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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. This is your pronominally genial host John Derbyshire with my weekly glance at the passing charivari.
What have I got for you? Race, politics, sex, and a poem. That's what I've got. What more could you ask for? Sport? Well, that's kind of in there, too. Travel, ditto. And yes! — grammar!
Here we go.
I'd just like to supplement those comments by replaying a Radio Derb segment from seven years ago. That segment, in October 2012, followed oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas.
You may recall that the plaintiff there, a white lady named Abigail Fisher, had applied to the University of Texas at Austin but been turned down in 2008 while, she claimed, less well-qualified black applicants had been accepted. She sued the university, claiming that it had violated her rights under the 14th Amendment.
So it went to oral arguments before the Supremes, one of whom at that time was the late, much-lamented by me, Justice Antonin Scalia.
OK, here in part is my segment from seven years ago. There are passing references to the Bakke case of 1978 and the Grutter case of 2003 — cases that established the bizarre, rickety edifice of current affirmative-action jurisprudence as applied to college admissions.
Over to Radio Derb 2012:
[Clip: There has been a bright side to this week's oral arguments, though. While none of the justices is willing to admit that affirmative action is all a crock, some of them do seem aware that the convoluted logic and weird jargon generated by the Bakke and Grutter cases are difficult for an intelligent person to take seriously.
End of 2012 segment.
Fisher v. University of Texas wasn't finally ruled on until mid-2016, three and a half years later. The court found four to three against Ms Fisher, the three dissenters being Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. Justice Kagan had recused herself. Justice Scalia, to the nation's immeasurable loss, had passed away some months previously.
03 — Harvard's anti-Asian discrimination (cont.) As a footnote to that segment, I should acknowledge Heather Mac Donald's essay on this current case of Harvard discriminating against Asians. Heather's piece is in the November issue of The New Criterion.
It's a polemical tour de force, informed by deep knowledge of the issues and sound legal training. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'll just offer you a couple of slightly-edited samples.
Sample one, quote:
The case — Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College — will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court … The Court should accept the appeal and, for the sake of its own institutional integrity, throw out its entire jurisprudence regarding college admissions. Pro-preference jurisprudence is an abomination, filled with patent fictions, logical contradictions, and vast gusts of rhetorical vapidity that should make any self-respecting jurist weep with despair. Its only purpose has been to paper over the vast academic skills gap between black students, on the one hand, and white and Asian students, on the other. In so doing, court doctrine has perpetuated the very problems it purports to solve.
Sample two, quote:
Not only does [Harvard] reject any increased enrollment of lower income students, it prefers wealthy blacks over poor blacks. At the dawn of the racial preference era, in the late 1960s, Harvard really did seek out lower-income blacks. They performed so poorly that Harvard soon shifted its focus to middle income and wealthy blacks. Currently, Harvard's preference for well-to-do blacks compared to well-to-do whites is much larger than the preference it awards poor blacks compared to poor whites. Being black is worth far more than being poor in Harvard's admission schemes. Preferring students of low socioeconomic status … would net many more of those pesky Asians and whites than blacks, since poor white students on average greatly outperform middle- and upper-class black students.
End quote. Read the whole thing in The New Criterion.
04 — Joe Biden redux. The big political news of the week is Joe Biden's revival in the opinion polls.
You'll recall that three or four weeks ago the talk was all about Biden having fallen below Elizabeth Warren in the polls. Well, now he's back up at the top. The latest numbers I've seen, from yesterday's New York Times, show Biden at 27 percent on a nationwide average of polls, Warren at 23.
There are as many theories about this as there are pundits theorizing. The theory I like best is the one that says Senator Warren shot herself in the foot in the October 15th televised debate. Here's the relevant clip, where Warren fields a question from Morgan Cox, a homosexual activist.
There you see Goodwhite snobbery at its most flagrant and unashamed — the sneering contempt of Goodwhites like Warren for their less-enlightened fellow citizens. The subtext could not be plainer: "Any male so benighted as to hold a traditional view of marriage is a loser, with no value in the sexual market-place. Very few women will entertain advances from such a wretched, uncool creature."
We straight white guys understand of course that Goodwhites like Warren loathe and despise us. The trouble is — the trouble for a campaigning politician, I mean — that there are a lot of us, and we don't like being sneered at for holding what seem to us reasonable and socially positive opinions.
And our ranks include many Democrat voters. Hence the theory: Senator Warren shot herself in the foot by momentarily lifting the veil on Goodwhite snobbery, turning lots of straight male voters against her.
As I said, I like the theory. Is it true? Eh, who knows? The skeptic in me wonders if voters really pay enough attention to catch a short off-hand remark like that. Perhaps something else is going on to raise Joe Biden's poll numbers and lower Warren's.
I hope this theory is true, though. To see a Goodwhite snob brought low by exposing her Goodwhite snobbery, would be very satisfying.
05 — Biden's chances, and Trump's. Elizabeth Warren isn't out of the race yet, not by a long way. Wednesday this week Cory McCartan at the Washington Post did a clever numerical analysis, trying to predict each candidate's chance of winning the Electoral College based on their share of the popular vote.
Every Democratic candidate would need to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote to win the electoral college. But exactly how much varies by candidate: Warren makes it to 270 electoral votes first, with about 50.7 percent of the popular vote, followed by Buttigieg, then Kamala D. Harris, and finally Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Warren's also polling well in the crucial early caucus state of Iowa: Twenty-eight percent of likely Iowa caucus voters favor her, against 20 percent for Buttigieg, 18 percent for Sanders, and — oh dear — 12 percent for Joe Biden.
So don't be betting the farm on Joe Biden just yet.
Meanwhile, what are Donald Trump's chances in the general? Am I still a pessimist on his chances?
Yes I am. And there are thoughtful, intelligent commentators even more pessimistic than me.
Here for example is the blogger who calls himself Lion of the Blogosphere earlier this week. Heading: Trump can't possibly win re-election.
Trump's strongest support comes from senior citizens. Senior citizens die, and their vote gets replaced with young people who are a lot less white and even among the whites they are a lot more liberal and a lot more anti-Trump than their grandparents.
The Lion also doubts that Trump has won over any Hillary 2016 voters. Quote:
Trump's success in 2016 came from flipping the prole whites who traditionally voted Democratic, but I don't see any more of those voters flipping in 2020.
I think that's right. Try to imagine a 2016 Hillary voter who has been won over by anything Trump's done. It's hard, right?
Lion goes to the numbers, too. Quote:
Last week, an Iowa poll shows that Trump would beat Biden or Warren by 2 points. That sounds good, except for the fact that Trump beat Hillary in Iowa by 9.5 points in 2016.
Things may not be quite that bad, yet still bad. A national poll in The Hill newspaper, published Tuesday, has Biden, Warren, and Sanders all leading Trump by two points — within the margin of poll error, to be sure, but … all three of them? Sanders?
So no, I don't see a whole lot of reason for optimism. It's still early days, though. Say not the struggle naught availeth.
06 — Six foot, 200 pounds v. five foot five, 135 pounds. Sex has been much in the news this week. What Steve calls "World War T" — the effort to give our society and culture a total makeover on behalf of the, what is it? 0.1 percent?, of citizens who are confused about their sex — World War T heated up a bit.
Over in Manchester, England, an international women's cycling event was won by a guy calling himself Rachel McKinnon. I say "guy" because, for Heaven's sake, look at him: six foot, two hundred pounds, built like a brick outhouse … for goodness' sake.
Did McKinnon go under the knife? I read seven or eight stories about him, and none of them was explicit on this point. My overall impression is that he didn't.
In an interview with the cycling website VeloNews, for example, he praised the International Olympic Committee for changing its policy on sexually confused athletes. Before 2015 they had allowed so-called "transgender" people to compete in the Olympics only if they'd had the surgery. Then they changed that, to McKinnon's approval, quote:
In 2015 the IOC recognized that is unfair to trans people — unfair to require them to undergo surgery they might otherwise not want — to compete in sport which they said is a human right.
The thing that made my flesh creep about this story came in a different article, also on the VeloNews cycling website, in fact by the same reporter. He interviewed a female cyclist named Sarah Fader who'd pulled out of the final event, the one McKinnon won, in protest. Ms Fader is five foot five and weighs 135 pounds. She knew she didn't stand a chance against McKinnon.
Following that interview with Fader, the report says this, quote:
Other female competitors shared her opinion, Fader said, however, they were scared to speak out publicly against Dr McKinnon. These riders feared being labeled discriminatory and insensitive, and thus kept their opinions to themselves. Indeed, one other rider from the race reached out to me to share a similar opinion to Fader's. This rider wished to remain anonymous.
That's our world, listeners: A world in which people with heterodox opinions — not outrageous or preposterous opinions, not demonstrably false opinions, just opinions that have been ruled heterodox by the overclass, opinions like, "Someone obviously a man, with [I'm pretty sure] a full set of tackle, shouldn't be competing in women's sports" — people with heterodox opinions dare not speak for fear of social ostracism and exclusion. That's what makes my flesh creep.
07 — More sex news. Still on the sex news: There have been widespread protests about the 7-year-old boy in Texas whose mother wants him to be a girl. She has given him a girl's name and is planning hormone therapy — chemical castration. Once again, the child is seven.
Actual quote from the boy, little James Younger. This was when he was asked: "Who told you you were a girl?" Quote:
Mommy. She buys my headbands, and she gives me hair clips … She paints my nails … She tells me I'm a girl.
The parents have been separated for some years. James' father, who is sane, is of course trying to get some control of the situation. Monday this week the Dallas jury ruled 11 to 1 that James' father had no rights in the matter and the mother could go ahead with James' "transition."
The judge in the case has shown more sense than the jury, or possibly has just been spooked by all the protests. Thursday she overruled the jury, giving the father joint rights. She also, however, put a gag order on the father, forbidding him to speak to the press.
After all this freakery, it ought to be a relief to turn to news stories about regular sexuality — boys trying to get together with girls. It's not a relief, though. Here's a news item from the Mother Country.
A young man named Jamie Griffiths was arrested, charged, tried, and found guilty on a charge of sexual harassment. He was fined 1,300 dollars, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work, and put on the Sex Offenders' Register for five years.
Jamie describes himself as, quote, "shy, anxious and awkward," and he looks it. Last year, while only 18 and still at high school, Jamie did some internet research on how to make friends. Then he went out and approached a 17-year-old girl, also a high-school student, on a public street.
He wanted to speak to her but couldn't get the words out. He touched her arm. Later that day, meeting her again, he again was struck dumb. This time he touched her side before walking off.
The girl claims to have been traumatized: "I felt very unsafe even in my own home," etc., etc.
I of course, with my usual staggering prescience, spotted these trends years ago. Quotes from my 2009 book We Are Doomed, Chapter 5, quote:
It sometimes seems that sexual intercourse itself is on the way out … Ordinary heterosexual intercourse is losing its market share. Sperm is no longer much in demand for its original purpose.
Just one more from the sex news. Well, I think it counts as sex news — judge for yourselves.
Massachusetts state legislators are considering a bill to ban the word "bitch" when, quote, "directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade, or demean." Penalty: up to six months jail or a $200 fine, or both. I note without further comment that the lead sponsor of this bill is State Representative Daniel Hunt.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Outrage of the week was surely the sentences handed down by New York Judge Mark Dwyer against two Proud Boys, Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman. Dwyer gave them four years each for defending themselves against antifa thugs who'd been waiting in the street for them after a Gavin McInnes event in October last year.
Here's the laugh-out-loud paragraph, quote:
The victims in the case were never identified, and Antifa refused to cooperate with the investigation. Prosecutors said that if they could have located the Antifa members, they would have also been charged.
"If they could have located them"? They were right there on the street with Hare and Kinsman.
"Antifa refused to cooperate with the investigation"? Say what? So as long as I don't co-operate with the authorities, I won't be arrested and prosecuted?
It couldn't be any plainer that Antifa are the enforcement arm of the progressive establishment, with full license to do as they please, masked and hooded, against citizens with unfashionable opinions. At one point in the trial John Kinsman's lawyer, Jack Goldberg, referred to the prosecution as the, quote, "New York County district Antifa office." Yep, that's what they are.
One good thing came out of this gross travesty of justice. That was the five-minute video about the sentencing posted by Gavin McInnes. I've known Gavin for years. He's a witty, thoughtful, tolerant fellow. In this video he is eloquent and passionate, in a way I've not seen him before. In fact he is spitting mad — with very good cause.
In the name of truth and justice, and to understand the country we now live in, please watch that video. Just put the title, "Four Years for Fighting Back," into the YouTube search box, it comes straight up … if YouTube haven't removed it by the time you hear this.
Item: The big items of foreign news this week concerned our two neighbor nations, Canada and Mexico.
Canada had a general election on Monday. The Liberal Party, led by 14-year-old Social Justice warrior Justin Trudeau, won with 33.1 percent of the popular vote, and gets to form a government. The Conservative Party lost with 34.4 percent of the vote.
Yes, you heard that right: the Conservatives got a quarter million more votes than the Liberals, but the Liberals get to form a government. That's because smaller progressive parties, who can be depended on to vote with the Liberals in parliament, got enough members elected to give Trudeau a majority with their support.
A secondary victory went to the Bloc Québécois, the regionalist party of Quebec. They increased their representation in parliament from 10 seats to 32.
Is this a warning rumble of a rising demand for Quebec independence? I don't know. My boss Peter Brimelow, who has actually written a book about Canadian politics, probably has an informed opinion. I hope he'll share it with us.
Item: That's Canada: what about Mexico?
It's a mess. Last week forces of a major drug-smuggling cartel fought a pitched battle with Mexican security forces. The gangsters were mad because Mexican troops had arrested and jailed one of their guys.
So there was this battle. Guess who won? That's right; and the jailed gangster — a wanted man in the U.S.A. — has been freed. The town where the battle took place — Culiacán, capital of the state of Sinaloa — was left with corpses and burning vehicles in the streets.
Gangsters versus military, and the gangsters win. Politicians meet their demands. That, listeners, is a seriously unstable country. If things really go pear-shaped down there, get ready to welcome twenty or thirty million Mexican refugees.
Item: And while those two previous items were going down — Canada's election, with the possibility of a Quebec independence surge, and rising chaos in Mexico, with the possiblity of systemic collapse and floods of refugees — while all that was happening in our neighbor countries, with whom we share thousands of miles of borders, which countries dominated the foreign-news pages of my daily newspaper?
Those are our foreign-policy priorities.
Highlights of the trip, further quotes:
I'd better explain some of that for the benefit of listeners not au fait with the noble republic of Turkmenistan and its culture.
The Gates of Hell is a crater that collapsed over a natural-gas field back in 1971. Geologists set the gas on fire to stop it spreading, and the gas is still burning.
Köw Ata is a lake in a cave 200 feet underground, geothermally heated to a pleasant 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shashlik is a Turkmen culinary specialty: camel ovaries cooked in goat semen — delicious!
Should you enter this competition and be fortunate enough to win the trip I can, for a really quite modest emolument, arrange for a private meeting with Radio Derb's dear friend, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov at the presidential palace in Ashgabat. Just get in touch with me at VDARE.com.
Long live the noble republic of Turmenistan! Long live President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov! [Clip: Turkmen national anthem.]
All right, here's my comment.
There are only two pronouns of real cultural significance in the Western world today: really, only one, although its cultural significance emerges when it is stated twice, first in the nominative case, then in the accusative: "Who, whom?"
Here it is in the original Russian, according to Google Translate: [Clip: "Кто, кого?"] Who is the subject, who is the object? Who is the master of whom? Who are the Good People, who are the Bad people? In George Orwell's phrasing: Whose boot gets to stamp on whose face?
You want pronouns? I got pronouns. "Who, whom?"
Item: Air Canada, the flagship airline of that Friendly Giant to Our North, has announced that their employees will no longer use either of the phrases "ladies and gentlemen" or "mesdames et messieurs" in boarding announcements. Instead Air Canada staff will address their passengers as "everybody" or "tout le monde." This, say the whimpering, snivelling, CultMarx-whipped eunuchs of corporate management, is, quote, "an effort to be conscious of gender fluidity."
Air Canada has also made adjustments to some nomenclature. The word "cockpit" will henceforth be referred to as the "poultrypit."
09 — Signoff. That's all I can offer you this week, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening: and particular thanks to friends — you know who you are — who have extended hospitality to us these past few days. Few things are more cheering and inspiriting than spending time around a well-stocked table with friends who, even if their opinions don't align precisely with one's own, are open-minded, witty, and well-read. You argue, you joust, you find points of agreement, and with any luck you come out a bit wiser than you went in.
I am not podcasting here to cheer and inspirit you, though. My intentions are darker.
As it happens, this week is the centenary of a rather dark poem, one that is dear to the hearts of those of us in what one of George W. Bush's aides referred to contemptuously as "the reality-based community."
The poem is of course Rudyard Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings," first published in the Sunday Pictorial (nowadays the Sunday Mirror) on October 26th 1919. Kipling was 53 years old — rather older than usual for a poet to be turning out first-class work.
The title needs explaining to modern readers. As I note in the poem's page on my personal website, quote:
Copybooks disappeared from schoolrooms in Britain and America during, or shortly after, World War 2. A copybook was an exercise book used to practice one's handwriting in. The pages were blank except for horizontal rulings and a printed specimen of perfect handwriting at the top. You were supposed to copy this specimen all down the page. The specimens were proverbs or quotations, or little commonplace hortatory or admonitory sayings — the ones in the poem illustrate the kind of thing. These were the copybook headings.
Here is my own reading of the poem, with only one microscopic error in the antepenultimate line.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings."]