance.
She advertised an event for June 5th, although with no admittance charge. The location: That residents' park in Craig Ranch. Ms Rhodes hired a DJ and both she and he advertised the event as a pool party, even though she had no permission from the Homeowners' Association to have a party in the gated pool area.
The DJ started up his music, which was very loud and contained filthy language. This was in the park right near the gated family pool area. Young blacks started showing up, until there were at least a hundred of them. They started fighting with each other, with a security guard, and with residents, and climbing over the fence into the pool area. By the testimony of several residents, a mother with three young children was assaulted.
Someone called police. A first cop arrived, was immediately surrounded by a yelling mob of aggressive young blacks. He called for backup and ordered an especially confrontational girl, 15-year-old Dajerria Becton to lie down. When she didn't comply, he forced her down. A young black man, 18-year-old Adrian Martin, lunged at the officer. The officer drew his gun. He did not point it at anyone; he kept it pointed down as he pursued Adrian Martin. All this is on video.
At this point other officers arrived. They arrested Adrian Martin, who has been charged with evading arrest and interfering with an officer. With some difficulty they dispersed the mob.
That's what happened, by the most comprehensive account I have read, compiled over at Conservative Treehouse, complete with witness statements from residents and full video coverage of the police action — not to be confused with the brief, edited clips shown on TV.
Media reporting of the event has been absolutely disgraceful. Some innocent, baby-faced black kiddies — little Trayvon and Trayvona Martins — with perhaps a Gentle Giant or two, were having harmless summer fun when a racist white cop barged in and started throwing them around. That's what you heard from the mainstream media.
My sympathies go out to the residents of Craig Ranch — not including Tatyana Rhodes — and of course to the cop, whose life and career have been destroyed by the lying swine of the mainstream media.
As we say on the Dissident Right: This is why we can't have nice things. Sure, we can build nice things; but then we have to share them with others whose standards of behavior and attitudes to authority are utterly different from those that prevail among civilized people. If you complain about that, the media jackals and social justice warriors will come along and destroy your life.
I more and more think Jared Taylor is right. Black and white can't live together. We should just find some way peacefully to separate.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
I found out about this at Agecroft Hall, a big old house in Richmond, Virginia, with some lovely gardens my wife wanted to see. We stopped by to see them — and yes, they are lovely. On the way in, though, while we'd stopped to chat with the guy at the gatehouse, three young women showed up in adult-sized versions of little-girl dresses, all frills and flounces, with ribbons in their hair and bobby sox.
I try to take things in my stride, but I found this a little off-putting. What was it all about? I asked one of the ladies. She explained about International Lolita Day. Who knew? Well, I didn't.
Another Lolita showed up, and my wife had a picture taken with them all. I declined an invitation to be in the picture: A person of my high public profile, to whom millions look up for example and instruction, needs to mind his reputation.
Reading the thing up later, the relevant websites assured me International Lolita Day is nothing to do with middle-aged males having improper thoughts about prepubescent females. No, no, no, they said; it's just a fashion fad, imported from Japan.
If what I've heard about Japanese porn is correct, there is a major contradiction there somewhere. Still, we human beings must find fun where we can. The ladies at Agecroft Hall on Saturday did seem to be having fun, harmless fun, so I hereby award International Lolita Day the Radio Derb seal of approval.
Item: Should you be visiting China and find yourself at a loose end in Peking, you might want to check out the Watermelon Museum just south of the city.
Yes, this is a museum dedicated entirely to watermelons. The watermelon in history, the watermelon in art, cultivation techniques, different varieties, recipes, … with — I'm quoting here from the MailOnLine report — quote, "many statues and wax models to gaze at." The building is even shaped like a watermelon. It has 43,056 square feet of exhibits. That's 0.9884 acres; or for you Chafee voters, 4000 square meters. In traditional Chinese measures, six mu.
The Watermelon Museum … You know what? I'm starting to regret having embarked on this item. I'm not sure I can get through it without committing a microaggression. In fact the Watermelon Museum may be a microaggression in and of itself. I bet Jerry Seinfeld's daughter would know.
Let's just pass right along, shall we?
Item: Just going back to the McKinney pool dust-up: That opinion of Jared Taylor's I quoted — that blacks and whites just need to find some way peacefully to separate — is leaking out into public discourse, though of course the guardians of social justice are running around plugging the leaks as fast as they can.
Here's a story from Lubbock, Texas. A fourth-grade school teacher named Karen Fitzgibbons posted a Taylorish observation on her Facebook page, edited quote:
I'm going to just go ahead and say it … the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this "racial tension." I guess that's what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education … I'm almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something.
Ms Fitzgibbons is now of course in peril of losing her job. Honked one local education bureaucrat, honk: "Matters such as this are taken very seriously."
Ms Fitzgibbons has been teaching elementary school for twenty years, and so far as one can judge from the news reports seems like a perfectly average middle-aged white lady. My bet is that the thing she wrote is what tens of millions of Americans think.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; Radio Derb will return next week with more news from the dark side.
Notice how deftly I planted in there a Married with Children reference. Here he is to sing us out: our leader and inspiration, the immortal Al Bundy, with a verse or two of his signature song: "Psycho Dad."
[Music clip: Al Bundy, "Psycho Dad."]