01:44 Academic insanity. (The antiwhite assault on language.)
09:46 America First Youth League. (It's not just geezers.)
17:24 Down on China. (Not a happy country.)
25:08 Who will recruit the recruiters? (U.S. Army frets.)
30:16 Happy centenary, Turkey! (100 years a republic.)
33:46 Social justice confusion. (The kaleidoscope got a smack.)
35:49 Brits coddle Arab terrorist. (In a Jewish neighborhood.)
38:13 Bootgate. (Trump & neocons mock DeSantis.)
40:10 Signoff. (Song for a recruit.)
01—Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 played on traditional instruments, and this is your hermetically genial host John Derbyshire with news of the hour, the day, the week.
A couple on the bulletin board. First, VDARE.com's Giving Tuesday vidcast will be on November 28th, the week after Thanksgiving. Mark your calendar!
And then, the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson is having their 30th anniversary conference this coming April, April 22nd to 26th, at a lovely resort in the hills above Tucson.
I attended the 2008 and 2014 conferences and wrote them up for different magazines. I won't be able to attend this coming one; but if you're curious to know what that banging noise in you head is all about, you might want to give the conference a try.
OK, let's see what's in the news.
02—Academic insanity. In common with most sensible people, I believe that public funding for higher education in the United States, including student-loan support, should be strictly limited to mathematics and the real sciences—physics, chemistry, biology, and a few borderline areas like linguistics.
If you want to study law, accounting, business, journalism, education, history, classics, English, theology, or anything ending in the word "studies," fine: finance it yourself or find private sponsors.
(In fact if you want to study non-scientific professional subjects like law or accounting, do it the way Abraham Lincoln, Calvin Coolidge, and a former girlfriend of mine did: by apprenticeship. In the case of accounting and my girlfriend, the key term in Britain fifty years ago was "articled clerk," but perhaps the terminology has moved on since then, if the system is still in use at all.)
I get regular support for this opinion from an excellent website called The College Fix. Not that they want to stop government funding of non-rigorous disciplines—I don't know their position on that—but only that the news items they post about academia fortify my own position.
And I don't agree with them about everything—I don't agree with anyone about everything—but when I go to that website there's a higher-than-average probability that I'll come away either helpless with laughter or weeping with despair at the folly and lunacy running wild in our universities.
This October 7th posting was a weeper, not a laugher. I'll just give you the first couple of paragraphs of the story. It's littered with quotation marks; if I alerted you by saying "inner quote" for every pair we'd be here all night, so I'll leave you to look up the post yourself. Quote:
A scheduled "picnic" sponsored by the University of Nevada Las Vegas law school's Environmental Law Society has been renamed "Lunch by the Lake" due to "diversity and inclusion" concerns.
According to a memo obtained by Libs of TikTok, the law group informed members that the word "picnic" has "historical and offensive connotations," and apologized for "any harm or discomfort" caused by its use.
If you follow the propaganda efforts of our antiwhite establishment you will know that this canceling of the word "picnic" isn't new. The College Fix tracks it back at least three years.
The theory was, and apparently still is, that "picnic" is an old word for a lynching party, with the second syllable I suppose an abbreviated form of <bleep>.
Leaving aside the fact that lynchees were frequently white—in the year 1950 exactly half of them were—this is nonsense.
My Oxford English Dictionary gives the first appearance of the word "picnic" as being in a French etymological treatise of 1692, where it's spelt p-i-q-u-e—n-i-q-u-e. The first English usage is in one of Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son, dated 1748. Not a gap-toothed likkered-up noose-wielding cracker in sight there.
In the 21st-century U.S.A. we should not, of course, expect a university law school to keep a copy of the OED on its bookshelves. That would be white supremacist.
Having read that College Fix October 7th story I consoled myself with the thought that the barbarian assault on our language surely couldn't get any worse.
That was naïve of me. Earlier this week, browsing Twitter, I came across this little gem of negative-two-standard-deviations-IQ idiocy. The young lady here wants us to know that the common greeting "Good morning!" is actually racist abuse. Listen:
[Clip: It was really a mockery toward black slaves. And they're makin' fun of what they did to they people when someone was hung, killed, or sold off to a different plantation. So that was they way of being funny. "Did you have a good mourning? Did you have a good cry about that person's death? Did you have a good cry about your daughter being tooken away from you and sold off somewhere else? Did you have a good cry of your brother being hung yesterday?" That was they way of being funny. Good morning, everyone.]
I await enlightenment on the true meaning of secret insults like "Goodnight," "How ya doin'?" and "Happy Halloween."
Stories like that one of course leave me in a state of despair, as they should.
There can be grains of comfort or amusement even in despair, though. My grain of amusement here was recalling a different spin I got on "Good morning" when I was teaching English at a college in China forty years ago.
Chatting with some young male students out of class, they told me that when they started to learn English they memorized the words "Good morning" by using a Chinese approximation: 狗 逮 貓 娘 (gŏu dăi māo niáng), "dog catches cat lady."
This information came with some snickering from the students. Apparently "dog catches cat lady" has some salacious flavor to Chinese ears, or at any rate to young-adult-male Chinese ears.
On the Ukraine business, I am pleased with myself for having called it "the war between the world's two most corrupt white countries." I believe I coined that observation. I think it tells you a key thing you need to know about the war; and I'm disappointed my observation hasn't attained wider currency. There's just no respect for deep insight nowadays.
And all that is in addition to many, many references I have made to the two foreign places where my understanding is better than average: Britain, the nation of my birth and my first twenty-some years of sentience, and China, my nation-in-law.
What the grumblers are grumbling about of course is my not joining in the festival of opinionating about the current hostilities in Eurasia. What will Russia do? What will China do? What will Iran do? What should we do? Will there be a Third World War?
I can make some guesses if you like, but they don't carry much weight. The reason they don't is, I'm not much interested. I'm an isolationist, an America First type—just like all our presidents up to Woodrow Wilson—or perhaps Teddy Roosevelt, if you want to start an argument—and a couple of presidents since Wilson.
I'd spell that out in more detail, but someone else has done the job for me. This was Josiah Lippincott at the American Greatness website, October 17th.
I'm tempted to just read the entire essay for you, but that would be overquoting. I'll content myself with just the two opening paragraphs. quote:
Being America First means that instead of spending money and sending weapons into conflicts on the other side of the world, we should focus on our problems here. In case anyone has forgotten in the last week of 24-hour war propaganda: The southern border is a sieve, 100,000 Americans a year die of opioid overdose—from fentanyl shipped from China and Mexico—and homeless encampments dot every major city in America. Before anyone in any position of power begins to think about even commenting on foreign conflicts, they should solve the crises roiling our civic life at home.
This advice, however, is utterly incomprehensible to our rulers in D.C. Democrats and Republicans alike simply cannot keep their hands to themselves. They are constitutionally incapable of staying out of wars they have no business being in.
Who is the author here, this Josiah Lippincott? American Greatness doesn't tell me, but I assume it's the one I turned up by googling: a young Californian, aged about 30, ex-U.S. Marine Corps, currently a Ph.D. student in Politics at Hillsdale College—which, just to remind you, doesn't take government funding. Lippincott has a free Substack account with one-thousand-plus subscribers as of last month.
The fact of his being a young guy is encouraging. The phrase "America First" too easily brings geezers to mind. Pat Buchanan's in the lead there. Pat was 85 just this Wednesday—Happy Birthday, Pat! … assuming "Happy birthday" isn't a racist insult, of course.
In active politics the lead America Firster is Donald Trump, by instinct if not always coherently by spoken opinion. The Donald is 77.
Now here's thirtyish Josiah Lippincott coming up to bat for America First. Welcome, Sir. If you find yourself in Long Island I'll be glad to buy you a drink—heck, a full meal, if you don't mind diner food.
America First-ism may even have become a temptation to some younger neoliberals. The other day I spotted this tweet from Matthew Yglesias. Tweet:
Everyone wants America to do more in the Middle East—more to help Israel, more to restrain Israel, more to promote peace, more something.
My view is we should admit we're not solving this and try to do less.
All right, it's not full-throat isolationist, but it's turning that way. Yglesias is 42.
Could the U.S.A. return to our historical position of not giving much of a damn about the rest of the world? We still have a wide ocean on each side of us, and only Canada and Mexico as immediate neighbors.
Of all the nations that ever were, ours has the least cause to worry about foreign invasion—unless, of course, we were so insane as to leave our borders open.
Sure, ICBMs are worth worrying about; but Mutual Assured Destruction seems to work, so let's just make sure we have more of the darn things than anyone else—better yet, than everyone else.
America First. What's the case against it?
Let me preface it by saying that I haven't actually been in China since 2019. I gave a full account of that trip here on VDARE.com, October 3rd 2019.
I have no plans to go back any time soon. Official attitudes towards foreign visitors blow hot and cold in China. In 2019 they were still quite warm, although cooling: today they are icy.
I have no sensational insights into ChiCom politics, just overall impressions. They come from reading mainstream-media news stories, following online commentary, and listening to things Mrs Derbyshire and Chinese friends tell me.
The best online commentary is still what it was when I last reported two years ago.
I like China Uncensored because their reports are short and witty. People will tell you they're unreliable because they're an anti-ChiCom outfit backed by the Falun Gong movement. In three years watching China Uncensored, though, I've never found anything in their coverage that later proved misleading, nor anything much at variance with what I read or hear elsewhere.
The other online commentary I most often check is the YouTube vloggers I mentioned when I last wrote about this in my Diary two years ago. Quote from then:
Vloggers Winston Sterzel ("SerpentZA") and Matthew Tye ("Laowhy86") … both lived for many years in China without much trouble: Sterzel for 14 years, Tye for 10. Both speak fluent Chinese and know the country very well. Both left earlier in 2019—before my trip, I mean. Tye seems to have got out just in time, with the secret police on his heels.
Concerning what I hear from Mrs Derbyshire and our friends, the less I say the better. Yes, it really is that bad: bad not so much for them as for their friends and relatives in China.
This is a brutal, lawless dictatorship we're talking about here, one engaged in a massive high-tech surveillance operation not just of its citizens, but of its ex-citizens and their families and friends in China.
I can tell you with confidence—it's not any kind of a secret—that there is a longstanding tension in the ChiCom ruling class between the more pragmatic, more liberally-inclined Party bosses and the stricter ideologues.
The current Supreme Leader, Xi Jinping, is an ideologue who has clamped down on what he sees as capitalist excesses and who wielded extreme levels of police power in the covid epidemic.
This week's big China question has been: does that tension—pragmatists versus ideologues—have anything to do with the death last Friday of Li Keqiang?
For ten years until his death Li was Prime Minister, in theory the second most powerful position after Xi Jinping. He couldn't exercise much power under Xi's tight control, but he was better liked than Xi by the generality of Chinese people. He was more human in TV appearances, more willing to visit natural-disaster sites (which Xi Jinping rarely does), more closely associated with the economic and social advances of the early 2000s.
Li was only 68 when he died, supposedly of a heart attack when on vacation in Shanghai. There has been some skepticism about that. One Chinese acquaintance of mine observed with bitter cynicism that, quote: "If China were Russia we'd have been told he fell out of a window," end quote.
Parallels have been drawn with the death in April 1989 of Hu Yaobang, also reportedly of a heart attack, in his case at age 73. Hu was another popular pragmatist with enemies in the Politburo. His funeral, later in April of 1989, was the spark for the public protests that led to the June 4th massacre in Tiananmen Square.
Might history repeat itself? Could Li Keqiang's death ignite similar protests? Not likely. Hu Yaobang had a state funeral in the Great Hall of the People, at one side of Tiananmen Square. Li Keqiang got a much more low-key send-off in a cemetery well to the west of central Peking.
Police surveillance of China's population is in any case way, way more sophisticated now than it was 34 years ago. Organizing a protest is far more of a challenge now than it was back then.
So China drifts on through the current winter of xenophobia, economic stasis, and widespread discontent. Shall a warmer season soon arrive? Or will the freeze continue for another five, ten, twenty years? I don't know. Nobody knows. This is China.
I can't speak to the whole country, but key sub-populations are unhappy: for example, the military.
Recruitment is way down; we've all heard that. The reasons are not mysterious.
Well, those are the official reasons you read in the news reports. I surmise there are at least two others.
Things are so bad now that not only is the Army running out of recruits, they're running out of recruiters. Military.com reported November 1st that, quote:
Without warning, hundreds of noncommissioned officers were ordered via email to report to the recruiting school at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in less than a week, with hundreds more set to start at the school in December—a sudden unexpected move by the Army as the service scrambles to boost its recruiting force by 800 by the end of the year …
The Army has roughly 10,000 recruiters, but that force has been bleeding troops over the past year. The 800 emergency recruiting students will allow the service to maintain its numbers.
If you don't know how our Army works you may not realise how bad this is. NCOs are key not only to combat effectiveness but also to training. You've likely heard horror stories about drill sergeants hardening up new recruits. Those drill sergeants are NCOs, and the Military.com report tells us that, quote:
Some soldiers who were set to be drill sergeants will be reassigned as recruiters.
So guys doing one of the most important and most military jobs in the army are going to be re-assigned to desk work, which is what recruiting is.
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" asked one of the Roman poets: "Who guards the guardians?" Apparently our Army chiefs are scratching their heads over the question: Who will recruit the recruiters?
(Google Translate gives the Latin for that as Quis tirones conscribet? but it doesn't look right to me.)
Turkey was of course the heartland of the Ottoman Empire for six hundred years. The Empire took the wrong side in WW1, though, and in the ensuing ructions the Sultanate was abolished and a republic was officially proclaimed on October 29th, 1923.
A chap named Mustafa Kemal became President of the Republic, and stayed president for fifteen years. He carried out a huge program of Westernization with the aim of making his republic a peer nation with the big old European countries. European styles of dress, women's rights, modern education, and secularization were all either permitted, encouraged, or mandated.
The old writing system, based on an Arabic-type script, was replaced by a version of the Latin alphabet. All Turkish citizens had to take surnames, which up to then they hadn't used.
An actual Turk once told me a story about the surname reform that I have never found in print, so I don't know if it's true. It's a good story, though, so I'll pass it on.
The story I heard was that the president, Mustafa Kemal, decided on this particular reform himself. At his next cabinet meeting he announced it. Then he walked around the table awarding surnames to all his department heads. To himself he awarded the surname "Atatürk," which means "Father of the Turks."
Whether that story is true or not, it's as Atatürk that the Turkish Republic's first president has been known ever since.
And if you think it's a bit odd for a whole nation-full of people not to use surnames, it's actually quite common. Burmese people don't have surnames; neither do Tibetans; neither, come to think of it, did Anglo-Saxons.
Atatürk was one of the great figures of the last century, too little appreciated for his accomplishments. He found his country a backward theocratic oriental despotism; in just a few years he modernized and secularized it under a fairly liberal constitution.
There's been some backsliding since; but today, even under Recep Erdoğan, Turkey is less authoritarian than the average for West Asia and less crazy-Islamist than Iran or Afghanistan or even Pakistan.
In downtown Chicago last weekend there was a serious violent disturbance when a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites clashed with a pro-Palestinian march.
The Black Hebrew Israelites believe that they, and I think American blacks in general, are one of the lost tribes of ancient Israel. They actually have a big settlement in present-day Israel; but the government of Israel won't give them citizenship because they won't convert to Judaism. No, I don't get it either. I guess it's a black thing, we can't understand.
Anyway, there was a nasty dust-up in Chicago with Pro-Palestine marchers, and extra cops had to be brought in to calm things down.
And then there was this one in London: a large placard on display at a different pro-Palestine demo in London last weekend, the placard reading—and I swear I'm not making this up—QUEER JEWS FOR A FREE PALESTINE.
I pondered for a few minutes whether anything could be further detached from reality than that. The best I could come up with was a placard saying: QUEER JEWISH KORAN-BURNERS FOR A FREE PALESTINE. I'll make one up free of charge if any SJWs are interested.
Item: In last week's podcast I commented on the appalling situation in Britain where social housing—housing, that is, owned by some level of government and rented out to needy people—is by preference awarded to foreign nationals. Quote, just to remind you:
Across the UK, 16 per cent of British citizens live in government housing, compared to 17 per cent of foreign nationals; in London, 30 per cent of people born in the Middle East live in government housing, and 40 per cent of sub-Saharan Africans (this rises to close to three-quarters for those born in Somalia).
That's all true even when the foreign national is a key figure in a terrorist organization. By way of example I named Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, a leading fundraiser for Hamas, who—thanks to government subsidies—is living in Barnet, a quite tony district in northwest London.
I omitted to mention that Barnet, quote here from the New York Post, October 22nd, quote, "has the highest Jewish population in all of Britain." End quote.
You can't make this stuff up.
Sawalha and his social-housing benefits have in fact been all over the U.K. news the past few days. Questions about him have been raised in the House of Commons
Given the terminal condition of national consciousness among legacy Brits, I doubt anything much will happen to the guy. He'll probably be made Prime Minister, or given a royal princess to marry. Under current U.K. law he could in fact marry a royal prince, so … who knows.
Item: The silliest and most annoying "news" story of the week—the word "news" there in scoff quotes—has been the one about Ron DeSantis' boots. The allegations are that the boots have lifts in them, presumably because the Governor is insecure about his height.
Donald Trump and Nikki Haley have been making hay with this—or "putting the boot in," as my New York Post reports. Voters from coast to coast are scrutinizing pictures of DeSantis to see whether his boots actually do have lifts in them.
Why such a thing, if it were the case, would have any effect on a citizen's voting intentions, I can't fathom. When I say that to people they reply: "It's not the lifts, it's him being dishonest about them."
So far as I can figure, that DeSantis has been dishonest about his boots is not established to rigorous standards of evidence. Even if it were, should we care? Everyone has his private vanities. Politicians have lied about much bigger things without making much of a dent in their vote counts—think of Bill Clinton.
Ron DeSantis has been a fine governor and would be an excellent president. He can talk the Trumpish talk as well as Trump himself does. I'm willing to bet that in the White House he would walk the Trumpish walk better than Trump, with or without lifts in his boots.
07—Signoff. And that's all for this week, ladies and gents. Thanks as always for your time and attention, for your emails and donations. I hope you enjoyed your Halloween; and I hope you have some enthusiasm left over for Guy Fawkes night on Sunday.
Having covered our Army's recruiting issue back there, what else can I sign out with but the ultimate recruiting song—actually, more like the ultimate anti-recruiting song—from Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro.
Figaro is seeing off the ditzy young page-boy Cherubino, whom the Count has ordered to go and join the Count's regiment. Cherubino is, Figaro tells him, about to transition from a life of easy pleasure and girl-chasing to one with, quote, molto onor, poco contante: "lots of honor but not much pay." The voice here is that of the great mid-20th-century Italian bass Cesare Siepi.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Cesare Siepi, "Non più andrai."]