02m21s Joe Biden's Tulsa speech. (The wickedness and malice of white people.)
07m19s ChiComs rewrite history. (Nothing happened in 1989!)
13m17s Mayor gives wife a billion dollars. (New York's mayoral follies.)
22m27s The roots of wokeness. (An opening to arbitrary power.)
39m03s Princeton lowers dumps standards. (Where would Enoch Powell go?)
41m12s Dangerous criminal confesses. (He came, took a selfie, and left.)
42m21s Sculpture's John Cage. (The ultimate in minimalism.)
44m03s Signoff. (With Beethoven.)
Yes, it's been a week of commemorations. The big one was of course Monday, Memorial Day, when we commemorate those who suffered and died in defense of our country. May they rest in peace and glory!
Monday and Tuesday also marked the centenary of the 1921 race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our president actually went to Tulsa on Tuesday to give one of his embarrassing, incoherent speeches.
Thursday and Friday saw the 32nd anniversary of the Chinese reform movement's crushing in Peking's Tiananmen Square.
And then, my own birthday on Thursday. A proper modesty should restrain me from including that with those other much larger events. However, I'm putting this podcast together on Friday, the day after. We had a family celebration for my birthday yesterday evening, and I am not altogether recovered yet; so please forgive any slurring or wandering of speech in what follows, any Biden moments.
Of those four events commemorated this week, two have something in common—creepily, perhaps ominously in common. I'll open my commentary with those two.
As best I can gather, the triggering event was the arrest of a young black man, a shoe-shine boy named Rowland, on suspicion of having assaulted a young white girl in an elevator she was operating. Whether he did commit assault or not is unclear; the girl didn't press charges. The young man was taken in custody anyway, and rumors went round the town that he was going to be lynched.
That got both whites and blacks stirred up: whites congregated at the local courthouse, presumably to either see a lynching or participate in one, and armed blacks showed up to defend their guy. I'm not clear how well-armed the whites were.
A fight ensued, and the blacks got much the better of it. Twelve people were left dead, ten whites and two blacks. That infuriated whites. They generated a mob that burned the black part of town, until the state National Guard came in next morning, June 1st.
The butcher's bill is much disputed. Solidly confirmed fatalities were 39, 26 black and 13 white. That means one in three of those confirmed fatalities was white; and since the whole event started with a fight that left ten dead whites and only two dead blacks, the word "massacre" is totally inappropriate; it was a race riot. I note in passing that one of the cops who took Rowland into custody was black.
Our correspondent Kenn Gividen here at VDARE.com has put the Tulsa riot in the context of a low-level race war going on in the U.S.A from 1917 to 1923, with lethal race riots in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and elsewhere. Hundreds of lives were lost, both black and white. The trigger in nearly every case, says Gividen, was black-on-white crime.
You would never know any of that from Joe Biden's Tuesday speech. Sample quote, concerning the Tulsa fatalities, quote: "the likely number is much more than the multiple of hundreds. Untold bodies dumped into mass graves …" End quote. The grammar there is Joe's, not mine.
That's nonsense, of course. The whole speech was nonsense—a long recitation of the wickedness and malice of white people, and the terrible burdens endured by blacks that have held them back from accumulating wealth. His administration, said Joe, is going to correct all those injustices and bring black wealth up to the level of white wealth. Sure, Joe, sure.
For goodness sake! There are plenty of blacks far wealthier than me, a few maybe even wealthier than Joe Biden. What keeps blacks-in-the-generality from equality of wealth with whites-in-the-generality is their racial characteristics, especially low average intelligence and high average criminality.
My main reaction, reading through Biden's speech, was to wonder how much longer whites will tolerate all these libels, insults, and lies, and what will happen when we stop tolerating them.
Thursday-Friday this week marked the 32nd anniversary of the killings in Peking's Tiananmen Square, when the ChiComs crushed the reform movement that had roiled China for several weeks prior. The death toll there is unknown and unknowable; plausible estimates are in the high hundreds.
It's been largely forgotten now how widespread was the desire for reform in China back then. It wasn't just a few young malcontents that were fed up with corruption and lack of freedom; there was institutional support for reform in the party, and even in the army.
Zhào Zĭyáng, who was the General Secretary of the Communist Party, took the side of the reformers. Xú Qínxiān, the general commanding the 38th Group Army that defended Peking, when he was ordered to mobilize against the protestors, refused.
They both suffered for their integrity. Zhào spent the rest of his life under house arrest in Peking. He died in 2005. General Xú got five years in jail and a permanent ban from Peking. He died in January this year, unrepentant. Quote from him: "I'd rather lose my head than be a criminal in the eyes of history." End quote.
Most to the point, they have both been thoroughly unpersoned—or, as we say nowadays, canceled. Among educated Chinese people under the age of thirty, I doubt if one in five recognizes the name Zhào Zĭyáng; for General Xú Qínxiān, it would be more like one in a hundred.
And the crushing of the reform movement on June 3rd-4th 1989 has been completely memory-holed. Young Chinese people, even quite well-educated ones, know nothing about it.
Chris Chappell over at the China Uncensored vlog on YouTube had some fun with this on Wednesday.
You need to know that the Chinese Communist Party is coming up to a huge celebration on July 1st to commemorate its founding a hundred years ago. There have been all sorts of media events in the run-up to July 1st. Chris describes one of them.
[Clip: Here's a poster series of key events during the party's 100-year path to glory. They're doing one poster for each year since 1921.
Like: In 1987 the poster is about the 13th National Congress. In 1988 it's about the establishment of the Hainan Special Economic Zone. And in 1990, it's about the opening of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
Well, that's odd. The posters go from 1988 straight to 1990; there's no poster for 1989. I guess nothing important happened in China in 1989.]
Now that's real, professional-level rewriting of history. Poor old Joe Biden just looks like a bumbling amateur by comparison.
Can't we do better? After all, the Biden administration, just like the ChiComs, draws inspiration from Marxism. At any rate the flying of Black Lives Matter banners by our embassies abroad, as reported by Radio Derb last week, was fully approved, perhaps actually ordered by Biden's State Department; and the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, as I also reported last week, describes herself as a Marxist.
I'd be highly surprised if there were not other self-described Marxists in, or actively adjacent to, the Biden administration.
If rewriting history is, at it seems to be, a Marxist thing, how come China's Marxists are so much better at it than our Marxists? If the ChiComs can so thoroughly memory-hole the Chinese people killed by their own army in June of 1989, why can't Biden's people memory-hole those white people killed by blacks in the Tulsa riot 68 years earlier?
My fellow Americans, we face a memory-hole gap …
There's nothing much to hope for here, but there are a few opportunities for wan smiles and eye-rolls.
The current mayor, communist Bill de Blasio, is by common agreement the worst mayor New York City has ever had; but New Yorkers have no-one but themselves to blame for the city having been afflicted with him.
He was elected in 2013 on a turnout of thirteen percent; less than one voter in seven bothered to show up at the polls. Three quarters of them voted for de Blasio. After four years of doing nothing much, he was re-elected in 2017, this time with more voter interest: eighteen percent showed up to vote. De Blasio got two-thirds of them.
New York City, in short, represents the case for compulsory voting, as they have in Australia, with stiff fines for failing to cast a ballot.
The degree to which the city has been mis-governed under de Blasio is hard to overstate. Everyone's favorite instance of it is ThriveNYC. Let me explain about that.
De Blasio, who is white, is married to a black lady named Chirlane McCray, whom Wikipedia bills as a "writer, editor, and activist." She has published poetry, it further tells us. Would you like to hear one of her poems? Here you go.
Some background here. Back in 2016 the New York City Council passed a bill to provide free tampons to public-school bathrooms, homeless shelters, jails, and prisons. Ms McCray celebrated with a poem. It began thus.
Consider the tampon:
So essential, so taboo.
For decades we've been silent
Because they make some men go "Ew!"
But finally we are talking:
We say "Enough is enough."
Menstruation is part of life,
If you can't handle it, then tough.
Our latest big win —
And this really is cool —
Is bringing free tampons
To twenty-five schools …
Did you like that? … Hello? Are you still there? …
Well, Bill de Blasio, once elected mayor, felt a pressing need to find something for his wife to do, perhaps so she wouldn't have time to write poetry. He approved this scheme called ThriveNYC to use, quote from the mission statement, quote:
a public health approach to begin changing the way people think about mental health, and the way City government and its many partners provide care.
ThriveNYC was budgeted at a billion dollars—"billion" with a "b"—over five years. That billion was duly spent.
If you take a stroll around New York City today, five years and a billion dollars later, you'll find yourself wondering what that billion was spent on. You won't traverse more than a couple of city blocks without encountering some obviously deranged person sprawled on the sidewalk talking to his demons. If you're unlucky, he'll spring to his feet as you pass and sucker-punch you.
There's no refuge underground, either. The city subways are infested with lunatics, mostly black, whose idea of an afternoon's fun is to sneak up behind smaller people, Asian for preference, and shove them onto the subway tracks.
You'd think that with a billion dollars to spend, Ms McCray might have solved this problem. Just work the numbers. How many lunatics can there be on the New York streets and subway platforms? A thousand? Maybe ten thousand? Let's go with ten thousand.
Ten thousand into a billion goes a hundred thousand. So you could spend a hundred thousand dollars per lunatic: plenty enough to fly them all first class to California where, to judge by what I read about the place, lunacy is the norm, and they won't be noticed.
How did Ms McCray actually spend her billion dollars? Nobody knows. ThriveNYC kept basically no accounts, and nobody in the mental-health business can point to anything it did. But hey, she's the mayor's wife; and she's black, so she can't have done anything wrong.
That's how bad it is. Will it get better after this November's election?
It might. The Democratic Party has so far fielded eight candidates, but it's a lackluster crew. The New York Post, least woke of the city's newspapers, has endorsed Eric Adams, a former city cop and state senator. He's black and, duh, a Democrat, so with a lot of progressive ideas: free college, favors to public-sector so-called unions, and so on. He doesn't seem to hate white people much, though, and he presumably knows what police work involves.
The only Republican candidate to register with me is Curtis Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels back in the 1970s, a couple of crime waves ago. The Angels, wearing trademark red berets, patrolled the city subway to deter crime and carry out citizens' arrests for minor offenses.
Sliwa's something of a showman and the effectiveness of the Angels has been doubted; but it was a ballsy thing to do, and he's been a popular, or at any rate not un-popular, feature of city life ever since, with a local radio show and so on. Nobody seems to think he's up to running the city, though, so interest is focused on the Democrats.
So, not much here to get excited about for the small minority of New Yorkers who bother to vote. The main thing to look forward to is that next January, when a new mayor takes office, the city will be rid of Comrade de Blasio and Emily Dickinson McCray.
With any luck they'll go away, far away. Perhaps they'll go back to Cuba, where they honeymooned. Whatever: they'll be gone, and what replaces them could hardly be worse.
05—The roots of wokeness. Earlier this year I read Christopher Caldwell's book The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties. It's a very striking book.
Caldwell argues that the reforms of the 1960s, which seemed necessary and humane at the time to correct obvious injustices, had serious negative consequences, leading eventually to many of the issues that so divide and anger us today.
Here is an example. Caldwell has just been discussing the Supreme Court case Griggs v. Duke Power Co., which was decided a little more than fifty years ago—March 8th 1971. (There's an anniversary I missed.)
A core issue in the case, though not the only one, was: Could that North Carolina power plant give aptitude tests for purposes of hiring and promotion, given that blacks failed these tests at much higher rates than whites? The Supremes, with Chief Justice Burger writing the majority opinion, ruled unanimously that they couldn't.
Christopher Caldwell, quote:
The Griggs decision made clear that the government was now authorized to act against racism even if there was no evidence of any racist intent. This was an opening to arbitrary power. And once arbitrary power is conferred, it matters little what it was conferred for.
The Griggs case gets a mention in a powerful and brilliant essay by political scientist Richard Hanania, posted at his blog on Substack, June 1st. Here's Hanania's mention, quote:
An important watershed was the decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971), in which the Supreme Court ruled that intelligence tests, because they were not shown to be directly related to job performance, could not be used in hiring since blacks scored lower on them, and it did not matter whether there was any intent to discriminate. People act as if "standardized tests are racist if they show disparities" is some kind of new idea, but it's basically been the law in the United States for 50 years, albeit inconsistently enforced.
Hanania's essay is my Opinion Column of the Month, if not the year. He traces what we now call "wokeness" back to the good intentions and resulting laws of the 1960s, most obviously the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
That act was meant to combat intentional discrimination; but as the Griggs decision showed, the goalposts were easily shifted to cover any kind of unequal outcome, what today's wokesters call "inequity." Intent need not necessarily have anything to do with it.
That, as Christopher Caldwell wrote, was "an opening to arbitrary power." The genius of Hanania's essay is that it tracks the progress of that arbitrary power through first the courts, then government bureaucracies, all the way into the private sector.
The target of the enforcers here—of the judges, the regulatory bureaucrats, and the law firms hovering over private companies looking for noncompliance—the target is disparate impact: evidence that some one group, or a representative member of it, is at a disadvantage relative to another in some situation.
No proof of intent is required, only "inequity," unequal outcomes. Nor is the scope of the inequity limited to race. It was from the beginning understood to apply also to sex, so that women were a Designated Victim Group along with blacks. Then sexual orientation was folded in; and more recently, transsexualism.
As the judges, the bureaucrats, and the law firms gathered more and more of that "arbitrary power" Caldwell warned against, the concept of a "hostile work environment" came up, with lethal consequences for freedom of speech. If just one person in a workplace takes exception to something a coworker says, there's a big fat lawsuit right there.
If Richard Hanania's essay is my Opinion Column of the Month, then my Graph of the Month is one reproduced in the essay that he has borrowed from a book titled Inventing Equal Opportunity by Harvard sociologist Frank Dobbin.
The graph concerns personnel management—the dread HR departments: how they grew through the last half of the 20th century, and how they tipped strongly female.
At the left-hand side of the graph, in 1951, there were just fifty thousand people in this line of work, mostly men. At the right-hand end, which looks like 1998, there were over nine hundred thousand—almost twenty times as many—and seventy percent were female.
My very confident guess is, that the trend has continued uniformly at least, quite possibly exponentially, in the 23 years since 1998.
(As well as being curious to see an updated version of that graph, I'd like to see one with a racial breakdown. The stereotype of a Human Resources manager isn't just female, she's female and black—the one in The Big Bang Theory, for example. How true is that stereotype?)
What are all those personnel managers doing all day long? Well, some of it is the stuff that clerical staff at public and private organizations have always done: arranging hiring and exit interviews, minding employee benefits, arbitrating petty disputes, and so on. A huge slab of it nowadays, though, is overseeing Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.
Quote from Hanania:
Civil rights law makes all major institutions subject to the will of left-wing bureaucrats, activists, and judges at the expense of normal citizens.
So the Great Awokening of the early 2010s did not come out of nowhere. It was the flowering, the maturing—with a big assist from the rise of the smartphone and social media — of a decades-long effort on the part of judges, bureaucrats, and lawyers to push the doctrine of disparate impact into every corner of the national life.
The truly poisonous aspect of this is that disparate impact is a lie. It is not true that "inequities" — inequalities of group outcomes—must be due to malice, to intentional discrimination. They may simply be due to nature.
I'll quote Hanania again. I won't apologize for all the quotes I'm borrowing from him: He's very quotable. So, quote:
The strange thing about disparate impact is that gaps exist almost everywhere. Practically any criterion or test one develops is going to have gaps between racial groups and the two sexes. In a world where everyone has standards that create a disparate impact, government bureaucrats have a lot of discretion in who they go after.
And there we are again, back with Christopher Caldwell's warning against arbitrary power.
Yes, the Civil Rights Revolution outlawed some old injustices. In the America of today, though, there is no discernible public appetite for the return of those old injustices. A far more important result of the Civil Rights Revolution for us today has been the vast expansion of power over our lives and property that we have given to judges, government bureaucrats, and lawyers, with corresponding loss to our liberties.
Is there anything we can do? Richard Hanania is scathing about the defeatism of establishment conservatives on this point. They have no constructive ideas about how to deal with wokeness, even though it is, he says, "the animating issue in their party." That, I guess would be the Republican Party.
Tens of millions of Americans desperately want something done to push back that arbitrary power, to restore the freedoms we thought were guaranteed to us by our Constitution. That's much of what Trumpism was all about.
Trump himself understood this only occasionally, fleetingly, but at least he had a clue. The sixteen institutional Republicans he triumphed over in the 2016 GOP primaries had no clue. They just mumbled about tax cuts, improving the schools, spreading democracy abroad, and the evils of socialized medicine.
So what's Richard Hanania's prescription? I'll quote him again—for the last time, I swear. Quote:
A Republican administration, he says, could do much of this through the executive branch and the courts, without any need to try passing laws through our dysfunctional Congress. It just needs an administration that will focus intensively, unblinkingly on slaying the wokeness monster. It can be slain, he says.
Can it, though? Here I feel the tug of my own temperamental pessimism. That's an awful lot of iron rice bowls you're looking to break there, Sir. Remembering what the media and the bureaucracy—especially the so-called intelligence agencies—did to Trump, whose Trumpism was no more than half-hearted, imagine how they'd deal with a really dedicated Trumpist.
Richard Hanania himself shows awareness of the great difficulties here. He gives a passing mention to Julian the Apostate, the fourth-century Roman Emperor who came to power when Christianity had already settled in as the Empire's state religion.
Julian was raised a Christian but rejected the faith when he reached adulthood. As Emperor he tried to roll back Christianity and re-instate the old polytheism.
It didn't work. The legend is that Julian's dying words were Vicisti, Galilaee, "You have won, Galilean," referring of course to Jesus.
A Trumpist president, if we can get one, might depart the world at last murmuring some similar tribute to Chief Justice Burger.
Imprimis: Shocker of the week, to me, was the announcement by Princeton University that Classics majors at Princeton will no longer be required to learn Greek or Latin.
How far we have fallen! I'll just quote here from Simon Heffer's biography of Enoch Powell, every British patriot's favorite politician. Powell was born in June 1912, so at the opening of this quote he is just 17 years old. Quote:
In 1929, having passed the Higher School Certificate with distinction in Latin, Greek, and Ancient History, Powell won the school's Lee Divinity Prize for an essay on the New Testament: he went into the examination having memorised, in Greek, the whole of St Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.
Powell then went up to Trinity College, Cambridge.
The population of the U.K. in 1929 was around 46 million. The U.S.A.'s current population is about seven times that; so on a proportional basis, all else equal, we should be able to graduate at least seven high school students with Enoch Powell's level of ability and self-discipline.
If we do, where will they go to continue their studies? Obviously not to Princeton.
Item: A bulletin from our federal Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, dated June 2nd.
Thirty-eight-year-old Paul Hodgkins of Tampa, Florida has pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing an official proceeding. He admits that on January 6th this year he entered the U.S. Capitol building and then the Senate chamber. He took a selfie with his cell phone, then walked over to where several individuals were shouting, praying and cheering using a bullhorn. He stood with them for a while, then exited the Senate chamber and the U.S. Capitol Building.
Mr Hodgkins faces 20 years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine.
The artist insists that the sculpture exists, just not in any material form. Sure enough, this news story comes with a picture of the work, and … there's nothing there. Well, nothing you can see.
Fans of avant-garde music will of course be reminded of composer John Cage's groundbreaking 1952 composition 4'33", which consists of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of perfect silence. Pianist William Marx gives a fine rendering of it on YouTube.
I'm over my time budget already so I can't give you the whole piece, but here are the opening bars.
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OK, some signout music. Doing my every-other-day workout in the home gym here at Derbyshire Towers, I listen to lectures from the Great Courses company, in the faint hope of improving my understanding.
My current selection is Professor Greenberg's 24 lectures on Beethoven's piano sonatas. They're not for the faint of heart. Professor Greenberg dives deep into music theory, deeper than I can follow him. Still I fancy, however delusionally, that I come away from these lectures smarter than I went in; and with my lats, traps, and pecs in better shape, too.
This week I just finished up Lecture 23, so we're in the composer's late period here. The lecture covers the first two of Beethoven's last three sonatas, numbers 30 and 31 of the total 32 he composed.
Number 31, opus 110, really got my attention. I don't have twenty minutes to play you the whole thing, and my recording equipment here is anyway too basic to transmit the full wonder of it; but to give you a clue, here's the last one minute and 23 seconds, played by Stephen Kovacevich.
Concerning the third movement of this sonata, of which this extract is the tail end, Professor Greenberg says, and I paraphrase: It's impossible to believe that this movement, with its brilliant and terrifying conclusion, is not a reference to Christ's suffering and death on the cross—something Beethoven had just depicted in the Missa Solemnis.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Kovacevich playing Beethoven's No. 31, op. 110.]