In this 800th anniversary year, I'm honored to be part of a new book, with Chris Berg and John Roskam from our friends at the IPA, called Magna Carta: The Tax Revolt That Gave Us Liberty. If you live not just in England but in North America, Australia, New Zealand and around the Commonwealth, this is the great foundational document of individual liberty, and this book is its story. If you'd like your copy personally autographed by me, do swing by the SteynOnline bookstore.
~These are tough times for core liberties around the western world. A week ago, I was at the Danish Parliament for the tenth anniversary of the Mohammed cartoons. We've been posting the remarks of the various speakers piecemeal throughout the week, but I thought we'd assemble them in one convenient central location, so you can get a sense of the whole event as it unfolded. Please note that the videos below are extended versions of the ones previously posted, so they include not only the speeches but questions from the audience - including my final one about picking up imams.
First up, our hosts for the day, Katrine Winkel Holm of the indispensable Free Press Society and her sister Marie Krarup, Member of Parliament and defense spokesperson for the Danish People's Party:
Marie's point about the thick impenetrable walls of Christiansborg Castle is well taken. I'm enormously grateful to her for hosting the event in Landsting Hall. Whatever one feels about Scandinavian social democracy, I doubt either the US Congress or the UK Parliament would agree under any circumstances to permit a conference to be held under a giant portrait of Mohammed at the heart of the Capitol or the Palace of Westminster. Indeed, last Saturday both the US State Department and the British Foreign Office issued travel advisories warning their citizens to steer clear of both Copenhagen in general and Christiansborg in particular.
First of the guest speakers was Henryk Broder, author of The Last Days of Europe, who tied together both the cartoon crisis and the "refugees" invited into Germany by Chancellor Merkel:
Following Henryk, Vebjoern Selbekk spoke. His newspaper re-published the Motoons because, as he put it, not to do so would be to give the terrorists a seat at the editorial table. He was treated disgracefully by the Norwegian government, which took cowardly refuge in a false equivalence bemoaning "extremists on both sides":
You can read a transcript of Vebjoern's powerful speech here.
Next up was Douglas Murray, meditating on how surreal it would seem to anyone a mere 11 years ago that there could be such a thing as a "cartoon crisis":
As Douglas wrote at the Speccie:
My main message for the audience was to keep in mind that freedom has never been particularly popular. Most people prefer their security and comforts to freedom and although history shows that everyone benefits from being free, it has always been a small minority who actually pursue and protect the cause. I suppose one has to wrestle whatever comfort one can from that. It was a terrible thing to see the security now needed in Denmark, as elsewhere, for people who are simply asserting their right to write and draw what they want, even – shock horror – things that might be mildly critical of the founder of one religion. That a journalist or historian should need bodyguards in 21st century Europe is an indictment on our continent.
And finally, after the bathroom break:
The morning after the conference I was interviewed by Niels Lilleland for Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that originally published the cartoons. You can read the interview here:
»Vi magter ikke at forsvare os, for vi har glemt hvorfor ...«
Danish reader Thorsten Ottosen didn't like my clumsy translation of that headline, and renders it as:
'We aren't capable of defending ourselves, because we've forgotten why...'
Given that I'm quoting myself, I ought to be able to remember what I originally said, or meant to say. But it was a late night:
In the evening, some people from the audience gathered at a local pub in Copenhagen. We were eventually joined by Douglas Murray and Mark Steyn. We were all drinking beer and talking, as people normally do in pubs. In fact, it could have been a perfectly random Saturday night out, had it not been for the armed police guards standing outside. I presume they were from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET).
Indeed. It is a melancholy reflection that one needs the presence of the security services just to get rat-arsed and hit on Nordic totty. A few minutes after Douglas and I arrived, the young lady on the stool next to me produced a gleaming silver scabbard and from it drew a huge sword. My heart stood still and I thought an unusually good honey trap from the Islamic State had managed to slip in. But she grabbed a magnum of champagne, raised it high with one hand and with the other deftly decapitated the top with one smooth slice of her blade. It's a European thing; you don't see it in New Hampshire. But perhaps all the ISIS head-choppers can be re-trained as barmen...
The pub was called the Mouse and the Elephant. The Continental mouse has climbed into bed with an Islamic elephant, and the elephant is about to roll over. On Wednesday, the actual anniversary of the cartoons' publication, Jyllands-Posten reprinted their original page from September 30th 2005 - a perfect facsimile in every respect ...except without the illustrations. As Katrine Winkel Holm of the Danish Free Press Society put it:
A sad day. Violence works.
~At the end of this month, somewhat less life-threateningly, I'll be in New Orleans for the big investment conference with Charles Krauthammer, Peter Schiff, Doug Kass et al. Full details here.