Thanks for another jolly mountain of missives on diverse topics, some of which we'll leave till later in the week. However, here's a question I don't get asked very often, especially from Lubumbashi - or, as we Belgian imperialists, like to think of it, Élisabethville:
I live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and have neither seen or heard you. However, I love your writing. As with many movies, the book is always better. Should I download you now, or leave it to my imagination?
Stick to the printed version. I regard myself primarily as a writer, so the written word is the real deal me-wise. To promote the book, I'll do the occasional photo-op, reading a choice excerpt as I'm emerging from the surf in my thong, tousling my hair and pouting, but it's mostly an unwanted distraction from the sparkling prose, I'd say.
Also the hair may be a problem:
I'd like to say keep up the great work, but apparently the Climate crowd are going to take you down one way or another: Climate change could make red hair a thing of the past.
Maybe it's time for a Steyn vs. Mann man-wig? Your readers could buy a red wig in support of climate change and send it to Mann along with your gift certificates - I think he'd look great in red, and it might bring even a little enjoyment to your upcoming trial.
Oddly enough, for once I may be with the warm-mongers on this. I remember hearing somewhere or other that the last redhead on the planet will die sometime toward the end of next century - not because of apocalyptic "climate change", however, but because of doomsday demography, which is much more my bag. Which seems as good a time as any to plug my demographic bestseller, personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the Steyn store. I'm very grateful to those who've already dropped by to oomph up my pushback against Dr Mann by buying our Steyn vs the Stick Free Speech Special or other trial-of-the-century promotional merchandise. Mann's suit is long and expensive, and the only reason I'm still in the game is because of the support of SteynOnline readers.
One of the most controversial subjects I raised in recent weeks was that of "war-weariness", first on The Hugh Hewitt Show:
This phrase I've grown rather tired of, the American people are 'war weary', which is immensely insulting to the troops. The troops are out there dealing with it. The American people aren't weary. They just got bored with it.
I then expanded on the thought:
My mother spent four years of her childhood in a town occupied by the Nazis: She was war-weary. The citizens of Coventry, England had their town blown to smithereens by the Luftwaffe: They were war-weary. If you're a citizen of Aleppo, you've had three years of car bombs, looting, executions, air strikes and mortar bombardment: You're war-weary.
But, unless you're one of the very small percentage of the US population whose family is in the military and has been touched by death or injury these last 13 years, this war has asked nothing of you. Nothing. By comparison with almost any other war in history, a smaller sliver of the citizenry has borne the burden and all everybody else had to do was put up with hearing about it for a minute on the news before "Real Housewives of New Jersey". And apparently that proved too much.
Some SteynOnline readers agreed with the sentiment. Others didn't. First:
Thank you for finally calling out the nonsense of our "war-weariness". All the pundits, left and right, have invoked it for years, without a hint of reflection, notwithstanding that it is blaring nullity, and offensive to those many few, who would sacrifice more rather than see their tremendous efforts come to this.
Mike Davis writes from Virginia:
I agree completely with your comments regarding war-weariness. My wife and I lived with the stress of worrying about our son during the 27 months he spent in Iraq, but how that tired out the 99% of the people we know who don't have someone in the military, I just don't know.
Maybe they got tired of protesting on our behalf. My liberal sister told me she was of course hoping all went well for my son, "although that would make Bush look good."
I will just repeat what many others have said – the Marines and Army went to war, but everyone else went to the mall.
On the other hand:
We get your point about Americans being "war-weary". But maybe we wince every time we have to send someone to die for us, and maybe we're tired of getting our young blown to bits.
Your comment is very exact, that's great. But the idea that Americans just doesn't care or feel anything when we have presidents send in our troops is insulting to us. There are lots of phrases that are asinine, but I'm quite sure most Americans aren't "war weary" in the way you think. Most of us honor the troops and don't want them dying for nothing. Which is, apparently, what they have done since Korea.
I find your comment insulting, but I'm sure in your strange Canadian-British superiority, you'll dismiss that. You're great at observing and making arguments, but you need to be brave and take a risk and offer hungry readers solutions to everything that sucks.
Sam Martinez agrees:
I did not understand why you're annoyed at the American people's war weariness. You yourself say we haven't won a war in forever, going the full robocop is idiotic, etc, yet we're supposed to be pumped up about MORE pointless war making using money we don't have? I hope you don't take that tack in investing or gambling.
The people you cited that were "genuinely" war weary were all on the front line. They had no choice but to be IN the war, and every last one of them would choose for those wars to be over rather than continue. And every one of of them would give exactly ZERO shits about a war waged incompetently halfway across the world. But you think we lazy Americans should fork over ever more blood and treasure to a government that lies to, spies on, and generally shits on its citizens - a government you spend every other word rightfully denigrating - so it can go clusterfuck a little longer.
Since this is not a defense of the homeland, the "sliver" of people who've borne the financial burden are called taxpayers, and god forbid that we have had enough of an incompetent DOD, USM, and administration wasting our money on a monumental scale. The soldiers and marines bearing the bloody burden have been extremely dissatisfied with American policy too, if recruiting numbers and morale polls have anything to offer. (But fighters never get a say in where they go to die, in the 2014 Marine Corps or the 1943 Luftwaffe alike.)
You cannot on one hand bitch and moan about America the loser and on the other bitch about Americans being fed up with losing.
Well, except that Americans losing wars and Americans getting "war-weary" after 20 minutes are not on-the-one-hand-on-the-other but intimately connected. And, incidentally, this current war started on the home front with a big smoking crater in Lower Manhattan containing the atomized bodies of 3,000 civilians - the biggest attack on the US mainland since the War of 1812. And, if it hadn't been for that ad hoc militia on Flight 93, the fourth plane would have made it to DC and sliced through either the White House or the Capitol. The only reason we took the war to Afghanistan is that Afghanistan had already taken it to us.
If the American people were "fed up with losing", that would be one thing. If they were demanding, as is warranted by the score card these last two-thirds of a century, an entire re-think of the American way of war, that would be an excellent idea, and appropriate for a self-governing people. But that's not what they're doing: They're just saying, "Don't want to have to think about it. Too much of a downer, man." America didn't want to think about it in the Nineties, either, and then woke up one Tuesday to find that for some reason that morning's Regis & Kathie Lee was being pre-empted.
The answer to losing wars expensively is to find ways to win them affordably, not to think you can retreat behind "Fortress America". The reality of "Fortress America" is on display right now at the southern border. Who says you have to go overseas to lose?
A throwaway aside in my Dominion Day effusions prompted this response from Ireland:
Hate to be pedantic - but love scoring points. You write that "in Libya, the national holiday of Revolution Day explicitly draws a line between the discredited and illegitimate regimes predating December 1st, 1969, and the Gadaffi utopia that's prevailed since."
Actually, it was Monday September 1st 1969, not December. I remember it vividly. I was there, starting my next 12-week shift in the desert oilfields. The most immediate (and terrible) symptom was that Q'Daffy shut down the country's wonderful vineyards and breweries.
In the depths of the interior, first the beer ran out, and I said nothing. Then the wine and I said nothing. Then the spirits were diluted down and I said nothing. But the day that the remaining watery spirits were gone, so was I.
That wrong was righted only with the demise of Q'Daffy 42 long years later. Such things are lyrical memories made of.
Well, your chances of getting a decent pint under the new crowd aren't that good, Tony. In that part of the world, things get worse: In the short history of Libya, King Idris was the least-worst regime to date. On balance, the Arab monarchies are less repulsive than the Arab dictatorships, and, even though Idris' reign was always wobbly beyond Cyrenaica, I think I'd be in favor of the restoration of the House of Senussi. In Benghazi, it would certainly be popular - and better than the alternatives.
Speaking of Dominion Day, an American writes:
I recall my very brief exposure to Pierre Trudeau at a hotel lobby in Windsor, Ontario in the late 70s.
I was with a small group of college students on the way to the Stratford festival, and we were checking in for an overnight stay. Pierre came sweeping in with his retinue, instantly picked out the most attractive girl in our party, then strutted over, smirked, and planted a kiss on her cheek. You had your Clintonosaurus before we did.
Actually, until that last sentence, I was thinking of Rolf Harris. Looking at what Clinton got away with ("You might want to put some ice on that") compared to Harris, one appreciates yet again the capriciousness of justice.
Speaking of which, I vowed in my own upcoming trial of the century, after looking at what the IRS did with the National Organization for Marriage's donor list, that no supporter who chipped in a few shillings over at the Steyn store would ever have his name coughed up to the feds. A remarkable number of readers have no desire to be put in the Mann vs Steyn version of deep cover, and are already on the rooftop bellowing "Come and get me, copper!" From Arizona:
Feel free to release my name as a donor in your jihad against Puckhead Mann. I welcome the chance to re-educate my Leftist friends about the perils of threats, intimidation, keying of cars, etc. As a matter of fact, please put my name in all capitals, with neon lights blinking around it.
Thanks for that, TOM STITT of SCOTTSDALE!!!!!!!!! If you're less enthusiastic than Tom about walking around with a neon sign on your head saying "I'M WITH THE HATEMONGER", you can support the cause even more discreetly by purchasing the new eBook editions of Lights Out and Mark Steyn's Passing Parade on Kindle, Nook or Kobo:
Just downloaded the Kindle edition of Passing Parade-- partly to help out a bit with your jihad against Global Warming, Inc., but also because I enjoy the hell out of the columns. Being one of those fuddy-duddy history types, I find your takes on "the rest of the story" (with apologies to Paul Harvey) to be funny and poignant at the same time.
Anyway, at the conclusion of this nasty business with Michael Mann, might I suggest an obituary for Senor Hockey Stick? I'd re-buy the book just for that.
Also, if you wouldn't mind indulging the question: given your soft spot for disco, what would you hold as the better version of "More Than a Woman"? The Bee Gees or Tavares?
St Petersburg, Florida
Gotta go with the Bee Gees on that one, I think. Not just for the voices - I prefer the orchestration: The strings are excellent on the Bee Gees version, whereas half the instrumental fills on the Tavares cover seem to clunk up the flow of the thing. As for an expanded edition of the expanded Passing Parade, I used to write profiles for The Sunday Telegraph, and most of the time it would be actual people - Bob Dole, Rod Stewart, whoever - but once in a while they'd mix it up a little and ask me to do a profile of "the Hollywood marriage" or a fictional character such as Charlie Brown or some such. So I think we can borrow that license for Passing Parade, and in the first post-trial edition include an obituary for the Hockey Stick itself - perhaps illustrated with an open casket and the blade shooting up out of the top.
Something to look forward to. On the other hand, if I lose, my first fundraising single will be "More Than A Warmin'".