01m35s The smirk seen round the world. (Nothing was broken and no-one was hurt.)
08m21s Blacks and aborigines v. Badwhites. (A skirmish in the Cold Civil War.)
15m59s Transitional Trump. (Waiting for our Salvini.)
23m14s SOTU suspended. (Mail it in, Mr President.)
28m48s The most discredited word. (The Economist gets in a kick at James Watson.)
38m24s Trump wusses out. (Late breaking.)
39m05s Count your blessings. (At least we're not Zimbabwe.)
41m02s The white and the yellow. (A word I never heard before.)
42m38s Signoff. (In which the podcaster airs his Hungarophilia.)
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01—Intro. [Vague strangled sounds] … Oh, sorry. 'Scuse me, I just want to finish practicing my smirk. [More vague strangled sounds] Hey, I think I've got it! Wait, here comes Mrs Derbyshire. Let me try out my smirk on her.
Honey, check this out and tell me what you think. [Vague strangled sounds.]
[She]: What's the matter? Do you have a stomach ache? [Sound of door closing.]
[Me]: Eh, that's what you get for doing your best. How am I supposed to assert my white privilege without a well-developed smirk? Ah, the heck with it.
OK, ladies and gents, Radio Derb is on the air. This is of course your frustratedly genial host John Derbyshire; and this has of course been the week of what I suppose we must call Smirk-gate.
02—The smirk seen round the world. Smirk-gate was one of those annoying stories—annoying to me personally, I mean—that happens on a Friday just too late for Radio Derb. By the following Friday, when I do my podcast, everybody and his brother have passed comment, so there is nothing original left to say.
I could of course pass comment on the commentary. That's a bit precious and wonkish, though; and in any case it has also, like the first-order reporting and mis-reporting, already been done.
So as I come to the mike, Smirk-gate is already dwindling in the rearview mirror. The nation enters a lull in the storm of outrage, until the next story about heartless, arrogant, privileged white men committing crimes of cruel disrespect against soulful brave people from the Designated Victim classes still holding on valiantly to their pride after centuries of oppression and pain.
So I shall keep this short: just summarize what actually happened, with some random diversions into related topics, then try to place it all in the context of the Cold Civil War.
Last Friday afternoon, opponents of abortion came from all over the country to a March for Life in central Washington, D.C.
A word about the name of the march. The word "life" in this context signifies opposition to abortion on humane and/or religious grounds; the opposite word is "choice," which means a favorable attitude to abortion, preferably funded from the public fisc.
These usages are now so well-established it's pointless to register objections, but I shall anyway. For clarity of thought we should use words with the most direct possible association to the real world. "Life" and "choice," as used here, are propaganda words.
"How can you be against life? What, you prefer death?"
"How can you be against choice? You want to stop people exercising free choice with regards to their own bodies?"
Those are the kinds of reactions propaganda words are designed to raise. But this is about abortion, pro or con. There are reasonable arguments on both sides. Making it about "life" and "choice" is just a deliberate muddying of the waters, shifting our attention from reason to feelings.
Nothing wrong with feelings in the right place, but for public debate I prefer reason. I wish last Friday's protestors had called their event the March Against Abortion. "Humankind cannot bear very much reality," said the poet; but if we practice a bit, perhaps over time we'll learn to bear more.
OK; with that off my chest, I'll continue last Friday's story.
Among the anti-abortion protestors was a contingent of teenagers from a Catholic boys' high school in Covington, Kentucky, some of whom were wearing "Make America Great Again" hats.
After the rally and some sightseeing the Covington boys went to the Lincoln Memorial to wait for the bus to take them back to Kentucky. There was already a much smaller group there from a black supremacist cult. The blacks yelled obscene insults at the waiting teenagers, most of whom were white. The teens responded by good-naturedly singing school sports chants.
Both groups stayed in place several yards apart. To the degree this could be called a confrontaion, it was entirely verbal.
At this point another small group showed up. These were American aborigines who'd been having some kind of demo of their own. They had drums that they were beating with sticks.
One aborigine, still beating his drum, crossed the No Man's Land between the black supremacists and the Covington schoolboys. Some students gave way, but one—a 17-year-old named Nick Sandmann wearing a MAGA hat—didn't. He just stood there, looking a bit confused, wearing what I thought was an uncertain but accommodating smile but which social-media Cultural Marxists characterized as a smirk of assumed superiority.
That was it. The bus arrived, the Covington boys went back to Kentucky. Nothing was broken and no-one was hurt.
So … why is this a major news story? Next segment.
03—Blacks and aborigines v. Badwhites. It became a major news story because it could, with some skillful video editing and appropriate rhetoric from the Goodwhite phrasebook, plausibly be presented as a skirmish in the Cold Civil War.
Just to refresh your memory: The Cold Civil War, like the hot one a century and a half ago, is a bitter struggle between two groups of white people who can't stand the sight of each other. Most of the real hot hatred is manifested by the Goodwhites, the side most fired up by moralizing zeal. The Badwhites mainly just want to be left alone with what they're used to, and not to be conscripted as guinea pigs in radical social experiments.
The fundamental Goodwhite belief is that Badwhites take malicious pleasure in persecuting victim groups. The victimhood of these groups, though of course a matter of pain and deprivation, endows them with magical qualities. Most magical of all are blacks; but aborigines and homosexuals are magical, too.
Some other groups are only ambiguously magical. Women can be magical even if they're white, so long as they have been harassed by males, or some shyster trial lawyer can inveigle them into signing an affidavit that they have. This applies even if the males are nonwhite. On the other hand, non-harassed white women can be Badwhites if they are Christian or vote the wrong way—"Beckys," these Badwhite females are called.
In the case of Muslims the ambiguity veers off into contradiction. Being non-Christian, mostly non-European, and frequently nonwhite, Muslims are to some degree magical and can be enlisted in the war against Badwhites. Unfortunately Islam has some blots on its escutcheon.
Historical guilt cuts both ways: white Europeans colonized some Muslim nations, but the Muslim Ottomans colonized white Christian nations like Greece and Hungary. Muslims raided across the Mediterranean for white slaves and across the Arabian Sea for black ones. The Muslim scriptures are hard on women, and radical Muslims throw homosexuals off roofs.
I bet Goodwhite ideologues have a way to square these circles, but you'll have to consult them; I have no interest.
Immigrants are magical if they are nonwhite and are either (a) present in the country illegally, or (b) beneficiaries of some bogus "refugee" program.
Beyond that it gets more complicated, and I confess I don't understand all the anfractuosities. I don't understand why, for example, Mrs Derbyshire is not magic. She's female and nonwhite and an immigrant, but I'm pretty sure she's not magic.
I should really sign up for a study course on this stuff. I think I've got the basics right, though.
Badwhites are never magic. They're like Muggles in the Harry Potter books. They're dull-witted and unattractive—no magic. They have no interesting history—which is to say, no history of being victimized by white men.
They are depraved to varying degrees: the men more depraved than the women, Republicans more than Democrats, Christians more than other faiths, Southerners more than Northerners. These students from Covington were white, male, Christian, Trump supporters from a border state—four and a half layers of depravity!
The aborigine who got in their faces is of course a magic person just by virtue of being aboriginal. He seems otherwise to not be very admirable. He is slippery with the truth and has a record of staging obnoxious confrontations like the one on Friday; but that's all outshone by the dazzle of his victimhood magic.
Goodwhites, like the Union armies in the Hot Civil War, hire in nonwhite auxiliaries to feed the horses and dig field latrines. They don't engage with them much otherwise, for all their magic.
The Goodwhite liberals of New York City, for example, all want a Chinese-speaking nanny for their kids. Have the kids learn Spanish? Why? That's the language of busboys and gardeners. And if the city tries to put more black kids into their kids' schools, they march on the Education Department. Magic is to be admired in the abstract, at a distance.
In this schema, last Friday's confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial was particularly vivid to Goodwhite eyes. On one side, a crowd of Badwhites with depravity four and a half layers deep. On the other side, a magic aborigine—not one any Goodwhite would want in his home, you understand, but possessed of sufficient magic victimhood to excite their rage against the multiply-depraved Badwhites.
This is the United States today. This is the Cold Civil War.
04—Transitional Trump. President Trump last Saturday went on TV to make an offer to Congressional Democrats. The offer was for a deal that, to condense it down to the very basics, offers a little bit of amnesty for a little bit of wall.
Again, close to a week has passed and every possible opinion on this deal has been aired. A fairly common one was that Trump is playing four-dimensional chess. He knew the deal would not be accepted by the Democrats, so the offer of it was a ploy to deflect blame for the ongoing shutdown in federal departments from him to Pelosi and Schumer.
If that was the case, the ploy both worked and didn't work. It worked in that the Democrats did indeed reject the offer, making themselves look even more crazy and intransigent to people who already regarded them as crazy and intransigent.
It also didn't work in that poll numbers continue to show Americans mostly blaming Trump for the government shutdown, with a continuing slight upward trend—that is, more Americans blaming him as time goes on.
Here's what I think is at work there.
If you subtract out people with passionate ideological attachment to one political point of view or another, you have a big mass of thoughtful citizens of various non-passionate persuasions who just want the movers and shakers in Washington, D.C., executive and legislature both, to do the nation's business with competence and efficiency.
The words "competence" and "efficiency" do not leap spontaneously to mind when you read about the latest activities in either Congress or the White House. This is irksome to both Democrats and Republicans—non-passionate ones, I mean.
Fair enough; but why is the President getting most of the blame?
Again, subtract out people who just don't like the guy. You would not be subtracting me. I like Trump well enough. I voted for him, and I'd vote for him again, although somewhat grudgingly, against any of the Democrats so far declared or likely to declare for 2020.
Our—I mean, mine and the other un-subtracteds—our growing impression is that Trump just isn't much good at the job.
We want our President to get Congress to legislate stuff. He needs to work the phones, cajole and persuade, flatter and schmooze and bribe the congresscritters. That's how things get done. Trump isn't much good at that, so not much has gotten done.
And on this critical issue of immigration, he's just ignorant, and doesn't seem inclined to learn. The nation found out in 1986, and we immigration patriots have been preaching ever since, that a package of law-enforcement promises in return for amnesty results in a trickle of law enforcement at best, swamped and swept away by a mighty flood of amnesty.
The desire of our ruling classes for continuing mass immigration, both legal and illegal, is a mighty cosmic force, like the gravitational pull of a black hole. To counter it needs boldness, resolution, and unwavering attention. Trump slacked off for two years when he might have gotten something done.
It's now plain that we shall go into the 2020 elections with no wall. We are in the dead zone, just twenty-one months from those elections. That's plenty of time for obstructionists in Congress and the judiciary to stall on construction of a wall, even without an assist from open-borders weasels in the White House whispering in Trump's receptive ear, even if there were to be some forward movement on last Saturday's offer.
The smart money at this point has to be on Trump's 2016 voters staying home in droves next year from anger and disappointment at his failure to fulfill any of his major campaign promises.
The 2020 presidential election will be won by some bland, acceptable, not-too-crazy Democrat—Tim Kaine, perhaps, or Laura Kelly—and congressional Republicans will sink back happily, with sighs of relief, into their old function of making sure their corporate and financial donors have a steady supply of cheap foreign labor.
Trump is a transitional figure. If there is a Jaime Bolsonaro or a Viktor Orbán or a Matteo Salvini in America's future, he's at least one-and-a-half presidential terms away.
Let's just hope that by that point there is still a United States of America for him to be President of.
05—SOTU suspended. Every cloud has a silver lining, of course. The silver lining of the current dysfunction in Washington, D.C. is, that we shall likely be spared a State of the Union speech.
Longtime listeners will know that loathing of the State of the Union speech has been a regular annual theme of these podcasts. I've been expressing my boredom and disgust with this spectacle for a dozen years at least.
In my world-shaking 2009 bestseller We Are Doomed I described the wretched thing as a, quote, "Stalinesque extravaganza." The subsequent nine occurrences have done nothing to modify my opinion.
Stalinesque extravaganzas are not things that citizens of a commercial republic should be subjected to. As Scarlett O'Hara's mammy would have said, in that wonderful old movie we're all supposed to have forgotten about: "It ain't fittin'. It just ain't fittin'."
Also in We Are Doomed I noted that there is no Constitutional requirement for such a grandiose ceremony at all. May I quote myself, please? Thank you. Self-quote:
The "annual message" (as it was called until 1945) was not in fact a speech at all for most of the republic's history. Washington and John Adams made a speech of it, but Jefferson—correctly, of course—thought this too monarchical. The annual message was thereafter delivered in writing to Congress until Woodrow Wilson reverted to speech mode in 1913. There was partial re-reversion to the written presentation by the more modest presidents of the immediate post-Wilson era (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover), and then occasionally since (Truman's first and last, Eisenhower's last, Carter's last, and Nixon's 4th), but for most of this past three-quarters of a century the President has delivered a speech.
For the President to give a State of the Union speech in the manner we have regrettably gotten used to, to all the congresscritters assembled with other dignitaries in the House chamber, there have to be resolutions passed by both the House and the Senate allowing him to do so.
Crazy-face Nancy Pelosi told the President on Wednesday this week that no such resolution would be placed before the House while the current government shut-down continues.
That doesn't rule out alternative venues. The Senate could presumably vote a resolution of their own and have Trump come and address just them; but it would be a much diminished affair from the grand royal pageant we've come to expect, and that our President I'm sure has been looking forward to.
Other suggestions have been floated. Trump could give the address at the southern border, some have suggested. The one I like best—or I should say, given my anti-Speech position, the suggestion I dislike the least—is for the President to deliver the State of the Union speech from the auditorium at Covington Catholic School in Kentucky.
That I might actually sit through without grumbling; especially if Trump at some point were to fortify his address with a good long full-frontal smirk.
On balance, though, I'm going to be grateful we may be altogether spared a full-dress State of the Union speech.
Dare I hope that when people see how the republic survives without one, our Presidents will return to the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and Calvin Coolidge and just mail the darn thing in?
In fact, scrutinizing Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution, I see no reason why the President shouldn't tweet it in …
06—The most discredited word. I am going to register my vote for the most discredited word in the English language. My vote is for the word "discredited."
I think the word "discredited" is totally discredited. When I am reading something in a general-interest newspaper, magazine, or internet article about the human sciences, when I come to the word "discredited" I stop reading. If it is indeed a newspaper or magazine I'm reading, I throw it across the room, while inside my head a big red neon sign flashes the words THEY'RE LYING! THEY'RE LYING! …
Case in point: last week's issue of The Economist. In the Science and Technology section they had an article about James Watson's recent re-defenstration by Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Quote from that:
Dr Watson's views about race and intelligence seem to stem from his keen interest in The Bell Curve, a book published in 1994 by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, that, among other things, argued African-Americans were less intelligent than white Americans and genetic differences between ethnicities played a role in the difference. Modern genetic research has largely discredited these ideas.
End quote. Modern genetic research has of course done no such thing. The last 25 years of that research has not dispositively either confirmed or refuted the hypothesis that race differences in intelligence have a genetic component; but on balance I think a fair-minded observer would have to say that it's tilted the probabilities somewhat over towards Watson's side of the argument.
Except of course that there is no argument; only pointing and sputtering, and scientists scurrying for cover in terror of having their careers destroyed as Watson's has been; and purportedly serious magazines telling us that some hypothesis or other has been "discredited."
Someone who actually understands scientific method should explain to the Art History majors who run The Economist that a hypothesis can be validated or invalidated. Neither thing has yet happened to the hypothesis of race differences in intelligence being genetic.
You may observe that "discredited" is a near-synonym for "invalidated"; so when a hypothesis has been invalidated you could fairly say it has been discredited. But since, I repeat, that thing has not happened yet to the hypothesis under discussion, it has not been discredited.
If the researches of the past 25 years have discredited anything, they have pretty thoroughly discredited the notion that individual genetic differences have nothing whatever to do with intelligence, personality, or behavior. Race differences still need work—we just don't understand enough at this point—but Watson's hypothesis is an entirely reasonable one.
A bit further down the article we meet one of those scientists scurrying for cover. This is 46-year-old Brit Ewan Birney, a real genomicist of some stature—a member of the Royal Society, who actually studied under James Watson at Cold Spring Harbor in his younger days. Now, well into middle age, he is comfortably ensconced in a senior administrative position at the European Molecular Biology Lab in England.
The Economist managed to grab Dr Birney by the coat-tails just before he scurried to safety in his burrow. They pulled him out and asked for an opinion on the Watson business. Trembling with fear at the very name of Watson, Dr Birney did not disappoint. Quote from The Economist:
Genetics … cannot be the main reason for any observed differences, says Ewan Birney … because self-identification of ethnicity does not easily map onto genetic ancestry. [Inner quote] "African-Americans have a substantial amount of European genetic ancestry—you should in fact call them 'African-European-Americans'," [end inner quote] observes Dr Birney.
End quote. On the first point there, about self-identified race mapping into the genome, I refer you to my piece on Charles Murray that went up at VDARE.com yesterday, January 24th. Sorry, it's a long piece: just Ctrl-F "Stanford."
(And I pause to frown at The Economist using "ethnicity" when they mean "race," which is a different thing, as I have explained very patiently elsewhere.)
On the second point, that black Americans are now so much mixed in with whites that "genetics cannot be the main reason for any observed differences"; even a person ignorant of science is bound to find himself thinking along the following lines, imaginary quote:
There are lots of observed statistical differences between self-identifying American blacks and whites: differences of skin color, duh; also of height, weight, hair texture, earwax texture, cranial capacity, bone structure, hormone levels, age of maturation, disease susceptibility, athleticism, ability to taste phenylthiocarbamide and a thousand other well-documented traits.
So … how come that "substantial amount of European genetic ancestry" hasn't purged out those differences, Dr Birney?
Dr Birney? … Hello, Dr Birney? … Where did he go?
End imaginary quote.
This is the kind of innumerate gibberish that even distinguished and knowledgeable scientists descend to when faced with the prospect of being Watsoned.
I repeat: A hypothesis, like the one James Watson voiced, may be either validated or invalidated. A hypothesis to which neither thing has yet happened cannot be said to have been "discredited."
What can be said to have been discredited is a magazine that substitutes Cultural Marxist talking points for serious scientific commentary.
07—Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items—a very short one, I'm afraid, as I'm up against my time limit.
Imprimis: As I go to tape here on Friday afternoon I am hearing that President Trump has wussed out on the wall-amnesty-shutdown business.
Sad but not surprising. I can't improve on Stefan Molyneux's observation from a few minutes ago, tweet: "Dear President Trump: Here's the thing about appeasement. You don't gain the respect of your enemies. You only lose the love of your friends."
Item: Before you exit the house and run screaming down the street, driven to insensate rage by the stupidity, cowardice, and incompetence on display in Washington, spare a thought for other nations with far worse afflictions. Venezuela comes most readily to mind, but there is also Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has of course been misgoverned 57 different ways since the blacks took over; but the country seems to have made a specialty of monetary mismanagement. You'll recall that they abandoned their national currency altogether ten years ago when the inflation rate reached 500 billion percent. They dumped that currency and adopted the U.S. dollar in its place.
That worked OK until the supply of dollars dried up. The geniuses at the Zimbabwe Treasury reacted by changing electronic records like bank accounts to "zollars," pegged at one zollar to the U.S. dollar, backed by loans and foreign reserves.
Now that backing has dried up and the zollar is taking off, currently at four to the dollar but soon no doubt headed up, up, and away into the stratosphere.
See? Just as your mother told you: There's always someone worse off than yourself.
Item: Finally, a language note. Way back in 2017 I recorded the Chinese term baizuo, literally "white left," used in a mocking way on Chinese blogs to refer to white Western people with fashionably liberal opinions.
Well, a few days ago the Mrs and I went to dinner in the city with some old friends, husband and wife, both Chinese. We were chatting about mutual acquaintances, and the name of a young ABC woman came up—that's "American-Born Chinese"—who we hadn't seen for years, since she was a schoolgirl. Now she's graduated from college and working.
"So what's she like nowadays?" I asked. The wife made a face. "Huangzuo." That means "yellow left." I'd never heard it before, but apparently it's current for Chinese kids who've been turned into Social Justice Warriors by the American college system.
Baizuo, huangzuo, … I'm beginning to lose hope in the rising generation.
08—Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and apologies for running over my time.
For signoff music I'm going to air my Hungarophilia with a brief clip from the 20th-century Hungarian composer Ernő Dohnányi. If the opening bars sound faintly familiar, yes, they are from "On the Top of Old Smokey." This is Dohnányi's American Rhapsody, and he worked some American folk music into it.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: English Sinfonia playing Dohnányi's American Rhapsody.]