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Mark Steyn

Planet of the Llamas

On Thursday, I kept my weekly date on The Hugh Hewitt Show, just in time for the big news of the day:

HUGH HEWITT: Now we've got a lot to cover. We've got to cover llamas, the Oscars and the Islamic State, not to mention Chris Christie, so I've got to go fast. Did you by chance watch the llama drama on Fox today?

MARK STEYN: (laughing) Yeah, the llamas on the llam. You can joke, Hugh, but I think the llamapocalypse is upon us. I looked out in the yard, out of the window at the yard about 20 minutes ago, and there were just nine llamas there, and I thought that's unusual for New Hampshire in winter. I just looked out the window now, and there's 17 llamas between me and the car. So I think, you know, this is some Planet of the Llamas...

HH: (laughing)

MS: In the words of Charlton Heston, 'Take your hands off me you damned, dirty llama.' This is how it begins.

We also discussed Dennis Miller's observation that the Oscar statuette looks like Vladimir Putin, and Lady Gaga's Academy performance of "The Sound Of Music":

MS: Well, I don't think Lady Gaga is actually a bad singer of those kinds of songs. I rather regret that she got mixed up with Tony Bennett, because he'll duet with anybody. I mean... he's done a double CD with my plumber. I didn't know it. My plumber was working in the room for 15 minutes, and Tony Bennett swung by, and they recorded seven numbers together. Tony Bennett releases three duet albums, in the course of this conversation, he'll have released another duet album. You've probably done a duet album with Tony Bennett yourself, haven't you?

HH: I was going to say I'm a little bit hurt you didn't know about mine...

We then moved on to the Islamic State. (Incidentally, if you haven't picked up the new Tony Bennett CD, Swingin' With The ISIS Cats, it's terrific, especially "I Left My Head In Saqlawiyah".) In particular, Hugh wanted to discuss its appeal to its western recruits:

MS: When you were talking, you said they kidnapped all these Christians 'in the middle of the night'. I would doubt they actually did that. You know, that's the way the old school guys - your Nazis and fascists and communists - used to do it,,, At some level, they knew, they were ashamed of their evil, and they didn't want it to get out. These guys use evil as their calling card. They use evil in their campaign ads. They use evil in their movie promotions... And it's horribly seductive to all these thousands of people who are supposed to be nominally citizens of Western nations - not just this Jihad John guy from London, but there's Americans from Minnesota and elsewhere, there's Canadians, Australians. There's all kinds of people for whom the evil, the evil of ISIS, is its principal selling point.

You can find the full interview here.

~Speaking of Jihad John - real name Mohammed Emwazi - he spent his entire, comfortable, middle-class life in Britain and went to Westminster University. But he preferred to go chopping heads off across the Levant rather than spend his career in middle management at Green Energy Solutions Ltd. The Daily Mail's editorial wonders what we should do about this:

So how did an ordinary British Muslim boy – real name Mohammed Emwazi – mutate into a swaggering monster capable of hacking off the heads of innocent hostages in the name of religion?

Did his friends, family and fellow worshippers at his south London mosque realise how dangerously radicalised he was becoming, and if so, did they do anything to try to stop it?

And what of Westminster University, which has been repeatedly accused of giving a platform to preachers of hate?

A recent students' union president was linked to the radical group Hizb-ut-Tahrir and just last night the university was forced to cancel a planned talk by a Muslim cleric who has previously described homosexuality as 'a scourge' and Jews as being descended from 'apes and pigs'.

Was he radicalised there? And if so, do we need to rethink liberal assumptions about free speech that have been the basis of so much of our culture for so long?

Paul Dacre, the editor of The Daily Mail, was my boss at its sister paper The Evening Standard many years ago, and is without question a brilliant and ingenious editor. But that disgusting sentence is almost enough to have me reaching for the scimitar. This is what a supposedly robust, fearless, "conservative" newspaper thinks is the solution - to trade core English liberties for a quiet life. No, you dummy. You use your free-speech rights to argue fearlessly against the monsters Britain has incubated in its midst, and you insist on unbounded freedom of expression in order to have the widest, most open and honest conversation about what to do about, say, the significant numbers of British Muslims who think killing cartoonists is justified. Why is mass Muslim immigration so obviously beneficial and indispensable that it's worth surrendering ancient liberties for? And why is The Daily Mail's automatic assumption that it's we who "need to re-think" rather than the community that produces the likes of Jihad John?

February 27, 2015 at 9:53 am  |  Permalink

Conflation Abounds

I bailed on the Academy Awards halfway through that terrible, overwrought opening song, "Moving Pictures". "That's a Tony number, not an Oscar number," I scoffed, and went off to shampoo the cat while singing "Hooray For Hollywood". But, when you go on TV and radio, people tend to ask you about these things, so on the off-chance it comes up with Hugh Hewitt on Thursday afternoon I thought I ought to bring myself up to speed on all the big controversies.

Which is how I came to be reading this column by June Thomas. It was about Graham Moore, who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. That's the one about the tragic gay, which would probably have been a shoo-in for an Oscar sweep if the tragic gay in question hadn't been a Brit. Mr Moore appears to have led a charmed life - his mom was chief of staff to Michelle Obama, and the book launch for his first novel was held at the Vice-President's residence. But in his Oscar speech he revealed that things had not always been so rosy:

Moore went on to share with the millions of telecast viewers that at the age of 16, he tried to kill himself "because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt that I did not belong. And now I'm standing here, and I would like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do."

As editor of "Outward", Slate's LGBTQ section, June Thomas didn't care for the cut of Graham's jib:

I wish that Moore had drawn a clearer line between his comments about Turing—a man who was persecuted and prosecuted for his homosexuality—and his "it gets better" message to teens who are merely weird and different... Being gay simply isn't the same as being a "geek." Moore may see them as comparable (and, though he has identified himself as straight, his affect may have opened him up to homophobic bullying), but the truth of the matter is that the social force behind anti-gay prejudice is far stronger and more pernicious than the animus against social outcasts.

Ms Thomas regretted that Mr Moore had "conflated these identities". As a man who "identifies as straight" but has a gay "affect" picking up an Oscar for a gay movie - Moore shouldn't have muddied the gay waters by indulging in his own non-gay suicide-flaunting.

As evidence of how controversial Moore's remarks were, J Bryan Lowder, another editor of the LGBTQ section at Slate, then filed his own column on why this self-identified straight shouldn't be trivializing gay oppression with his bungled attempt to off himself:

Being a straight weirdo is, on balance, just not as totalizing or stressful a situation as being a gay person... New York-based writer Kevin Joffré put it elegantly on Twitter Monday morning: "Being gay means more than 'being weird.' It means living as if you owe people an explanation for your feelings and your life... You can be actively otherized every day of your life. That's what being gay means."

This distinction is an important one to reiterate, because as being "against bullying" becomes a toothless cliché for celebrities to wear like borrowed jewelry, there's a danger of erroneously leveling out all forms of bully-able difference. But homophobia—like racism and other forms of deeply ingrained prejudice—has a specific history and genealogy (tied largely to gender expectations) that requires us to deal with it in specific ways that demand more than a tepid embrace of "weirdness..." We need a social justice strategy focused on correcting deep-seated structural inequality rather than one that merely encourages a "tolerance" of diversity.

Like James Baker re the Balkans, I don't have a dog in this fight, although I'm mildly impressed that anyone in contemporary Hollywood with a gay "affect" bothers to "identify as straight". But, slogging through this "controversy", I had a strange premonition that this will be what the last five members of western civilization are arguing over when the guy yelling "Allahu Akbar!" bursts through the door.

~Speaking of conflation inflation, I'm surprised Slate only has an LGBTQ section when most of us have long advanced to the full LGBTQWERTY. As I wrote six years ago:

I was reading, as one does of a Saturday morning, the official Toronto Pride Week website:

'As part of Toronto's 29th Annual Pride Week celebration, the LGBTTIQQ2S communities, families and friends will unveil this year's Pride Parade on Sunday June 28th at 2 pm…

'Join our International Grand Marshal, Victor Juliet Mukasa, Parade Grand Marshal, El-Farouk Khaki and Honoured Group, AIDS Committee of Toronto, as they guide the LGBTTIQQ2S communities through our amazing stories of equality, human rights, respect, diversity, honour, love and acceptance…

'Join our parade facebook group to cultivate a collaborative effort between a wide range of diverse LGBTTIQQ2S communities…'

Okay, I'll bite. LGBTTIQQ2S? Well, apparently:

'LGBTTIQQ2S means "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered, Intersexual, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited…"'

"2-Spirited" is, I believe, a bisexual Native-American, rather than "too spirited" as in Anne of Green Gables.

I found myself thinking of George M Cohan's old foighting Oirish song — "H-A-double R-I-G-A-N spells Harrigan": "L-G-B-double T-I-double Q-two-S spells . . . Luhgibettyqueuetooess?"

It's like paying extra to get a vanity license plate, and then the DMV gives you the one they would have issued anyway.

Anyway, via Steven Hayward at Powerline, I learn that LGBTTIQQ2S is no longer operative, at least at Wesleyan University. Is a Wesleyan like a Lesbian? No, it's something to do with the founder of Methodism, but that was all a long time ago:

154 Church Street

Open House is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf**k, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities.

So LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. Dunno what happened to the 2S crowd. Maybe they went all Flexual. And what's with the spelling of "polyamourous"? Is that multiple French partners? And why are Non-Binary Pansexuals excluded? Or is that only a Canadian thing?

With all this orientation creep, straights are at something of a disadvantage. "Straight" isn't even an acronym: How lame is that? Maybe they could add a few variations, and make it Straight, Uptight, Repressed, Missionary Position Only, Alternate Saturdays Mostly, Keeping Your Socks On, and hold a parade for members of the SURMPOASMKYSO community.

~Speaking of "gender dissident communities", a poll of British Muslims finds that 27 per cent "have some sympathy for the motives behind Charlie Hebdo attacks". That's over three-quarters of a million people - without adding in the two per cent who refused to answer and another eight per cent who "don't know". But don't worry, the good news is that 68 per cent of British Muslims agree that acts of violence against those who publish images of Mohammed can "never be justified".

The other 32 per cent amount to a million people, all living in the United Kingdom.

Eleven per cent of Muslims thought that magazines who publish pictures of the Prophet Mohammed "deserve to be attacked". Now that's what I call "otherized"!

But relax, that's only about 310,000 British residents. And, if you're round the back of the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim or the remoter parts of the Shetlands, it may be a while before they get to you.

Still, in the civilizational clash between "safe spaces" and "no-go zones", I'd bet on the latter, alas.

~By the way I apologize for not writing "the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)" above, but I was worried that students at Wesleyan University might think that that nice Yemeni boy in the back of the class had signed up for the Pangender, Bisexual, Undecided and Hung steering committee.

See you Thursday on the radio with Hugh, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

February 25, 2015 at 9:46 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, February 16-22

In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:

The week began in Copenhagen with the naming of the dead in the latest murderous assault by a "known wolf", and in Derna with the mass beheading of 21 Christians. The Government of the United Sates attributed both to a lack of job opportunities, prompting our most-read piece of the week: "Who Ya Gonna Believe? Us Or Your Own Severed Head?"

~Monday was Presidents Day in America. Steyn marked the occasion with a 44-song Presidential Medley, and a tale of a personal pilgrimage to a favorite presidential big cheese.

~On Tuesday the White House opened its international conference on "Countering Violent Extremism" - a condescending bit of misdirection that Mark addressed in his column "Living History".

~On Wednesday, Steyn returned to the John Oakley show on Toronto's AM640 to chew over the state of the world near and far.

~On Thursday, the American media went bananas over Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that Obama doesn't love his country. Mark put it this way: If the President were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

~On Friday, Steyn's Sinatra Century continued with his valentine to the Windy City: "Chicago." Earlier, Mark considered the great question at the heart of Sinatra's art: "What Is This Thing Called Love?"

For the SteynOnline weekend movie date, Mark picked a favorite Oscar-loser, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation.

Steyn is proud to be part of a new book called Climate Change: The Facts, featuring contributions from many eminent scientists. It's available in Kindle at Amazon outlets worldwide, as well as in Kobo and in Nook at Barnes & Noble. And, as always, we thank readers who've continued to support Mark's pushback against serial litigant and fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann via SteynOnline gift certificates and other Steyn store purchases. After the conference on "Countering Violent Extremism", Steyn's twin bestsellers America Alone and After America are timelier than ever.

A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week.

February 22, 2015 at 7:10 am  |  Permalink

Who Would Be an American Ally?

Currently in Washington the Obama Administration is hosting a conference on "violent extremism", which is their preferred term for the perplexing phenomenon of excitable young men of no particular persuasion who like to practice random acts of randomness. Vice-President Biden, taking time out from his hectic schedule of copping a feel of incoming cabinet secretaries' wives, gave an insight into the level of insight the White House brings to this issue:

During a White House roundtable discussion on the fight against violent extremism, Biden touted his relationship with Somali-Americans by noting that many of them drive cabs in Wilmington.

"I might add if you come to the train station with me you'll notice I have great relationships with them because there's an awful lot driving cabs and are friends of mine," he said.

If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. If you want a friend in Wilmington, get a Somali cab-driver.

Question: When was the last time the Vice-President of the United States used a cab?

Follow-up question: When was the last time he used a cab in his previous incarnation as one of the most puffed-up senators in the land, trailing his entourage like a Saudi prince trails wives?

At any rate, the finest minds in the west are focused like a laser on what the US Government designates by the official acronym CVE - which stands for "Countering Violent Extremism" and not, yet, despite Marie Harf, "Cabs for Violent Extremists".

~Today I started the day with the great John Oakley on AM640 in Toronto. We discussed various aspects of the Obama Administration's approach to the Islamic State and related matters - including CVE, and the latest mass burnings by ISIS, just five miles away from where those 300 pairs of US Marine non-boots on the ground are supposedly "training" the Iraqi Army. And, as I said to John, in such a world who would be an American ally? Click below to listen:

~Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be keeping my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt - don't worry, it's not in the Joe Biden press-conference sense: no wandering hands. That's live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

February 18, 2015 at 10:51 am  |  Permalink

Who Ya Gonna Believe? Us or Your Own Severed Head?

For strange psychological reasons that archaeologists who sift through the rubble of our civilization will long ponder, the biggest story of our time cannot be reported honestly.

For example, the Islamic State's rapidly growing Libyan branch office has just held a mass execution of 21 men. The Government of the United States deplored it thus:

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Murder of Egyptian Citizens

"Egyptian citizens"? They didn't die because of their passports; they died because they were Coptic Christians - or, as their executioners put it, "followers of the cross".

Why would the White House so dishonor the dead? As I wrote a week ago, the Administration's lies about the perpetrators necessitate lies about their victims:

Lies beget lies. The Obama Administration insists that the Islamic State is not Islamic, Islamic terrorism is nothing to do with Islam, there's no Islam to see here, no way, no how. You can't hold the line at one lie, and tell the truth on everything else. The lie on Islam infects everything else. If they're just "violent extremists" in general, they have to be violent and extremist in general - or "randomly", as the President would say.

Because the United States Government will not tell the truth about the Islamic motivation of the killers, it cannot tell the truth about the victims - whether Jews in France, or Copts in Libya, or Anglicans in Nigeria.

It is an absurd lie but many influential people are willing to serve it. Step forward, Daniel Burke, CNN's "Religion Editor". Attempting to make sense of the horrors of the last week, Mr Burke filed a story called "Religion's Week From Hell". Yes, "religious" people are getting up to all sorts of hellish stuff. Just ask any expert:

If you want to rally troops to your side, few tools are more powerful than religion, said Michael Jerryson, co-editor of "The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence." "If you can turn a battle into good versus evil, or doing God's will, you will get so much more devotion," he told CNN.

This "religion" business is a powerful tool, eh? Daniel Burke then listed various examples of the "religious" hellishness going on around the planet. As John Hinderaker noticed, one of these things is not like the other:

Monday: Boko Haram take 20 hostages in Cameroon and detonate a car bomb in Niger;

Tuesday: Three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina are killed by an atheist neighbor;

Wednesday: ISIS bombs Baghdad, killing dozens of Iraqis;

Thursday: Al-Qaeda seize a key military base in Yemen, killing four soldiers;

Friday: Boko Haram kill five people in Chad;

Saturday: A gunman kills a Danish film director and a Jewish security guard in Copenhagen;

Sunday: The Libyan subsidiary of ISIS beheads 21 Copts on a beach.

With the exception of that Carolina guy, who is of no religion, the "religious" violence in seven different countries was all perpetrated by adherents of one particular religion. But CNN can't say that, so its only way of covering this trend is to tut about all this - what's the word? - random religious fervor getting everyone all randomly fired up. I prefer the way I put it in my bestselling book America Alone way back in 2006, right up front in the prologue:

Though there are many trouble spots around the world, as a general rule it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs Jews in "Palestine", Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Christians in Africa, Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs backpacking tourists in Bali, Muslims vs Danish cartoonists in Scandinavia. The environmentalists may claim to think globally but act locally, but these guys live it.

Muslims vs [Your Team Here]. That stands up pretty well almost a decade on - which is why if you don't already have a personally autographed copy of my book, you should. But don't worry, there's no chance of me getting invited on as an expert by CNN's Religion Editor.

Faced with all these random religions getting out of hand, what should the Government of the United States do? State Department spokes-coed Marie Harf is looking at the world through rose-colored glasses:

We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs… We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.

The man who beheaded the Copts in Libya has a North American accent. The guy who beheaded the Americans in Syria has an estuary English accent. The bloke who gave a severed head to his seven-year-old kid to wave around on social media has an Aussie accent.

Like thousands of other Islamic State volunteers from the western world, like the Copenhagen killer (a graduate of a fast-track high school) and the Ottawa killer (the son of a super-senior Canadian bureaucrat), these guys had all the "job opportunities" they could dream of in the most advanced economies on earth - and they gave it all up to go head-chopping. Because they found jihad - whoops, sorry, "religion" - more appealing than being the sort of fey western metrosexual eunuch who hung around Marie Harf in college.

Maybe we could just offer everyone in ISIS interns at the State Department. For one thing, in Foggy Bottom if you chopped off everyone's heads, who'd notice?

~My daughter alerted me yesterday afternoon to the sad news that the great Lesley Gore had died, far too young. I saw her at Michael Feinstein's club in New York some years back, and assumed I had all the time in the world to catch her again. She was a fine songwriter, and I loved her singing voice. But it wasn't all teen angst. A few years ago, my daughter and I whipped up a version of this Lesley Gore hit that we liked to do. But really you can't improve on the original:

That was the first hit song composed by Marvin Hamlisch, who also died too young. Hard to beat that for the maximum infectious perkiness packed into 90 seconds. Lesley Gore grew up and, like a lot of pop stars, had to live with the reality that you're older and wiser and your command of your craft is far more sophisticated, but you're just not as big a star, and that moment will never come again. But she made her peace with her youthful success, and, if 90 seconds of "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" isn't enough, here she is a quarter-century later on stage in Melbourne;

Rest in peace.

~The New York Times' media columnist David Carr has also died, very suddenly, right after a very blah defense of Brian Williams. To be honest, I can't say I mourn him as I mourn Miss Gore. Our only intersection came five-and-a-half years ago after a New York Times front-page story reported that I'd compared Barack Obama to Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein. Actually, I hadn't. But "media critic" David Carr picked up the error for his own column and took it to the next level. After The Irish Times and other newspapers that made the mistake of believing America's "newspaper of record" issued corrections, The New York Times issued its own somewhat snotty and defensive correction (I didn't ask for one - the only time I've ever demanded a correction I played it strictly for laughs.)

That's by way of saying that, for all the effusions about his brilliant insights and high style as a media analyst, in the only matter of which I had direct personal knowledge he was just another lazy third-rate hack playing journo-Chinese whispers rather than actually listening to the media he was paid to "analyze". Funny how that works.

February 17, 2015 at 10:30 am  |  Permalink

The Republican Ideal

Happy Presidents Day to all our American readers - and to all our Canadian readers a happy "Family Day", an even more anodyne coinage observed in recent years in a handful of provinces. Presidents Day is a diminished holiday since it was re-designated from Washington's Birthday, and, with the usual deft touch of Congress (in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act), scheduled so that it can never even fall on Washington's actual birthday. If we are meant to celebrate the grand accumulation of chief magistrates, include me out. I find the imperial excess of the modern presidency utterly revolting, and I mean that in a bipartisan sense, too. It's both unaffordable in the Brokest Nation in History, and aside from its grotesque bloat - $7-million Christmas vacations for Obama - it's also largely useless - as demonstrated a year or so back when America's money-no-object citizen-executive flew Air Force One to South Africa, accompanied by the "decoy" Air Force One, and a zillion aides, and the 40-car motorcade or whatever it's up to by now, and a bazillion Secret Service guys with reflector shades and telephone cords hanging out their ears, who dutifully "secured" the venue for the President so it was safe for him to enter, and then stood him on stage three feet from a fake interpreter for the deaf with a rap sheet that included rape, kidnapping, and membership of a murderous "necklacing" gang. The bigger the "security", the more holes in it.

But so what? President Tee-Time has been on the links for three days in California, golfing while the world burns - 21 Christians beheaded in Libya, Jews and artists shot dead in Denmark, ISIS troops surrounding a US base in Iraq... But that's no reason not to play another round: The emperor has no clothes except plus-fours.

Here's my kind of president. This is an excerpt from the newly expanded eBook edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, available worldwide in Kindle, Kobo, Nook (for full details, see below):

Presidents are thin on the ground in my corner of New Hampshire. There's Franklin Pierce down south, and Chester Arthur over in western Vermont (or, for believers in the original birther conspiracy, southern Quebec), but neither is any reason for a jamboree. So, for a few years, come Presidents' Day I'd drive my children over the Connecticut River and we'd zigzag down through the Green Mountain State to the Coolidge homestead in Plymouth Notch. And there, with the aid of snowshoes, we'd scramble up the three-foot drifts of the village's steep hillside cemetery to Silent Cal's grave.

Seven generations of Coolidges are buried there all in a row – including Julius Caesar Coolidge, which is the kind of name I'd like to find on the ballot one November (strong on war, but committed to small government). The 30th president is as seemly and modest in death as in life, his headstone no different from those of his forebears or his sons – just a plain granite marker with name and dates: in the summer, if memory serves, there's a small US flag in front - and also no snow, so that, under the years of birth and death, you can see the small American eagle that is all that distinguishes this man's gravestone from the earlier Calvin Coolidges in his line.

I do believe it's the coolest grave of any head of state I've ever stood in front of. It moves me far more than the gaudier presidential memorials. "We draw our presidents from the people, " said Coolidge. "I came from them. I wish to be one of them again." He lived the republican ideal most of America's political class merely pays lip service to.

I came to Plymouth Notch during my first winter at my new home in New Hampshire, and purchased some cheddar from the village cheese factory still owned by his son John (he sold it in 1998). So, ever afterwards, the kids and I conclude each visit by swinging by the fromagerie and buying a round of their excellent granular curd cheddar - a big cheese from the home of a man who never saw himself as one.

~excerpted from the newly expanded eBook edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, which can be yours within minutes - from Barnes & Noble in the US, from Indigo-Chapters in Canada, and from Amazon outlets worldwide. Click below for your nearest branch office:

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February 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, February 9-15

In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:

It was a bad week for freedom of speech, beginning with the news from England that Wiltshire Police had demanded that local newsagents cough up the name and address of every customer who had purchased Charlie Hebdo. This was our most-read piece of the week, yet it was followed by the even more disturbing revalation that this action was not a clumsy improvisation by one bozo county copper but part of a nationwide policy directed by the chief constable in charge of "combating extremism". The week ended with yet another murderous assault on those few brave people who, unlike Her Majesty's Constabulary, are prepared to defend free speech.

~On Monday, Mark's Sinatra Centenary countdown celebrated one of the most recorded songs of all time: "Stardust."

~Tuesday saw one of the most disgusting exercises in official evasion, as senior apparatchiks at both the White House and the State Department dug in after the President's repugnant remarks on the "bunch of folks" who got killed in Paris, and insisted, at length, that there are "no Jews to see here". A few days later, just to underline the contemptible dishonesty of the Administration, there was a shooting at yet another European synagogue, this time in Copenhagen.

~On Wednesday, Mark pondered the delusions of progressive westerners: in Paris a street artist was beaten up for displaying his Co-Exist slogan, and in Syria an "aid worker" from Arizona who'd supported the "resistance" from the "minarets" was killed by the Islamic State.

~On Thursday, Mark returned to The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss Scott Walker and the decline of a two-party system into a two-school system.

~On Friday, Mark took his cue from the President and indulged in a couple of columnar selfies, on the Bambi-boomer approach to foreign policy, and the intersection of brewing and breeding.

Saturday was Valentine's Day. We celebrated with the song for the season; a cautionary tale on vascularization from Mark's new book; and the perfect date movie - Clint Eastwood's valentine to himself.

Despite the usual procedularist delays, Mark continues to prepare for his trial against fake Nobel Laureate and Big Climate enforcer Michael E Mann. While we're waiting to get Dr Fraudpants on the witness stand, we hope you'll take a look at a new book featuring Mark and many eminent scientists called Climate Change: The Facts. It's available in Kindle at Amazon outlets worldwide, as well as in Kobo and in Nook at Barnes & Noble. And, as always, we thank those of you who've continued to support Steyn's pushback against the Clime Syndicate via SteynOnline gift certificates and other Steyn store purchases. At the end of a grim week for the cause of free speech, Mark's own book on the subject, Lights Out, seems more prescient than ever.

A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week.

February 15, 2015 at 9:22 am  |  Permalink

A Long Day in Copenhagen

Following this afternoon's murderous assault at a "discussion" on free speech in Copenhagen, there was a second attack this evening at a synagogue in the city near Krystalgade Street. One person has been shot in the head* and another two injured.

Say, wait a minute: an attack on a "bunch" of artists and writers, followed by an attack on a "bunch" of Jews? Didn't we run this story last month?

Why, yes, we did. But don't worry, that was Paris. Whereas this time it's Copenhagen. Two entirely separate cities. So, like President Obama says, it's all just entirely "random". "Bunches" here, "bunches" there, but they're all just random bunches of random folks.

If I were Jen Psaki or Josh Earnest, I would need to hose myself down every evening after peddling that much sewage all day long.

By shutting down debate on why these victims, why these perpetrators, and keeping it all nice and random, the President is objectively advancing the interests of the other side - whose modus operandi is also to shut down debate, albeit more murderously. My thoughts and prayers are with my friends in Copenhagen this evening.

*UPDATE: The man shot in the head has died.

But fortunately the leader of the free world is on top of things:

President Obama is in Palm Springs for the weekend and was on the golf course as the day's events unfolded.

~Mark's reaction to the afternoon's events is here.

February 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm  |  Permalink

Through the Bottom of a Glass Darkly

Our occasional feature, the Steyn I-Told-You-So Moment, always trembles on the brink of obnoxiousness, and one must be careful about pushing it too far. However, given that we have a president who selfies while the world burns, I hope you'll forgive a couple of columnar selfies for this Valentine's Day, prompted by items in the mail. First, Matt McWilliams writes from Florida:

Mark,

Regarding your comments about Kayla Mueller and where her idealism got her, I'm reminded of another story from some years ago. You may recall a fellow named Timothy Treadwell, described on Wikipedia as "American bear enthusiast, environmentalist, amateur naturalist, eco-warrior, and documentary filmmaker and founder of Grizzly people." He was also known for spending his summers living with Grizzly bears in Alaska. A further entry from Wikipedia; "At the end of his 13th summer in the park in 2003, he and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard (October 23, 1965 – October 5, 2003) were killed by a 28-year-old brown bear, whose stomach was later found to contain human remains and clothing."

Those brown bears can be pretty random.

Matt McWilliams
Coral Springs, FL

Well, Matt, you have to get up pretty early to beat me to metaphors of civilizational suicide. From page 261 of After America:

In 2003, Disney brought us its latest animated feature, Brother Bear, the usual New Age mumbo-jumbo with a generic Native American gloss. It told the tale of Kenai, a young fellow in a bucolic Pacific Northwest at the end of the Ice Age. To avenge his brother's death, Kenai kills the brown bear responsible. But trouble's a-bruin: his late brother is wise enough to know that killing is not the answer and so gets the Great Spirit to teach Kenai a lesson by transforming him into a bear. He thereby learns that bears are not violent beasts but sensitive beings living in harmony with nature who understand the world they live in far more than man does. I would certainly agree that bears are wiser and more sensitive than man, if only because I've yet to meet a bear who's produced an animated feature as mawkishly deluded as this.

Among the technical advisers on the film, hired to ensure the accurate depiction of our furry friends, was Timothy Treadwell, the self-described eco-warrior from Malibu who became famous for his campaign "to promote getting close to bears to show they were not dangerous". He did this by sidling up to them and singing "I love you" in a high-pitched voice. Brother Bear is certainly true to the Treadwell view of the brown bears, and he would surely have appreciated the picture had he ever gotten to see it. But, just as Kenai found himself trapped inside a bear, so did Mr Treadwell - although in his case he was just passing through. In September, a pilot arrived at the ursine expert's camp near Kaflia Bay in Alaska to fly him out and instead found the bits of him and his girlfriend that hadn't yet been eaten buried in a bear's food cache.

Treadwell had always said he wanted to end up in "bear scat", so his fellow activists were inclined to look on the bright side. "He would say it's the culmination of his life's work," said his colleague Jewel Palovak. "He died doing what he lived for."

I wonder if he was revising his view in the final moments. And if his girlfriend was quite so happy to find she had a bit part in "the culmination of his life's work".

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to weep with laughter at the fate of the eco-warrior, but it does make Brother Bear somewhat harder to swallow than its technical adviser manifestly was. There are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but sadly no Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People. And, just as bugs are becoming resistant to antibiotics, so the big beasts are changing, too. Wild animals are not merely the creatures of their appetites; they're also astute calculators of risk. Not so long ago, your average bear knew that if he happened upon a two-legged type, the chap would pull a rifle on him and he'd be spending eternity as a fireside rug. But these days it's just as likely that any human being he comes across is some pantywaist Bambi Boomer enviro-sentimentalist trying to get in touch with his inner self. And, if the guy wants to get in touch with his inner self so badly, why not just rip it out of his chest for him?

North American wildlife seems to have figured that out. Why be surprised if other predators do..?

In 2008, the Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca set off to hitch-hike from Milan to the Palestinian Territories to promote "world peace". She was dressed as a bride, and the purpose of her trip was to show that if only you put your trust in our common humanity then all will be well. A month later, her naked body was found in the bushes near Gebze in Turkey. She had been gang-raped and then killed. Like Timothy Treadwell's, her illusions met reality.

Most of us as individuals retain enough of a survival instinct that, if we find ourselves on a rough city block in a foreign land late at night, we mothball the PC pieties until we get back to the lobby of the Grand Hyatt. But what happens when Pippa Bacca's illusions become the dominant political discourse of a free society? And how many Timothy Treadwells crooning to their killers does a society have to have before it loses even the very idea of a survival instinct?

We are very near that point, as Kayla Mueller's death and the reaction to it demonstrates. After America stands up pretty well, I think. Personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore, and profits therefrom help to prop up my end of the interminable lawsuit from Michael E Mann, PhD (Doctor of Phraudology).

~Speaking of civilizational suicide, Maria Limpiador Tweets:

Hey @MarkSteynOnline what do you think of this --- http://news.sky.com/story/1426937/fewer-young-drinkers-may-be-due-to-ethnic-changes … ?

Here's the story she refers to, from Sky News:

The number of teetotal young adults has almost doubled, according to new statistics that show a significant drop in alcohol consumption amongst 16 to 24-year-olds.

The rise is so steep that it has caused an overall increase in the number of adults who do not drink at all, which is now over one fifth...

London had the highest rates of teetotalism, with one third of adults in the capital saying they did not drink at all.

Hmm. Oddly enough, London also has over one million Muslims. I wonder if the increasing number of Muslims and the decreasing number of boozers might be connected...

One expert told Sky News that the rise in numbers of teetotal young people was related to the UK's changing demographics.

"It's probably mainly driven by the changing ethnic mix in this country. There are increasing numbers of people who don't drink at all because of religious reasons," said Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of Alcohol Health Alliance.

And who might those people be, eh? I said a few years back that, if some A-list ayatollah in Qom were to issue a special dispensation permitting converts the consumption of alcohol for a transitional period, the United Kingdom would already be half-Muslim. But the ancient British tradition of being face down in the pavement pizza after 17 pints on a Friday night is a tough one to abandon. Tough, but not impossible... As I wrote in America Alone:

Can the developed world get more Muslim in its demographic character without becoming more Muslim in its political character? And what consequences does that have for art and culture, science and medicine, innovation and energy …and basic liberties?

Perhaps the differences will be minimal. In France, the Catholic churches will become mosques; in England, the village pubs will cease serving alcohol; in the Netherlands, the gay nightclubs will close up shop and relocate to San Francisco.

Since I wrote those words in 2006, all those things have happened. America Alone stands up pretty well, I think. Personally autographed copies are exclusively avai ...oh, come on, Steyn, knock it off; you can't keep doing this for every prescient book you've written.

Okay then. Britain is not the only country whose demographic trends are turning its brewers into the liquid equivalent of buggy-whip makers. Six years ago, for my "Happy Warrior" column, I wrote about the intersection of brewing and breeding:

Eventually demography tells. A German beer garden is not as beguiling as an Italian park but it has a certain claim on the cultural landscape. According to the Federal Statistics Office, this year German beer sales have fallen to an all-time low. Putting a brave face on the evaporating head of his lager, Peter Hahn, head honcho of the German Brewery Association, attributed the slump to inclement weather. But as he also noted: "We have a changing population. Older people drink less and there are not enough young people to make up for it."

True. Herr Hahn is a victim of demographic temperance. This month, EuroStat released figures showing that Germany has the lowest birth rate in the EU. That would be a non-alcoholic headache for the German Brewery Association in the best of circumstances. But Herr Hahn was too discreet to add that what few young people Germany now has increasingly belong to a demographic not known for its beer intake. A few months back, when the Merkez mosque opened in the old industrial working-class town of Duisburg boasting splendid minarets and public subsidies totaling three million euros, Deutsche Welle reported as follows: "New mosque seen as a symbol of integration." Maybe. But it's also a symbol of transformation: There will not be many foaming steins (if you'll forgive the expression) in Duisburg's future.

Demography changes everything. You lose not only your future but your past, too - particularly if your past is an English village whose high streets boast a handful of pubs bearing names like "The Saracen's Head" and "The George And Dragon"...

February 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm  |  Permalink

The Credentialization of the Republic

On my pre-Valentine's appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show, there wasn't a lot of love from Howard Dean for Scott Walker. According to Dean, the Wisconsin Governor is unfit to be president because he failed to complete college:

HUGH HEWITT: All right, so Mark Steyn, how well-educated is this guy? Was that question really asked and answered when President Obama was running?

MARK STEYN: Well, it is interesting, isn't it? President Obama had a million dollars of elite education – Occidental, Columbia, and what was the other one, Yale or Harvard? I can't remember now.

HH: Harvard Law.

MS: And we don't know a thing about it. We don't know what he did there. Howard Dean, who I find, I don't particularly dislike Howard Dean, but I do remember when he ran for president, he cited as his foreign policy experience the fact that he used to take his children from their Vermont school to play soccer across the border in Beaconsfield, Quebec. And that was his evidence of his foreign policy experience. Now he says that we, it would be astonishing to have a president without a college education. I actually mention this in my book, After America. William McKinley had one term of college. Grover Cleveland left college. Van Buren left school at 14. Lincoln only had 18 months of formal education. And Zachary Taylor never went to school at all. Truman didn't have a degree. That's what, two, three generations ago? And Ronald Reagan, which is one generation ago, went to Eureka College, Illinois, which is the sort of school that Obama and Howard Dean would sneer at. And for the last quarter century, this country has not had a two-party system. It's basically had a two-school system – Yale for Bush, Sr., Yale Law for Clinton, Harvard Business for Bush, Jr., and Harvard Law for Obama. And I don't think that's the American way... I was always told as the subject of a tyrannical monarchy was that the difference was that in your country, Hugh, anyone could grow up to be president. And if we want to restrict it in the way that Howard Dean is proposing to restrict it to this Ivy League technocracy, that's actually driven America over the cliff - because the smartest thing you can know is to know enough to know what you don't know. And that's what Howard Dean and Obama and all the rest of the guys never want to acknowledge.

Hugh and I also discussed the rekindling of Obama's friendship with domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and the President's bizarre please-tie-one-hand-behind-my-back request for war authorization. You can find the full interview here.

~The Sun ain't gonna shine anymore: Viewers were always very kind about my appearances on Canada's Sun News Network - or "Fox News North", as its detractors called it. But treasure your memories. Sun News went off the air this morning. Here's a trio of eulogies from Kathy Shaidle, Gavin McInnes, Jay Currie, plus a bleak morning-after test-card from Blazing Cat Fur. For an alternative gloat-fest, see the CBC, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star et al.

February 13, 2015 at 9:10 am  |  Permalink

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