On Tuesday's eve-of-inauguration edition of The Mark Steyn Show, former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann swings by the studio to preview what the next four years might bring. Also in presidential mode, I offer a few inaugural observations - and consider the attempt to de-legitimize the incoming chief executive. And it's Flag Day on the Steyn set - if only for Canucks and Aussies. For more details on The Mark Steyn Show, see here.
~On the second anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath, Douglas Murray looks at the pitiful condition of France's satirical magazine - and the parlous state of free speech throughout the west:
Most of the people who said they cared about the right to say what they wanted when they wanted, about everything and anything -- including one particularly stern and unamused religion -- were willing to walk the walk: that is, they were willing to walk through Paris with a pencil in the air. Or they were willing to talk the talk, proclaiming "Je Suis Charlie." But almost no one really meant it. If they had, then -- as Mark Steyn pointed out -- those crowds in Paris would not have been parading through the streets holding pencils, but holding cartoons of Mohammed. "You're going to have to get us all" would have been the message.
Douglas cites this particularly egregious betrayal of the principle of free speech, from a land that was once the crucible of liberty:
Even the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, asked in the House of Commons to stand up for the right of an athlete not to have his career destroyed because of one fleeting, drunken joke, equivocated:
"This is a balance that we need to find. We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country -- that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy.
"But we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues that we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government has produced.
"I think we need to ensure that yes it is right that people can have that freedom of expression, but in doing so that right has a responsibility too -- and that is a responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance to others."
For the last two years, we have learned for certain that any such tolerance is a one-way street. Our societies had been walking up it. But from the other direction came the Kalashnikov brigade who only had to fire once; in the face of it, the whole civilised world chose to U-turn and run back the other way.
The likes of Mrs May are conditioning us to tolerate the avowedly intolerant: That way lies a descent into endless night. I wrote a book on that theme a decade ago, but, alas, the western leadership class chose to spend the last ten years accelerating the process. Nevertheless, a few prominent Europeans are none too happy about where they're headed:
Monsignor Carlo Liberati, Archbishop Emeritus of Pompeii, said that Islam will soon become Europe's main religion thanks to the huge number of Muslim migrants alongside the increasing secularism of native Europeans.
Speaking to Italian Catholic journal La Fede Quotidiana, the archbishop said: "In 10 years we will all be Muslims because of our stupidity. Italy and Europe live in a pagan and atheist way... All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam."
"We have a weak Christian faith," he added. "The Church nowadays does not work well and seminaries are empty... All this paves the way to Islam. In addition to this, they have children and we do not. We are in full decline."
One of the safest bets is that something beats nothing.
~I wrote the other day:
Next month, by the way, I'll be north of the border to see the litigious hockey-stick huckster [Michael E Mann] take on my compatriot Tim Ball in Vancouver. If you're in the neighbourhood, do swing by and say hello.
If you're in Goose Bay, Labrador and about to set off, save your Greyhound fare. The Mann vs Ball trial has now been mysteriously "adjourned" until a not yet specified later date. So yet again the court system appears willing to assist the litigious Mann's resort to interminable lawsuits that never actually get to trial. But I promise this: In BC as in DC, the courtroom doors will eventually be prised open, and I will be there.
~And, while I won't be in Vancouver next month, I will be north of the border. Three years ago, I spoke at the Manning Conference in Ottawa, which is, very roughly speaking, the Canadian equivalent of CPAC. My thesis was that the facts of life are conservative. This year I'm back, in very different circumstances for northern Tories. But, the Trudeaupian restoration notwithstanding, we will have fun and do our best to rouse the troops. The conference runs from February 23rd to the 25th, and you can find out more details here.
~W magazine - the magazine for George W Bush fans - has a feature called "Culture Diet", which I like to give the once-over every so often. The subject this week is Vanity Fair's maestro of profiles, Bob Colacello:
First thing you read in the morning:
The New York Post.
Books on your bedside table right now:
The Undocumented Mark Steyn. He's Canadian, conservative, and amazingly funny.
The TV show keeping you up at night:
Don Lemon on CNN.
Last movie you saw in theaters:
Hidden Figures. Loved it.
In the old days at the Speccie in London and Canada's National Post, I used to have a lot of readers who didn't agree with me politically but enjoyed reading me. My unexpected namecheck from Bob Colacello reminded me that, in all the years I've been in America, that's hardly ever happened here. As the new President would say: Sad!
See you tonight on the telly.