01m04s — The Cold Civil War heats up. (An outbreak of political violence.)
10m31s — The correlation of forces. (If push comes to shove.)
19m40s — Goliath 1, David 0. (The correlation of power.)
29m10s — The deplorable words. (Our potty-mouth radicals.)
36m24s — Trump's first week. (A mixed bag.)
42m03s — Refugee relationship watch. (A playah works the system.)
48m38s — Erratum: Ferguson, Missouri. (Let's hear it for municipal pride!)
52m33s — Islam gains two new postulants. (It's a great religion for the gals.)
55m54s — Desert Island Discs turns 75. (Strangely addictive.)
58m12s — Saturday Night Live from North Korea. (Worshiping the Dear Leader.)
1h03m56s — Signoff. (Welcome to my year.)
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, from your colorfully genial host John Derbyshire, here to bring you news and views from the passing charivari.
Week One of the Trump era has now passed, and I shall have words to say about that. First, though, some broad and general reflections on the political culture our new President finds himself operating in.
Principal framing paradigm here: the Cold Civil War.
02 — The Cold Civil War heats up. The Cold Civil War — goodwhites versus badwhites, Tutsis versus Hutus — heated up a bit following the inauguration of President Trump last Friday.
(Mind if I just pause here and say "President Trump" a couple of times? I just like saying it. President Trump, President Trump. Thank you.)
I mentioned in last week's podcast the rioters breaking store windows and torching parked cars in Washington, D.C. Friday night. Two hundred and thirty rioters were arrested. Federal prosecutors said on Saturday that most of them will be charged with felony rioting, a charge that comes with a $25,000 fine and up to ten years in jail.
That's certainly encouraging, but I doubt the feds will have the spine to follow through. I predict a lot of wrist slaps. Still, if Jeff Sessions gets confirmed next week, I may be proved wrong. If that happens, you won't hear me grumbling. I think rioters should be shot; if not on the scene, then afterwards, judicially, by citizen firing squads. I am certainly available for firing squad duty if we come to that.
Then, also on Friday night, there was a protest at the University of Washington in Seattle against Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos, who was speaking to a student group there. It got nasty, with anti-Trump demonstrators throwing stuff at the police. Then an anti-Trumpist named Josh Dukes fired pepper spray at the President's supporters.
Things are a bit murky after that. We still, a week after the event, don't have a clear account of what happened. I'm working from Wednesday's report in the Daily Caller, just because it's the latest I can find. There was some sort of tussle between this Josh Dukes guy and a Trump supporter that ended with Mr Dukes being shot in the midsection. He seems to be off the critical list as I go to tape here. The Trump supporter who shot him has claimed self-defense, and police have not arrested him. It's all a bit weird.
There were three further weirdnesses in this story that say something or other about the times we live in. First further weirdness: Mr Dukes is a Wobbly. That is, he is a member of the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, which we have all read about in histories of the old Progressive Era a hundred-odd years ago, but which I, and I presume every other American, thought had long since slipped into oblivion along with the Temperance Movement and Free Silver.
Second further weirdness: The confrontation took place in Red Square, a big open space on the University of Washington Campus. Red Square. Wobblies. Have we slipped into a time warp here? [Clip: The Internationale.] I'm told that this Red Square is so named because the buildings around it are all red brick. Well, maybe. I get a chance here to show off my Russian, anyway. I did a one-year Russian course at college many, many years ago. Random fragments remain stuck in my head. One such is the handy phrase: Извините, где Красная Площадь? That means: "Excuse me, where is Red Square?" Well, that's where it is, at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Third further weirdness: The guy who got shot, the Wobbly, had an anti-swastika tattoo. That's a tattoo of a swastika in a red circle with a diagonal line through it. Early reports said that the shooter was a Social Justice Warrior who, possibly inflamed by the sight of Mr Duke's tattoo, and not noticing that the swastika was crossed out, shot him on suspicion he was a white supremacist.
As I said, this whole thing is really murky. Here I'll just stress the time-warp aspect again. Wobblies … Red Square … swastika … Do you sometimes get the impression that in the public mind, for certain purposes at least, absolutely nothing has happened since 1945?
That little fracas was Friday evening. Friday afternoon Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer was sucker-punched by a demonstrator while talking to an interviewer from Australian TV. The video clip of the sucker punch went round the internet, to much glee from progressive types — Wobblies and such.
Backing off to Thursday, the evening before the Inauguration, here was Alt Right fellow traveller Gavin McInnes heading to the Deploraball. That was a function for Trump supporters, who you'll remember Mrs Clinton called "deplorables," held at the National Press Club in D.C. Gavin was menaced by a Social Justice Warrior on the sidewalk.
There was no sucker punch here, but there were punches. Gavin, a scrappy Scot, landed a couple on the Wobbly, who backed off rather quickly. Let me tell you, coming from a nation that's spent a thousand years trying to tame the Scots, you don't mess with these people, certainly not this close to Burns Night.
Congratulations to Gavin there, and sniveling apologies once again for buggering up the interview at VDARE's Christmas party.
Finally, one more: An art teacher at a high school in Dallas, Texas was in class with her students watching the Inauguration projected somehow on the classroom whiteboard. When Trump appeared, the teacher pulled out a water pistol and fired it at Trump, screeching, "Die!" The teacher has been placed on administrative leave.
This is another story with something peculiar about it. Why were the kids watching the Inauguration in art class? Was this an example of Installation Art, or Performance Art? Did this teacher, in another class, get naked and smear herself with chocolate? In a country where schoolkids get suspended for chewing a pop tart into the shape of a handgun, what is the appropriate disciplinary measure for a teacher toting a water pistol? Et cetera, et cetera. Discuss among yourselves.
Well, well, what do we learn from these incidents, Comrades?
03 — The correlation of forces. The first thing we learn is that the Social Justice Warrior left lives in a fantasy of righteous violence.
They are not actually violent people for the most part. Even when they are, it's a sneaky, cowardly style of violence, like the guy who sucker-punched Richard Spencer and then ran off as fast as he could. Most Social Justice types are middle-class snowflakes completely lacking in any personal experience of violence.
The two main foci of violence in our society are, number one, the organized professional violence of our military — that's what the military is, an instrument of well-organized violence — and two, the chaotic amateur violence of the black ghettos. Chicago is the poster child there, with 762 homicides last year — fifty percent more than Britain. Neither of those impinges at all on the Social Justice crowd. They don't join the military, and their parents made sure they grew up as far away as possible from the black underclass.
They fantasize about being violent, though, and with great relish. The sucker punch on Richard Spencer inspired much merriment among progressives. The New York Times ran a story under the headline: Attack on Alt-Right Leader Has Internet Asking: Is It O.K. to Punch a Nazi?. The consensus among progressives was that yes, it is OK, in fact it's jolly good fun.
As with all progressive propagandizing, there's an element of cheap grace here. I once sat across from a Social Justice Warrior as he told me, very earnestly, that he was strongly opposed to slavery. Wow: big brownie points there, guy. Now, could we talk about something that is actually happening in our world today?
In the same spirit, the New York Times story is decorated with a still from one of the Indiana Jones movies, Jones punching a guy helpfully identified as a Nazi by a swastika armband. Go get those Nazis! Yay! I bet the reporter on that story is against slavery, too. It's cheap grace; or, as we say nowadays, virtue signaling.
And look at that early report from the Seattle Times about the shooting at Milo's event. I smell wishful thinking there. With very little to go on, the reporter so wanted it to be a Social Justice Warrior shooting a white supremacist.
If it had been, progressives would have applauded. Yes, it is OK to shoot a Nazi, defined to mean anyone who dissents from progressive ideology.
The tiny cohort of us who can remember things that happened in between April 1945 and last week will recall the name Omar Thornton. Thornton worked at a beer distributors in Hartford, Connecticut. He was caught stealing from his employers. Being escorted out of the building, he took a handgun from his lunchbox and shot ten of his coworkers, killing eight. That was in 2010.
Thornton was black and all his victims were white. Family members said he'd complained about racial discrimination at work. The mainstream media picked up on this, and it became the focus of interest. I don't recall that any mainstream journalist — they are all progressives, of course — I don't recall that anyone actually said it served the victims right for being racist, but some of the commentary came close.
If you dissent from the progressive Narrative — racist, Nazi, Trump supporter — you pretty much deserve killing, or at least punching. The Social Justice mob won't do it; they're too timid and bourgeois, and don't own guns. They'll cheer on someone who does, though.
To be fair to goodwhites at large, there have been a few monitory voices. Michael Malice had a thoughtful piece at observer.com. Sample quote from him:
We live in an age where "fascist," "Nazi," "racist," "isolationist," and "KKK" are regarded as synonymous. Yet far more southern racists than urban feminists fought Hitler and his legions during World War II. The current claim is that everyone who voted for Donald Trump effectively endorses a white supremacist agenda. Are 63 million Americans deserving of a punch to the face? Perhaps. But how would this play out? Red states are far more heavily armed than the gunless urban centers that form the basis of the anti-Trump coalition.
End quote. That's right. I hope you won't mind if I recycle the Alt Right joke, which most of you have probably heard already, that: My grandfather fought and suffered to defeat the Nazis so that seventy years later I could be called a Nazi for believing all the things my grandfather believed.
And yes; what military strategists call "the correlation of forces" really doesn't look good for the Social Justice Warriors. I am much more pacific and mild-mannered than some Trump voters I know; but even I have several years of part-time military training, and my house contains a shotgun, a rifle, two handguns, and a whole safe full of ammunition.
No, I don't agree with those alarmists who think we're headed for a real, actual new Civil War. Our society is much too fat and soft for that. And yes, I agree: Some of the talk about that on our side is driven by the same kind of violent revenge fantasies that we see — although much, much more abundantly — on the left.
It is indisputably the fact, though, that if — heaven forbid! — our present divisions ever did come to barricades, ambushes, and firefights, the appropriate equipment and training is all on one side.
Did I have a smug smile on my face while uttering that last sentence? I confess I did. It soon faded, though. Why? Next segment.
04 — Goliath 1, David 0. The Social Justice Warriors of the CultMarx left don't just see themselves in imagination as actual warriors committing actual violence against Enemies of the People. That's deluded enough; but even more deludedly, they see themselves as underdogs, speaking up fearlessly against mighty structures of oppressive power.
That is bizarrely unreal. All the main power centers of our society — the schools, the big corporations, the federal bureaucracy, the media, the churches — believe and promote all the things that Social Justice Warriors believe and promote.
Alt Right vlogger Ramzpaul caught the absurdity of this when he mocked the little knot of CultMarx demonstrators outside the 2014 American Renaissance conference. "Do you really imagine you're sticking it to the Man?" he jeered. "You are the Man!"
That's right; and that's why the smile faded from my face so quickly at the end of the previous segment. Yes, there's not much doubt who'd win if push came to shove and the Cold Civil War turned hot. It's not going to, though. For all their fantasizing, the goodwhites know they control everything that matters. They won't jeopardize that control; and we badwhites, even with our guts and guns, have no real leverage against them.
Here at VDARE.com this week we got a wee reminder of that sad fact.
We had been planning for a conference this Spring in Yosemite National Park. We had actually signed a contract with a hotel in the park, and begun advertising the conference on social media.
That alerted key centers of CultMarx power, in this case Media Matters and the Southern Poverty Law Center — organizations that mainstream media outlets all quote with reverence and big corporations all scurry to obey. They cracked the whip, and the hotel canceled our booking.
Writing this up for the website, Lydia Brimelow observed that we live, quote, "in a world where a Christian baker is required by law to bake a cake for a gay wedding," end quote. How can it be, then, that a hotel can refuse to accept a booking from an organization that, actual quote from the hotel's explanation of its action, "has values that are in conflict with our embracement of diversity among our employees and guests."
The answer is, I'm afraid, the correlation of power. Yes, the correlation of forces — guts and guns — favors our side if push comes to shove. It won't, though; and the Tutsis — the goodwhites — will make sure it doesn't, because the present correlation of power massively favors them.
The homosexualist lobbies, with all George Soros's money and all the cultural weight of the media and educational establishments behind them, can crush a Christian bakery like a bug. What, you think the mainstream Christian churches will come to the bakery's aid? You could ask Frank Borzellieri about that.
VDARE.com doesn't have that kind of money; nor is any power center in the U.S.A. going to support us.
Even if we were as rich as the homosexual lobbies, in fact, we'd still be up against Delaware North, the three-billion-dollar corporation that owns the hotel. If we hired a lawyer, they'd hire ten lawyers; if we hired ten lawyers, they'd hire a hundred. Correlation of power.
A couple of sidebar points to all that. Point one: As a freedom-of-association absolutist, I actually favor the right of private businesses to freely decide who they do business with. It seems to me an elementary liberty. I would strike down all anti-discrimination laws, along with everything in the law books that declared some wealthy pressure group or other to be a "protected class." What an evil, poisonous, totalitarian phrase: "protected class"! How on earth did that phrase weasel its way into the jurisprudence of a free people?
That doesn't get the hotel off the hook for breaking a signed contract in the confident expectation that they could out-lawyer the counterparty to the contract, but it's worth saying anyway. Freedom of association — raise high that banner!
Point two: The hotel, in their apologia, spoke of their, quote, "embracement of diversity among our employees and guests, including people of different cultures, lifestyles, creeds, nationalities, races and ages," end quote. Well, I have anecdotal on that.
In the summer of 2004 the Derbyshire family took their vacation in, yes, Yosemite National Park. We didn't stay in that fancy-shmancy hotel; we hired one of the cabins, Number 156 to be precise.
I can't recall visiting the hotel, but we got to know the park and its "employees and guests" pretty well. The employees we encountered came pretty uniformly from what, a hundred years ago, was Austria-Hungary. I recall practicing my very rudimentary Hungarian on a charming young waitress from Transylvania. Like all the rest, she was on an H-2B seasonal-labor visa. Apparently waiting tables and serving drinks in a beautiful national park during August is work that young Americans just won't do.
As for the guests: Well, if it's Hungarian and Serbo-Croat in the dining room, it's Mandarin and Cantonese out on the hiking trails. Every other visitor we met was Chinese. You hear very little Spanish, in spite of the fact that on the way to Yosemite you pass through towns where it seems to be the only language spoken. There was a black couple in one of the souvenir stores; they stick in my mind because they were the only blacks we saw. I don't recall seeing any burkas at all.
So basically, Yosemite is for Ice People. That was one reason I was looking forward to going back for this conference. No flash mobs; no wanton littering; no shriek of Allahu akbar! as the gunfire starts or the suicide belt detonates.
Hey ho. Correlation of power.
05 — The deplorable words. The intrinsic violence of left-liberal Tutsi progressivism expresses itself not only in fantasies about killing badwhite Hutus, but also in filthy language.
Filthy language is verbal violence, a violence substitute. People who've worked in hospital emergency rooms will tell you that head injury cases who have lost all power of coherent speech will just curse endlessly. It's the lowest-level speech function, the reptilian brain stem talking.
I'm not going to utter four-letter words here, but I shan't get through this segment without some reference to them. To avoid having to splice in too many beep sounds, I'm going to fall back on the substitutions I used when writing on this topic some years ago. For the common f-word I shall substitute the word "pop"; for the common d-word that refers to the male organ of generation I shall substitute the word "peg." Try to remember those, please: "pop" for the f-word, "peg" for the d-word. See the economy here? I'm swapping out four-letter words for three-letter words. This is the new Donald Trump economy — nothing wasted.
So as I was saying: Left-liberal goodwhites just love filthy language. You can't help but notice this if you spend any time looking at leftist websites. They can't complete a sentence without a four-letter word. This is true even of professionals and academics.
I have a short file of CultMarx websites I check on now and again, just to see what the enemy's up to in various spheres. For science issues, for example, I go to the long-running blog of P.Z. Myers, who is a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota Morris, and a rabid, foam-flecked Cultural Marxist. The last time I looked he was commenting on the Senate committee hearings for Jeff Sessions. Myers referred to Sessions as, quote, with substitution, "that fascist popwit." That's how liberal college professors speak when they're talking about badwhites.
It was the same following the inauguration last week. Notable here was billionaire pop singer Madonna, who addressed herself to badwhites thus, quote: "Pop you! Pop you!" She then turned from merely verbal violence to briefly open up a window for us into her fantasy life, quote: "I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House," end quote. She then sang two of her songs for the crowd, changing a line in one of them to, quote: "Donald Trump — suck a peg," end quote.
This was at the Women's March on Washington, the day after the Inauguration. The best description of that event came from one of Steve's commenters, quote:
It turned out to be a bunch of well-fed white women wearing $150 running shoes and holding $500 cell phones, with more life options than they know what to do with.
Practically speaking, there are no more rights left to give women. So when they find out that all jobs frankly kind of suck, everybody forms hierarchies, everybody has to compete, and successful men don't enjoy their company, what then? Answer: Find a lightning rod for all your inchoate rage about your sucky life and go on a stupid, pointless march.
The tone of the Women's March was, to put it bluntly, gynecological. It wasn't so much the reptilian brain stem on display here as the pelvic area.
The signature item of headgear for the march was something called a "pussyhat." I read about this before I saw any pictures, so I'm afraid I misapprehended the term. I thought the pussyhat would be along the lines of what in the military is called a garrison cap. If you go to Google Images and put in the search term "garrison cap," you'll get the idea. So when I did see a picture, I was baffled. It didn't look anything like.
The pussyhat is in fact just a knitted cap with two little ears sticking up, like a cat's. So the "pussy" component here has its non-salacious meaning, as in "pussycat."
The double-entendre was perfectly deliberate, though. Lefties love this kind of thing. Remember when the Tea Party came up, and progressives tagged it with the term for a strange practice that homosexual men apparently engage in with each other? They thought that was so witty. CultMarx types were still guffawing over it years later — probably still are.
That's the leftist mentality. Mix a strong sublimated violence-obsession with the sexual humor of sniggering adolescents, and you have the leftist mentality right there.
Wait a minute, though: I just used the verb "to snigger." Is that a microaggression? Oh my God …
06 — Trump's first week. All that is of course very regrettable. We have a new sheriff in town, though. Donald Trump has been on the job for a week. May we not reasonably hope he will roll back the tide of Cultural Marxism?
We surely may; but I am temperamentally wary of permitting myself too much hope. I recall the late great Margaret Thatcher talking about what she called the Ratchet Effect: When the left is in power, socialism advances; when the right is in power, the advance stops for a while. You just can't reverse it.
Trump's first week was a mixed bag. On the immigration issue, which is what matters most for the future of our country, it looks as though we shall get "extreme vetting" and a big reduction in settlement of so-called refugees — most of them of course bogus, as has been amply documented by the two Anns: Ann Corcoran over at Refugee Resettlement Watch, and the indispensable Ann Coulter.
Well, it's something. It's far short of my immigration policy, which, just to remind you is:
We have all the people we need. With the coming Robocalypse, in fact, we probably have more than we need. Visas for permanent settlement in the U.S.A. should therefore be issued only to the following categories of applicants, after of course suitable vetting for health problems and criminal connections:
- Accredited, accomplished major talents in socially useful fields: medicine, engineering, and one or two others.
- Solzhenitsyn-level dissidents from totalitarian states.
- Spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.
You may say: Hey, Derb. Under those conditions, you wouldn't be here. That's correct. However, while that would certainly have been to my personal disadvantage, I can't see why Americans should care.
Back to President Trump, President Trump, President Trump, … sorry: I really like saying it. The big disappointment on immigration was his failure to halt DACA on Day One, as he had promised to do. As I speak here there are still, as best I can discover, work permits being handed out to illegal aliens.
I don't know the reason for this. The President's apologists tell me that he is treading carefully until his cabinet — especially his Attorney General — is properly in place.
I hope that's right, and at this point I'm willing to give President Trump the benefit of all doubts.
I am, though, still listening to Professor LaFleur's lectures on Confucius. With all proper respect, I draw the attention of President Trump, or whichever of his senior advisers is assigned to monitor Radio Derb for insight and advice, I draw their attention to Book 12, Chapter 7 of the Analects, as translated by James Legge. The person Tsze-kung mentioned here was one of Confucius' disciples.
Analects 12.vii, quote:
子貢問政。 子曰足食、足兵、足信之矣。 子貢曰、必不得已而去、於斯三者何先。 曰、去兵。 子貢曰、必不得已而去、於斯二者何先。 曰、去食、自古皆有死、民無信不立。
Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, "The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler."
Tsze-kung said, "If it cannot be helped, and one of these must be dispensed with, which of the three should be forgone first?"
"The military equipment," said the Master.
Tsze-kung again asked, "If it cannot be helped, and one of the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of them should be forgone?"
The Master answered, "Part with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of all men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state."
07 — Refugee relationship watch. I mentioned the issue of so-called refugees in that last segment. Ever apprehensive that someone out there in listener-land might think I am being unnecessarily hard-hearted when I insert that qualifier "so-called," I feel the need to offer some justification. Here's this week's poster guy for "so-called": Mohamed Bajjar.
Who he? Well, he's a Syrian refugee, 27 years old, who worked as a translator for British volunteers in the illegal alien camp at Calais, near the English Channel. The so-called "Jungle," where thousands of so-called "refugees" were camped out waiting to be smuggled into Britain, was bulldozed by the French authorities last October, but there are still many illegals in the area, and some new makeshift camps have sprung up.
So Syrian refugee Mohamed Bajjar was helping the British volunteers, including those who work for an outfit named Care4Calais, which gives food, clothing, and medical care to the illegals.
Care4Calais was launched in November 2015 by an upper-middle-class British lady, Clare Moseley, 46 years old. Can you see where this is going?
Yep: before very long, Mohamed Bajjar was having the leg over with Mrs Moseley. That's right, she's a Mrs; her husband is a wealthy corporate tax accountant living in northwest England.
Now, in the do-gooding line of work, sex affairs between the do-gooders and the do-goodees are frowned on. I'd assume Mrs Moseley's husband was frowning more than most; although looking at her pictures, I might be mistaken on that. Anyway, there was a big fuss.
As a result of the fuss, people started looking into Mohamed Bajjar's background. Guess what: he was not Syrian, and also not a refugee. He comes from Tunisia, where his family owns a souk — that's a sort of Third World mini-mall — in a prosperous resort city.
And guess what else: Mohamed is already married to a different British lady, 54-year-old Carol Hutchings. You keeping up with the ages here? Mrs Hutchings — or I guess I should say "Mrs Hutchings-Bajjar" — 54; Mrs Moseley, 46; Mr Bajjar, 27.
Mohamed met Mrs Hutchings-Bajjar while she was on vacation in Tunisia seven years ago. They married in that country in 2014. Mrs Hutchings-Bajjar returned to Britain. Mohamed began applying for a visa. He didn't seem to be in a hurry, though; and he was all the time pestering Mrs Hutchings-Bajjar to send him money. She began to have doubts. Ah: When lovely woman stoops to folly / And finds too late that men betray.
Apparently giving up on Mrs Hutchings-Bajjar, Mohamed left Tunisia and got himself into Germany, claiming to be a Syrian refugee. Quote from Mrs Hutchings-Bajjar:
He claimed asylum there by saying he was Syrian … but he had a job at a Coca-Cola factory in Poland and he flitted back to Germany each month so he could get his asylum-seeker's allowance.
End quote. The latest I have is that Mrs Moseley, too, has gotten wise to Mohamed — he'd been pestering her for money, too. They broke up earlier this month. French police actually arrested Mohamed earlier this month on suspicion of stealing Mrs Moseley's cellphone but he was released without charge, and is now living above a clothes shop in Calais.
There's a story for our times. Oh, I forgot to mention: Before the Jungle camp was dismantled in October, it came out that Mrs Moseley was not alone in developing intimate bonds with one of the illegals — I beg your pardon, "refugees." Quote from the Daily Mail:
Several women volunteers had embarked on relationships within the camp and a row broke out over whether those involved were "sexually exploiting" the refugees.
I venture to suggest there is a link here, admittedly a tenous and speculative one, between this story and the prominence of women like Madonna and last Saturday's million pussyhatted marchers in the anti-Trump movement. See if you can figure it out.
08 — Erratum: Ferguson, Missouri. Before proceeding to our closing miscellany, I wish to record an erratum.
I think municipal pride ranks among the lesser human emotions, but there's nothing absurd or trivial about it. Pride in our community — our own little city, town, or suburb — is in fact a citizenly virtue, and I applaud it.
Well, last week, commenting on President Trump's inauguration address, I wondered whether talk of decaying inner cities might perhaps be behind the times. Quote: "Those inner cities are being gentrified and spruced up by yuppies, while their populations are shunted out to Section Eight housing in suburbs like Ferguson, Missouri," end quote.
That stirred a protest from a listener who actually knows the place. Here's what he wrote, quote:
Please don't play any further part in the national media propaganda machine that presents Ferguson, Missouri as some sort of Parisienne banlieu, Selma circa 1965, or today's Chicago South Side. While troubled like any other lower-middle to middle class suburb, Ferguson is four parts lovely to the one part ugly. You'd be really surprised to see how normal, and nice that Ferguson really is despite the worst intentions of the media.
I was one of the St. Louis City police officers called in to quell … no, rather witness the unrest. I'd guess that the vast majority of arsonists and looters, opportunists all, came from the city of St. Louis. Ferguson was victimized first by riotous invaders, then by our national media. Please don't play a part in its further victimization.
End quote. Now I say you'd have to have a heart of stone to not respond to an appeal like that. I consider myself justly reproved.
I would just add one slight editing correction. My correspondent cites Selma 1965 as an example of a horrible slum. At the risk of getting indignant letters from proud inhabitants of Selma, I direct his attention to Paul Kersey's article from two years ago on the condition of Selma today. Selma nowadays, says Paul, is a ruined city, forty percent of whose residents live in poverty.
I haven't been to Selma so I only have Paul Kersey's account to go on. If he's right, though, you can drop the date 1965 from that comparison. Selma today sounds just about as bad as a town can be.
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: One possible option for American women who are as dissatisfied with their lot as last weekend's pussyhatted marchers would be to convert to Islam. Life for women under Sharia law is so much more enriching and fulfilling than is the case in the patriarchal oppression of Judeo-Christian society.
Two postulants have taken up that option this week, or at least indicated that they are willing to.
First up: Lindsay Lohan, who at this point I think everyone just feels sorry for. Ms Lohan deleted all her photos on Instagram last weekend, leaving only her profile picture and the greeting "Alaikum salam," which is Arabic for "And unto you peace."
Possibly Ms Lohan has been influenced by her recent residence in Turkey, where she has been working as a volunteer in refugee camps.
Er, wait a minute … as a volunteer in refugee camps?
Mr Bajjar, Mr Mohamed Bajjar to the white courtesy phone, please.
And then there is Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State. Wednesday this week Ms Albright tweeted that she would register herself a Muslim as an act of defiance against President Donald Trump's immigration plans. Tweet:
I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian & found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in #solidarity
End tweet. In a later tweet Ms Albright posted a picture of the Statue of Liberty with the words of Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus" and the caption, tweet: "There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty," end tweet.
Whether or not there is any fine print on the Statue of Liberty I cannot discover; but there is no Emma Lazarus poem on the statue. The poem is in the museum located inside the pedestal under the statue. The statue itself was a gift from the people of France to commemorate the centenary of our Declaration of Independence, nothing to do with immigration.
I don't think you should be allowed to serve as Secretary of State if you don't know elementary facts like that about our national symbols.
Item: [Clip: Desert Island Discs intro music.] That is the intro music for BBC radio's Desert Island Discs, one of the longest-running radio programs ever. The program celebrates its 75th anniversary this Sunday. That's not 75 shows, that's 75 years. The number of shows is somewhere north of three thousand.
The format of the show is simple. Some celebrity is invited to imagine being marooned on a desert island with a wind-up gramophone, a Bible, and the works of Shakespeare. The castaway gets to choose eight musical selections, one extra book, and a luxury item.
It doesn't sound very promising described like that, but the program has an addictive charm. For older Brits it also has a powerful nostalgic pull. It's three years older than I am, and we didn't have TV until I was thirteen. I grew up listening to the radio, and Desert Island Discs was a favorite.
Inevitably there are people who will tell you that the program isn't what it once was. Too many low-rank celebrities chosen as guests; too much tacky music chosen.
Eh, maybe. With the state of popular culture today, I'm just glad to know that a tiny bit of 1942, a tiny bit of the auditory furniture of my own childhood, is still with us. Happy 75th, Desert Island Discs!
Item: Mind you, in pop culture it is not the case that continuity and staying power are virtues all by themselves. Case in point: Saturday Night Live, now in its 42nd year. That makes it a youngster by Desert Island Discs standards. In the opinion of your humble host here, though, and of a great many people known to me, the damn fool thing should have been put out of its misery long ago.
For reasons I have given up trying to understand, Mrs Derbyshire likes SNL. I therefore perforce catch some of it on Saturday evenings when I've been too busy or disorganized to get myself to bed before 11:30.
So it was last Saturday, the day after President Trump's inauguration. I worked late on a project in the adjacent room, so I heard most of the whole stupid thing.
It was wall-to-wall anti-Trump Social Justice Warrior flapdoodle, hosted by some Indian chap — dot, not feather — who claimed to be in trembling terror that the Trump administration would deport him. I really hope they do.
The low point was a maudlin tribute to Barack Obama: two of the show's female principals singing the old Lulu hit "To Sir With Love" as images of Obama floated across the screen.
To judge from the hoots of laughter we'd been getting at every anti-Trump reference in the show, I assume the recording studio was packed with hipster progressive types; so that by the time these performers were ten bars into the Lulu song, there must not have been a dry eye in the house.
The problem in my house was me trying to hold my dinner down in my stomach where it belonged.
The comment I liked best on that performance came from a blogger whose name I've forgotten, re-tweeted by Ann Coulter. In North Korea, the blogger pointed out, weepy tributes to the Dear Leader are at least coerced. The SNL crew were performing this dreck voluntarily.
I can't improve on that. For God's sake, NBC, replace this show with something entertaining. The North Korean People's Army Song and Dance Troupe would be an improvement.
10 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and very best wishes to you all for Chinese New Year.
The year we are embarking upon this weekend is given in the newspapers as the Year of the Rooster. This will be my year, as it happens — the year in the twelve-year cycle in which I was born. I am a rooster.
However, I learned my traditional Chinese chronology from old British textbooks, where the Year of the Rooster was actually listed as the Year of the Cock. I'm going to stick with that. Mrs Derbyshire for some reason insists on "Year of the Chicken," I can't fathom why.
Following the unfortunately off-color tone of some of the references in this week's Radio Derb, including that one, there is only one possible choice for sign-off music. Here are Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Flanders & Swann, "Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers."]