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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your empathetically genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you all the news fit to podcast from the past week.
This week's headlines mostly covered secondary issues from the February 14th high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. By secondary issues I mean not the event itself, which was thoroughly reported the day it happened, and the day or two after, but lesser interesting facts that have just recently come to light, and bigger social reactions and disturbances caused by the news ripples slowly spreading outwards.
I'm going to give over most of this week's podcast to those secondary issues.
02 — Hysterics under the guidance of fanatics. First I want to register — by no means for the first time, so I guess that should be "re-register" — my impression that the U.S.A. is a much more hysterical nation than it used to be.
Here's what I mean. You can, in your imagination, conjure up the way particular human types will react to some public event. How would a thoughtful, law-abiding, middle-class family man react? How would a vinegary old maid react? How would a ditzy teenage girl react? How would a hardened combat or law-enforcement veteran react? How would a control-freak ideological or religious fanatic react? How would an unintellectual working guy whose interest in news stops at the sports pages react? How would the proverbial Soccer Mom react? And so on.
The most-publicized reactions to unpleasant public events in recent years have been over at the vinegary old maid and ditzy co-ed end of the scale — hysterical.
Control-freak ideologues are in evidence, too: people who want us all thinking and behaving one way, their way, who want to stamp out all disagreement with their dogmas.
The ideologues are cheering on the hysterics from behind. Also guiding them: People whose emotions rule their intellects can easily be guided by skillful manipulators of emotion.
Hysterics under the guidance of ideologues: that's the picture I've been getting ever more clearly, from the Charleston church shooting three years ago, via the antifa riot at Charlottesville last year, down to this week's continuing reactions to the Parkland shooting.
Thoughtful middle-class citizens and seen-it-all veterans haven't been totally absent, and I'll give them some air time a bit later; but they have been small voices talking into a howling gale of manipulated hysteria.
One aspect of this big recent change in the way we react to social calamities has been that our major institutions — courts, state houses, corporations, churches, colleges — get swept up in the hysteria in a way they never used to.
I've told the story before about how, in the summer of 2015, I and my wife went on a tour of Civil War battlefields, and noted with interest that the battlefields' Visitor Centers, most of which are run by the federal parks service, all had Confederate flags for sale.
A few weeks later, after the Charleston church shooting, that was suddenly unthinkable. It was unthinkable to fly a Confederate flag anywhere. Suddenly, after a hundred and fifty years of nobody minding the flag much, suddenly it was an outrage.
After Charlottesville — which was, let it not be forgotten, an antifa riot assisted, and to some degree arranged, by local politicians and police brass — after Charlottesville, big internet companies like Twitter and PayPal closed the accounts of genteel Dissident Right customers — including ones, like my own VDARE.com, who had nothing to do with Charlottesville.
Again, this was a new twist, a sudden small shift in society's tectonic plates. VDARE.com was in our 18th year of doing business with Internet firms: Suddenly we were beyond the pale.
And now, following this school shooting, they're coming for the NRA.
Headline: Bank Severs Ties With NRA After Customer Complaints. That's the First National Bank of Omaha, which for over a decade has been offering a special VISA card to NRA members.
Headline: Toys'R'Us to boycott NRA. What the heck does a toy retailer have to do with gun ownership? you may ask. Well, the NRA is planning a theme restaurant and shooting gallery in a big building in Times Square, New York City. Toys'R'Us was going to sign a lease for office space in that same building, but now say they won't if the NRA does.
[My mistake. That story was from year 2000. The main point stands, though: "More than a dozen" big firms are boycotting the NRA because of the Florida shooting.]
Much good may that boycott do for Toys'R'Us. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that they'll be closing another 200 stores nationwide. See, the news is never all bad.
Again, it's a sudden qualitative shift, what physicists call a "phase change," like water turning to ice. The NRA was perfectly respectable until this week, supported by banks and car rental firms, its executives photographed in smiling company with senior politicians.
Now, overnight, the NRA has become a limb of Satan. NRA head honcho Wayne LaPierre must be channeling Sir Thomas Wyatt, quote: "They flee from me that sometime did me seek," end quote.
The Confederate flag; statues of Columbus and Jefferson and Robert E. Lee; now the NRA; the United States is being deconstructed before our eyes, ever faster.
We — we on the Dissident Right — we thought we'd won a victory in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump. Sixty-three million Americans repudiated the Cultural Revolution: that was a great and wonderful thing.
The revolutionaries were nothing deterred, though. They still hold the commanding heights of our society: corporations, universities, courts, the media. This is a cultural revolution, and politics is downstream from culture.
Yes, we won a political victory; but the Cultural Revolution marches on. They barely even broke step.
03 — Race denialism kills. Some interesting particular side issues have come to light after the Florida school shooting.
It seems, for example, that race denialism has been an accessory to the murders. I am in fact going to give this segment the title, "Race denialism kills."
How does that work? Well, recent years — especially the Obama years — have seen a focus on the "discipline gap" in our schools. Black and, to a lesser degree, Hispanic students were being subjected to the sterner kinds of school disciplinary procedures — suspension, expulsion, police reports — at much higher rates than Ice People students — whites and Asians.
According to race-denialist dogma, this discipline gap can only be caused by ignorance on the part of white teachers and administrators — by these white authority figures holding false stereotypes of other races, and acting on those false stereotypes.
That's actually the mildest form of race denialism. A stronger form says that no, it's not ignorance, it's malice. Whites hate blacks and mestizos and want to keep them down.
You can choose your own style of race denialism if you're that way inclined. I'm a race realist; I think the different races have evolved overall differences in personality and behavior via natural selection, just as dog breeds have via artificial selection; and it's those evolved differences that cause the discipline gap.
That's a fringe view, though — crazy talk, in the opinion of well-nigh everyone in authority.
Race denialism rules. In the context of the discipline gap, the race-denialist remedy for that gap is to discipline by quota. If twenty percent of the students in your school district are black or Hispanic, then twenty percent of your suspensions and police reports better be, too — not a single percentage more!
The inevitable consequence of that is that disciplinary problems and crimes committed by black and Hispanic high-school students get swept under the carpet to make the statistics come out right.
An alternative approach would be to inflict much more severe punishments on the Ice People kids for minor disciplinary infractions.
So: Black kid flourishes a switch-blade knife at teacher, gets a stern five-minute talk from the Principal. White kid passes a note in class: three weeks' suspension.
This would even out the statistics just as well as the other method. I don't know why it hasn't been tried. Perhaps for the same reason that Steve Sailer's solution to the test-score gap has never been tried. Steve suggested hitting all the white and Asian kids on their heads with a ball-peen hammer. Education administrators just aren't very imaginative, I guess.
Well, one notable beneficiary of the race-denialist approach was Trayvon Martin, the black youth shot by George Zimmerman in 2012 in Miami-Dade County, right next door to Parkland's Broward County.
[Sorry: Martin was not shot in Miami-Dade, only educated there.]
At the time of the fuss over Trayvon Martin's shooting, a lot of us wondered why, when stolen jewelry was found in Martin's school backpack some time prior to his death, why he wasn't arrested.
Here's the answer, quote:
Martin had been suspended twice already that school year for offenses that should have gotten him arrested. In each case, however, the case file on Martin was fudged to make the crime seem less serious than it was.
End inner quote, end quote.
I took that quote from an excellent piece of investigative journalism by Jack Cashill at American Thinker, February 20th. Nikolas Cruz, middle name de Jesús, is a statistical Hispanic, so he got the same velvet-glove treatment as Trayvon Martin, all in the interest of lowering the stats to preserve race-denialist dogma.
I have no space to go into much more detail here on the podcast, but I urge you to read Jack Cashill's American Thinker piece, then read the even more detailed and informative, but anonymous, piece posted next day, February 21st, at Conservative Treehouse, title It's Too Late — Broward County School Board Beginning to Admit Their Mistakes?
Bottom line here: Race denialism isn't just scientifically illiterate, it's lethal.
04 — JROTC heroes. Among the high-school students murdered by Nikolas Cruz were three JROTC cadets, ages 15, 14, and 14. Apparently the school has a big JROTC contingent. Nikolas Cruz, the murderer, was himself a cadet.
Tuesday we learned that the U.S. Army has awarded the Medal of Heroism to all three murdered cadets. That's the highest decoration that can be awarded to ROTC and JROTC cadets.
One of the students, 15-year-old Peter Wang, will also be accepted posthumously to the West Point class of 2025. His parents have been given a formal letter of acceptance confirming that. Cadet Wang was last seen alive holding a door open under fire so fellow students could escape.
With all due condolences to the families of those cadets, I'm glad to know JROTC is going strong down there in Broward County. I was a cadet myself in the British equivalent, CCF (stands for "Combined Cadet Force"). I had some of the best fun of my schooldays in the CCF, and I learned a lot, too.
I wrote a column about that back in 2001 under the title "Fund Junior ROTC," urging the federal government to do that. Quote from me: "Let's put some resources into JROTC. It is cheap, good for the kids, attractive to parents, and civilizing and unifying for our society." End quote.
I recall getting negative email on that column. People told me that JROTC, while a good thing in principle, had become a boondoggle for lazy fat veterans to supplement their military pensions. In some inner-city neighborhoods, I was told, JROTC had been co-opted by black militants. Partisans of the Boy Scouts — this was in 2001, remember, before the Boy Scouts had been taken over by pederasts and lesbians — told me that scouting was a much better way to socialize young boys.
I can't say how much truth there was in any of that, or how much there still is seventeen years later. I will say again, though, that a well-managed JROTC is a very good thing for a country to have.
Plainly it didn't do much for Nikolas Cruz, but no program can reach everybody. Its British cousin did a lot for me, and those three of Cruz's schoolfellows who've been recognized by the Army this week give a glow of honor, courage, dignity and sacrifice to a dreadful event.
05 — Reasoned argument not yet dead. As I noted in my first segment, the hysterics and the ideologues haven't had the commentarial stage entirely to themselves. There has been some thoughtful and constructive commentary.
On the constructive side, I liked the column by David French at National Review, February 16th. It argues the case for GVROs, that's Gun Violence Restraining Orders.
French speaks to the issue I covered last week, the issue of mental health — a vague and slippery category that changes with social fashions. There are some people who, although you couldn't swear that they are mentally ill, nor even get a credentialed psychiatrist to swear it, you really wouldn't want owning guns, at least while they're in the state they're in.
What to do about those people, though? Given the vagueness of the categories here, and the moon-booted clumsiness and stupidity of government enforcers, you really don't want new laws and regulations prescribing government action against these people. The enforcers of those laws and regulations would inevitably end up acting against the wrong people and ignoring the right ones — often for political or ideological reasons, as I described a couple of segments ago.
So can you leave government out of it, but still prevent these borderline cases having guns? David French says GVROs — once again, that's Gun Violence Restraining Orders — offer a solution.
GVROs, as French describes them, are like the restraining orders we give out in family law. Quote from him:
They permit a spouse, parent, sibling, or person living with a troubled individual to petition a court for an order enabling law enforcement to temporarily take that individual's gun rights away.
A key word there is "temporarily." Further quote:
The order should lapse after a defined period of time unless petitioners can come forward with clear and convincing evidence that it should remain in place.
French notes that GVROs are favorites on the political left. If you take "left" to mean "more power to government bureaucrats," though, and "right" to mean "more power to citizens taking the initiative," surely GVROs are more a right thing than a left thing.
For sure they would be more likely to help the situation than the repetitive knee-jerk proposals we usually get from politicians after these events: more blanket restrictions on gun ownership, more background checks and investigatory procedures that will be ignored or bumbled by bureaucrats, more empty pretense that we understand enough about the human mind to make precise definitions of mental health.
Finally, a shout-out to two commentators I rarely agree with, and in fact one of whom I don't agree with here, but who are at least arguing in reasoned common-sense tones.
One, John Podhoretz. Podhoretz is a neocon from Central Casting, with a crazy side. He's an open-borders fanatic, and is driven to foam-flecked rage by the faintest hint of race realism, though of course he lives a life well insulated from the consequences of race denialism. He hates me, and I've never been much of a fan of his.
Here he is, though, in today's New York Post urging the gun-banners to take a break from signaling their virtue and engage civilly with the rest of us. Not necessarily agree with us, just engage with us. Sample quote:
If you genuinely want to alter the trajectory of America's gun culture, stop thinking of yourself as a moral paragon and the people whose rights you are seeking to curtail as potential mass murderers and start thinking of them as fellow citizens you have to convince.
That was well said, and worth saying.
Then, also in today's Post, another neocon, Ralph Peters. Colonel Peters takes a break from urging us to declare war on Russia to make the case that, quote from him:
No private citizen should own an automatic weapon or a semi-automatic weapon that can easily be modified for automatic effects.
I don't agree, and I'd urge Colonel Peters to seek out, for example, some of those Korean store-owners in Los Angeles who defended their families and property with just those kinds of weapons in the Rodney King riots.
Peters is knowledgeable and reasonable, though, and makes his case well. In a time of shrieking hysteria, that's not nothing. Thank you, Sir. Or as we Russophiles say: Большое спасибо.
The book was nothing to do with gun rights, nor even with American politics. It was a collection of essays on literary and historical topics by Pierre Ryckmans, a Belgian scholar I like. The title stuck with me, though. It floats up to the surface of my mind rather often when I'm reading about political issues.
Anglo-Saxon governments in the early 21st century are strikingly ineffectual. When they try to do something, much more often than not the result is a fiasco.
Yes, I have the current incoherent bumblings of the FBI in mind. It's in the zone of immigration, though, that the uselessness of our governments is most apparent.
As I keep reminding you, the U.S.A. has immigration laws up the Wazoo. Some of them get enforced some of the time; most of them are gamed by sharp lawyers and crooked businessmen; a lot of them are essentially dead letters. The overall picture is one of anarchy supervised by governmental impotence.
Legislators are no help. The U.S. Senate in all its majesty pondered four different proposals relating to immigration last week.
Two of them were bogus bait-and-switch packages giving mass amnesty to illegals in return for the sound of crickets chirping. The lead names on those proposals gave the game away: Senator John McCain on one, Senator Chuck Schumer on the other. Both were voted down. Try to restrain your tears.
The third proposal of the four, by Senators Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn, offered mass amnesty in return for ending chain migration sometime around year 2035 and removing the lottery element from the diversity lottery visas, while preserving the visas so Disney can continue replacing American workers with Indian coolies. Thin gruel; but too thick for the Senate, who voted this one down too.
Proposal number four, from Senator Pat Toomey, would have withheld federal funds from sanctuary cities. You can-not be serious, Senator. So 0 for 4.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced after the debate that the Senate would move on to other business.
You can imagine a ripple of relief spreading across the Senate chamber — or, as I'd prefer to call it, the nation's foremost Hall of Uselessness. "Thank God," the Senators were muttering, "thank God we don't have to pretend to care about that icky immigration business any more!"
Congressional action on immigration now rests on Representative Bob Goodlatte's bill in the House, a somewhat stiffer version of the Grassley and Cornyn effort, but this one including — be still, my heart! — including mandatory E-Verify.
Given that House members are even more immigration-shy and donor-whipped than Senators; and given that the decision on whether to take up Bob Goodlatte's bill rests with open-borders enthusiast Paul Ryan, I won't be holding my breath for any decisive action from the House — another Hall of Uselessness.
Take a trip with me back eight years to January 2010. The Brits were bracing themselves for a general election that Spring, with David Cameron's Conservative Party hoping to take control of Parliament from Gordon Brown's Labour Party. Brits were beginning to get seriously fed up with mass immigration.
Cameron told a TV interviewer that the numbers for net immigration were unacceptable. Those numbers should be drastically reduced, he said. Actual quote:
We would like to see net immigration in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands.
Now it's eight years and two more elections later. Cameron's party was dominant for all those years, although in coalition for a while with a squishy centrist party. What's happened to the numbers?
Net immigration in 2010, the year Cameron gave that interview: 256 thousand. Net immigration last year, 2017: 230 thousand, a drop of ten percent. The great majority of last year's number, 205 thousand, were from outside the EU.
Net effect of government action on those numbers across seven years: Basically none.
And Britain is an island, for crying out loud. How hard can it be, for a government with a thimbleful of competence, how hard can it be to control numbers coming to settle in an island? The Japanese manage it, don't they?
In this new Churchill movie Darkest Hour we see Britain's House of Commons moving to mobilize their nation against a foreign invasion. That was well within living memory. Today the House of Commons, like our own House and Senate chambers, is a Hall of Uselessness.
Our governments used to be able to carry out great projects like that: administer empires, win wars, establish welfare states, lace the continent with broad expressways, put men on the Moon. Now our governments are worthless, useless — Halls of Uselessness.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Billy Graham died on Wednesday at his home in North Carolina. He was 99 years old.
I had pretty much given up hopes of finding anything apt to say about Graham's passing when, for entirely unrelated reasons, I happened to re-read George Orwell's obituary essay on Mahatma Gandhi.
I was not of Billy Graham's confession, any more than Orwell was of Gandhi's. I thought cynical politicians made use of Graham, just as Orwell thought cynical politicians of his own day made use of Gandhi. I agree with Orwell's very Orwellian opening line, quote:
Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.
And there are of course some key differences. While making himself available to politicians in hopes of lifting their eyes to Heaven, Graham kept politics itself at a good arm's length, whereas Gandhi was in it up to his elbows. Gandhi was also the product of a very alien culture; and so, to a Western eye, slightly comical. I may sometimes have had mixed feelings about Graham, but I don't recall ever laughing at him.
All that aside, I'd say the same of Graham that Orwell said of Gandhi in the closing words of that fine essay, quote: "How clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!"
Item: Watching North Korean athletes participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea brought back my final year of college in England.
That was 1966, the year England hosted the final rounds of the soccer World Cup. For a soccer-mad nation, that was some major event.
Sixteen teams competed in the final rounds in England. Only one of them was from Asia: the North Koreans. They did well in the opening round, beating soccer superpower Italy 1-0. Then the bottom dropped out; they were beaten 5-3 by Portugal in the quarter-finals.
When they got back to North Korea, Kim Il-sung, grandaddy of the present dictator Kim Jong-un, had them all sent to concentration camps. We have testimony from North Korean defectors who saw them there.
The same thing happened at the 2010 World Cup final rounds, played in South Africa. The North Koreans lost even worse to Portugal, 7-0; and then lost 3-0 to, oh dear, Ivory Coast. It's widely believed that then-dictator Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung's son, shipped them to the camps.
Kim Jong-un doesn't seem like the type to buck a precedent set by his father and grandfather, and the Nork teams haven't done well in the Winter Olympics. So if you're the praying type, say a prayer for those poor athletes.
Item: Our President was roundly scolded by the media last month for using a scatological indelicacy to refer to Haiti and African countries. I tried to offer some supporting evidence in justification of the President's usage.
Here's some more. BBC News, February 20th, headline: Mozambique rubbish dump collapse kills at least 17 people. Story, sample:
At least 17 people — including children — have been killed in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, and many more injured after a huge mound of rubbish collapsed, officials say.
Please don't think I'm being callous about this. We must all meet our end one way or another, and yours or mine may be even less dignified that the deaths of those poor souls in Maputo. Send not to know on whom the garbage pile collapses; it collapses on thee. I refer you to the works of Samuel Beckett for further reflections on this theme.
I would say, though, that any nation whose capital city boasts a 49-foot-high garbage pile with people living on it, is quite aptly described by the President's much-deplored expression.
08 — Signoff. That's my contribution to the national discourse this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for your attention, and enjoy a restful weekend.
In the first-draft rough sketch of European high culture, Germans are the composers, the French are the painters, the English are the poets, Russians the novelists, and Italians the architects.
That's a very rough sketch, though. Every nation has turned out good composers, painters, writers and architects in respectable numbers. To make the point, here's a Spanish composer I rather like: Andrés Gaos of Galicia (that's the top left-hand corner of Spain), floruit early 1900s. Here to play us out is a wee bit of his second symphony from 1919.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Andrés Gaos' 2nd Symphony.]