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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 uneasily genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you commentary on the week's news from VDARE.com, all in furtherance of our mission to maintain the U.S.A. in some form that would have been familiar to our parents and which our children will thank us for passing on to them.
As you can tell, I am still energized and glowing from our conference at the castle two weeks ago. However, I promise not to gush any more after last week's gush-o-rama. Too much gushing can get tiresome, I understand that. I shall only urge you to continue reading, listening, viewing, and supporting VDARE.com as we toil away here in the vineyards of national conservatism and immigration patriotism. Thank you!
And yes: while still glowing, I am none the less feeling uneasy. Let me tell you why.
02 — Cause for unease. This coming Monday, May 9th, is a public holiday in Russia: Victory Day, commemorating Germany's surrender to the allies at the end of WW2. As well as being a public holiday, under Vladimir Putin's regime it has been the occasion of major military parades.
Pundits have been speculating that Putin will make some big bold move to mark the day and inspirit his people. Their guesses range from a formal declaration of war against Ukraine down to some harmless PR stunt in the social-policy area. (Prior to this war Putin's public approval was still in the dumps from his raising the state-pension retirement age in 2018.)
A popular guess has been that Putin will not go for a full declaration of war but will announce a full mobilization of his country's armed forces. That would presumably include a big conscription effort.
Russia does currently have a draft. It's easily evaded, though, especially in urban areas, and only involves one year of training. It's not popular: conditions for conscripts are miserable, and the main impression they come away with from their close contact with the military is that the officer class all have their snouts in the corruption trough … which indeed they do.
So mass mobilization would not improve Putin's popularity; and right now, with the Ukraine war not going anywhere much, he really needs to bolster his popularity.
Geostrategy pundit Dmitri Alperovitch has a whole sheaf of arguments against mass mobilization. They are organized as a long thread of tweets at his Twitter account. Sample:
[The ] Russian public currently supports the fake version of the war they are seeing on their TV screens. Most families don't know anyone who is fighting and dying; many soldiers are from poor villages and ethnic minorities. A huge mobilization would change all that and is very risky.
Meanwhile, as Putin is going through these calculations, the fools in Washington, D.C. are doing their best to raise the level of danger for us, the U.S.A. We just learned this week that we provided intelligence that helped Ukraine sink the Moscow, Russia's flagship missile cruiser, in the Black Sea April 14th. A Pentagon spokesfool said the U.S.A. gave intelligence to, quote, "help Ukraine defend itself."
This, a few days after President Biden asked Congress for $33bn in assistance to Ukraine, including $20bn of military supplies … although with an assurance that the United States is not "attacking Russia."
Thirty-three billion: that's a neat hundred bucks for every man, woman, and child in these United States. A hundred bucks each, sixty of them for weapons.
Why? Why is Russia-Ukraine any of our business at all? Twenty billion dollars in military assistance? Under what treaty?
Let's suppose that, having learned of the part we played in sinking one of his capital ships, Putin decides that to mark Victory Day he will sink one of our capital ships — a carrier, perhaps. Just, you know, tit for tat. He could use one of his hypersonic glide missiles — a technology in which we are way behind, and against which we have no defenses. How shall we respond? Declare war on Russia?
Do the State Department strategists and Pentagon brass have a clue what they are doing, and why? Is our Russia policy as crazily, pants-poopingly stupid as it seems to be?
I have mentioned before, I know I have, that one of my favorite American presidents is Calvin Coolidge, and that one of the things that most endears him to me is his reply, when asked at a press conference on leaving office, what the most important accomplishments of his administration had been. Cal's reply, immortal quote:
Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been the minding of my own business.
End immortal quote.
To drive the point home, here is my suggestion to our State Department any time they feel in need of a departmental anthem. You're welcome!
[Clip: Hank Williams, "Mind Your Own Business."]
03 — SCOTUS leaks. Oh, abortion. I'm sure you know what happened, if you follow the news at all — and if you don't, I'm increasingly finding myself thinking I don't blame you.
Back in March 2018, Mississippi passed a law called the "Gestational Age Act," which prohibits all abortions, with few exceptions, after 15 weeks' gestation. Phil Bryant, the then-governor of Mississippi, signed the law in April that year, to go into effect July 2019.
Before the ink was dry on Governor Bryant's signature, Mississippi's one and only abortion clinic filed in federal court to block enactment of the law. An Obama-appointed federal judge issued an injunction, and we were off to the jurisprudential races.
There is of course a dense thicket of abortion law, but most of it sprouts from a seed planted by the Burger Court back in 1973. That was the famous Roe v. Wade case, where the court found a fundamental right to abortion lurking in the penumbras of the United States Constitution.
Well, this 2018 Mississippi case eventually worked its way up to the current U.S. Supreme Court. They have been deliberating about it behind closed doors, and we were told to expect a ruling when the current term winds up at the end of June.
On Monday this week, however, Politico, which is a mouthpiece of the Biden regime, published what they claimed is a draft of the Supreme Court's majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito. The opinion overturns Roe v. Wade, sending responsibility for laws on abortion back to the states.
That caused a colossal outbreak of hysteria among progressives, still reverberating through the media as I speak.
President Biden himself — notwithstanding that no-one ever thought he was a progressive until the summer of 2020 — Biden wondered aloud whether the leaked Supreme Court opinion means that it will now be "legit" for a state to change its law and say that homosexual children can't be in classrooms with other children.
What that has to do with abortion, and when the concept of "homosexual children" entered public discourse, you'll have to figure out for yourself. I've given up trying to make sense of anything Biden says.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts screeched on Twitter that, screech:
I am angry because an extremist Supreme Court thinks they can impose their extremist views on all of the women of this country and they are wrong.
That you can be elected and then re-elected to the U.S. Senate from a state that contains several of our most prestigious institutions of higher learning, and yet believe that the mild-mannered midwits populating the U.S. Supreme Court are "extreme" about anything at all, is a sad reflection on the state of our public life.
Did I just say "midwits"? At least one of the justices doesn't even rise to the midwit standard. To judge from previous opinions of hers that I've perused, Justice Sotomayor is a dimwit, or at best on the boundary between midwittery and dimwittery.
In all the sidebar speculation about which Supreme Court clerk leaked this draft opinion, I'm surprised no-one has speculated that Justice Sotomayor herself may be the leaker. It's the kind of dumb thing dumb people do.
By way of a footnote to that, I just learned when researching for this podcast that the original 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was also leaked before being formally announced. Time magazine published it a few hours before the court was due to announce it.
There was apparently no ill intent there, just a journalistic screw-up. It goes to show, though, that "news" is not really the right word for what we call … you know … news.
04 — Confessions of a failed abortion. What the world is clamoring to know is of course: What is Radio Derb's position on abortion? For or against?
Let me preface my commentary with a couple of personal notes.
Personal note one: My mother confided to me in her old age that I myself was a failed abortion.
I wasn't very surprised to learn it. At the time of my conception in late 1944, my parents were poor, living in bottom-of-the-market rented rooms upstairs in a row house in a slum area of an old English manufacturing town. (The house is still there, although the neighborhood has been somewhat gentrified.)
They already had one baby to look after; and my half-brother, a difficult teenager, was sharing the accommodation with them. They were on the waiting list for public housing, but the Luftwaffe had been busily reducing the stock of Britain's housing for five years, so it was going to be a long wait.
The Royal Air Force and USAF were doing the same thing to Germany's houses and factories that the Germans were doing to ours; and then some, with massive civilian fatalities. This was the fifth year of WW2; quibbles about the sanctity of life were not at the front of anyone's mind. What was at the front of Mum's mind was: How shall we cope with another baby in two rented rooms on the wages of a nurse and a low-grade clerk?
(Nurses in England, I should say, were very badly paid in the mid-20th century, at "about the rate paid to a good domestic help or office cleaner," according to one parliamentary report.)
My mother was a professional nurse of sixteen years' standing. She had access to the hospital drug cupboard, and her nursing colleagues were helpful with advice about what to take to trigger a miscarriage. Mum took it. It didn't work. Perhaps thinking that the Universe was telling her something, she didn't repeat the dose, just shrugged and went to term. So here I am.
Personal note two: Roe v. Wade was still the talk of the town when I landed on these shores in Summer of 1973. That surprised me.
There had been a brief flurry of abortion debate in Britain during the mid-1960s, followed by legislation voted through Parliament. That's how things are done in a system of representative government.
With the new law on the books, Brits turned to talking about other things. The continuing prominence of the abortion issue over here was my introduction to the strong moralizing strain in American public life.
Also to the sorry fact that every issue in our public life here has a race angle. On one of the first occasions I asked an American for his opinion about abortion, the person I asked — a middle-class, middle-aged professional New York white male — replied briskly: "I think it's a good thing for African Americans."
People didn't actually say "African Americans" in 1973. The term he used was five syllables shorter. I've been wondering ever since how much pro-abortion sentiment is similarly inspired today.
End of personal notes.
05 — Abortion, dogma, and common sentiment. I can't say that being a failed abortion has colored my thinking on the subject. That thinking is, to judge from opinion polls, more conservative than the American average, but not much more.
If I were sole legislator on the issue, I'd allow abortion on request in early pregnancy, and in extreme health-of-the-mother cases later. I would, however, want some really strong, sound, unanimous health-of-the-mother opinions from medical professionals before allowing a viable fetus to be torn up and extracted from the womb in bits and pieces. So I'm more or less where the state of Mississippi was at in 2018.
To abortion dogmatists both pro and con, that position is shamefully wishy-washy.
Pro-abortion dogma says that the fetus is just a part of the woman's body until they snip the umbilical chord, so the mother has as much right to do as she pleases with it as she has to remove an unwelcome skin blemish or undergo an appendectomy.
Anti-abortion dogma says that a new individual human life exists as soon as conception has been accomplished, so that abortion at any later point is murder.
Both dogmas are logically coherent, but both crash up against the common sentiments of the great mass of ordinary people.
To most of us, aborting a fully-formed infant in the womb — or just out of the womb, as allowed by the most radical pro-abortion dogmatists — really does look like the killing of a person. We don't want it to be legal without there being persuasively extenuating circumstances.
And then, faced with anti-abortion dogmatism, it seems absurd — and, yes, cruel — to most of us that a woman, or perhaps a teenage girl, who aborts at ten weeks should be arrested and tried for homicide. We don't want that, either.
These common sentiments go old and deep. Abortion has been practiced everywhere at all times. Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey, in his book Triumph of the Nomads: A History of Aborginal Australia, writes of young aboriginal women laughing together about it. "Babies? Nah, we just want to have fun with men!"
Religion offers only a qualified guide. My New Scofield Reference Bible has a 188-page concordance in small print: there is no entry for "abortion," nothing between "abomination" and "abound." However, Christians point to certain texts, particularly Psalm 139, as indicative of of Divine disapproval.
While a useful guide to the personal life of a Christian, that is of no help politically or legislatively, as we are not a theocracy, and increasingly not even Christian.
Technology is sapping away at the foundations here, too. You'll hear it argued that a unique individual, with a unique genome, is formed right at conception, so that abortion at any stage erases a human being.
Well, maybe not. That unique genome can nowadays be read off and stored on a database. We can't yet instantiate a genome thus stored in living tissue; but it's not a priori impossible, so perhaps we'll be doing it next year, or next decade. Perhaps, in anticipation of this, someone somewhere is already storing zygote genomes on databases before terminating the pregnancy.
So for our politics and our laws, there can be no definitive resolution by pure reason. It's a matter of general sentiment. Since that is different from one state to another, removing the issue from SCOTUS rulings and returning it to the states, as this leaked Supreme Court opinion will do, seems to me the sensible thing. The people of each state can express their general sentiment when voting for state legislators; those legislators can then pass appropriate laws.
I can't see anything anyone should mind about that state of affairs. The hysteria of the left just strikes me as weird and sick; likewise their utter disregard for logic and consistency.
Permit me, please, to be the 869th pundit to jeer at how progressives went overnight from telling us that there is no such thing as biological sex and we should all be saying "birthing persons" to ululating about how the Supreme Court has declared war on the unique, sacred rights of women.
Perhaps I really should stop paying attention to the news.
06 — Courageous conversations. You're probably familiar with the idea that anti-racism is a religion. Perhaps you've read John McWhorter's recent book making the argument. The book, published last October, is helpfully titled: Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America.
I don't believe that anti-racism is a full-function, properly structured religion. I can't take it that seriously. I do agree, though, that it appeals to some of the same modules in human brains that religions appeal to.
To the degree that anti-racism is a religion, it's a primitive religion, like the magical cults of head-hunters in the New Guinea highlands. Without having any worked-out theology, it has some of the features those cults have: very strict language taboos, for instance. Here's an example from my local newspaper the other day.
The story here concerns Emily Mais, a young white woman who was until recently Assistant Principal at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, Va.
I looked that school up on GreatSchools.org. It's not doing very well. Quote: "Test scores at this school fall far below the state average." End quote. Students from low-income families: 56 percent. Student demographics: 37 percent white, 24 percent black, 23 percent Hispanic, 16 percent other.
Well, Ms Mais was Assistant Principal there when the school re-opened after the worst of the COVID pandemic. Just at that time, the school decided to start mandatory teacher training based on critical race theory.
Their textbook was Courageous Conversations About Race by seasoned black anti-white hustler Glenn Singleton, who has been milking the corporate diversity-training cow for many years. [Clip: Moo-oo …] Er, you'll be needing another bucket there, Glenn.
The content of the training didn't sit well with Ms Mais. Quote from her:
I believe every person is made in the image of God and entitled to equal treatment and respect.
From the point of view of the "anti-racism" ideologues, that makes Ms Mais a naive, fragile white person trapped in the fantasy of so-called "color-blindness." Correct your thinking, Comrade!
Instead of correcting her thinking, Ms Mais decided to take her cue from the title of Glenn Singleton's book and have some courageous conversations with her colleagues and her supervisors in the school district.
I hate to say it of such an obviously nice and well-intentioned lady, but Ms Mais is naive. Anyone who's paid attention should know by now that in the context of anti-racist training, "courageous" describes the quality that white people exhibit when they grovel before the class and confess their deep shame for being white, while "conversations" are what take place when an anti-racist instructor imparts the dogmas of the cult to an eagerly receptive white audience sitting listening in respectful silence.
Not knowing that, Ms Mais spoke up frankly about her misgivings. Quote:
But my concerns were ignored. And then, an honest mistake — a slip of the tongue — revealed just how hostile and unforgiving the culture had become as a result of this harmful content.
Oh dear, that must have been one heck of a slip of the tongue. What was it: the n-word? Something about watermelons or nappy hair? Perhaps something that might have been construed to mean that Emmett Till got what was coming to him?
No, nothing so obviously … what's the adjective? … yes, hurtful. Nothing so bad. I'll let Ms Mais tell you what made the sky fall on her. Longish quote:
In one training session, the group discussed the district's race-related hiring practices. I commented on the topic, intending to use the phrase "people of color," but as I was talking, I said "colored" instead. I immediately apologized, but one staff member would not accept the apology and berated me in front of the group.
Ms Mais sought help from the Alliance Defending Freedom. In mid-April ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on her behalf in the Albemarle County Circuit Court.
What caught my attention in Ms Mais's story was the astonishing pettiness of the triggering offense. She said "colored" when the approved expression is "people of color." The word "colored" is apparently taboo — very taboo.
As I started by saying, we are in the world here of jungle cults, of shamans and voodoo, of words having magical power, of the world before civilization.
I wish Ms Mais and the ADF all the luck in the world with their lawsuit against the school district. I just hope it doesn't come up before a col … sorry! sorry! I mean, before a judge of color.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
To judge by mainstream news stories these last three months, the war in Ukraine has been won. No, not the war against Russia, the war against the "The." Ukraine is no longer "The Ukraine." It's just "Ukraine." All hail the power of Radio Derb!
As so often happens in war, however, victory has gone to some people's heads. The New York Post reported May 5th that the districts of Manhattan known heretofore as "the East Village" and "the West Village" have lost their "thes."
Transplants and Zoomers have decided to rebrand both the East and West Villages, stripping the locales of their articles and redubbing these neighborhoods as only West or East Village.
Stand down there, troops! Our fight has only been against the definite article-ing of nations. We have no issue with the "the" in lesser contexts.
Let us be magnanimous in victory!
Item: I have, as I have often confessed, a weakness for metaphysics. I'm a bit ashamed of it, being a down-to-earth sort of chap by nature and never having been able to come to any definite conclusions about the nature of reality. I just recently read David Chalmers' latest book, title Reality+, but came away no wiser.
Still, seeing the word "metaphysics," I have to peek. I did so the other day.
Cambridge University, the university in Cambridge, England, is as respectable an institute of learning as it is possible to be. Founded in A.D. 1209, the university is now in its ninth century of accumulating and transmitting knowledge.
So naturally, on seeing the word "metaphysics" attached to the website of Cambridge University Press, I had to dive in.
I kind of wish I hadn't. The article I brought up, published by that noble press, is titled "The Metaphysics of Farts" by someone named Bill Capra. You can read the whole thing online. It's not long: less than 1500 words.
Oh, you want a sample? Here you go, quote:
While the opposition between the essential-bum-origin school and the phenomenological school is something of an antinomy, since there is something to be said for both sides, there are in fact at least two considerations that favour the phenomenological school.
I really have to drop the whole metaphysics thing.
Item: Ever since learning that our federal government has appointed a disinformation tsar — actually a tsarina — to cleanse our nation from the blight of disinformation, I have been keeping my eye open for instances of disinformation she might deal with.
Well, here's a doozy. Back in February last year Skeptic magazine did a survey asking two questions.
They sorted responses by political orientation.
The commonest responses from participants identifying as "very liberal" were "about 1,000" to the first question and "60.4 percent" to the second.
The actual answers were either 13 or 27 to the first question, depending on which database you use, and either 23 percent or 27 percent to the second, same qualification.
To the first question, eight percent of the very liberals and five and a half percent of the liberals thought the answer was "more than ten thousand."
Plainly we have a serious case of disinformation on police shootings of blacks. I offer it to the tsarina for her scrutiny. No, no, don't thank me, Ma'am; it's my civic duty.
Item: Everyone knows at this point that admission to America's most prestigious universities is flagrantly anti-white. The obvious answer is for white applicants to cheat — to claim to be nonwhite. That's what an article at the Revolver website recommended on Wednesday. Quote:
The Globalist American Empire feebly admits that it has no easy way to stop its victims from cheating. So cheat away. Undermine the system. Force it to rely on color palettes and DNA tests and skull measurements to enforce its racial castes. Right now, this corrupt, immoral, and decaying system is controlling America for free. Force it to fight. Odds are, it will simply break.
Well, maybe. It's worth a try, anyway.
Reading that got me thinking about John Howard Griffin. Has he been entirely forgotten? This was the white guy who, back in 1959, took skin-darkening drugs and intensive ultraviolet tanning, shaved his head, and travelled through the American Deep South as a black man. He wrote a book about it, title Black Like Me, which was a best-seller — I read it in my college days.
So there's a way to game the college-application process. Has anyone tried it, I wonder?
There's also a journalistic project for some aspiring young black writer. Whiten up, then try getting into the Ivy League, or journalism, or acting in TV commercials. Get a real taste of Jim Snow. You already have the book title: White Like Me.
Item: Growing up as I did in 1950s Britain reading The Empire Boys' Annual, I learned that there is no-one in law enforcement more dedicated and successful at tracking down and apprehending criminals than the Mounties, Canada's Mounted Police.
I was therefore pleased to learn that the Mounties' reach now extends into outer space. Quote from Breitbart, May 5th, quote:
A Canadian space law amendment allowing for the prosecution of crimes committed on the Moon passed Canada's House of Commons at the end of April, Euronews reported on Thursday.
So now there is truly no hiding place for Canada's crooks. The Mounties always get their man … even if he's gone to the Moon!
08 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention. Don't forget Mother's Day on Sunday … even if she did try to abort you.
Talking there about my earliest adventures in these United States back in 1973 brought to mind the musical accompaniment to those adventures. A key player in that musical accompaniment was, as I mentioned when signing off with him five years ago, singer-songwriter Jim Croce. Here he is again; five years has been much too long.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Jim Croce, "Time in a Bottle."]