John Derbyshire: “Part Of Me Was Cheering Them On”—The Case For “Turbulence”
Print Friendly and PDF

[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through]

I'm going to open with a confession here: watching those protestors rampaging through the halls of Congress on Wednesday afternoon, there was a part of me that was cheering them on.

I hasten to add that it was only a part. My very strong preference is for orderly government, carried on by dignified procedures long tried at settling differences and producing widely-acceptable conclusions.

I have a secondary preference for seeing those solemnities conducted in grand old buildings like the Capitol, in spacious high-ceilinged rooms with lots of polished wooden paneling, decorated with oil paintings in gilt frames and elegant statues of historical worthies, all hushed but for the voices of soberly-dressed adults uttering grammatical sentences in moderate tones.

Yet still, even with those preferences, I confess that, as I watched those protestors clambering over Nancy Pelosi's office furniture, traipsing their muddy boots along the carefully-polished floors, shrieking gleefully, and taking selfies posed in ridiculous costumes by those gilt-frames oil paintings, a part of me was smiling.

The word in my mind: "Turbulence."

Dedicated followers will recall my September 2012 column for TakiMag titled "Losing Our Turbulence." I keyed that column off a remark of George Orwell's back in the 1930s, when England's coalminers were suffering badly during the Depression. After attending large gatherings of miners, Orwell described them as "sheeplike," and concluded that "There is no turbulence left in England."

Orwell's point: when those solemn, dignified processes of orderly government lead large portions of the population to a place where they are hungry, cold, and idle, and see no hope of improvement in their condition, then some turbulence is called for: some public protesting, some shouting and waving of banners, some breaking of Ruling Class windows.

That comes of course with a sheaf of qualifications. Turbulence can veer off into revolution; and revolutions can turn out badly, including for the revolutionaries. Nobody should wish for that.

Also, turbulence draws in a lot of idiots and clowns. I am as far from being a fan of Chuck Schumer as it is possible to be without drifting into homicidal fantasies; but I would rather look at Schumer's smug, sneering face than look at a guy standing in Schumer's senate office wearing a Viking horned hat, face paint, and body tattoos.

Yes: I laughed involuntarily when I first saw the Viking, and perhaps you did too. He's funny. As Ed West just commented, though,

It's also the case that frustrated, unfulfilled men are both the funniest and the most dangerous members of society.

[Why funny men are the most dangerous,, January 8, 2021]

And once thoughtful reflection settled in, my sympathies fled to the multitude of ordinary people protesting outside, the great majority of whom were neither funny nor dangerous.

These people—I know some of them personally—were there to protest peacefully, non-destructively, with moderate, measured turbulence, against a Ruling Class which they believe despises them and has no interest in hearing their grievances; and which has, furthermore, recently rigged a national election in order to thwart their political choice.

They have a case. November's election was an appalling mess. The people who work in the Capitol—the senators and congressmen—have never paid the slightest attention to Badwhite concerns: to the exporting of jobs to cheaper factories abroad, to the mass im-porting of cheap foreign working-class labor through Open Borders and ditto of cheap foreign middle-class labor through extravagant guest-worker programs, to the endless pointless wars maiming and killing young Americans, to the poisoning of our legal and educational systems by crackpot ideologues.

When orderly, rational government leaves half the population disgruntled and mistrustful, it needs work, it needs reform.

If there isn't reform, there will be revolution. That is an eternal political truth.

  • The collapse of trust.

What kind of reform do we need?

First and most important, we need an electoral system we can trust. We sure can't trust the system we have.

Was this election stolen? I don't know, but I personally don't think it probable. If it was rigged against Trump, why did the Republican Party do so well, actually gaining seats in the House, while Trump lagged? It's the same ballot paper. If vote-fixers were changing Trump votes to Biden votes, why didn't they change the House votes from R to D?

If you ask this, people say: "Ah, but the vote-fixers are anti-Trump Republicans!" Uh-huh. It's possible, I guess. I wouldn't put anything past the treacherous crapweasels of institutional Republicanism. This strikes me as a stretch, though.

Whether the election was stolen or not, the authorities sure made it as easy as they could to have people believe it was stolen. The scattering of lawsuits by Trump's people were hastily dismissed or ruled against, with minimal coverage in the media.

And this comes after four years of official lies out of our corrupt security agencies—the FBI, the CIA—about our President having colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election from Mrs. Clinton.

Lies, lies, and lies, pumped up and repeated over and over by our Trump-hating media.

Contrariwise, clear and plain evidence of corruption by Joe Biden's family for their own enrichment, with cash payouts from the Chinese Communist Party, were stifled by the media and high-tech social media. [ Facebook censors The Post to help Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, NY Post Editorial Board, October 14, 2020 ]

Is it any wonder that millions of Americans—make that tens of millions—believe that the nation's entire political system is rigged against Trump, with the eager co-operation of the media?

Allow me to quote from James Bowman's excellent article in the January issue of The New Criterion, to which I directed readers' attention here at the other day:

[A] contempt for legal niceties dates back to the Obama administration and its attempts through the national security apparatus to damage the Trump candidacy. It is also all of a piece with the Democrats' refusal to enforce immigration law or, more recently, laws against riot and affray.

Does anyone doubt that, given such open contempt for the law and their undisguised hatred for the president, the anti-Trumpers would have stolen the election if they could have done so without detection? And does anyone doubt that, with the media and local Democratic-run governments on their side, they could have done so? These are, to me, powerful reasons for regarding Mr. Trump's allegations of fraud worthy, at a minimum, of a thorough investigation.

[Truth or Dare, The New Criterion, January 2021, Links added]

That's what was needed: not scattershot state-level lawsuits, but a single thorough, open, national investigation, well-covered by the media—as well-covered as all those fairy tales about Russian collusion we were fed for four damn years.

It's not too late; such a thing could still be done, even with the election conceded and Biden installed. It could be done—but I fear it won't be.

The other great reform that needs doing: a thorough-going overhaul of our electoral system. It's a mess: millions of us have little faith it's delivering accurate results.

Does any of that violate the Constitution, as SCOTUS ruled last month in regard to the Kansas voter-ID law?

Then amend the damn Constitution. It's not cast in stone: We've amended it 27 times.

Election integrity, confidence in election integrity, is vital to a functioning democracy. If citizens don't trust the election results, our system falls apart. They don't; tens of millions of us don't. That needs fixing. Reform—or revolution.

  • A skirmish in the Cold Civil War.

These disturbances illustrate the overall correctness of my working model of early 21st-century American society: the Cold Civil War—two big groups of white people who can't stand the sight of each other locked in permanent conflict: Goodwhites and Badwhites.

Black Americans are sometimes hired in by Goodwhites as auxiliaries, to mind the horses and dig latrine trenches. But their only participation otherwise is to hang around at the edge of the battlefield, dodging in to rob the corpses as opportunity permits.

This was all plain in the riots of last summer. The point of the spear there, the people burning police stations and pulling down statues, was mainly white—Goodwhite, of course: whites with all the correct opinions, Antifa and BLM supporters.

Then, when disorder rose to the point where you could break into the Target store and loot it with impunity, it was mostly blacks doing that.

This Wednesday it was the turn of Badwhites to make trouble. True to my model, there was hardly a black person in sight. This was a skirmish in the Cold Civil War.

Badwhites took the offensive. Since we Badwhites have no black auxiliaries, and there were no sneakers, bling, or widescreen TVs to be looted, only boring stuff like a Speaker's podium, this was almost entirely a white affair.

The only black American to play any significant role, so far as I could see, was the Capitol Hill cop who shot and killed protestor Ashli Babbitt.

I should say "may have been," not "was": we are not certain of the cop's race as I go to tape here.

This is our country today: this is the Cold Civil War. It's not really an even contest, any more than the actual Civil War was.

Back there in 1861, the Union had a five-to-two advantage in manpower over the Confederacy and massive superiority in factories, railroads, ships, draft animals, … all the material stuff you needed to fight a war.

The South had some assets too, to be sure: the biggest one being that they were fighting defense, on their home ground, with interior lines and a largely supportive population.

What makes today's Cold Civil War an uneven contest is the total Goodwhite domination of politics, commerce, academia, the media, high tech, the churches … all the commanding heights of our national culture. Badwhite opinions can be heard only in fringe sources like, well,

The ruling Goodwhite elites, with their stranglehold on high tech, can easily move to shut down even these scattered small outlets. Under a Biden-Harris administration, they probably will.

Demographically, however, the two sides are more evenly balanced than they were 160 years ago. Donald Trump has not performed very well as a Badwhite champion, yet even on his feeble, disappointing record in office the November election returns broke close to 50-50, half the country voting for him.

There are a lot of us Badwhites out here. With a real champion, one worthy of our trust—someone smart, industrious, politically savvy and rhetorically gifted—we Badwhites could keep and hold the White House for two full Presidential terms: perhaps, inspired by that guy's example, four or six or eight terms.

Goodwhites have been relaxed about the demographics, confident that with continuing mass non-white immigration and intensive indoctrination in schools and colleges, even at the pre-K level, older Badwhites will die off without anyone replacing them at the other end of the demographic chart.

It's not clear the Goodwhites have really thought this through, though. If, for example, you encourage mass illegal immigration of low-skilled workers in order to demoralize and destroy your native Badwhite working class, the new working class you end up with may turn Badwhite on you in a generation or two, as seems to have happened in November with Hispanics in Texas border counties. [Horowitz: Trump’s amazing performance with Hispanics in Texas’ border counties, The, November 4, 2020]

Something similar may happen further up the socioeconomic scale, where middle-class Americans have been pushed out of well-paying jobs in favor of cheaper guest workers from India and elsewhere.

Here there is a double effect. The laid-off workers might have been co-operative Goodwhites if left to prosper. Dispossessed, however, they will turn Badwhite.

And the guest workers will stay and get citizenship, then marry and have kids, who will themselves want good middle-class jobs at decent wages, but will in turn be displaced by cheaper foreigners … It's a Ponzi scheme.

Badwhites have other advantages, too, some of which it's not polite to talk about too much. We are, for example, much better armed than the Goodwhites. Better trained, too: According to my son, who recently served four years in the U.S. Army, the enlisted ranks in combat units are majority Badwhite by a big margin. If push were really to come to shove … well, let's not think about that.

  • The body count.

Wednesday's ructions at the Capitol produced five fatalities. Four of them were Badwhite protestors, the fifth a Capitol Police officer who was hurt somehow—there are no details as at Friday evening—while engaging with protestors on Wednesday. He went back to his office, suffered some kind of collapse, was rushed to hospital, and died there Thursday evening.

That officer was Brian Sicknick, right, 42 years old, originally of New Jersey: ex-military and a Trump supporter—a Badwhite, in other words. [U.S. Capitol Police officer dies after engaging rioters, Washington Post, January 8, 2021].

With no disrespect intended to the memory of Officer Sicknick, on my Cold Civil War model this counts as friendly fire.

Of the other four fatalities, one, 50-year-old Benjamin Phillips of Pennsylvania, died of a stroke. Another, 55-year-old Kevin Greeson of Alabama, suffered a heart attack.

The lesson there, I guess, is that demonstrating violently, or even just energetically, is not a thing middle-aged people should do.

A third of the four protestor fatalities, 34-year-old Roseanne Boyland of Georgia, was trampled to death in the early clashes between protestors and cops. I'm not clear of the details here; but given the numbers on both sides, cops and protestors, this may well have been another friendly-fire fatality.

The fifth death: 35-year-old protestor, Ashli Babbitt of San Diego, shot by a Capitol Hill cop. This was at a barricaded interior door leading to a corridor that goes to the House of Representatives chamber. The door had glass panels in it; one of them was all broken away; Ms. Babbitt was trying to climb through that; a cop stationed in the corridor on the other side shot her.

Ms. Babbitt was unarmed, and the stretch of corridor she was trying to get into had cops in it who could have restrained her—as indeed did the stretch of corridor she was trying to leave.

Ms. Babbitt was not pounding anyone's head on the sidewalk like Trayvon Martin, or trying to flee after scuffling with a cop and stealing the cop's taser like Walter Scott, or trying to wrestle a cop's gun away like Michael Brown, or standing next to her drug-dealer boyfriend when he opened fire on police like Breonna Taylor, or giving an extremely lifelike impression of reaching for a gun like Jacob Blake, or persistently resisting arrest while his lungs were full of fluid from a narcotics overdose, like George Floyd, …

Since Ms. Babbitt's behavior bore no resemblance to any of these, and given the number of cops on the scene, at least some of whom might have been capable of restraining an unarmed, slightly-built woman, it's hard to think of an excuse for her shooting.

She was white, though. And not just white, but Badwhite. The cop who shot her may have been black. From the video it looks likely, but not certain.

If he was black you will hear no more about this in the mass media. If you try to mention it on social media, you will be canceled.

In fact it's been wrong of me even to have mentioned it, and proof of my ineradicable racism. I am sorry! Forgive me, Saint Trayvon and Saint George, for I have sinned. Forgive me, Mother Breonna, for my sin, my most grievous sin …



John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire's writings at can do so here.

Print Friendly and PDF