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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your blushingly genial host John Derbyshire, here with some thoughts on the week's news.
The headliner is of course that we are now out of Afghanistan. This is such a relief after twenty years of futility, Joe Biden has been getting thanks from some surprising people — Ann Coulter and Richard Spencer, for example.
I'm as glad as they are, but I think the appalling mess Biden's people made of the evacuation cancels out any gratitude due to the president. When the Soviet Union, on its last geriatric legs, made a cleaner, cheaper show of withdrawing from Afghanistan in defeat than we have, heads should roll.
I'll start off this week with an Afghanistan round-up. Then, in future podcasts, I shall ignore the filthy godforsaken place as much as possible.
02 — Invade, invite (cont.). A basic atom bomb depends on a mass of nuclear material going into a spontaneous fission reaction. For this to happen there has to be enough mass — the critical mass. Below that mass, the nuclear material just sits there, quietly decaying.
So you put two or more subcritical masses into some device, keeping them apart from each other. Then, when you want an explosion, you bring them together to form a critical mass. Bang! There you go.
That seems to me to be an analogy for what we were watching this week, as thousands of Afghans who would very much rather not live in Afghanistan for some reason or other came piling into our country.
This, I analogize, was the result of two subcritical masses of insanity coming together: U.S. foreign policy insanity and U.S. immigration policy insanity. When the two meet, bang! — an explosion of social and political issues.
Our foreign policy insanity — these dumb missionary wars we keep getting involved with — has been a constant for decades now. It's possible we have finally learned our lesson; but I seriously doubt it. I look forward to milking that insanity for commentary as long as I can work a keyboard.
So let's see what this week has shown us about our immigration insanity. The focus of concern here is of course the floods of Afghans we have taken in.
The original idea, which seemed reasonable (at any rate to me) was that we should take in and settle Afghans who had trustingly put their lives on the line to help us advance our foreign policy, as insane as that policy was. That would be a fair and decent thing to do.
As it's worked out, though, none but a small proportion of the tens of thousands of Afghans we've brought in belong to that category. Most are just random Afghans who got to Kabul airport and bribed or elbowed or threatened their way onto a plane. Far from owning Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) papers to show they have at least claimed to have helped us, many have no papers at all.
Meanwhile, Afghans who are SIV applicants but could not make it to Kabul, are being hunted down and killed by the Taliban. Moral of the story: Put no trust in the U.S.A.
Ann Corcoran has noted that most of the incoming Afghans are likely being admitted on parole, not as refugees. What does "on parole" mean? If you follow Ann's link to the Homeland Security website you get this, quote:
Parole does not confer immigration status and does not provide a path to permanent residency or the ability to obtain lawful immigration status. However, a parolee may be able to obtain lawful status in the United States through other means.
If you have been following immigration issues these past few years you will be rolling on the floor laughing at that. As Michelle Malkin says in regards to judgments and appeals in our immigration courts, quote: "It ain't over until the alien wins," end quote.
With the two million or so illegals coming in across our southern border every year now and our immigration-control apparatus totally overwhelmed and demoralized, this will be more true than ever.
And our immigration insanity only starts there. It proceeds through the lunacies of birthright citizenship and unrestricted chain migration to a sort of generalized version of Michelle's apothegm: "It ain't over until the alien, and all his offspring and relatives, and anyone who can buy fake papers in the local bazaar 'proving' he is a relative, win."
03 — Here come the Afghans. Stateside, meanwhile, odds are we have just acquired a big new set of social problems we could very well have done without.
Afghanistan has a mean national IQ variously estimated as from 80 to 84. This is likely related to extraordinary levels of inbreeding. Quote from a study published 2012 in the Journal of Biosocial Science:
In Afghanistan, the prevalence of cousin marriages is estimated to be 46.2 percent. The prevalent type of cousin marriage is first cousin marriage (27.8 percent), followed by double first cousin marriage (6.9 percent), second cousin (5.8 percent), and third cousin (3.9 percent). Such marriages became the main reason to get genetically disabled children.
End quote. "Double first cousin," in case you're wondering, means first cousin once removed, which is to say either the child of your first cousin, or the first cousin of your parent.
[Added when archiving: Wrong! I had never heard the expression before and lazily picked up that explanation from a Tweet I saw. I corrected the error at length here. Damn Twitter to Hell.]
And they are all Muslims — devout adherents of a faith not best known for its readiness to assimilate to non-Muslim host cultures … to put it mildly.
As James Kirkpatrick has documented, these Afghans will be settled in small towns in red states as much as possible.
Twitter is full of people asking why they can't be settled in Malibu or Martha's Vineyard. Answers:
Another common suggestion — I've suggested it myself — is that these Afghans who don't want to live in Afghanistan should be relocated in neighboring stans, with which many of them have ethnic links. Any news on that?
Well, Tajikistan has an 835-mile border with Afghanistan's northeast. Back in July they said they'd take in 100,000 Afghans — pretty generous, for a country of less than ten million. However, they seem now to be backing out from that on the grounds they don't have the infrastructure.
What most likely happened is that Russia, which in Soviet times controlled Tajikistan as part of its Central Asian mini-empire, and which is still in military alliance with Tajikistan, is worried about security risks from Islamic militants. So Russia cracked the whip and Tajikistan jumped.
Related somehow, although I can't figure out how, is this story on Wednesday from Reuters, headline: U.S. to help build border facilities on Tajik-Afghan border. First two paragraphs, quote:
The United States will help build new facilities for border guards in Tajikistan along the Central Asian country's frontier with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to better respond to security threats, the U.S embassy in Dushanbe [Tajikistan's capital] said on Wednesday.
Well, isn't that special. We're building border facilities up in the Pamir mountains of Central Asia, "to better respond to security threats." What a good thing there are no security threats on our borders!
Oh, and what about those American citizens we hear are stranded in Afghanistan? What were they doing there?
We haven't been given much detail about them but the New York Post on August 19th did describe ten cases of people left behind. Of the ten, only three are identified as U.S. citizens. Their names are: Faziya Nematy, Salma Kazemi, and Tahir Luddin.
So these are U.S. citizens of Afghan origins. That doesn't subtract anything from their citizenship, and we should do all we can to get them out. We are not much of a country if we can't take care of our own citizens. This sentiment would be considerably reinforced, though, if we could hear about some stranded U.S. citizens who are not of Afghan origin or ancestry.
The other seven of the New York Post ten are noncitizens in the category of people we know helped us, or the families thereof. We should do what we can for them, too … but citizens first.
04 — Not cynical enough. Mark Twain said that man is the only animal that blushes … or needs to. I blush a little when this topic of taking in Afghans comes up. Why? Well, here I was in the June 25th podcast, when the topic first came to the forefront;
Are we honor bound to take in these tens of thousands, perhaps eventually hundreds of thousands, of Afghans? Podcasting here on an immigration-restrictionist website, it pains me to say it, but I think we are.
What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking that we have to pay for our blunders. God knows, I've always paid for mine. You do the crime, you do the time; you broke it, you buy it; and that applies to nations as much as to individuals — or, in my opinion, it ought to.
There are some obvious rejoinders you can make, and listeners have not hesitated to make them.
And so on.
All right: but if I'm so doggedly defiant, why am I blushing a little? Well, not because of what I was thinking but because of what I wasn't thinking. I wasn't thinking about the utter, colossal stupidity, incompetence, and in some cases treachery, of our ruling classes and the federal apparatus they supervise.
Executive summary: I wasn't cynical enough.
Look, I'm an immigrant — American by choice. I still carry some of that immigrant admiration, reverence even, for the U.S.A. The shine hasn't altogether worn off. Perhaps it never does. As cynical as I temperamentally am, I can never be as cynical as an American native.
As an explanation for my blushing, that's the best I can do.
Oh, and concerning the last sentence in that quote from the June 25th podcast, the one about hanging politicians from utility poles: If someone can get the party going, I'm definitely in. I have some good sturdy rope I could bring.
05 — Essive, inessive, and adessive. That's the Afghanistan round-up — the last, I devoutly hope. On to other matters.
Here's a story that caught my eye for a personal reason. First, the personal reason.
I have for many years been baffled by the fact that one of my math books was translated into the Finnish language. The book is about analytic number theory. To have any interest in that subject, you need to have had more than the average amount of education.
Hence my bafflement: Every educated Finnish person I have ever met — lifetime total, I admit, less than ten — every one of them spoke perfect English.
So … what was the need for a Finnish translation? Please don't think I'm ungrateful for the translator's efforts; I'm just honestly curious.
It's usual for educated people from a tiny population of native-speakers to master a major language. In London many years ago I had a friend who'd grown up in the far west of Ireland, with Gaelic as his first language. His English was perfect; he didn't even have much Irish accent.
If you grow up like that, speaking a language that is only spoken in your own small nation, and you aspire to any kind of advancement in life, you learn a major language and use it every chance you get. It need not necessarily be English: for Hungarians it used to be, and I think often still is, German. If you're a Lolo, you better learn Chinese.
In fact I have a sneaking envy of people in that situation. You have your major language so you can get a job at Goldman Sachs; and still you have your private, secret, native language to use with friends and family, confident that in, for example, a crowded New York subway carriage, nobody will be able to follow your conversation.
All of that applies double strength when, as with Finnish and Hungarian, your language belongs to a different root family from all the neighboring languages. Except for Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian, and Basque, all the other languages of Europe come from the same root family and have commonalities of structure.
In most European languages, for example, nouns have a mere handful of different cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, sometimes dative and vocative. Finnish nouns have those too, but Finnish also has eight different locative cases: the illative, allative, translative, essive, inessive, adessive, elative, and ablative. Got that?
OK, OK, here's the news story. This is from the Daily Mail, September 2nd. Quote:
The mayor of Helsinki [Finland's capital] has said the capital should become an English-speaking city because their language is too difficult for foreigners to learn.
With all proper respect to the mayor, I think that's a terrible idea. Alexander Solzhenitsyn would, I am sure, have agreed. Famous quote from Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, quote:
Nations are the wealth of mankind, its collective personalities; the very least of them wears its own special colours and bears within itself a special facet of divine intention.
Cherish your nation's strange individuality, Mr Mayor; cherish it, and pass it down to future generations. If foreigners want to live in your capital, they should damn well speak your elegant, mellifluous language.
How do I know Finnish is elegant and mellifluous? Because I just went to Google Translate and had the audio app say the numbers from one to ten in Finnish. Listen.
[Clip: Yksi kaksi kolme neljä viisi kuusi seitsemän kahdeksan yhdeksän kymmenen.]
I think I'm in love.
And while I've got your attention, Mr Mayor, get rid of those Swedes! They're nothing but trouble. Back home in England, folk still remember the Vikings.
06 — ChiComs ban girly men. Some China news, also with a linguistic twist.
A story from BBC China, September 3rd. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of China has put out a strong statement condemning girly men, who for some reason are called "girly guns" in Chinese, niáng pào. Quote from them — from the State Administration of et cetera, I mean, not from the girly men:
We must strictly control the selection of actors and guests in shows, and those who have incorrect political positions and who are alienated from the party and the country must not be used.
Wow. Sounds like something the FCC might rule any day now; except that, while we are trying to extinguish masculinity, the ChiComs want to promote it.
This has been building up for a while. In May last year a senior ChiCom politician made a much-reported speech to the effect that young Chinese men have become "weak, inferior, and timid" and cultivate the image of xiăoxiānròu. This, he said, if not curtailed, "will inevitably endanger the survival and development of the Chinese nation."
I'm not sure I should translate xiăoxiānròu for you on a family show. [Oh, go on, Derb!] All right: xiăoxiānròu translates literally as "little fresh meat." Mrs Derbyshire tells me this is not so much a reference to girly men as the idea of a "toy boy" for older women.
Whatever. While we are working hard to stamp out all belief in sex differences, the ChiComs want them accentuated. For the health of a society, which approach is better, I wonder?
The war against girly men is presumably sanctioned by Xíjìnpíng xīn shídài zhōngguó tèsè shèhuì zhŭyì sīxiăng, that is with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is China's state ideology. It's taught in all schools, and there are regular workshops and study sessions on it in all state institutions and big corporations. So it's the equivalent of our Critical Race Theory.
The first thing to be said about Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is that for the name of an ideology, it's way too long. Sixteen syllables in Chinese, twenty-one in English translation — c'mon, man! You can't even make an anagram of it; not enough initial vowels (in Chinese, none at all).
This is actually more striking in Chinese than in English. The Chinese language is strong on ellipsis. If you want to say "Japanese soldier," which characters in movies do want to say rather a lot, the proper translation is Rìběn bīngshì, four syllables. You hardly ever hear that; people just say Rìbīng. An air-conditioner is a kōngqìtiáojiějī, but the first time I ever heard one spoken of in 1970s Taiwan it was a qìjiě. Social security? Properly shèhuì băoxiăn, but in ordinary speech always shèbăo.
Oh, you want something topical? How about "infrastructure"? That's jīchŭ jiànshè, but you just say jījiàn.
And then, everyone's favorite: hăiwài guīlái xuézhě, meaning "a scholar who's returned from study abroad." You can just collapse it down to hăiguī, which has the social advantage that it sounds like "sea turtle," which is screamingly funny in Chinese, for reasons I have never understood. The mysteries of culture.
So yes, the Chinese language loves ellipsis. So what's with Xíjìnpíng xīn shídài zhōngguó tèsè shèhuì zhŭyì sīxiăng, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era?
And what is Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, anyway? The August 28th issue of The Economist probed that in a short article, but the article doesn't shed much light. Xi himself, they say, has never been interviewed about it and doesn't give lectures on it. What is a curious cadre to do?
Well, he could buy a copy of a book which came out in February, title Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era: Questions and Answers for Learners. The book is currently being serialized in the People's Daily.
Or he could consult me. No, I haven't read that book, but I have a pretty good idea what Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era boils down to. Something like this:
The Chinese Communist Party controls everything, and everything it tells you is true. If you say or do anything that displeases the Party we shall destroy your life.
There you go. I just saved you a lot of reading.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Speaking of the mysteries of culture: English people love their Marmite — the sticky deep brown savory spread made from yeast extract. In other nations it is prescribed by doctors as an emetic.
Well, as of September 13th, the sturdy English yeoman will be able to wash down his toast-and-Marmite with a bottle of Marmite-flavored beer.
The Marmite brand manager enthused that Marmite, quote, "originates from brewer's yeast so we've simply gone full circle and put it back into beer." End quote. Ah, the great circle of life.
A four-pack of Marmite ale will cost you eight pounds — eleven dollars and change. I call that a bargain.
Item: What has been found to be racist this week? Plaster!
The University of Cambridge, over in England, has a Museum of Classical Archaeology. In that museum are plaster casts of Roman and Greek sculptures, most of them shiny white — the color of plaster.
That, said more than two hundred students and academics in the university's Classics Department, along with alumni, and even some of the Museum staff, that is racist. In an open letter to the faculty board, they have called for an acknowledgment of the existence of systemic racism within the Classics Department.
The Classics Faculty has of course bent the knee to these demands. They will, they promise, "turn the problem into an opportunity" by drawing attention to the diversity of those figured in the casts via new information panels to accompany the casts.
Since practically all of the figures are either Greek or Roman, it'll be interesting to see how they pull this off. This is a university, though; they can't be short on ingenuity.
In fairness I should note that some academics in the faculty have opposed these plans, one calling them, quote, "unhinged" and, quote, "extraordinary." Have no fear, though; these wreckers and saboteurs will soon be dealt with in appropriate fashion — being replaced by plaster casts of themselves, perhaps.
Item: Last but by no means least, since I have given so much time to the Afghanistan business up there, it would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Following the August 26th killing of 13 U.S. service people at Kabul airport, Lt. Col. Scheller posted a spirited ten-minute video on social media demanding accountability for the evacuation fiasco, particularly for the abandonment of Bagram airbase. He was relieved of his command, says he's resigned his commission, and thinks he may face a court-martial.
Good luck to him, and hell and damnation to the bozo seat-warmers of our Defense Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff. I hereby declare former Lt. Col. Scheller Radio Derb's Hero of the Week.
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen: first podcast of September. Thank you for listening, and may you enjoy a healthful and relaxing Labor Day.
In my August Diary there was a passing, fleeting reference to a poem by Walter de la Mare. My impression is that de la Mare is totally unknown in the U.S.A.; or perhaps that American natives just don't get de la Mare. That would make him the British equivalent of Walt Whitman. Brits don't get Walt Whitman.
I don't know what accounts for these transatlantic differences in taste. They're not universal in poetry: Brits love Longfellow, and Americans like Kipling. The mysteries of culture, again.
Well, Brits like Walter de la Mare's verse, or at any rate did when I was growing up. One subset of Brits who really liked it were the composers of concert music. There are hundreds of musical settings for de la Mare's poems, some of them recorded by major British opera stars.
Here to see us out is is one such: Dame Janet Baker singing the last two stanzas of the de la Mare poem I alluded to in my diary, the poem "King David," to music by the composer Herbert Howells.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Janet Baker, "King David."]