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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners worldwide, from your resurgently genial host John Derbyshire — back in harness here, tanned, rested and ready to bring you as much news as a citizen should have to be bothered with.
There isn't really a theme to this week's podcast, but I do have one or two things to say about ignorance.
Your genial host is, as you know, a widely-traveled and well-read person of deep erudition and remarkably varied experience. All the more reason to marvel that in a single week, this past week, I encountered two — count 'em, two — quite glaring gaps in my own understanding.
Here is one of those gaps. I shall save the other for the following segment.
If you read my monthly diary at VDARE.com you will know that my wife and I spent the last week of May on a road trip up into the windswept tundra north of New York City. We drove 150 miles upstate to the Finger Lakes region. Then we hired snowshoes and a team of huskies and ventured even further north, to the frozen wastes of Ontario and Quebec.
Well, in my diary I expressed surprise that the Finger Lakes is a major wine-growing region. Quote from me: "Who knew wine could be grown so far north?"
That brought a polite but withering response from a Canadian reader. Quote from him.
If you ever were to travel directly east from the Niagara vineyards … you would find yourself in the Mediterranean Sea, hundreds of miles south of the frozen, polar bear-infested tundra that is the Champagne region of France.
My correspondent is of course correct. The fine old French city of Reims, at the heart of the Champagne region, is at latitude 49°15′46″ North; the city of Geneva, where we stayed when visiting the Finger Lakes wine country in upstate New York last week, is at latitude 42°52′44″ North. That puts Geneva 440 miles closer to the equator than Reims. No wonder we didn't see any igloos.
The moral of this story, gentle listener, is that numbers are of the essence. The understandings we carry around in our heads are vague, imaginative, and biased. For a true picture of the world, you have to do some arithmetic.
Boswell: "Sir Alexander Dick tells me, that he remembers having a thousand people in a year to dine at his house: that is, reckoning each person as one, each time that he dined there."
02 — Seventy-five years on from D-Day. This week exposed an even more glaring region of my ignorance.
Thursday was of course the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings that were the beginning of the end of World War Two in Europe. Suitable ceremonies were held; survivors of the assault force, now in their nineties, were brought forward for our gratitude and admiration. Several of them, bless their hearts, parachuted in to Normandy as they had 75 years ago.
It was all tastefully done and very moving. I have no issues with the ceremonies.
However, discussing the forthcoming anniversary with friends a few days previous, I suddenly realised I did not know what the "D" in "D-Day" stands for. That's pretty astounding, not to mention depressing.
I was born a year after D-Day. I can clearly remember the tenth anniversary, the commemorative programs on the radio (we had no TV at the time). We're not an un-military family: my father and one of my grandfathers were combat veterans of World War One; my son has served in the U.S. Army; I myself held a low-level commission in Her Majesty's armed forces. How have I traveled through most of a century without knowing what the "D" in "D-Day" stands for?
None of my friends knew, either. A young member of the company looked it up on his smartphone. Apparently it's just a generic military term for when a big operation is planned: D-Day and H-Hour. The "D" just stands for "Day." Then military personnel, in casual talk off-base, have no reason to name the actual day or time, which might be picked up by the wrong ears.
Well, well, a lesson in humility — in how little we know.
Random sample, concerning the seven landing craft carrying Able Company of the 116th Infantry ashore. Quote:
Lieutenant Edward Tidrick in Boat No. 2 cries out: "My God, we're coming in at the right spot, but look at it! No shingle, no wall, no shell holes, no cover. Nothing!"
All honor and glory to those brave men. And a tip of the hat here to "Tyler Durden" at the Zero Hedge blog for reproducing Marshall's unsparing account.
03 — The Tiananmen Square anniversary. This week's other anniversary was June 4th, thirty years on from the massacre of peaceful demonstrators in Peking's Tiananmen Square and other locations in China.
The communist dictatorship that rules China today operates on the principle laid down by George Orwell, quote:
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
The ChiComs maintain a very strict control over the past, with unblinking vigilance over every kind of media and educational outlet in their country to ensure that their citizens know no more about the past than the communists want them to know.
In the case of the June 4th massacres, the communists prefer that their people know nothing, so all mention of those incidents is thoroughly suppressed. An entire generation of Chinese people has grown up hearing no public mention of them, except possibly for very occasional passing references in odd corners of the media to "bad people making trouble."
How effective this has been is hard to judge. It certainly hasn't been very effective among the Chinese people of Hong Kong, where communist control is weaker than elsewhere. There was a huge candle-light vigil in that city on last week's anniversary of the massacres, with tens of thousand attending.
Certainly it's harder to be optimistic about China today than it was thirty years ago. Remember that the student protests of 1989 had support at the highest levels of the Communist Party. Hu Yaobang, who had been General Secretary of the party up to 1987, favored reform. He had died in April of 1989; the first really big student demonstration was at his memorial service.
Zhao Ziyang, who succeeded Hu as General Secretary, was openly sympathetic to the protestors. That got him fired from his post after the June 4th crackdown and sentenced to house arrest; Zhao died, still under house arrest, in 2005.
Remember also that these were the years when Michael Gorbachev, another reformer, was General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. Gorbachev was in Peking having talks with ChiCom boss Deng Xiaoping in May 1989, when the student protests were starting up.
Reform was in the air. It really seemed possible that China might attain a civilized form of government at last, with democratic audit and an impartial rule of law. The crushing of the demonstrations put an end to those hopes.
To look at China today from the outside, the outcome seems to have been not bad at all. There has been terrific economic growth. Glittering skyscrapers have risen where once were slumbering paddy fields; high-speed trains criss-cross the country; in downtown Peking and Shanghai, you can't throw a wonton without hitting a billionaire.
Again, though, for foreigners looking on China from outside, there is a great zone of ignorance. My wife and I recently visited with Chinese friends who know the current condition of the country much better than we do.
The prosperity that is so striking to an outsider's eye conceals, they told us, a mass of poverty and hardship. Pollution is at critical levels; one reason that Chinese people send their kids abroad if they can afford to is in hope of saving their lungs.
Corruption is ubiquitous and sensational, especially in the medical profession, to widespread anger and resentment. Doctors are feared and hated; "They are monsters," one of our friends said angrily. The education system is also addled with corruption.
So again, it's hard to be optimistic. At some point, presumably, ordinary Chinese people will get so fed up with their rulers' corruption and lawlessness they'll rise up and overthrow them, as so often in times past. I would judge that point to be three or four decades in the future, at soonest, assuming some horrible military catastrophe doesn't intervene — which, given the stupidity and arrogance of the rulers, is all too possible.
For sure there seems little prospect for a revival of the hopes that took student demonstrators into China's public squares and streets thirty years ago. June 4th is the anniversary of a deep national, civilizational, tragedy.
04 — Controlling the past. "All right, Derb," I hear you say, "but our own civilization isn't in such great shape right now."
Well, we have pressing problems, for sure. Let's keep a sense of proportion, though. Here in the U.S.A. you don't have to pass a big bag of cash to the surgeon before he'll remove your gall bladder, or to the schoolmaster before he'll give your kid a passing grade.
I will concede, though, that on the cultural front, Orwell's principle waxes stronger by the day. Here is that principle stated once again, quote:
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
This is most particularly true in anything to do with race. The very simplest, plainest facts about race are treated by the guardians of our culture — the media, the schools, the corporations — as radioactive, to be shielded from public view.
Here is a tiny instance, of the kind that is so commonplace, we hardly notice it any more.
I get a daily delivery of the New York Post paper edition. Here was a short filler item from last Monday, June 3rd. I'll read you the item in its entirety, as printed. Headline: Woman, 78, raped. Story, quote:
A creep forced his way into a Queens home Sunday morning and raped a 78-year-old woman, police said.
I don't need to belabor my point here; you know what I'm getting at. Quote from my neighbors, as reported in Chapter Six of We Are Doomed, quote: "It must be a black guy. If it was a white guy, they would have told us." That quote is from 26 years ago, so there is nothing the least bit new here.
(The "creep" was quickly apprehended. In fairness to the New York Post, I should note that the online version of the newspaper — although not, for reasons unfathomable to me, the print version — published his picture. Is he black? Of course he is!)
And as Lady Ann noted in her column the other day, the careful sculpting of the past to hide anything that contradicts our rulers' narrative does sometimes seem to be at well-nigh Chinese levels.
We've been seeing this recently with the case of the Central Park Five. These were the five young black and Latino men who attacked, raped, and left permanently injured a young white woman jogging in the New York City park in 1989. Netflix is currently running a TV series titled When They See Us, produced by an anti-Trump black activist.
The guilt of the Central Park Five is not in serious dispute, as Ann and many others have documented. They were convicted by two separate juries and spent years in jail before a crazy-liberal 90-year-old District Attorney celebrated his retirement by vacating their convictions. New York City's communist mayor Bill De Blasio then awarded them forty million dollars from city funds.
Those are the mere facts. The narrative is that these five young men were randomly arrested and coerced into making false confessions. The current Netflix production follows that narrative.
So does the entry for it on IMDb, the standard-reference movie database. The heading on that IMDb entry reads — and I'm sorry for the poor grammar, which is theirs, not mine — quote:
Chronicle the true story of a notorious case of five black teenagers who were convicted of a rape they did not commit.
A bit further down the IMDb entry we read that, quote:
"When They See Us" Shows the Horrors of Injustice.
In the same spirit Wikipedia includes the case in its List of wrongful convictions in the United States.
The false narrative about the Central Park Five is now as thoroughly, firmly established as the ChiComs' narrative about June 4th, to the slight degree that the ChiComs have a narrative — i.e. that it was trouble stirred up by a tiny group of counter-revolutionary malcontents in the pay of hostile foreign powers.
Watching the 10 o'clock news the other evening on Fox 5 New York I saw the bubble-brained presenters, Steve Lacy and Dari Alexander look straight into the camera and tell me the Central Park Five were "wrongly convicted." I bet they believe it, too. At the NPC level, which is the level you're at with local news announcers, the narrative is fact while facts are heresy.
Linda Fairstein, who headed up New York City's sex-crimes unit and was lead prosecutor on the Central Park case, is being ruthlessly unpersoned. She has written a couple of dozen books, most of them crime novels based on her own experiences as a prosecutor. Now the mob is calling for bookstores and libraries to remove those books from their shelves, and for Ms Fairstein's publisher and agent to disown her.
This particular narrative, the one about the Central Park Five, is helped along by the fact of its keying in nicely to Trump Derangement Syndrome. Donald Trump was still very much a New York City personality when the assault occurred and in the years up to when the convictions were vacated; and he was vocal for justice to be done on the facts as presented, twice over, in court — facts that left no doubt about the guilt of the defendants.
When Fidel De Blasio awarded the rapists forty million dollars of city money in 2014, Donald Trump wrote an op-ed for the Daily News calling the settlement, quote, "a disgrace." He was of course right.
"Who controls the past controls the future." No, we're not at China's level, yet. Linda Fairstein's book sales might take a dive, and I'd advise her to be careful who she answers the door to; but she's not being dragged off to have her organs harvested, as routinely happens to dissidents in China.
Our rulers do have a pretty firm grip on the narrative, though.
05 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: BBC News, June 6th, headline: "Dramatic" rise in African migrants arriving at US border.
The Beeb tells us that more than 500 African scofflaws — oh, I beg their pardon: migrants — have arrived at the Del Rio border patrol sector in Texas this past week. Most are "family groups" from Angola, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, according to Customs and Border Patrol.
Yep; the fact that out borders are wide open and there is zero prospect of our national legislature doing anything about it is now known to the whole world, with predictable results.
I just want to point out, as I have done before, that I called this one. Quote from Radio Derb, podcast dated March 11th 2011 — more than eight years ago, edited quote:
What's vexing the Europeans today will vex us tomorrow … In fact the U.S.A. has already received boat people from sub-Saharan Africa. Four years ago a catamaran with fourteen young men from Senegal on it was picked up by the Coast Guard off Long Island. They were interned in New Jersey … There will be more, you can bet on it
Item: As a follow-up to that, I note this report from the Guardian dated June 6th, headline: Two million people at risk of starvation as drought returns to Somalia.
Somalia has a population of eleven and a quarter million, total fertility rate 5.7 children per woman. Just thought I'd mention it.
Item: Over in Europe, driven by popular opposition to these floods of Third World moochers, new political parties are coming up all over the place, like crocuses at the end of winter.
Latest instance of this phenomenon is the Brexit Party in Britain. The party is only six months old, but in a special election this week for a parliamentary seat that had gone vacant, the Brexit Party routed the governing Tories and came within a few hundred votes of beating the Labour Party, which has traditionally held the seat. Brexit got just under thirty percent of the vote, Labour got just over thirty percent, the Tories got a tad over twenty percent.
This special election was for the parliamentary seat of Peterborough in the English East Midlands, thirty miles from the town I grew up in. The Peterborough election came just a week after Brexit won a huge plurality of British votes in elections to the European Parliament. The Euro Parliament's a bit of a joke and election results for it are generally dismissed as protest votes; but the Peterborough result shows that the Brexit Party is a serious player.
Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, would of course rather have gotten those few hundred extra votes and won the seat, but he's talking up the silver lining. The Peterborough result should, he says, wake up Tory voters who favor Brexit to the fact that they're more likely to get what they want in the probably-forthcoming general election by voting for his party rather than for the Tories.
I hope he's right. The Tory Party is useless, and should be destroyed. Then I'd like to see a National Conservative party come up here in the U.S.A. and destroy the GOP, which is likewise useless … but there doesn't seem much prospect of that yet.
The reason for this Peterborough seat being vacant bears glancing at. The former member, Fiona Onasanya, is a black lady of Nigerian parentage. In January this year she was convicted and jailed for "perverting the course of justice"; precisely, for lying about a speeding offense.
There are rather a lot of Africans in Peterborough, and even more Muslims from Pakistan. They all vote solidly Labour, even when the candidate's a crook like Ms Onasanya. I'm willing to bet that if you just could just tally up the legacy white British vote at Peterborough, Brexit would have won by a mile.
Item: An exceptionally severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome showed up in Palmetto, Florida last week. A 46-year-old woman stabbed herself three times in the abdomen with a kitchen knife. When police arrived on the scene she told them she did it because, quote: "I'm tired of living in Trump's country; I'm tired of Trump being President."
It's true that, based on what the news reports say about her medical record, this lady is mentally unstable, and was so before the Trump Presidency came along to push her over the edge. Still, I don't recall news stories like this from the Obama Presidency. Political passion at this level of intensity, stable or unstable, is a very liberal thing.
Here's a suggestion for other Trump-haters who might want to follow the lady's example. Why not do the thing properly? The Florida lady seems to have been attempting the Japanese ritual style of suicide called seppuku, or self-disembowelment.
There is a full Wikipedia page on seppuku, giving precise instructions on how to do it. I refer interested parties to those instructions. Just trying to be helpful here.
06 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention; also for your emails, which I am even further behind than usual in reading as a result of having been off the grid for nine days.
And I'm still in a holiday mood, as I usually am at this time of year. For one thing, I just had a birthday. For another, next week is Whitsuntide, traditionally a holiday in England when nobody gets much done; although relatives over there tell me Whitsuntide is not much observed any more in the mother country. Too Christian, I suppose; the biggest public holiday over there nowadays is probably Ramadan.
Well, the hell with that. I'm going to relax for a few more days in the Whitsuntide spirit: attend to family matters, a little gardening, do whatever I feel like doing. That's a cue for my sign-out music.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Betty Hutton, "Doin' the What Comes Naturally."]