I often thank those from far-flung parts - Latvia, Finland, India, Singapore, Georgia (the ex-Soviet one, not the Ray Charles one), Indonesia, Brazil, and even the Falkland Islands - who've helped support my pushback against serial litigant and fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann. But I ought to express my gratitude for those nearer to our corporate head office. After all these years in New Hampshire, I open my mouth in the general store and still sound like I got off the boat yesterday. But it's where I make my home, and I'm humbled by all the Granite Staters who in the last few weeks have swung by the Steyn store to buy a book or a gift certificate - especially those from the Seacoast and parts of deep southern NH I don't get to too often. Nobody likes to feel like Gary Cooper in High Noon, and it's good to know when Michael E Mann's in his black hat and reaching into his holster to draw his hockey stick that some of the neighbors are sticking around for you.
The good news is we may have an angle to sucker the kids into cracking open those piggy banks. Forget the Scopes Monkey Trial, it's the George Monkey Trial:
My two year old daughter is going through a serious Curious George phase and every time she sees the graphic for "Steyn vs the Stick" at the top of your page begins yelling "Georgie!"
I can see the resemblance!
Indeed. My favorite Curious George book is Curious George Gets Curious About Mike's Proxy Data But Gets Slapped Down By The Virginia Supreme Court. Speaking of "settled science":
Re Dr Mann and his obsession with the legitimacy of his work and stifling any and all dissent: When I was a student at University of Toronto in the 1970s, our president was J. Tuzo Wilson. Besides being an amiable person around campus he was also a man who didn't mind tilting at the windmills of "settled science". In his case the field was plate tectonics, also known as continental drift. Along with several scholars, especialy Alfred Wegener, Arthur Holmes and Samuel Carey, Dr. Wilson postulated the theory that the planet's plates were moving and had done so for millions of years. The position of the continents today did not reflect their position over history.
Needless to say, the Dr. Manns and Al Gores of the day were having nothing of it. Wegener was not a geologist, they pointed out. The German physicist Scheidigger was ripping the plate tectonics advocates in the 1950s. In one of the more supreme ironies, noted UK warmist and settled scientist David Attenborough (at university in the second half of the 1940s) noted the lack of acceptance for plate tectonics among the establishment at the time: "I once asked one of my lecturers why he was not talking to us about continental drift and I was told, sneeringly, that if I could I prove there was a force that could move continents, then he might think about it. The idea was moonshine, I was informed."
Apparently Attenborough has acquired a taste for other brands of moonshine since.
He certainly has. Sir David is now one of those calling for his fellow Britons to save the planet by having fewer or no children. I can't wait for one of those hushed-voiced telly documentaries where he observes the mating rituals of Kylie the chav from the council estate with Darren from the flat downstairs and then clubs them to a pulp before the moment of consummation.
On the subject of free speech, my return to the Aussie and UK pages of The Spectator prompted a lot of feedback. Scott Wyler writes:
I loved the Spectator piece β you totally nailed it. I've been noticing this trend for at least 20 years. No one seems to blink on the left at the dozens of instances of unpopular (read: conservative, anti-jihadist and/or pro-Israel) speakers being barred or banned from campuses β usually justified by "security concerns." It's obvious to the left that we should employ whatever resources are necessary to protect essential rights in some cases (think sending out the National Guard to enforce desegregation laws in the 60s) β that security concerns cannot prevent us from asserting and protecting certain rights, at least for certain protected classes. But it's not at all apparent to the same people that we should take a small amount of risk and employ a small amount of resources to protect the First Amendment rights of people with controversial views. I remember when I was a child reading about how the ACLU would fight to help neo-Nazi groups get parade permits; I found that so infuriating. But now I get it. We can't pick and choose who gets to express their views (and as you point out, if we do that, they are likely to find a much more lethal means of expressing their frustration), nor can we back off at the first sign that things could get ugly.
To show you how far and in how many directions this same phenomenon extends, I just finished Napoleon Chagnon's book Noble Savages. It's his account of how the academic community turned on him for reporting his conclusions from decades of field research which ran contrary to the prevailing ("consensus") view of cultural anthropology: that humans that are untouched by the greed and acquisitive impulses of western civilizations are peaceful, harmonious, loving, etc. He was attacked, slandered, subjected to all kinds of administrative torture (inquests/investigations by important governing bodies), threatened, denied research permits, hounded and damaged physically and emotionally. Like so many, he was vindicated but not until he was severely damaged and his voice muffled by all of the controversy and stress.
Just as in a just world, every newspaper would have run the Muhammad cartoons, every scientist should have rallied to this man's defense. Few did, and the foundations of our civilization eroded -- just a little bit β once again. I can feel this process of erosion happening all around us, as I know you can. We need a countersurge, and we need it now. I am hoping it might start with your case.
Yes, that noble-savage thing is another area where the science has been ideologically settled, and don't you forget it. I wrote a little about that very subject in Maclean's a few years back. Here's an excerpt:
Professor Keeley and Steven LeBlanc of Harvard disclose almost as an aside that, in fact, their scientific colleagues were equally invested in the notion of the noble primitive living in peace with nature and his fellow man, even though no such creature appears to have existed. "Most archaeologists," says LeBlanc, "ignored the fortifications around Mayan cities and viewed the Mayan elite as peaceful priests. But over the last 20 years Mayan records have been deciphered. Contrary to archaeologists' wishful thinking, they show the allegedly peaceful elite was heavily into war, conquest and the sanguinary sacrifice of beaten opponents.... The large number of copper and bronze axes found in Late Neolithic and Bronze Age burials were held to be not battle axes but a form of money."
And on, and on. Do you remember that fabulously preserved 5,000-year-old man they found in a glacier in 1991? He had one of those copper axes the experts assured us were an early unit of currency. Unfortunately for this theory, he had it hafted in a manner that suggested he wasn't asking, "Can you break a twenty?" "He also had with him," notes professor Keeley, "a dagger, a bow, and some arrows; presumably these were his small change." Nonetheless, anthropologists concluded that he was a shepherd who had fallen asleep and frozen peacefully to death in a snowstorm. Then the X-ray results came back and showed he had an arrowhead in him...
Lawrence Keeley calculates that 87 per cent of primitive societies were at war more than once per year, and some 65 per cent of them were fighting continuously. "Had the same casualty rate been suffered by the population of the twentieth century," writes Wade, "its war deaths would have totaled two billion people." Two billion! In other words, we're the aberration: after 50,000 years of continuous human slaughter, you, me, Bush, Cheney, Blair, Harper, Rummy, Condi, we're the nancy-boy peacenik crowd.
Maybe that column is worth a rerun one of these days.
My Speccie piece also mentioned all those London luvvies who, a mere four decades after the Lord Chamberlain lost his powers of censorship over the West End theatre, are pining once more for the firm slap of state regulation. Bob Strauss comments:
Excellent essay on the the march of the PC Torquemadas! That British actors, who should certainly be taking the exact opposite view, are signing off on this censorship drumbeat is particularly troubling. The inscription on the 2012 London Olympic bell jumps to mind: "Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises."
The line was, of course, spoken by Caliban in The Tempest. Caliban was a very bad guy. Nonetheless, he gets to say his piece on the bell. Most probably, the line was chosen as a multicultural soundbite for the games. Do these prominent British actors not get--as Voltaire did--that the next time round, Shakespeare's and their own voices might be scratched from the bell? Next bell, the inscription might be updated to: "Be afeard; the isle only allows certain noises."
I am reading a book by Ray Davies called Americana. (The KInks are a favorite band of mine, probably the most underrated rock band of all time. But who needs to be judgmental?) Davies appears fairly disgusted with increasing PC trends in Britain, which makes me like him all the more. Some years ago, he was visiting a school in North London, the area where he grew up, interested in the music program: "At White Hart Lane I was told that more than fifty languages were spoken by children from many different countries and cultures. Also, after I went to the school open house, it was obvious to me that although the music played there reflected the multi-ethnic diversity of the school, there was no sight or sound of anything that represented traditional British culture. More importantly, there was nothing that brought the different cultures together" (p75, Americana).
What a square. C'mon, Mr Davies, get with the program. Just join some of those letter-signing colleagues in favour of putting restrictions on speech. That will bring some tradition back to the music, some really old Brit tradition.
I like Ray Davies very much. Many years ago, I sat next to him on "Loose Ends", a BBC talk show hosted by my late friend Ned Sherrin, and I said (as Ned did) that Ray was one of my favorite songwriters. And Davies said thanks but he was a little unnerved by the compliment as all the other songwriters I liked had been dead for 40 years. Very true. However, cultural loss has been a big theme of Ray Davies' work for some time, going back to the Kinks LP The Village Green Preservation Society. A half-decade or so back, Conrad Black hosted a fundraiser at his Toronto pad for Ezra Levant's Western Standard magazine, and, in an inspired double-bill, Ezra asked Tal Bachman, son of Randy and a fine hitmaker in his own right ("She's So High), to be my warm-up act. He graciously accepted, and, knowing of my fondness for Ray Davies, sang "Village Green". I have an idea for a song on that theme that I keep meaning to mention to Ray Davies, but I may end up having to write it myself, in which case it'll come out like "Runnin' On Eggnog".
Still on that Speccie piece, I also mentioned, of course, the craven cowardice of the ghastly jelly-spined squish who purports to be President of Brandeis University, one Frederick Lawrence. Joel Margolis adds:
I see that you commented on the actions of President Lawrence. I bet you didn't know this. Two of the faculty members who signed the letter showed incredible stupidity--Donald Hindley and Jyette Klausen. Hindley was the faculty member that the previous president, Reinharz, required to have a "minder" in each of his classes, shades of Pyongyang University. Klausen is the author of The Cartoons that Shook the World, the book about the Danish Mohammed cartoons that Yale University Press required the author to excise the cartoons.
Quite. Professor Klausen's general line was that the cartoon business was a big nothingburger overheated by a bunch of right-wing provocateurs. Then, at the last minute, the cartoons themselves were cut from the book not by her publishers at Yale University Press but by the Vice-President, Secretary and other corporate bigwigs of the university itself. And not just the cartoons, but the book's other representations of Mohammed by DorΓ©, Botticelli, Blake, and Dante. As I wrote at the time:
Yale's motto: Lux et veritas. Light and truth. In fact, Yale has decided to retreat into darkness...
...and dissembling. Yale's corporate officers overrode Professor Klausen's artistic integrity because they thought belligerent Muslims would kill them. That decision said more about the Danish cartoons than any page in the professor's book. At the time, she purported to be quite upset about the decision. Yet five years on she's evidently decided to get with the program, and at Brandeis is demanding that a secular pluralist society conform once again to the rules laid down by belligerent Muslims. Scholars like Professor Klausen are supposed to be the custodians of our civilization. Yet they are colluding in its destruction, and eventual eclipse.
More from the no-Islam-to-see-here files:
I was listening to a news report on the BBC World Service yesterday (15 April) on the current prosecution in England of two medical men for FGM β the first prosecution of its kind in this country. The news report referred to FGM as a "cultural practice in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East". There was no mention of it as a practice driven and observed entirely by a single religious belief system, Islam. It isn't cultural at all, save insofar as these cultures are wholly theocratically-driven. Nor were the words "Islam" or "Muslim" used in the report at all.
"Nothing to see here", as you say.
And again - this time in reference to my column on the national disgrace of Fort Hood:
I am an Army mom whose son and daughter-in-law were stationed at Ft. Hood during the shooting. It was horrifying and I am still mad about how it was handled from the very beginning. The personal stories were unnerving. What an awful mess our government has become. Thank God that Ross Perot stepped in.
I especially liked the analogy about Pearl Harbor and the timeline of WWII. When the Nidal Hassan trial started I thought of it not in terms of WWII but of what my kids have been through since the shooting. They were sent to Ft Irwin in California for several months, deployed for a year in Iraq (they were deployed together), returned to Ft. Hood, assumed their new positions as young Captains, were transferred to Ft. Benning in GA., my son went to Ranger school, my daughter-in-law had a baby, and they bought their second house.
That is a lot of living that the Ft Hood victims, both living and dead didn't have.
I also found your comments about Gen. George Casey interesting. Again I have never heard about his comments before. Gen. Casey spoke at the banquet at West Point before the kids graduated. He struck me as a short very angry man. I was not impressed. Again thank you for your article and thank you for your sensible and funny voice.
Thank you, Donna. I'm not so sure about my "sensible and funny voice". I've been saying a lot of these things for a long time, as Bruce Reed notes with reference to my piece on the first anniversary of the Boston bombing:
I have been a massive fan for the better part of two decades (in the days when you had a regular gig in both the Telegraph and Spectator - am delighted that you have returned to the pages of the latter) Whilst reading through this piece, that is as usual witty, self- deprecating and piercingly accurate, my mind was cast back to a journey between Gloucester and London more than a decade ago, and another similar article following the Bali Bombing of 2003 , headlined 'They want to kill us all', I think it's worth quoting in full:
As I said a few weeks ago, it's not a clash between civilizations but within them β in the Muslim world, between what's left of moderate Islam and an extreme strain of that faith that even many of their co-religionists have difficulty living with; and in the West between those who think this culture is worth defending and those who'd rather sleepwalk to national suicide while mumbling bromides about whether Western hedonism is to blame for 'lack of services for locals' in Bali. To read Robert Fisk and Margo Kingston is like watching a panto cast on drugs: No matter how often the baddies say, 'I'm behind you!', Robert and Margo reply, 'Oh, no, you're not!'
I began with a Churchill quote, so let me end with one: 'Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.' That's what happened after 11 September: the brief glimpse of the reality of the Islamist scheme was too much, and so we dusted ourselves off and retreated back to all the illusions, like the Oslo 'peace process'. That can't save us, and it certainly can't save Indonesia. And until we're prepared to identify the enemy and confront him as such, there will be more nights like last Saturday night, and more little girls like the Salvatoris', orphaned because their mum and her friends went dancing.
Really seems depressingly apposite in the wake of the ceremonies commemorating the bombing. More power to your pen, sir - you stand almost alone against the onslaught of 'useful idiots' ensuring the Islamization of the world and their own enslavement...
In last week's Mailbox, Tim Underhay of North Charleston, South Carolina - or, alternatively, South Charleston, North Carolina - wrote:
I find it difficult to imagine two hundred Mounties training their rifles on a Saskatchewanian rancher with a trifling disagreement with Her Majesty's Government over grazing rights.
Legions of Canadian readers beg to differ:
Michael Schmidt's case is an ongoing 20-year battle of armed raids, criminal charges, and bureaucratic harassment. His crime? Selling milk to customers while being a dairy farmer.
Twenty years. The process certainly is the punishment.
And not just Ontario but Alberta:
About the RCMP that you recently mentioned, somewhat positively, versus the US outfit..... don't forget the RCMP's high-handed confiscations of guns in the High River case. They acted just terribly in terms of our freedoms.
And not just the RCMP but the Ontario Provincial Police:
In reading your recent stories of a paramilitarized US bureaucracy, it made me think of our own β and possibly even more worrisome - made-in-Canada Kafkaesque example from a few years ago: the OPP's treatment of Caledonia residents several years ago during the native takeover of that development and events that ensued.
Not only did the OPP refuse to enforce the law and protect law abiding citizens from the illegal theft and actions of a roving band of thugs β even after a judge ordered the OPP to do so β they even arrested those citizens who had the temerity to insist on being allowed to be able to move on to their lawfully owned homes and streets.
Perhaps what was more shocking β although sadly predictable β was no one other than Christie Blatchford and one local TV station seemed to care or wished to shed much light on what was occurring
Oh, well. Canadian policing is not yet as bloody as a Quentin Tarantino movie:
Regarding Kill Bill: great review as always. You left out one detail, though. You mentioned Uma's catsuit and the fact that the movies were an homage to Hong Kong chop-socky films, but you failed to note that Uma's outfit was based on the one Bruce Lee wore in Game of Death.
Also in last week's Mailbox, I idly mused on a series of songs about failed presidential candidates, but thought it would be difficult to come up with one for Dukakis. Robert N Going offers this thought on a "great Dukakis song":
"Tanks for the Memory"?
Lots of mail on my 60th birthday celebration of "Rock Around The Clock", mostly on where the tune was filched from:
Wonderful piece on Rock Around the Clock. One possible stone left unturned is the influence, if any, on the song by Hank Williams' 1947 composition "Move It on Over", to which it bears a striking resemblance.
And finally: As you know, my lawyer in the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century is Dan Kornstein, the driving force behind the most consequential free-speech legislation this century. My kids were indifferent to that, but extremely impressed to hear he's also Liam Neeson's mother-in-law's lawyer. Mark Feldman not so much:
You're a good father to have respected your children's awe that you share counsel with Liam Neeson's mother-in-law. Now I, on the other hand, never coddled my kids. Had I been in your shoes, I would have reminded my awestruck children that it was Liam Neeson who saved the loathsome Jar-Jar Binks.
Well, could be worse. I could have the same lawyer as Jar-Jar Binks' mother-in-law.