SteynOnline celebrates its twentieth birthday this month, and we're marking the occasion by getting back in the cruise biz. No tests, no vax passports, that's all yours to choose or not; but just a week of fun on the high seas with Bo Snerdley, Eva Vlaardingerbroek, Tal Bachman and other Steyn favorites. More information here.
We're also celebrating by strolling back through the last two decades of the SteynOnline archives. For earlier entries, see below.
In 2016 I took to the stage of Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall for the Munk Debate. With Rudyard Griffiths moderating, yours truly and the then UKIP leader Nigel Farage took on former UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour and the eminent BBC historian Simon Schama over the tide of migrants sweeping Europe. The motion before the house was:
Be it resolved, give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...
The Munk Debates are about persuasion - an essential aspect of democratic politics but one that too many chaps on my own side have neglected. Under Munk rules, the side that changes the most minds wins. At the start of the debate, the audience voted 77 per cent pro, 23 per cent con. At the end of the debate, they voted again:
The post debate vote is 55% pro and 45% con. The con side shifted 22% of the vote from the pre-debate results. Con wins.
So Steyn & Farage doubled our vote over the course of the night, which is not a bad result with a tough Trudeaupian crowd.
Among those in the room was Barbara Kay, who wrote up her view of the evening under the terrifying headline "When Mark Steyn Struck Back":
To some audience members (not to me, but for example to my furiously tweeting companion, a young colleague who happens to bear the same last name as me), Steyn dwelt excessively on the sexual crimes we've all read about in Cologne, Hamburg, Malmö and elsewhere. So it apparently seemed to Arbour and Schama, because they mocked Steyn for it in their rebuttals. Arbour sneered at both Steyn and Farage as "newborn feminists" (she got a laugh), while Schama disgraced himself with "I'm just struck by how obsessed with sex these two guys are, actually. It's a bit sad, really." (That got a very big laugh.) I took one look at Steyn's glowering face after that remark — Schama will regret having said it to his dying day, I know it — and I kind of felt sorry for those two liberals, because I knew what was coming.
Steyn slowly rose...
Oh, okay, here it is - Louise, Simon, and then me:
As one attendee observed:
The scour on Arbour's face and the humiliation on Schama's revealed the depth to which Steyn's riposte had struck. While Steyn's fact-laced rhetoric had Arbour and Schama's pretense to moral superiority lying twisted and hemorrhaging on the floor, Farage delivered the coup de grace:
'We've lived through a hundred years of female emancipation and liberation and now we have the mayors of towns in Germany and in Sweden and in other parts of Northern Europe telling women not to walk out after dark on their own. And in the wake of the Cologne sex attacks, we had the mayor of that city telling women they really ought to dress differently and behave differently in public. That Simon, is what is sad, and I find the sheer hypocrisy of those of you who said you were going to defend female rights when actually you think migrant rights are more important than female rights in our community. Frankly, shame on you.'
Arbour and Schama never fully recovered from that moment.
Mrs Kay interpreted its significance as follows:
I think that was the moment those of the audience who did change their minds got it... A civilized culture, which takes centuries of painstaking collaborative work to create, can be easily destroyed, and quickly. This is a reality conservatives understand, but liberals, consumed by guilt for past collective sins, and morally disarmed before the Other, choose to ignore. The Munk debate illuminated this important distinction, and for a change, realism won.
In the house, that was certainly the point when you could sense something start to shift. Beyond the confines of Roy Thomson Hall, however, all the nice liberal boys failed to grasp the significance of the exchange, and decided to dig themselves in even deeper. Of course, they came to the subject with a certain amount of pre-baked hostility, starting with those who couldn't even figure out why a couple of loons like Nige and me were up there on stage in the first place. Confronting the bleak reality of the Farage/Steyn "con win", The Globe & Mail's Doug Saunders had no doubt how it had happened:
Simon Schama is a genius, but his talent is wasted slapping down the bigoted porno-fictions of a cartoon character
But hang on, why would upscale liberal Torontonians fall for a bigoted porno-cartoon such as myse? My old Ottawa Citizen sparring partner, Dan Gardner, was flummoxed:
Did the pro side do a decent job of defending? Because if a Munk audience can fall for stuff like that...
CBC National Correspondent Peter Armstrong was obliged to explain that "Steyn played to emotion and fear" - because we all know that a bunch of Roy Thomson Hall redneck rubes in the symphony-orchestra equivalent of a Munich beer hall are just suckers for that boob bait every time.
Louise's opening joke was that Canada, unlike Germany, does not have a land border that millions of refugees are pouring across - although that may change after November's US elections. That got a big laugh, because what Toronto liberal doesn't enjoying scoffing at those crazy Yanks hot for Trump? I don't begrudge her that: it's a way of signaling to the crowd, hey, I'm one of you - and the other guys aren't. And her "sneer" at Nigel and me was intended to go down the same way: Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous as these two right-wing sexist racist loons pretending to be upset about gang rape? Ha-ha, said Simon, we all know it's 'cause they're such sexually uptight right-wing losers they can't pull any chicks on their own...
I don't know the numbers, but I have a suspicion that in the exit poll more Toronto ladies changed their votes than men did. Certainly at least one chap in the house was unmoved: While the distaff side of the Kay family thought Simon Schama had "disgraced himself" with his response, Barbara Kay's son Jonathan found it "spirited" [since deleted]. He didn't hear the blithe dismissal of mass gang-rape and child-rape for what it was. And, if he'll take a bit of advice from an old comrade, he might like to ponder why that is.
Breitbart News's take:
Revealing the horrifying realities on the ground in Europe, as a result of the presence of more than a million refugees, Steyn described how "a fortnight after acing a training course on treating women with respect" a 15 year old Afghan dragged a Belgian caterer at a refugee centre down to the basement and raped her.
Crediting her as the first prosecutor to charge rape as a crime against humanity and the author of several reports on rape as a "weapon of war". Arbour looked uncomfortable as Steyn pointed to the 500 cases of sexual assault on just one night in Cologne and the gang rape children as young as 7 and even just 3 years old that have resulted from this refugee influx.
Breitbart's Virginia Hale helpfully included a few links so that nice boys like The Globe & Mail's Doug Saunders, who dismisses the above as "urban myth", and my old National Post comrade Jonathan Kay, who less confidently dismissed the above as "dubious" and "very dubious", can bring themselves up to speed. Simon Schama likewise scoffed at the epidemic of gang-rape and child rape, much to Jonathan's approval:
A spirited Simon Schama just called out Mark Steyn for his "X-rated horror" vision of Muslim fact in Europe.
Louise Arbour decided she'd like a piece of the calling-out action, too, as TVO's Steve Paikin noted in his blow-by-blow account:
That was too much for Arbour, who taunted Steyn and Farage, calling them "these newborn feminists over there." Schama piled on, adding "I'm struck by how obsessed with sex these guys are. It's a bit sad actually." Some in the audience laughed at the comments.
Watching in London, the Speccie's Douglas Murray was far shrewder on how Mme Arbour and Professor Schama's "spirited" response was likely to end up:
Another common insinuation – better described as a low gag – comes this time courtesy of Simon Schama. This trick pretends that any male opponent concerned about the mass-rape of women is in fact just 'obsessed with sex'. It suggests that these people don't in fact care about women being raped across the continent, but just don't get enough nookie themselves and mention the mass-rape and genital mutilation only to get off on it in some weird way...
Watching Arbour and Schama try these tricks on Steyn and Farage, I was (like a lot of viewers, I'm sure) champing at the bit. So what a thing of beauty it was to see Steyn's riposte to all this. It begins at 38:25. That's where Steyn begins by congratulating Schama and Arbour for getting 'such big laughs on gang-rape'. It grows from there.
Steve Paikin concluded:
It was a powerful debate, expertly moderated by Rudyard Griffiths, featuring four brilliant speakers. When the, one assumes, somewhat left-of-centre downtown Toronto audience was asked to vote again, a massive shift in sentiment was revealed.
The Farage-Steyn duo clearly moved the most votes.
That "four brilliant speakers" bit is awfully generous of Mr Paikin - although one has the vague feeling that if the other side had clobbered me and Nige it would have been "two brilliant speakers" plus a couple of "controversial" "gadflies" not quite up to it. As Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch put it:
Tragically, most people don't know what is happening, but as the Munk debate proved, when we have the opportunity to present the truth, we have a very strong likelihood of winning people over to the side of reason and righteousness and the defense of Western civilization.
I learned something else that night, too - which is one reason why, six years on, we're one of the few TV shows that reports what's happening to English girls every night of the week in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oldham, Oxford, Telford, and on and on. "Liberal" men talk a good game, but, when push cames to rape, they're heartless and indifferent.
So, for Toronto's "liberal" commentators, at issue during the debate was whether the alleged Northern Europe gang-rape epidemic was merely a kinky sex fantasy for me and Nigel Farage. Is it even happening? The National Post's Jonathan Kay [since deleted]:
Mark Steyn seems to suggest that Muslim refugees raped 500 women and girls in Germany in single night. Seems very dubious
If you're going to present yourself as a fact-checker, you could at least get off your arse and check facts. Actually, I said there were 500 "sexual assaults", a crime which includes not just penetration by an unwanted penis, but apparently trivial and unimportant stuff like, for example, being surrounded by a dozen menacing, predatory men and finding that "Ich hatte Finger an allen Körperöffnungen" - I had a finger in every orifice.
Nor did I say there were 500 sexual assaults "in Germany". I said there were 500 in Cologne alone. From Süddeutsche Zeitung:
Bislang wurden laut Staatsanwaltschaft Köln 1139 Anzeigen gestellt, davon 485 wegen einer Sexualstraftat.
That's to say, the Cologne state prosecutor's office was up to 1,139 New Year's Eve attacks, of which 485 were for sex assaults. So you got me there, Jonathan. I ballooned it out of all proportion and alleged there were not a footling 485 sexual assaults in Cologne in a single night, but a grossly exaggerated and "very dubious" 500. As for the number throughout Germany, there were also mass coordinated gang assaults in Bielefeld, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart - totaling just shy of 2,000 victims.
But let's keep it with Cologne. Jonathan Kay was a colleague of mine at The National Post for many years, so I'm reluctant to go full shagged-sheep on an old friend. I will, however, observe that the great liberal virtue of "empathy" appears to be all but entirely absent among a certain type of Toronto male. To translate it into local terms, given that Toronto is roughly two-and-a-half times the size of Cologne, it's the equivalent of about 1,200 women being sexually assaulted on New Year's Eve in front of Union Station or Queen's Park.
Would that not be ...unusual? And worthy of note?
Apparently not. The Globe & Mail's Doug Saunders:
A very large part of his [Steyn's] debate argument involved retailing urban myths involving refugees and rape etc
By "urban myths", Mr Saunders means hundreds and hundreds of Continental media reports. If you recall from the debate that flurry of child-rape stories I cited from a week's worth of German newspapers, I could have read out similar individual European headlines until the end of the debate at 9pm, and never repeated myself.
But no doubt Saunders' agent is already pitching his next book. Forthcoming from Knopf Canada:
Hey, What's The Big Deal About Gang Rape?
by Doug Saunders
"Spirited!" - Jonathan Kay
At a certain level, Louise Arbour is right: Nigel and I are not the best spokespersons for the raped and battered women and children of the new Europe. We are, after all, as Mr Saunders says, mere bigoted cartoon characters. It would be much better for the victims if all the respectable people - like Louise and Simon and Doug and Jonathan - were to take up the cause.
But they don't.
And they mock those who do.
One of the questions asked of Germany in the weeks after New Year was a simple one: Where are all the men? Well, here's one answer from Stéphanie Kay:
So men concerned about sex crimes against women and children are either pathologically obsessed with sex (Schama) or frauds (Arbour). Have we got that? Well maybe that's why, after 40+ years of feminism, no Western men seem to have been on hand to defend the women and children when these crimes occurred.
It turns out the new men - the ones Louise Arbour doesn't laugh at - aren't there for all those German women. And on the evidence of Munk Debate Tweeters they're unlikely to be there for Toronto women, either.
In the Nineties, I took Mme Arbour seriously on gang-rape in the Balkans, because I knew victims of it. As I said on stage, she was the first prosecutor to charge mass rape as a war crime. For her generation, as I was obliged to remind Simon Schama, rape is not about sex but about power. New Year's Eve in Cologne was also about power. And, given the coordination via social media of mass sexual assault by thousands of men from the Tyrol to the Baltic, it is also a weapon of war.
And just to round things out here's my closing statement - whose observations on those who jet between all the "nice places" seem particularly pertinent as our leaders return from the G20 in Bali:
SteynOnline: The First Twenty Years