00m43s Empire of lies. (Jussie and the media.)
04m42s The other Smollett. (The human vomedy.)
12m57s A skirmish in the Cold Civil War. (It's not really about what it's about.)
18m32s The New York Times doubles down on race denialism. (The embarrassing Ms Harmon.)
26m17s Meeting a black mathematician. (An institution in decay.)
29m55s The Aurora shooting. (Black shooter, nonblack victims.)
31m00s De-platforming John Wayne. (Can't we get rid of California?)
32m46s Erratum: Learning to code. (Not a suggestion, a taunt.)
34m18s Erratum: Israel. (My nits, and The Economist's.)
35m46s Remembering higher math. (I hit the wall.)
38m39s Signoff. (Stephen Foster, culturally appropriated.)
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners, here from your appropriately genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you news and views on topics of the hour.
Let's proceed directly to this week's big story: the Jussie Smollett hate hoax.
02 — Empire of lies. The Jussie Smollett story has finally attained the point of total Narrative Collapse. Wednesday night the Chicago cops charged Mr Smollett with filing a false police report. That's a felony that could carry jail time. Jussie Smollett is out free on ten thousand dollars cash bail.
What. A. Surprise. Among the many, many things illustrated by the Jussie Smollett case is this one: If you want a clear picture of what's happening in our society you should ignore the mainstream news outlets and go to Dissident Right websites — if you can find one that hasn't been de-platformed, de-funded, de-Twittered, de-YouTubed, de-PayPaled, de-Facebooked, and so on.
While mainstream journalists on six- and seven-digit salaries were gasping, swooning, and clutching their pearls, giving unqualified credence to Smollett's story, we deplorable bigots out here on the un-respectable right were calling hoax.
Our own Nicholas Stix — who, by the way, should you get the chance to meet him in one of our clandestine gatherings down in the catacombs, is a first-class journalist who would have been a household name back in the days when mainstream journalism meant something more than just parroting the CultMarx narrative — Nicholas Stix called hoax on January 29th, the very day it was first reported.
Steve Sailer expressed a guarded skepticism the following day, quote from Steve: "This one is so absurd-sounding … that I'm wondering if it might not be true." End quote. As Steve went on to point out, Smollett's tale didn't sound at all absurd to bigfoot media commentators and Democratic Presidential candidates. They swallowed it whole.
In my chosen lifetime mission as Sailer's Bulldog I took a similar line in the February 1st Radio Derb, quote from me: "I'll allow … that it might have happened, probability in the range two to five percent." End quote.
Steve and I were too cautious and Nicholas Stix's journalistic instincts were correct: This was an obvious hoax from the start. Cautious as Steve and I were, though, with our credence down at that two-to-five-percent level, we at least weren't all-in gullible, like the fools who populate our big media outlets and political campaigns. For them it's Narrative, Narrative, Narrative. Facts, probabilities, and precedents count for nothing.
This is our society: an empire of lies.
03 — The other Smollett. As far as my reading on the Jussie Smollett story has gone, I seem to be the only commentator striving to find some connection between Jussie Smollett and his only famous namesake, the 18th-century Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett, who got a mention in that same February 1st Radio Derb.
There are some mildly coincidental connections here, of the kind that would have pleased the late Arthur Koestler. Thus: In the following podcast, February 8th, I noted the passing of British movie actor Albert Finney.
What's the connection? Well, Finney starred in the 1963 movie Tom Jones, which was based on a novel by Henry Fielding, a coeval of Tobias Smollett. And no, "coeval" does not mean a person one has done evil things with; it means a person of the same age.
For bookish young Brits of my generation — I was a freshman college undergraduate when the movie came out — Albert Finney as Tom Jones was a huge hit. It got us all reading the original novel; and then, having sampled mid-18th-century picaresque fiction, we went looking for more, and encountered Tobias Smollett.
I personally didn't get very far along that road. I have a dim memory of reading Roderick Random and thinking it not as good as Fielding. Sir Paul Harvey's Oxford Companion to English Literature, my edition 1937, says that the story of Roderick Random is, quote, "told with infinite vigour and vividness," although Sir Paul later tells us that, quote: "much of the story is repulsive." I remember the vigor and vividness, but I don't recall being repelled.
These vague recollections got me wondering if Tobias Smollett had anything to say that is relevant to the Jussie Smollett case. Having neither the time nor the inclination to read through the novelist's entire oeuvre, I pulled down my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations — the good old 1955 edition, not the crappy recent one.
Poor old Smollett gets only four quotes in the Oxford book, and only one of them is relevant; though I must say, it strikes me as relevant at a pretty high level. This is from Smollett's 1760 novel The Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves. Quotation:
I think for my part one half of the nation is mad — and the other not very sound.
End quote. I find myself thinking that a lot.
The Oxford book having left me dissatisfied I turned to Benham's Book of Quotations, my edition 1924. This gives Smollett much more space: thirty-three quotations. I note the following with some degree of relevance.
That's like "The higher you go, the harder you fall," which in fact does not necessarily apply if you belong to a Protected Class.
Al Sharpton signed on to a hoax every bit as egregious as Smollett's; though to be fair he didn't initiate the hoax. Rev'm Al ended up with his own TV show and an any-time pass to the Obama White House.
Jussie Smollett belongs to two Protected Classes, so there's a fighting chance he'll be Vice President in the Kamala Harris administration.
I'm not sure that the word "brave" can properly be attached to Jussie's stunt, when you consider the really brave things that cops, soldiers, and many ordinary citizens do every day; but it was bold, I guess, if not precisely brave.
There's a possible epitaph for the U.S.A.
Very 18th-century, but no less true for that.
That's very good. "The Demon of Discord, with her sooty wings" — needs, as emcees say, no introduction in today's America.
That phrase "the polite world" could usefully be revived to cover the world of politically-correct mainstream-media commentary and carefully orthodox politicians. The word "comedy" doesn't quite fit, though …
… Except that, on a standard typewriter keyboard, the "v" is right next to the "c"; so as Aldous Huxley noted, a slip of the fingers when typing the word "comedy" gets you "vomedy." Now that fits.
Another possible epitaph.
04 — A skirmish in the Cold Civil War. Just a few random afterthoughts on the Jussie Smollett case.
What's with "Jussie"? The name, I mean. "Jussie"? I never heard of a Jussie before. Fortunately a kind listener looked it up for me. It is of course a diminutive for Justin, which name derives from the Latin adjective iustus, which means "just, equitable, fair."
This listener, who will permit me to identify him only as, quote, "a corporate lawyer hiding from political correctness" — this listener, ruminating away in his safe space there, riffed on that at some length, making a connection with the Latin phrase, which he thinks he may have heard from me, fiat iustitia, ruat caelum — "let justice be done, even if the sky falls." Quote from my listener:
To combine the two as Mr. Smollett contemplates his reckoning (or what should be his reckoning): Fiat iustitia, ruat Iustus.
[I guess my listener's idea there is "let justice be done, even if Jussie falls." Continuing from his email.]
Using the diminutive: Fiat iustitia, ruat Iustulus. Or maybe you prefer the insincere superlative: Fiat iustitia, ruat Iustissimus.
End quote. Hm; I think we have a confusion of nouns, proper nouns, and adjectives there … but I like the spirit of the thing. And I'd forgotten that Latin grammar includes a figure called the Insincere Superlative — very handy, that.
My listener follows up with a joke that I like even more. Joke:
Did you hear that Tawana Brawley and Jussie Smollett are forming a media company? It'll be called Brawley Smollett, or "BS" for short.
I come at the story from my own settled perspective, which I have often aired here on Radio Derb: as a skirmish in the Cold Civil War between two big groups of white people who can't stand the sight of each other, with blacks pulled in as tokens and auxiliaries.
Have you ever shared a beer with some friend or relative who's involved in a marital dispute, at loggerheads with the spouse over something or other? You're listening along sympathetically when there comes the point where he says something like: "Y'know, it wasn't really about what it was about."
That's the way to see these periodic eruptions of outrage. From the Cold Civil War perspective, they are skirmishes between two huge groups of white people who hate each other. The two groups here are, one, the media, academic, political, and corporate establishment, who cannot forget nor forgive the outrage and humiliation they suffered in November 2016; and two, the sixty-three million Americans who inflicted that humiliation on them.
Jussie Smollett? As Bob Dylan used to sing: only a pawn in their game. The Demon of Discord doesn't only have sooty wings; she has sooty pawns, too.
Sorry: My thoughts keep reverting to Tobias Smollett.
What foreign arms could never quell
By civil rage and rancour fell.
Well, there was our latest little episode of civil rage and rancor, the latest skirmish in our Cold Civil War.
As the late Reverend Ian Paisley replied when a politician tried to calm him down in mid-rant by saying: "Come, come, Mr Paisley. Are we not all the children of God?" Paisley: "No, Sir. We are the children of wrath."
05 — The New York Times doubles down on race denialism. It would help lower the temperature of all this civil rage and rancor, or at any rate make black people less useful as pawns, if we could get some widespread acceptance for race realism.
Sub-Saharan Africans, and their descendants in the New World, are a local variety of our species homo sapiens. That they present their own particular statistical profile on heritable characteristics — which includes traits of behavior, intelligence, and personality — is deeply unsurprising. So do dog breeds; and what artificial selection in dogs has generated over a few hundred years, natural selection among humans could certainly accomplish in several hundred thousand years.
That's all familiar stuff to Radio Derb listeners. Is there any chance of race realism taking hold in society at large? Not if the New York Times has anything to say about it.
Currently defending the citadel of race denialism at the Times is one Amy Harmon, bylined as, quote, "a national correspondent … covering the intersection of science and society," end quote.
Ms Harmon recently contributed two pieces for the Times on the shortage of black mathematicians. February 18th she profiled a black mathematician who feels he don't get no respect from his peers. February 20th she expanded to a general theme about how "bigotry," "racial exclusion," "unconscious bias," and so on, keep blacks out of math.
I can speak with some modest authority to this. Touring around colleges to promote one of my math books fifteen years ago I could generally find, at any given college, one member of the math faculty who was a kindred spirit and would speak honestly to me.
I should explain, on the slight chance that there are listeners who don't know it, that American college faculties lean far, far left. I was working for National Review at the time, and was introduced in colleges as a National Review contributor. That was too much for some of the faculty. They thought it outrageous that their campus should be blighted by the presence of someone from a bigoted, fascistic, hate-filled, neo-Nazi outlet like National Review. No, stop laughing; I am not making this up.
As I said, though, there was generally at least one closet conservative in the math department. At the first opportunity he would invite me into his office, carefully close the door, pour me a drink, and unload on the particular variety of far-left campus craziness prevailing at his institution.
To be fair to these poor beleaguered souls, their strongest frustrations were directed not at their colleagues, but at the college administration. As far left as faculty generally are, college administrators are way farther. I heard some grisly stories.
Well, I recall one of these guys — and yes, they were all guys, of course — I recall one of them telling me about his experiences on the hiring committee of the math faculty. The committee was under terrific pressure to hire a black lecturer, but it wasn't easy to find one because of the very tiny numbers of black math Ph.D.s. He said — and I still remember the precise simile he used — he said the colleges "fight like cats" among themselves to get one of those precious blacks.
In her February 20th article Ms Harmon gives the number of black research mathematicians as thirteen nationwide, out of a total eighteen hundred — 0.7 percent. With blacks at thirteen percent of the population, that is indeed a striking under-representaion.
This bigoted racist bias is not just American, it seems. It's world-wide. The math equivalent of a Nobel Prize is the Fields Medal, awarded to just sixty people since it started up in 1936. Not one of those people was black.
Ms Harmon is scientifically illiterate about the causal factors here. She notes for example that there are people — bad people! horrid people! — who posit biological reasons for the disparity, but, quote:
They lack any genetic evidence to explain the gap in average I.Q. scores between white and black Americans that they cite as the basis of their belief.
The answer to that is the one that human-sciences blogger JayMan gives, quote from him: "You don't need to know the name of every worker in the factory to know it produces widgets."
Here's another piece of scientific dumbness from Ms Harmon, quote:
Having a parent with a Ph.D. is helpful to getting one in math, while black children are less than half as likely as white children to live with such a parent.
End quote. Of course, science has no clue — not the faintest hint of a clue! no clue at all! — as to what, exactly, it is that parents pass on to their children. Most likely it's nothing at all. Those zygotes emerge from conception as perfect little blank slates, right? Only Nazis think otherwise.
06 — Meeting a black mathematician. Before leaving this topic, let me record my last encounter with a black mathematician.
This was also while I was working at National Review. In the run-up to the 2012 campaign, when my coeval Herman Cain was in the GOP field, he dropped by to give us some face time, as GOP candidates all did.
As well as having been born the same year as me, Cain has, like me, a Bachelor's degree in math. He's smarter than me, though, and went on to get a master's in Computer Science. Somewhere along there he worked on math problems for the U.S. Navy.
I knew about this when I met him, so we had some math chat. What kind of problems had he worked on? I asked him. "Ballistics," he said; "Missile trajectories and such."
Me: "Lotta differential equations?"
He: "Oh, yeah."
Me, a bit sneakily: "ODEs or PDEs?"
He: "Mostly Os."
If you don't understand that exchange, just take it from me: for ballistics, Cain's answer was the right one. I came away impressed with the guy.
As impressive as that is in a politician, though, differential equations are mathematical grunt work. To be on the math faculty of a good college, you need to be a couple of levels above that. By a well-known property of the tails of distributions, which statisticians keep trying to explain, the proportional differences get bigger really fast out there at the extremes.
Plus being a math professor doesn't pay that well. If you're a black person with a math Ph.D., there are firms on Wall Street that will fight like cats over you just like colleges will, but offering way more money than the academy.
Amy Harmon doesn't know any of this. She doesn't know any of anything much.
Can someone please put the New York Times out of its misery? It used to be a very good newspaper. I remember my first encounters with it, when I arrived on these shores back in 1973. I was impressed. You could spend all day with the Sunday edition, much to your advantage in improvement of your knowledge and understanding.
Now the Times is far gone in decay. Now it is just the propaganda organ of a shallow and false ideology.
Come on, shut the wretched thing down. They shoot horses, don't they?
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Seventeen days after Jussie Smollett staged his little play in Chicago, an employee at a manufacturing company forty miles to the west in Illinois responded to news of his dismissal for discipline issues by shooting five fellow employees dead and wounding one other. When police arrived, he shot and wounded five of them, too, until they managed to shoot him at last.
The shooter, Gary Martin, was black. Four of the five people he killed were white; the fifth was a Hispanic American. I don't know the races of the six wounded.
I do know that if the shooter had been white and the five dead victims black, I'd be hearing about it until the Day of Judgment.
Item: I confess I didn't know until this week that movie actor John Wayne has an airport named after him. John Wayne Airport is in Orange County, California, and to judge from the website it's pretty nice.
It may not be John Wayne Airport for much longer, though. One of the mighty host of people now employed full-time searching through the documents and e-documents of our past for items to take offense at turned up the interview Wayne gave to Playboy magazine in 1971. Sample quote:
I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.
End quote. That was a pretty commonplace opinion 48 years ago. It's not even race-realist: Wayne clearly thought blacks could be and should be educated up to equality.
It's too much for Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, though. He wants the airport renamed.
Right after we've euthanized the New York Times, could we please get started organizing the independence of California?
First erratum: Half a dozen listeners emailed in about the segment in my February 1st podcast advising listeners they not learn to code. That followed the mass layoff of journalists at outlets like BuzzFeed and HuffPo, the layoffs themselves followed by tweeters telling the laid-off journalists they should learn to code.
One of those listeners, edited quote:
The recent use of that meme against CultMarx journalists is a payback for Obama [and] the Left using it as "serious" [mockery quotes around "serious"] advice to coal miners, etc., during the Obama administration. The alt-righters taunting these journalists didn't mean it seriously. They meant it to be mean.
I honestly did not know that. Thanks to all who set me straight. Serious or taunting, though, "learn to code" is still lousy advice, for the reasons I gave.
Item: Another erratum. A listener in Israel picks several nits with my February 15th comments on the article in The Economist about that country. Some of the nits are mine, some The Economist's.
The numbers for Palestinian Arabs, he notes, are gathered by the Palestinians, who have every incentive to inflate them. He seriously doubts, giving cogent reasons, The Economist's figure of 7.2 million Arabs in the region in the year 2021, and adds that whatever the number will be, it will include many non-Muslims with no great affection for their Muslim neighbors.
I will gladly grant all that. But now go look at The Economist's maps of borders and jurisdictions on the West Bank and tell me, if you can, that they show a rational, sustainable division of territory between two different, mutually hostile peoples.
That was my main point, and I stand by it.
Item: Just another point about doing math at the highest levels. Here was my experience. Talking to other people across the years, it seems to be a pretty common one.
I went to a good English university, back in the early 1960s when they were way more selective than they are now. I studied math there for three years — no nonsense about majors and minors, just math 24/7.
About two years in I hit the wall. I mean, there were topics that I just couldn't master — higher Functional Analysis, for example.
It's true that I was not a good student — too easily distracted — but I am sure that even with maximum prolonged concentration, I would not have pulled off a First Class degree. I knew some classmates that did get Firsts and they were really, really smart — grasping the essence of a problem and halfway to a solution while I was still struggling with the grammar.
I eked out a Third Class degree at last, but I've never convinced myself I really deserved even that. My engagement with math was in the nature of an unrequited love affair. I loved math — still do — but it doesn't love me. Knowing I was never going to be a mathematician of any quality, I sensibly went off and did other things.
I remember how supernaturally smart some of my classmates were, and the guys who taught us — one of them a Fields Medal winner.
If you want to tell me — or if Amy Harmon wants to tell me — that some educational intervention, some pre-K program, some adjustment to my childhood environment, some Tiger Mom parenting, some twelve-step program to raise my self-esteem, some nutritional regime, could have made me as smart as those guys — again, no offense, but they were all guys — if you want to tell me that, or Ms Harmon wants to tell me that, I can only respond with utter, jeering, hooting disbelief.
08 — Signoff. That's all I have for you this week, folks. You can't say it's short on brain food. English literature; Latin grammar; higher mathematics; this is a class operation here at Radio Derb.
Well, thank you for listening, and here's a phrase to take away with you. It's my phrase of the week. I got it from the Twitter feed of Melissa Chen, a very smart and attractive young lady from Singapore, tweeting about the Jussie Smollett case. Tweet:
This case did not happen in an ideological vacuum. Toxic progressivism is turning the moral arc away from justice.
End tweet. "Toxic progressivism"! My phrase of the week.
To play us out, with Ms Chen in mind, here's a very nice bit of cultural appropriation. The song is one of Stephen Foster's best-loved; and it's the state song of Florida, though they've had to revise the lyrics to make them CultMarx-compliant.
What's that got to do with Ms Chen? Nothing directly; but I'm going to play it to you here sung in Chinese.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Qinyanzi Group, "故鄉親人"]