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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, traditional instruments version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners, from your earnestly genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you commentary on the week's news garnished with allusion, allegory, and alliteration.
There have been no earth-shaking developments this week, for which we should be thankful, only the continuation of chronic problems. That war, for example, which started just one year ago today.
02 — War, mercenaries, and presidents. You know the war I'm talking about: the war between the world's two most corrupt white nations.
I don't have anything new to say about the war itself. The Russians are grinding on; the Ukrainians are defending their country bravely and stoically; Europeans are quibbling and nit-picking about supplying arms; China's maneuvering for advantage; the U.S.A., which of course has an infinite amount of money, is shipping containers-full of hundred-dollar bills over there, probably to keep the Ukrainians quiet about the Biden family's business dealings with them.
I do have a couple of sidebar comments, though. First one: the Wagner group. I'd been seeing references to them in the news reports for months, without paying much attention. Then a few weeks ago, I commented on their activities in the Central African Republic; although not in any depth, just mulling over a New York Times story.
Last week I got an email from my son, who follows the war more closely than I do, his own military service being only five years behind him. The email contained a link to a Vox report on YouTube. If you key the phrase "Russia's private military force" into the YouTube search box, it comes right up.
I watched the whole thing — it's only eight and a half minutes. It's an eye-opener. The Wagner Group, brainchild of a Russian oligarch named Yevgeny Prigozhin, is a major military force deployed all over the world, from Indonesia to Venezuela.
They're especially active in Africa; not just the Central African Republic but a dozen or more other poverty-stricken, unstable black-African countries. The Wagner Group takes a side in the civil wars down there, sponsors some dictator, enforces stability, and then loots the country's natural resources.
This has to be the biggest private army ever — out of Russia, of all places. It seems to be almost at peer level with Russia's actual army. There's been a fuss this week after Prigozhin complained publicly that the Russian military was starving the Wagner Group of ammunition they need. By week end the fuss has subsided but, quote from the New York Times on Thursday, quote:
In the opaque world of the Russian military, it is impossible to know if his troops got the ammunition, or if the Kremlin lost patience and told him to play nice.
Strange stuff. Is Prigozhin itching to get his hands on Russia's nuke codes so the Wagner Group can play really big league? I sure hope not.
Second sidebar comment: The February issue of Chronicles magazine has a three-page tribute to Warren Harding, who was our nation's president a hundred years ago. The tribute is by Ryan Walters, who teaches history at Collin College in Texas.
I've always been baffled by Harding's low rankings in the lists of presidents. As Ryan Walters writes, quote:
Harding is worthy of the highest respect and emulation, not denunciation.
Harding was certainly sound on immigration, signing the 1921 restrictionist law which Woodrow Wilson had vetoed, paving the way for Congress to pass and Coolidge to sign, three years later, the even more restrictive Johnson-Reed Act.
Harding's foreign policy was also sensible and patriotic. Like his successor Calvin Coolidge he believed strongly in our country minding its own business. After the world-saving ambitions of his predecessor Woodrow Wilson, that came as a great relief to Americans.
Looking at our apparent determination to get ever more deeply involved in the Russia-Ukraine spat, and indeed at our past twenty-odd years of futile missionary wars, I yearn for another President Harding.
I can't leave Harding without quoting Paul Johnson's sketch in his book Modern Times, quote:
[Harding] did not believe that politics were very important or that people should get excited about them or allow them to penetrate too far into their everyday lives.
Be still, my heart!
03 — Cartoonist goes anti-anti-white. Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, which has often raised a chuckle from me, and once or twice a guffaw. That aside, I know next to nothing about Scott Adams. I'm vaguely aware he has a social media presence — a vidcast, I think — but I'd never engaged with it …
… until this week, when Adams came out as anti-anti-white. On the race issue, that's the same position as mine; so I've been getting emails saying, "Hey, Derb, Scott Adams agrees with you!"
Is that right? Here's what the guy actually said.
[Clip: Well, Rasmussen Poll had a provocative little poll today. They said, er: "Do you agree or disagree with the statement, er, 'It's OK to be white'?"
The main thing to bear in mind here is that Adams is a humorist, always looking to raise a laugh. So how seriously should we take this? (I'm addressing that question to the dwindling number of Americans who still have a sense of humor in defiance of efforts by our Cultural Revolutionaries to stamp out humor altogether.)
That business about identifying as black, for instance. Has Adams really been identifying as black? Not having followed him, I couldn't say for sure. Adams' Wikipedia page tells me that his comic strip once had a running joke about a black office worker who identified as white. So perhaps this identify-as-black business is just backward leakage from Adams' own creation into his vidcast … I don't know.
I thought the Rasmussen poll that inspired Adams' remarks sounded kind of interesting. I strongly favor the Cold Civil War theory of our current discords: two big groups of white people who hate each other, with blacks and other races cheering and booing from the sidelines, not very consequential. So how did white respondents break on the issue of "It's OK to be white?" Was there a clear and even split between Goodwhites and Badwhites?
I went to the Rasmussen website for the full report. The full report's behind a subscription paywall, though, so that didn't help.
I did learn from secondary sources that two percent of whites strongly disagreed with the statement that "It's OK to be white," a deep level of Goodwhite commitment; but no overall picture of white sentiment. You could probably gather up that two percent from the Human Resources Department staff of our business corporations and the twenty thousand Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion administrators at every one of our universities. What about the rest of us?
That aside, I didn't think Adams' remarks were very coherent. He read the poll as saying that, quote from him, "nearly half of all blacks are not OK with white people." That's not what the poll says. What it says is, that nearly half of all blacks are not OK with white people asserting their whiteness. Perhaps they just don't like identitarianism of any variety.
As I said, though, Adams is a humorist, so we shouldn't apply fine logical analysis to what he said. Again: His advice to white people to, quote, "get the hell away from black people," end quote, is superfluous, as Adams surely knows. Our national patterns of residential and educational choice show plainly that we already do that as far as the law allows.
I'll admit that I was flattered to see Scott Adams' monologue compared with my column of eleven years ago, the one that brought me worldwide fame for the proverbial fifteen minutes. It's nice to see one's stuff remembered.
It's apples and oranges, though. I was targeting one particular item of silliness: the romantic fantasy nursed by blacks and Goodwhites that blacks have to tiptoe around in public for fear of evil white supremacists lurking around every corner waiting to shoot them. On the statistics, as I pointed out, blacks are far more dangerous to whites than vice versa.
I was also, I think, fairer to blacks than Adams is, or is pretending to be for humorous purposes. In my version of The Talk I said, quote:
The default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship.
I also urged readers to, quote, "consciously seek opportunities to make friends with intelligent and well-socialized blacks," end quote, of whom there are of course many. Adams doesn't temper his commentary with any such palliatives.
But then, as I said, it's apples and oranges. If you're speaking with a humorous or part-humorous intent, you don't have to add earnest qualifications to what you're saying. It's a different mode of speaking.
All that said, I welcome Scott Adams to the fellowship of the anti-anti-white, and I regret I haven't paid much attention to him before, other than an occasional glance and chuckle at the Dilbert strip. If you're ever in Long Island, Scott, drop me a line and I'll buy you a drink.
04 — Feds go CRT. The most sinister political development of recent days was the February 16th signing by Joe Biden of an executive order imposing Critical Race Theory on the entire federal bureaucracy.
So we don't just have an administrative state now; we have an administrative state obsessed with "equity," which of course means properly proportional employment for women, blacks, homosexuals, and any other identifiable group … sorry, I mean "community" … heretofore insufficiently represented — cross-eyed people, perhaps, or left-handers, or the lactose-intolerant.
Associated Press reported that, quote:
Chiraag Bains, the president's deputy assistant for racial justice and equity, said that the new order shows Biden is [inner quote] "doubling down" [end inner quote] on the commitment he made on his first day as president [inner quote] "to put equity at the center of how this government operates" [end inner quote].
So if you were thinking that Critical Race Theory was just some transient fringe cult that a few kooky Goodwhite teachers were trying to impose on schoolkids, now you know better. It's our official state ideology with the clear stamp of presidential authority, to which the entire federal bureaucracy must pay homage.
As if Biden's executive order by itself wasn't sufficiently chilling, we learned shortly afterwards that the lead enforcer of that order will be Susan Rice, who first showed up on Radio Derb back in October 2012 as one of what I called "the Three Horsegirls of the Libyan apocalypse." She was actually number two of the three as I listed them. Number one was Samantha Power; number three was … well, see if you can guess. [Hillary cackle.]
So here I was commenting on Susan Rice in 2012:
[Clip. Exhibit Two: Susan Rice, our current Ambassador to the U.N. A scion of Washington, D.C.'s mulatto high bourgeoisie, Ms Rice is another zealot for humanitarian intervention in other people's affairs. She joined with Samantha Power to press the Obama administration to get involved in Libya against Gaddafy, with whom we had cut a very satisfactory deal, and who was on our side against the jihadist fanatics.
Susan Rice looks well placed to do to the U.S.A. what she and the other two horsegirls did to Libya. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Setting aside what the dumb incompetent Ms Rice may actually do to us, what would she and the other people pushing Critical Race Theory from the White house, what would they like to do?
The phrase that comes to my mind here is "Political Commissar." The most familiar examples of Political Commissars were those in the Red Army of the U.S.S.R. They were experts in the Soviet ideology assigned to all units of the army, down to the company level, to make sure that the unit stayed politically correct. I'm not very surprised to learn, looking the term up on Wikipedia, that the job title of Political Commissar originated in the French Revolution.
As communism developed Political Commissars were planted all over, not just in the military. The Party Secretaries I got to know at my own work unit in communist China performed the same function. Schools, colleges, business companies, sports leagues, … in a communist country any kind of organization gets stuck with Political Commissars to keep the organization on the ideological straight and narrow.
Our ruling class is aiming for something similar. In business corporations the Human Resources Departments are now, in effect, Political Commissariats. Employees known to harbor anti-regime opinions can be reported to HR for correction; or, if they persist in defiance, can be fired.
Now the federal government has its very own cadre of Political Commissars, with Susan Rice in overall charge. So the noose tightens; so our liberties fall away.
What's that? You don't approve? Correct your thinking, comrade!
05 — South Africa test the limits. Mention of Critical Race Theory brings to mind an article that showed up on Revolver a year and a half ago, headline: South Africa — The First Country Built on "Critical Race Theory" — Officially Implodes.
The anonymous author tells us all the dire things then happening in South Africa: "spiralling unrest" … "specter of doom" … "severe water crises" … "rolling blackouts" … "skills decay rooted in racial discrimination" … "naked cronyism, insider dealing, and corruption" … It really doesn't sound good.
And yes: All these misfortunes can be traced to something called Broad Based Black Economic Employment, BBBEE for short. BBBEE, we are told, uses the same tactics to achieve "equity" that activists in the United States are demanding.
That was a year and a half ago, though, and South Africa's still there. How bad do things have to get?
South Africa is an enigma to me. Next year it'll be thirty years since apartheid definitively ended and blacks took over the government. Next-door Zimbabwe at that time was sunk deep in disorder and poverty. The joke going round was: "Question — What's the difference between South Africa and Zimbabwe? Answer — About five years."
Well, here we are thirty years on and South Africa still hasn't fallen apart. They haven't even been issuing ten trillion dollar bills, as Zimbabwe was fifteen years ago.
Not that everything's tickety-boo in South Africa, mind. There's talk of food shortages; power blackouts are routine, and crime is through the roof. Somehow the place staggers on, though.
The implosion of South Africa heads up my list of Things That Didn't Happen. To the contrary, South Africa seems determined to test to the limit Adam Smith's observation that "there is a great deal of ruin in a nation."
So possibly the U.S.A. will survive state-enforced Critical Race Theory. Hey, let's try it and find out!
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Roald Dahl was a British writer of children's stories, mostly published in the 1960s and 1970s. The most famous was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, made into a 1971 Gene Wilder movie with a slightly different name.
Roald Dahl died in 1990 at age 74 but his books are still popular. Unfortunately they are full of hurtful, triggering microaggressions that make them unsuitable for innocent young minds today.
One character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is referred to as "fat." Another, in a different book, is described as "ugly." Perhaps worst of all, his 1979 book The Twits contains a reference to, quote, "a weird African language," end quote.
You see the problem. So did Dahl's publisher, Penguin books. For future printings they hired "sensitivity readers" to go through the texts removing everything hateful.
That was a wokeness too far even for the Brits. The Prime Minister himself grumbled; so did Queen Consort Camilla. Latest news is that the publisher seems to have backed down. Roald Dahl's books will be published un-bowdlerized.
That's good. I can't say I ever engaged with Roald Dahl's books myself. My childhood was over by the time they appeared. My most abiding memory of him in fact is the 1970s campaign by the British satirical magazine Private Eye to raise money from its readers to buy Roald Dahl a letter "n" for his name.
Item: My Quote of the week is this one from another Brit, my soulmate Ed West writing at Substack. Quote:
My quite basic belief about "wokeness" is that, while many people overthink it, a lot of is just straight-up racial narcissism. Most forms of racial narcissism are taboo, for very good reasons, but narcissism among sacred races is encouraged, approved and subsidised — with obviously disastrous consequences; and since the well of racial narcissism is essentially limitless, if people in authority approve it, they will get more of it. Many problems, especially in education and policing, will continue to get worse until people in public life have the courage to say basta! But that is currently some way off.
Item: Still with the Brits: February 21st was Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. Not in our cousin nation, though. When I was a kid in England, and apparently still today, Shrove Tuesday was Pancake Day.
These British pancakes aren't much like American pancakes. They're bigger and thinner — more like crépes. We used to squirt lemon juice over them before rolling them up and scarfing them down.
According to DailyMail.com, foreigners find Pancake Day deeply baffling. If the globalists find out about it they'll probably shut it down.
I don't care. I have my memories of big thin English pancakes, sprayed with lemon juice, one day in the year. George Soros can't take those memories away.
Item: The Bureau of Justice Statistics has issued its latest report on incarceration. Cross-burning racist that I am, I naturally went first to Table 8: "Number in prison/local jail per 100,000 adult U.S. residents by race or Hispanic origin." That gives you the proportion of each race currently locked up.
The proportions are: White, 410 per 100,000. Black, 1,850 per 100,000. Hispanic, 810 per 100,000. Other, 740 per 100,000.
So blacks are getting locked up at four and a half times the rate of whites, Hispanics at twice the rate. We're a long way yet from incarceration equity. Don't worry, though; progressive legislators and DAs are working on it.
Item: Next month, the 19th in fact, sees the 20th anniversary of George W. Bush's Iraq War. Radio Derb wasn't yet on the air, but I was posting regularly at National Review Online. On that very day in fact — March 19th — I posted a long article on the lack of support for a war against Iraq everywhere but the U.S.A. and Israel.
Yes, yes, it's a little embarrassing to read that now. If you want to taste the embarrassment, the article is at my personal website under Opinions / Other foreign parts.
In my defense I'll say that, one, I had become a naturalized American citizen just a few months before and was fizzing with devotion to my new country; two, that like a great many other Americans, naturalized and native both, I was still mad as hell about what had been done to us on 9/11; and three, that I saw the war as only punitive, and never really signed on to the nation-building baloney.
I can claim some foresight, too. I closed that article by writing, quote:
I wouldn't be too optimistic, though. If the war goes well, we shall be more of a giant than ever; if badly, we shall be that most contemptible of creatures, a giant brought low by hubris.
End quote. I got that right, at least.
Item: Finally, just a late addition to last week's podcast.
I opened it with a segment titled, "Portents and omens," noting what a lot of peculiar stuff has been happening recently.
Then I wandered off into a parallel with the fall of China's Han dynasty eighteen hundred years ago. According to the Chinese chroniclers, that had been preceded by a different lot of peculiar stuff — portents and omens — including some very peculiar behavior by chickens.
A listener emailed in to inform me that I had missed a suggestive and fairly recent portent, one that makes the parallel with the fall of the Han dynasty a bit more … parallel.
Sixty-seven-year-old Jasper Kraus was killed April 28th last year by … a chicken. The critter drove its spur into his leg and Mr Kraus bled to death.
All right, all right: this happened in Ireland. That just makes the omen more disturbing, though. The omens are appearing worldwide! Perhaps Western Civilization as a whole is about to fall.
I shall henceforth be on the lookout for weird chicken stories.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention, and apologies for being further behind than ever with my email. I think I'm ahead of the game with my taxes, but I fear that's what the IRS wants me to think.
I shall let Gracie sing us out. Enjoy your weekend, everybody, and watch out for rogue chickens.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, "Sing As We Go."]