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...
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 â€“ real name Mohammed Emwazi â€“ 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?