JOHN DERBYSHIRE: "De Haut En Bas"—The Ruling Class Is Getting Nastier
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[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through]

The news recently has featured a spate of people behaving badly. It reveals an increasingly prominent class issue: the widening rift between working-class and lower-middle-class people (manual workers, clerks, small business owners, low-level government staff) and their social superiors in the Ruling Class (billionaires, celebrities, politicians, college professors, corporate media Talking Heads, Human Resources directors, federal power-holders etc.)

This recent lack of respect has all been, as the French say, de haut en bas, "from the high to the low."

  • First case study: The flap at Smith College about a black student's complaint that she was harassed for "eating while black."

This is actually an old story from July of 2018. It's come into the news again because a low-level white employee at Smith College resigned on February 19th complaining of an anti-white work environment [ Resignation letter from Smith College employee describes hostile workplace, president responds, by Kate Wilkinson, WWLP, Feb 26, 2021].

Smith College is a tony liberal-arts college for women in Northampton, Massachusetts. A year at Smith will cost your parents a tad over $78,000. The only other thing I've heard about Smith is that is the world, if not Solar system, if not galactic, headquarters of lesbianism … but that's just hearsay.

The story in short: a cafeteria and attached lounge was closed to students for the summer, so high-schoolers on a summer camp program could use it. A black student, Oumou Kanoute (right), raised in the U.S.A. by immigrant parents from Mali, ignored this and took her lunch there anyway, disregarding a reminder from one of the cafeteria workers, a white female.

While she was eating her lunch, a 60-year-old white male janitor—let's call him Janitor One—saw her there and told campus security. A different janitor, 58 years old, call him Janitor Two, accompanied a campus cop back to the lounge to tell the student she wasn't supposed to be there.

This janitor was also white, as was the cop. There are a lot of those durn white people in Western Massachusetts. When are we going to fix that?

The black student made a fuss on social media, the college authorities groveled and flagellated themselves, Janitor One was put on paid leave, and a law firm was hired to investigate the incident.

They found nothing, of course; but the college went on groveling regardless.

They offered no apologies for their behavior: no apology to the cafeteria lady, the janitors, or the cop, all of whom had been denounced all over social media—and even in some legacy media—for their cruel, arrogant white supremacy.

So the correlation of forces here is: In the Blue corner, a young black woman from a wealthy family attending a tony college with a huge endowment and $78,000 fees. In the Red corner, four white working-class Americans making minimum wage, or not much above it.

Last I heard, the cafeteria lady got furloughed last fall on account of the pandemic. She's having trouble getting a new job because when prospective employers look her up, she's flagged as RACIST.

Janitor One is back from paid leave but declines to be interviewed. Janitor Two left the college soon after the incident, fed up with all the compulsory training sessions in race and intersectionality.

Quote from him, which I think captures the deep truth of the incident: "I don't know if I believe in white privilege. I believe in money privilege," [Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College, by Michael Powell, NYT, February 24, 2021].

I have no news of the cop.

  • Second case study: the renegade Royals, Harry Windsor and his wife Meghan Markle.

Harry, formally the Duke of Sussex, is the younger son of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. He married Meghan in 2018, and they had a son the following year. We were told a couple of weeks ago that Meghan is again enceinte. She is three years older than Harry, and a divorcee. She's American and identifies as mixed-race. I'd judge her an octoroon by appearance.

Harry and Meghan's relations with Harry's grandparents—which is to say, the Queen and Prince Philip—are famously fraught. Meghan is plainly unsuited to the life of a royal: touring around the country performing ceremonial chores, making small talk with unimportant people, always smiling for the press, and keeping your opinions very strictly to yourself. It's worse for Meghan because her sister-in-law Kate, William's wife, is superbly good at it. And then, it's double worse because Meghan's head is stuffed up to the nose-holes with all the fashionable cant of racism, feminism, globalism, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and all the dreary rest, which to persons of Grandma and Grandad's generation—or even to mine, the following generation—just seems weird and silly.

Harry himself is a dim bulb, and doggedly loyal to his wife. Again, to be fair, the first quality there is something he can't help, and the second one is admirable.

So as you can see, I'm not totally out of sympathy with the Sussexes … Sussices, whatever. But even I've been wincing at these latest revelations about the way Meghan treated her royal servants through 2018 and 2019, when she was trying to be a working royal.

This week the London Times, a venerable and respectable broadsheet, reported that one of Meghan's staffers in the Royal Household had lodged a bullying complaint against her [Royal aides reveal bullying claim before Meghan’s Oprah interview, by Valentine Low, March 2, 2021 ]. That brought out a chorus of similar stories from present and former royal servants, and the London tabloids are having a field day [BATTLE ROYAL Queen orders investigation into Meghan Markle bullying claims as Palace are ‘very concerned & won’t tolerate harassment,’ by Dan Keane and Matt Wilkinson, The Sun, March 4, 2021].

All this is leading up, perhaps not coincidentally, to the TV airing of a 90-minute interview Harry and Meghan have recorded with Oprah Winfrey, to be aired here in the U.S.A. on Sunday night, in Britain on Monday night. It's reported, how truthfully I don't know, that in the interview Meghan says some unkind things about Grandma and Grandpa [THE SUN SAYS Meghan Markle has now fallen out with family, staff, Press and public – spot the pattern?, March 5, 2021].

In a further wrinkle to the story, causing extra outrage over there, Grandpa, whose hundredth birthday is coming up this June, has been hospitalized with heart trouble. Why, people are asking, can't the TV networks hold off showing the Harry-Meghan-Oprah interview until Prince Philip is back in health? The answer of course is [ker-CHING].

Obvious question: how seriously should we take the lady's talk about lifting up the wretched of the earth and fighting against white privilege and toxic masculinity when, on the facing page, there's testimony about her bullying her staff?

Answer: just about as seriously as we should take that Smith College gal's tale about being harassed for "eating while black."

You have to concede the advantages of constitutional monarchy, though. Under that system, we peasants can enjoy all the fun of jeering at the narcissism and hypocrisy of rich people without it having anything to do with power, either cultural or political.

Which brings me to:

  • Third case study: Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State.

When the coronavirus panic got seriously under way, hospitals in New York State panicked that they didn't have enough beds to cope. They panicked to the State Department of Health, and Governor Cuomo ordered nursing homes to admit covid-positive patients, to free up beds in the hospitals.

That wasn't totally crazy on the face of it—yes, I'm having one of my let's-be-fair fire sales this week—since after all nursing homes are kind-of like hospitals, just without the resident doctors and fully-trained nurses, without the ORs and radiology units, without the bedside monitoring equipment, the ventilators and masks, without …

Oh, all right, all right: nursing homes are not actually much like hospitals. You can see, though, that a person of wealth and privilege—a state governor, for example, whose Dad was also a state governor—having no acquaintance with how ordinary people live and what ordinary people's nursing homes are like, might scribble his signature on that order on his way out the door to some celebrity dinner.

But that order precipitated a disaster, and a scandal. The disaster:

COVID-positive new admissions between late March and early May, which numbered 6,327, were associated with several hundred and possibly more than 1,000 additional resident deaths.

 COVID-positive Admissions Were Correlated with Higher Death Rates in New York Nursing Homes, by Bill Hammond and Ian Kingsbury,, February 18, 2021

The scandal: Cuomo's efforts to cover up the truth of the matter. That was exploded by a report by the state Attorney General that Cuomo's office had undercounted the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes by as much as fifty percent [Cuomo Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll, by J. David Goodman and Danny Hakim, NYT, March 4, 2021].

I should say here, dropping the let's-be-fair routine now, I should say, as a long-time resident of New York State whose circle of acquaintance has included several people well connected in the state government, I have been hearing for years what a coarse, arrogant bully Andrew Cuomo is. The state motto is Excelsior, which is Latin for "higher." Andrew Cuomo's personal motto seems to be Oderint dum Metuant: "Let them hate, so long as they fear."

Just last month the local press was reporting that state assemblyman Ron Kim, like Cuomo a Democrat, had taken a phone call from the Governor after he'd criticized Cuomo's cover-up of the nursing-home death numbers.

Cuomo growled down the phone that" You have not seen my wrath … You will be destroyed" [Cuomo threatens Democrat Ron Kim over nursing home scandal: ‘You will be destroyed,’ by Carl Campanile, Bernadette Hogan and Bruce Golding, NY Post, February 17, 2021].

Am I going to mention at this point that the Governor's maternal grandparents came from Sicily?

No, absolutely not. The thought never crossed my mind.

Well, this past few days the local press has been full of stories about Andrew Cuomo making clumsy advances on young women. The pièce de résistance—yes, I'm have a fire sale on Gallicisms, too—the pièce de résistance is a great photograph of Cuomo at a wedding reception two years ago with his two hands on the face of a comely young lady, name of Anna Ruch, whose facial expression suggests she is inwardly screaming "FOR GOD'S SAKE SOMEONE HELP ME PLEASE!"

The New York Post likes this picture so much, they put it on their front page twice, March 2nd and March 4th.

Ms. Ruch, as it happens, was not an employee of the Governor's office. But other young women who were have been telling tales of Cuomo coming on at them. He is now the quarry in a full-scale #MeToo hunt.

I am not a fan of these #MeToo hysterias. Yes, I guess I should feel some sympathy for young female staffers who fear losing their jobs if they offend the Governor; but there is a form of words to make it plain politely that the gentleman's attentions are unwanted. Why didn't the mothers of these young women teach them that form of words?

And what about Ms. Ruch, who wasn't one of Cuomo's employees? Couldn't she have given Cuomo a brief introduction to the Nutcracker Suite, or at least a slap in the face?

The real outrage here is that news coverage of Cuomo's boorishness has been far more copious than what was given to those hundreds of nursing-home deaths. That says something about our scale of values nowadays.

So what do we learn from this, comrades?

  • From the Smith College business: That rich Blue-State liberals couldn't care less about the working-class white people who sweep their floors and mind their cafeterias, but will pluck out their own eyeballs with barbecue tongues rather than let anyone think they are prejudiced against blacks.
  • From Harry and Meghan: That a female person of color who plays the victim card at the slightest opportunity, and who tells the world how full of compassion she is towards the meek and lowly of the world, is a bitch to work for. Good to know.
  • From Andrew Cuomo's various scandals: That the lefty Blue State Governor, a darling of progressives and feminists, who once told an interviewer that, "extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay … have no place in the state of New York," [Gov. Cuomo to conservatives: Leave NY!, by Aaron Short, NYPost, January 18, 2014] is a bully and an obnoxious jerk to those less powerful than himself, especially fair young women; and he is also a shameless liar.

So, nothing actually very new.

As the sage remarked, though: "Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed."

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

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