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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners, from your Britannically genial host John Derbyshire.
This week I take another swing at the topic of our current reality crisis, but from a more literary point of view. Here we go.
02 — Reality's a bitch. Six weeks ago on this podcast I ruminated at length on the notion, put into public discussion by one of the New York Times content-generating bots, that the U.S.A. is undergoing a reality crisis.
The bot extruded a solution to our reality crisis: the appointment of a Reality Czar to manage public perceptions of reality. This Reality Czar would, I assume, have the power to arrest and punish anyone expressing the belief that Joe Biden's election victory was spurious, or that Covid-19 was manufactured in a Chinese lab, or that the threat of domestic terrorism came from anyone other than "white supremacists," or any other belief contradicting the official Narrative.
Well, those bots do generate some weird stuff. Reading the news, though, I more and more find myself thinking that this one was on to something. Fact is, I agree with it — or "them," or "zit," whatever is the correct pronoun for an AI bot.
I hasten to say that I don't agree that Q-anon believers and election skeptics should be shipped off to re-education camps, or lose their bank and credit-card accounts. Believe what you like, so long as you don't break my leg or pick my pocket. What I agree with is the notion that we are undergoing a reality crisis. Yes, we are.
Reality is of course a vast and tangled subject, with hidden depths like the ocean. Scanning my bookshelves here I see a hefty tome — it's more than a thousand pages — by mathematician Roger Penrose, title The Road to Reality, subtitle "A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe." It's an excellent book, my edition published 2004, and comes with Radio Derb's recommendation.
That recommendation, however, itself comes with a warning: If you plan to tread the road to reality with Prof. Penrose, be ready to grapple at close quarters with tensor calculus, antiholomorphic functions, wave-particle duality, twistor sheaf cohomology, Riemann surfaces, and of course the Hamiltonian (which is nothing whatever to do with rap musicals).
At the everyday level, though, reality isn't too hard to cope with, given some modest powers of observation on the coper's part. If I'm standing on the Earth's surface holding a rock in my hand, when I let it go it will fall to the ground. That's reality. (And before you start with the emails, I'm assuming here that the rock is not tethered to a large helium balloon or a Saturn Five rocket in the late stages of ignition.) If I stick my unprotected hand into some roaring hot flames, I shall get burned … and so on. This is everyday reality.
I borrowed that last image from the poet Kipling, who explained it all 102 years ago in a poem titled "The Gods of the Copybook Headings." If you don't know the poem, there's a reading of it on my personal website, johnderbyshire.com: Go to "Readings," then scroll down to February 2006. I start off by explaining the poem's title, quote:
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 … These were the copybook headings.
So the Gods of the Copybook Headings are the Gods of common sense, proverbial wisdom, and cold reality. Kipling puts them in opposition to the Gods of the Market Place, a phrase he's borrowed from the philosopher Francis Bacon. Bacon actually says "Idols of the Market Place," but Kipling changes it to "Gods" for better rhythm in his verses.
The Gods of the Market Place allow words — happy talk, for example — to divert our thoughts away from truth and reality: the truth and reality revealed to us by the Gods of the Copybook Headings.
Indulge me, please, while I repeat the last two stanzas of Kipling's poem. Quote:
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
As Kipling seems to imply elsewhere in the poem, it's our nature as social beings that often blinds us to even quite simple realities. The calm satisfaction of observing and acknowledging everyday reality is no match for the great psychic rewards we get from worshipping the Gods of the Market Place, of following the March of Mankind.
Let's explore our reality crisis in some particulars. Next segment.
03 — The border crisis challenge. Reality check number one.
A big nation with a high standard of living, generous welfare provisions, and good levels of public security is situated close by some smaller poor countries dominated by criminal gangs, with minimal welfare provisions and corrupt, dysfunctional security forces.
The big rich country prepares for an election, the Blue Party and the Red Party competing for the presidency of the country. Ten candidates for the Blue Party nomination are on a stage being questioned by a moderator.
The moderator asks the candidates to raise a hand if, when elected president, the candidate would give government-funded health care to illegal aliens. Every one of the ten candidates raises a hand. The studio audience rewards them with wild applause.
In other venues, Blue Party candidates have expressed outrage at the detention of children smuggled into the nation by foreign criminals, negativity towards a border barrier, and similar sentiments.
The big rich country holds its election. The Blue Party wins. (Feel free to visualize scoff quotes around the word "wins" there, according to your preference.)
You now consult the Gods of the Copybook Headings. What do you think they will predict as a consequence of those events?
Surely this is an easy one. This is holding a rock in your hand and letting it go. You don't need Prof. Penrose to guide you to an answer. What will happen is, great numbers of people in those poor, shitty countries nearby — and some from further afield — will head for your border.
If the Blue Party president showed signs of concern, even alarm, as his employees struggled to control that situation, we might fairly wonder about his grasp of reality.
What did he think would happen when he raised his hand on that stage during the election campaign? Did he think no-one outside his country was listening when he deplored border barriers or expressed outrage at the detention of smuggled children? Does he truly imagine that by throwing open his nation's borders he is following the March of Mankind?
Some crusty cynics in the Red Party would say no, he does not truly imagine that; and yes, he knew perfectly well that ears all over the poverty- and corruption-stricken regions of the world were listening attentively to his campaign remarks.
He knew, say these cynics, but he didn't care, because he had larger aims in view, ones he could not disclose in public. One of those aims was, to swell the Blue Party's voter base with grateful newcomers, to the point where the Red Party would be excluded from national power.
A secondary aim — or perhaps it is the primary aim, it's hard to tell — was to dispirit, humiliate, and ultimately crush those citizens of his own country who have been insufficiently enthusiastic about worshipping the Gods of the Market Place. Too many citizens are still attached to hateful, out-of-date ideas like patriotism, self-support, self-defense, and freedom of association. The solution is to swamp them with newcomers who will be more reliably servile to the ruling class and their Gods.
There is even a hard core of crustier cynics who wonder whether the Blue Party president, or key people in his entourage, are collaborating with the foreign criminal gangs who manage this vast people-smuggling operation. Those gangs are, after all, tremendously rich — they effectively control entire nations — and the Blue Party president is known to have a receptive, co-operative attitude to wealthy foreign interests.
Should the New York Times get its way and a Reality Czar be appointed to instruct us on a correct view of reality, that hard core, once they've been identified, will swiftly find themselves breaking rocks in the Aleutian Islands.
But then, when we are through pondering what was in the president's mind when he offered his nation's bounties to all the wretched of the Earth, we must ask an ancillary question: What was in the minds of that studio audience who applauded him with such glee? What was in the minds of the tens of millions of people who voted for the Blue Party? What can we say about their grasp on reality?
A reality crisis? I would say yes.
04 — Less policing, more crime. Reality check number two.
The population of that same big rich nation has large admixtures of different races. One of those races, with a lot of recent African ancestry, exhibits very high levels of criminal and antisocial activity.
Out of sympathy for that race, and in defiance of all carefully-gathered statistics, a loud faction declares that those high levels of crime are an illusion caused by police misbehavior.
To appease that faction, municipal authorities nationwide reduce funding for their police forces. For some offenses — shoplifting, for example — they instruct police to no longer make arrests. When criminals are arrested, they allow them to go free before trial without any need to post bail. Some individual police officers, believed to have been caught in the act of misbehavior, are arrested on very serious charges and subjected to massive media campaigns of defamation.
Let's consult the Gods of the Copybook Headings again. What do you think they will predict as a consequence of these events?
Given that the police now have fewer resources, and that there are probably fewer of them, and that, with their jailed comrades in mind, they are much more wary than before about making arrests; and given also that criminals face reduced chances of ending up in jail themselves, the Gods would likely predict a rise in crime. Is that what's happened?
Taking crime in general, it's not easy to say. The reason it's not easy to say is, that these events coincided with a huge pandemic that massively reorganized citizens' activities, especially in our cities where most crime occurs.
Along with big reductions in people being outside their homes, there were cops and court personnel laid off sick with the virus, and the courts further hobbled by social-distancing protocols. To extract good comparative crime figures from all that is beyond my powers.
Sample quote from the New York Times, December 29th, quote:
Transit crime and grand larceny, often the stealing of laptops or iPhones of straphangers, plummeted as trains emptied out. But burglaries and car thefts spiked in a hollowed-out city. And bodegas, neighborhood staples during the throes of the pandemic, saw an increase in robberies and shootings.
As that last sentence suggests, there have certainly been big increases in shootings and gun homicides, with blacks leading the way. Our own Steve Sailer here at VDARE.com has been crunching the numbers.
So with all due allowance for confusions caused by the pandemic, I'm going to chalk up another victory here for the Gods of the Copybook Headings.
05 — Silence is counter-revolutionary, comrade! Reality check number three.
That same race, the one with a lot of recent African ancestry, exhibits disappointing statistics on any test of intelligence anyone has been able to devise.
In an effort to improve this, colleges and universities give preferences to this race. They admit students of this race with educational credentials that, for students of other races, would be considered too low for admission.
Once again you consult the Gods of the Copybook Headings. What do you think the Gods will predict as a consequence of those admissions policies?
This is a bit more difficult to call than the previous two reality checks, but still not that difficult. It doesn't need tensor calculus.
The applicant pool for college admissions overall contains very few really bright students from the preferred race. That race just doesn't have many academically gifted people. Behind those very few will be some larger number who are adequately bright — bright enough, I mean to cope with college-level material. And behind them is a larger number of applicants who will struggle with that material.
Call these three groups the Smarts, the Adequates, and the Strugglers.
A prestigious university will of course admit all the Smarts it can find from that preferred race, to demonstrate its earnestness to lift the race up. They won't find many, though, because there aren't many. To further inflate numbers from that race, they will admit a lot of Adequates, perhaps even some Strugglers.
In considering applicants from other races, they will have plenty of Smarts they can admit, with perhaps a scattering of Adequates — legacy admissions and such. No need to admit any Strugglers from these other races.
So when a class assembles for instruction, there will be a gratifying number of students from the preferred race in it. Their statistical profile on ability, however, will be well below that for their classmates of other races.
Comes time for final examinations, students from the preferred race will mostly pool at the bottom of the class rankings.
That would be the prediction offered by the Gods of the Copybook Headings. Is it what we see in practice, in reality?
According to Professor Sandra Sellers, who taught law at Georgetown University, it is. Actual quote from her. Quote:
I hate to say this. I ended up having this, you know, angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are blacks. Happens almost every semester. And it's like, "Oh, come on." You know. Get some really good ones but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.
Too much reality! Prof. Sellers actually said that to a colleague, David Batson, also a law professor. They'd been conducting a class on Zoom. The class was over; the two professors had stayed Zoom-connected for some discussion about the students. They weren't aware they were still being recorded.
The recording found its way to social media somehow, the Black Law Students Association declared their intention to commit mass seppuku on Cooper Field if something wasn't done to assuage their pain, and the university administration swung into action. They fired Prof. Sellers.
They probably fired Prof. Batson, too. The news stories say he was put on administrative leave, then offered his resignation, which was accepted. In his resignation letter he groveled shamelessly, sample quote:
I understand … that I missed the chance to respond in a more direct manner to address the inappropriate content of those remarks.
All that looks to me like cover for (a) them having demanded his resignation, (b) he having gotten lawyered up, (c) negotiations having taken place, and (d) a severance package having been agreed on, with the grovel as one of the conditions. I'm just speculating, though.
A friend on whom I tried out that speculation responded that academics in the generality are such spineless critters, they don't need any incentive to cringe and grovel before the Woke enforcers. Not having any personal knowledge of Prof. Batson, I'll allow my friend may be right.
Wait a minute, though: The offending words were uttered by Prof. Sellers. What did Prof. Batson do to get himself fired? Did he say something hurtful too?
Actually, no. After Prof. Sellers had said the thing I quoted her as having said, Prof. Batson only nodded and made a noncommittal grunt.
That was it. That was his offense. When someone notices reality in your presence — some aspect of reality that contradicts the ruling-class Narrative — it's not enough to just keep shtum. You have to jump up and denounce the other party for hate speech.
Passivity in the face of counter-revolutionary speech is itself counter-revolutionary, comrade!
This little tale doesn't just tell you how far we have sunk, but also the rate at which we've been sinking — the first derivative, for you math geeks.
Eleven years ago I spoke at a conference organized by the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. I gave them a race-realist view of black under-achievement, supporting my case with statistics from the Law School Admission Council database of scores on the LSAT exam.
Nobody screamed at me or made a fuss. Socializing with the BLSA people afterwards, I encountered some disagreement, but everyone was cordial. You can read my talk on my personal website, johnderbyshire.com: Go to "Opinions," "Human Sciences," and scroll down to April 2010.
If I tried to give that talk today, eleven years later, to judge from the actions of Georgetown BLSA in the case of Prof. Sellers, I would have caused a riot, and quite likely have been lynched on the spot.
06 — Anti-Asian violence: the Narrative, the reality. Reality check number four, and white supremacist atrocity du jour, is attacks on Asians.
The message we're getting here from the Gods of the Market Place is, that because the sinister, evil Donald Trump told us that Covid-19 was a Chinese virus, his followers — who are, of course, all gap-toothed white supremacist persecutors of nonwhites — have been attacking anyone who looks Asian: sucker-punching them, shoving them under subway trains, and so on.
The problem with that narrative is, as even the normally race-shy Tucker Carlson noted in his March 18th show (at 6m22s here), quoting figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, that blacks are more likely than any other race to attack Asian Americans.
If you think about it for a few seconds, that is not surprising. For one thing, Asians run a lot of small stores and take-out restaurants in inner-city neighborhoods — the kinds of places that get robbed a lot by street criminals, who are disproportionately black.
For another, Asians have higher median income than blacks — indeed, they have higher median income than whites — so that on the Willie Sutton principle, Asians are the most promising targets for muggers, who are mostly black.
Ying Ma came to the U.S.A. in the 1980s when she was aged eight or nine. Her family lived in the ghetto of Oakland, California. In her book she writes about her experiences growing up an Asian immigrant among America's urban poor. Quote from my 2011 remarks:
Ying Ma is particularly unsparing on the casual racism of ghetto blacks: a taboo topic in polite society, but common currency in the conversation of Chinese immigrants.
So this narrative from the Gods of the Market Place about white supremacists beating up on Asians is baloney.
But then, just as I was rolling my eyes and scoffing, along came a Great White Defendant, who for a moment looked as if he might rescue the Narrative.
This was 21-year-old Robert Long, a white man from Georgia, who shot nine people at three massage parlors in Atlanta Tuesday night. Eight of the nine died, the ninth is in hospital, seriously injured but stable.
Six of those killed were Asian females. If you're thinking, "Oh yeah: massage parlor … happy ending … cuties for guys with yellow fever …," I note that the ages of those six victims, according to the March 19th Wall Street Journal, were 44, 49, 51, 63, 69, and 74.
The South Korean embassy tells us four of these ladies were Korean. I'm having trouble squaring that with the names as printed. Only three names are plainly Korean; the other three look distinctly Chinese. There is room for confusion in the transcription of Asian names, though, so I'll make due allowances.
That aside, it does seem there was more going on in those parlors than just massages. Robert Long, the killer, is a self-confessed sex addict. He is also intensely religious, and so carries a big load of guilt for his addiction. His former roommate tells us he frequented massage parlors, quote, "for explicitly sexual activity," end quote.
Long has himself denied any racial motive for his crime; no-one else, including that room-mate, has offered evidence of any such motive.
My best guess is that yes, there were some young cuties working at those places, but that the women Robert Long shot were front-office personnel — owners and their relatives doing cash register duty. Perhaps Long, in his imagination, blamed these older women for leading him into sin — who knows?
From a VDARE.com point of view an interesting question here is: What was the immigration status of the deceased? What's the status of the other workers at these parlors? We haven't been told anything about this and I'm guessing we won't be.
Certainly there are illegal aliens from the Far East working in establishments of this kind in the Western world; our own Patrick Cleburne, back in 2008, posted an account of a big people-smuggling racket for this purpose run into Britain out of China's Fujian Province.
We have no information about this out of Atlanta, and I doubt we'll get any. Nor can I find any news stories about girl-smuggling rings into the U.S.A. like the one our Patrick Cleburne reported on in Britain. With ICE now prevented from well-nigh any kind of interior enforcement at all, I doubt we shall see any such stories during the Biden administration.
We shall, however, get many, many more stories about how it's all Donald Trump's fault.
By way of a footnote to this segment, I note with a broad grin this story out of San Francisco. This one is actually on the Narrative side of the topic, a white man assaulting a Chinese woman. Sure, it happens; but statistically it's an outlier.
Story: Wednesday this week a 76-year-old Chinese lady was standing on the kerb waiting to cross the street when a 39-year-old white man, a stranger, punched her in the face. The Chinese lady picked up a large piece of wood lying nearby and began whacking the guy with it.
Final score: Chinese lady 1, assailant 0. In fact he had to be taken away to hospital on an ambulance stretcher. The Chinese lady was still upright and still swinging: police had to restrain her as the attacker was carried away.
The lesson here is: Chinese ladies, even old Chinese ladies, can be seriously rugged. Don't mess with them. I got stories …
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, in the second week of jury selection, has been thrown into disarray by the decision, approved unanimously last Friday by the City Council, to pay $27 million to the family of George Floyd.
This is the largest pretrial settlement in a police civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history. It's also the biggest sum ever paid by the city, even bigger than the $20 million they paid out in 2019 to the family of young white woman Justine Damond, who was shot and killed by a black Minneapolis police officer in 2017. You remember all the riots and mayhem that followed that killing, I'm sure.
"Floyd's family and their legal team welcomed the settlement," the Washington Post tells us. His family? Who would that be? The Post only mentions a brother and a nephew. Floyd had at least five children, though, so presumably there are baby mommas with claims on the prize, too.
Jurors and prospective jurors who heard about the award might reasonably take it as a confession of guilt-by-proxy on the part of the City Council, thus disposing the jurors to assume Chauvin guilty. Two jurors already selected have now been de-selected on just these grounds.
If any person of authority in the state of Minnesota cared about Derek Chauvin getting a fair trial, they would relocate this trial to whichever point of their state is furthest from the wretched city of Minneapolis and its loathsome jellyfish of a mayor, Jacob Frey. Nobody does care, though, so this show trial will proceed to its foreordained guilty verdict, following which Officer Chauvin will be handed over to the tender mercies of Merrick Garland's Justice Department for a couple more life sentences.
I'd call this "kangaroo justice," but that would be an insult to kangaroos.
Item: The clock is ticking towards May 1st, by which time President Biden has to poop or get off the pot — the Afghanistan pot, that is.
I have reported at length on the dilemma facing the administration. Trump negotiated an agreement with the Taliban a year ago to withdraw our remaining troops from the country by May this year. The number of those troops was given as 2,500.
As I pointed out then, it's a real dilemma for the Biden administration. If we pull out as per the agreement, our puppet government in Afghanistan will quickly collapse. The Taliban will take over; the hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives we've given to the war in Afghanistan will all have been for nothing.
If we stay, however, we are going to need to send more troops there, presumably for another twenty years of futility. It looks in fact as though Congress will insist on our committing more troops.
Now we learn from the New York Times, March 14th, that we've been misled about the number of troops we currently have there. It's not 2,500, it's 3,500. Quote from that New York Times story, quote:
Having more troops in a country than the Defense Department officially acknowledges is common practice. From Syria to Yemen to Mali, the United States often details military troops to the CIA or other agencies, declares that information "classified" and refuses to publicly acknowledge their presence.
So maybe 3,500 isn't the true number, either. Perhaps it's 4,500, or 5,500. Who knows? Well, the Defense Department knows. It's none of your business, though, Joe Citizen. Keep your nose out of things that don't concern you.
Item: Here's a nasty little item from the nasty little world of higher education.
The student union at Aberdeen University in Scotland was having a discussion, apparently conducted online, about the desirability of a demilitarized campus, with recruiters from the British Army totally banned from the University precincts. Some international students — that is, students from abroad — were particularly keen not to have the army on campus.
Nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Heverin, a student of history and politics, wondered very reasonably, in a webchat, why, if the the British military makes these foreign students feel uncomfortable, why did they come to a British university? To drive her point home she then added the words: "Rule Britannia!"
Her words were reported to the university's Students' Association, whatever that is. They told her that while they could not definitively rule that she had made the comment with racist intent, it could be viewed as potentially discriminatory. Miss Heverin is now under a two-week ban from all students' union buildings, debates and services.
I dare say she'll survive that, but the sheer pettiness of it turns my stomach.
08 — Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed your corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick's Day.
Following that last item, there is only one possible choice for signoff music. Here they are: The Broadside Band, with tenor John Potter and mezzo Lucie Skeaping with a lovely rendering of "Rule Britannia."
For the benefit of the Grammar Police, who, I know from my email bag, are always lurking out there looking for nits to pick, I note that they sing "Britons never will be slaves," whereas the line is more commonly sung with "shall," not "will." As Kingsley Amis noted in The Great British Songbook, James Thomson, who wrote the original lyrics, was a Scot, and the Scots prefer "will" to "shall" in this usage. So the Broadside Band are being faithful to the original lyrics.
There shall be, and there will be, more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Broadside Band, "Rule Britannia."]