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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, listeners, this is your contractually genial host John Derbyshire with VDARE.com's weekly survey of the social, political, and cultural landscape. Excuse me while I unpack my theodolite.
There we are. Now, what do I see? Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
02 — Slow systemic collapse. Yes, yes: despair is a sin, I know. Still it's getting daily more difficult to push away the thought that our society is undergoing some kind of slow systemic collapse. Not just this or that zone of it: the whole shebang.
And so on. Things have gone beyond mere partisan disagreement, which is a natural feature of healthy, open societies.
I know from partisan disagreement. I've lived in Richard Nixon's America — well, the tail end of it — and in Margaret Thatcher's Britain, and in the Americas of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Partisan disagreement? Seen it, lived it, contributed to it. Today is different.
I'm not a fan of the notion that politics is downstream of culture. Politics and culture are ballroom-dancing together: now one giving the lead, now the other. Right now there are aspects of our culture contributing to the general political crack-up. I'll name two aspects in particular: our cultural attitudes to race and sex.
This is playing out most rancorously in a zone of the nation's life that I didn't include in my list back there: education. I didn't include it because I have way more to say about it than I can fit into a bullet point — whole segments, in fact.
03 — Radicals take over school boards. In last week's podcast I spoke about the memo sent by our U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to the federal law-enforcement agencies under his authority. That was the memo identifying parental protests at school board meetings as, quote, "counter to our nation's core values," end quote, and thereby of interest to federal law enforcement.
I noted that Comrade Garland's memo was inspired by a letter sent to the White House by NSBA, that's the National School Boards Association, which I described as, quote, "a far-left globalist, anti-American activist outfit with funding connections to George Soros." End quote.
I closed that segment by advising listeners that when voting for your local school board members, do not vote for anyone affiliated in any way with the National School Board Association.
This morning, Friday morning, I received an email from a listener telling me things that, if true, render that advice nugatory. I have not had time since receiving this email to dig around in hopes of verifying all of what he tells me. What I have come up with so far does check out; and the rest is all too believable.
My listener tells me that every state in the Union has a School Board Directors Association, or some agency similarly named — "Association of School Committees," or some such. In his state, and presumably all others, every member of a local school board must be a member of this state-level association.
So what? So this. If you go to the Ballotpedia website and search for the National School Boards Association members list, you learn that every single one of these state associations is a member of the National School Boards Association.
So any person who sits on a school board in any state is, by default, a member of the anti-white, anti-American activist NSBA.
My correspondent further told me that his state legislature recently passed a law obliging all school board members in the state — "directors" in the language of the law — obliging all "directors," beginning with the 2022 calendar year, to complete a "governance training program." What's that? Quote:
Governance training programs completed by directors … must be aligned with the cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion standards for school director governance developed under [beep].
End quote, the beep there linking to some other state legislation.
Bottom line here: In my listener's state, and I'm sure many others, with more to come, if you want to sit on a school board you must not only accept being a member of NSBA, you must undergo a training program packed with instruction in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Are these training programs scripted by NSBA? I have not yet found out, but surely that's the way to bet.
Closing quote from my listener — to whom I am very much obliged for all this:
As this illustrates (and as you already knew), the Left's tentacles are deeply imbedded in public education.
Yes, they are. Those school board dust-ups you've been seeing on YouTube and your TV news are skirmishes in the Cold Civil War. On the one side are ordinary middle-class citizens concerned for their children's education. On the other side are people fronting for a far-left activist organization determined to yield none of the power it has seized, and to seize more.
There is a larger lesson here. You will often hear people say — I mean, people on our side in the Cold Civil War, Badwhites — you will often hear them say that the way forward to a national renaissance is through local action. Don't get obsessed with the stupidity and cruelty of Washington, D.C., they say. Work on proper patriotic representation in your state, your county, your city, your local school board.
It's not bad advice, but what I have been telling you about school boards shows that the Left is perfectly willing and capable of subverting local politics. They are determined and tireless. Ordinary citizens who are not able to give over every waking hour to political activism are at a major disadvantage against outfits like the NSBA.
The Left is already confident enough in its power that a citizen who defies his local school board can be clubbed into submission while bystanders record the event on video, as happened to Scott Smith in Loudoun county.
They don't fear local citizen activism. Why should they? They have all the power centers on their side: the media, the tech oligarchs, the kritarchy, and now, after Comrade Garland's memo, federal law enforcement.
We can still fight, and we should: but it's a formidable enemy we're up against.
04 — Our lawless law schools. That's our local schools and their school boards. It ain't pretty.
At the other end of the education spectrum, in our colleges and universities, things are far worse. You know this, of course. The horrors of wokeness in higher education have been a staple of conservative commentary for decades — at least since the publication of Roger Kimball's book Tenured Radicals back in 1990.
So this recent flap at Yale Law School did not cause me to swoon in astonishment. It is, though, an exceptionally nasty specimen of higher ed wokeness: partly because it's an incident all of whose points (as they say at dog shows) are very well defined — the pettiness of the imagined offense, the spineless cowardice of college administrators — but also because this is Yale Law School, just about the most prestigious incubator of ruling-class nobility.
Here is the offense. A second-year law student is of part-Cherokee ancestry and so — of course! — a member of the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA). He is also a member of the Federalist Society, which is an association of establishment-conservative lawyers and law students — all six conservative justices currently on the U.S. Supreme Court are members.
[Added when archiving: That drew a corrective email from a listener. "Mr. Derbyshire: I listened to Radio Derb this weekend, and you mentioned that all six conservative Supreme Court Justices are Federalist Society members. I do not think that is correct. While five out of the six are members, it does not appear that Chief Justice Roberts has ever been a member. He has spoken at events, but he apparently never officially joined. I have checked some other sources, and no one seems to know for sure. Perhaps, like myself, he signed up one time in his life, but never really did much with the organization. I would imagine that my membership lapsed a long time ago."]
September 17th, a Friday this year, was Constitution Day. This student sent an email round to classmates two days previously, September 15th, inviting them to a Constitution Day party jointly organized by both those clubs, NALSA and the Federalist Society. The party would be held, he wrote, at, quote, "our very own (soon to be) world-renowned NALSA Trap House," end quote. Refreshments would include, quote, "American-themed snacks like Popeye's chicken and apple pie," end quote.
I'd never heard the expression "trap house" before. Apparently it's currently young people's slang for any place where they can score beer, although it has some deep etymological history to do with crack dens.
At least nine recipients of the email found it, yes, "triggering." Why? Well:
Diversity director Eldik extruded those words at a meeting with the offending student at which associate dean Ellen Cosgrove was also present. Eldik and Cosgrove quite openly threatened actions that would impact the student's career if he did not formally apologize; although Eldik softened the threat somewhat by hinting that they might go easier on him because of his race. (He's part Cherokee, remember.)
Quote from Eldik on that point, quote: "As a man of color, there probably isn't as much scrutiny of you as there might be of a white person in the same position." End quote.
They even drafted an apology for him, in the style of the self-criticisms people had to make to the Red Guards in China's Cultural Revolution. To his credit, the student did not yield. To date, so far as I know, he still has not.
Latest news is that Tuesday this week, October 12th — so that's nearly a month after the student's "offense" — Eldik and Cosgrove assured the student they wouldn't put anything in his college record that might cause him career problems. I'd guess that after the story broke they were called in by Law School dean Heather Gerken.
If my guess is right, we can take some small comfort from the fact that the senior administration at our nation's most prestigious law school is not yet completely insane.
05 — Canceling biology. Race and sex, yes. These are the really flammable areas in our culture. There are some others of lesser potency. If I still had kids in middle school I wouldn't want them forced to wear face masks or taught dogmatically about Climate Change: but I really, really, really wouldn't want them taught Critical Race Theory, or see their bathrooms made unisex.
It's not just the U.S.A. that is vexed by these issues. In the land of my birth things are even worse, if you can imagine that. Current case in point: Kathleen Stock, a professor in the philosophy department at Sussex University.
Just a side note here about Sussex University. In England — not Britain, England — there were for the longest time — from the 13th century to the 19th — only two universities, Oxford and Cambridge. Then in the 1830s two more universities came up: the Universities of Durham and London.
That was it for the 19th century. Then in first half of the 20th century another dozen universities were chartered, the so-called "red-brick" universities.
With the collapse of the British Empire after World War Two and a widespread feeling that to stay competitive in the world Britain needed more higher education, there was a rash of university-building. These were the "plate-glass" universities, so-called from their architectural style. Sussex was the first of these, chartered in 1961.
I was applying to universities in the following year, 1962. I wanted somewhere academically rigorous, and Sussex, just through its first year of operation, was an unknown quantity, so I didn't put it on my list. The following year, 1963, I went up to University College, London, and that's where I took my degree.
During those years, though — the first half of the 1960s — Sussex became very trendy. It was the cool place to take your degree. I'm not sure why this happened. Sussex wasn't especially distinguished academically, or athletically, or in any other way I could see. It was just cool. Perhaps it was the plate glass.
That's all just a sidebar. Back to Professor Kathleen Stock, teaching philosophy at today's Sussex University.
Prof. Stock is 48 years old and respectably woke. She's a lesbian and a feminist. It seems to be her feminism that is causing problems.
It is currently fashionable to deny the reality of sex altogether. "Male" and "female" are just social constructs, you see? — not at all grounded in reality. Some feminists, however, don't go along with that. They say it denigrates women to say they are just men with a different attitude. You may have heard the acronym TERF, T-E-R-F, for these feminists: it stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
Prof. Stock seems to be that way inclined. In January this year she was awarded a national honor for services to education, the Order of the British Empire. Yes, that's what it's called, the OBE. Tweeting about this, Prof. Stock made some unkind remarks about what she called "gender identity ideology."
That was taken to be transphobic. Six hundred academic philosophers signed an open letter condemning the lady.
Then in April this year Prof. Stock published a book, title Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism. I must say, scanning the Sunday Times review, the book seems not totally crazy. I don't think I'd pay for it; but if my local library has a copy, I might give it a try.
In this new book, however, our heroine doubles down on her sex realism. We should respect the feelings of people who think they are the other sex, she apparently says, but, quote from that review:
"In my opinion," she says, [inner quote] "immersion in a fiction about sex change is being coercively required of people." [End inner quote.] It's one thing to choose to do that out of a kind of courtesy, she says, but quite another to [inner quote] "indicate that these things are literally true." [End inner quote.]
She's a philosopher, with a proper philosopher's regard for truth.
This book has been too much for the sex-denial activists. With the new academic year starting this month, Sussex University has been roiled by protests against Prof. Stock, calling for her dismissal. Things have gotten pretty nasty. According to The Economist, October 13th, quote: "Police have advised her to install CCTV cameras at home and implied that she may need security guards to return to campus." She's giving her classes by Zoom.
So, race and sex. Prof. Stock's troubles are to do with sex; but sex, like race, is a biological reality. By scrutinizing your DNA, we can tell which sex you are, a very tiny number of genetic oddities aside. By scrutinizing your DNA we can identify your race, or mix of races, with high accuracy.
Both race denialists and sex denialists are denying biology. I find myself wondering what else they will deny when they tire of their current sport. Chemistry, perhaps? "There is no such thing as states of matter. Solid, liquid, gas — those are just social constructs!" Or perhaps physics? "Pressure? Oppression? Same root word, see? And forces — like when the oppressor forces himself on the oppressed! Ha!"
I'd better stop here. I may be giving people ideas …
06 — VDARE goes to SCOTUS. If you read the VDARE.com website you will know that in August the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of our case against the City of Colorado Springs.
Backstory in brief: We had a contract with a hotel in that city, the Cheyenne Mountain Lodge, to hold a conference there in April 2018. When the Mayor of Colorado Springs, a typical establishment-Republican invertebrate, found out about this, he told the world that his city would provide no police or fire protection for a conference of hateful haters spreading hate. Hearing that, the hotel prudently canceled the contract.
That's Heckler's Veto right there: a plain violation of our First Amendment rights, which public authorities are obliged to protect. If Antifa had set fire to the hotel by way of protesting our conference — which is perfectly possible: they burned out numerous buildings in last year's Summer of Love — this mayor would have stood down his fire department. What a reptile!
Local kritarchs, however, dismissed our case; and now their dismissal has been upheld by a two-to-one decision of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The majority opinion in that two-to-one decision rests in part on the view that the mayor's statement — the statement that his city would not provide police or fire protection for the conference hotel — was not the cause of the hotel canceling. The lone dissenter in that decision — the one in the two-to-one — scoffs at that, quote:
I must respectfully disagree. I would think that most businesses would be strongly inclined to forgo a customer if they were told that they would lose police and fire protection if they did business with the customer.
That dissenter, Judge Harris Hartz, is Radio Derb's Hero of the Week. Yes, yes: the Tenth Circuit ruling was in August and so I'm late with the award, but better late than never.
I note with interest from his Wikipedia page that Judge Hartz took his first degree in physics at Harvard, graduating summa cum laude in 1967, when degrees still meant something.
Of the two in the majority, I can't find any academic details for Magistrate Kathleen Tafoya; Judge Christine Arguello got a B.Sc. from Colorado State in 1977, but I don't know if it was a real science she studied. Call me biased, but I doubt either of those latter two ever engaged with anything at the level of logical rigor required for a Harvard physics degree.
Moral of the story, assuming I am right: Trust a judge with a good hard science degree. (Amy Wax, my favorite legal scholar, got her first degree in molecular biophysics from Yale, also summa cum laude.) Follow the science!
Well: So the dismissal of our case against Mayor RINO's city has been upheld. All is not lost, though. There are still the Supremes, if they deign to hear our appeal of this latest judgement. They don't have to, and I don't know what the odds are, but it's surely worth a try.
It will, though, cost a bundle of money, and we are a small operation. If you can help, please do. There is a web page, "vdare.com," slash, "legal," hyphen, "defense," hyphen, "fund" where you can donate. Please do if you can. Thank you!
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items. Just a couple, actually: I'm up against my time limit.
Imprimis: Twentieth century popular fiction was fizzing with creativity. It gave us a whole regiment of memorable characters: Charlie Chan and Miss Marple, Perry Mason and Rumpole of the Bailey, Flash Gordon and Luke Skywalker, Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, Superman and Batman, … how many do you want? And of course James Bond.
That was then; this is now. Twenty-first century popular fiction is a lunar wasteland of rocks and dust. For popular entertainment we can only keep resurrecting the last century's figures. So here comes the 25th James Bond movie, right after Star Wars 17 and Superman 43, or whatever the numbers are.
The movie is of course woke. Daniel Craig is Bond again, but by some twist of the plot — can't be bothered to figure it out, who cares? — 007 is a black female and Q is homosexual.
I'm happy to report that the movie is flopping at the box office, opening to a paltry 56 million of Joe Biden's fast-devaluing dollars. Good!
It doesn't help that, as James Crabtree noted in Foreign Policy magazine, the Bond franchise is nowadays, quote, "untethered from geopolitical reality," end quote. To re-tether it thereto, the franchise would need to acknowledge our new Cold War, the one with China. Unfortunately China is (a) the world's biggest market for movies, and (b) willing to ban not just films the Party bosses don't like but entire studios.
So, no really credible enemy; and of course no wanton sex either. I don't know how the ChiComs feel about Pussy Galore, but our domestic Thought Police would be calling in Antifa to burn down the movie theaters.
James Bond without an enemy or any toxic masculinity is like filet mignon and truffle sauce without the filet mignon or the truffle sauce.
I'll pass on Bond movie number 25 and offer up prayers for a rebirth of creativity.
Item: What is the price of bad manners? In a California court, it is $137 million.
That was the judgement of a San Francisco federal jury in the case of black elevator operator Owen Diaz, who had worked at Tesla — as a contractor, not an employee — for about a year in 2015-16. This plaintiff claimed to have endured racial slurs and insults, and that the company failed to respond appropriately to his complaints.
It's not clear from the news reports that all $137 million goes to Mr Diaz. The New York Times only tells us that, quote:
A vast majority of the award — $130 million — was punitive damages against the company. The rest, $6.9 million, was for past and future noneconomic damages to Mr. Diaz.
What, exactly, is the nature of those damages that makes them worth 6.9 million dollars? The Times says "noneconomic damages," so they can't mean that Mr Diaz has been so traumatized by the racism he endured that he's unable to work any more.
Even if they did mean that, from his picture I'd judge Mr Diaz no younger than his forties, so with maximum thirty working years ahead of him. Six point nine million for thirty years lost earnings would be $230,000 a year. Do elevator operators make near a quarter million a year? If so, I'm in the wrong line of work.
So what's he getting 6.9 million dollars for? And who gets the other $130 million? We are not told.
Are there any circumstances — any conceivable circumstances whatsoever — in which I, a white guy loaded down with white privilege, could cop 6.9 million dollars from an employer because of crude bad manners on the part of my co-workers?
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and thanks for all your emails. Time forbids my answering them all, but everything non-abusive gets read, pondered, and plagiarized.
Some signoff music. Do you know why you have the Christian name you have? I think most of us carry some kind of story about that. Mine is about as uninteresting as it could be, but for the little it's worth, here it is.
My mother wanted me named Peter, I'm not sure why. My father vetoed that, thus, quote from Dad addressing Mum: "I'm John, your father is John, and you have a brother John. It's a good serviceable name." End quote.
I'm fine with being John. I'll admit, though, that there have been times when I wished it was not the case that one of the most venerable and best-known English folk songs is about a lady saying to a gentleman: "Oh, no John, no John, no John, no!" Here it is. Who better to sing an English folk song than the Red Army Choir? Seriously: they do a pretty good job.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. До свидания!
[Music clip: The Red Army Choir, "Oh No, John".]