Programming note: Tucker Carlson returns to the airwaves tonight, Monday, after a deplorably lame guest-host for most of last week, and I'll be joining him on air to chew over some or other burning topic, live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific – with a rerun at 12 midnight Eastern. I hope you'll dial us up.
~I see my old friend Boris Johnson is in trouble for comparing burqas to "letterboxes". Like letterboxes, the body bags on European streets are useful for delivering a message - and the message is getting through loud and clear:
A few months ago, a global media tempest erupted after Polish Catholics held a mass public prayer event across the country. The BBC deemed it "controversial", due to "concerns it could be seen as endorsing the state's refusal to let in Muslim migrants".
The same controversy, however, did not erupt in Britain when 140,000 Muslims prayed in Birmingham's Small Heath Park, in an event organized by the Green Lane Mosque to mark the end of Ramadan.
Post-Ramadan beanos in municipal parks: who could object? Giulio Meotti runs the numbers:
The annual Birmingham event began in 2012 with 12,000 faithful. Two years later, the number of the faithful rose to 40,000. In 2015, it was 70,000. In 2016, the number was 90,000. In 2017, it was 100,000. In 2018, the number was 140,000. Next year?
Two hundred thousand? A quarter-million? You could ask them, as they do of Polish Catholics, to keep this stuff walled up in their houses of worship. But no matter how big you build the mosque, it's always too small:
France is debating whether or not to block prayer on the street. "They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying" Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced.
"Public space cannot be taken over in this way", said the president of the Paris regional council, Valérie Pécresse, who led a protest by councilors and MPs.
In fact, the annexation of the public space, early and often, is a conscious strategy on the part of Islamic supremacists that serves to accelerate demographic trends. While the Muslim population is not yet a majority, taking over parks and streets usefully gives the impression that your numbers are greater than they are, and thereby helps speed the process by which "multicultural" neighborhoods become uniculturally Islamic neighborhoods. Same with burqas. Notwithstanding the effusions of Guardian columnists and BBC commentators, most other people react to the Islamization of the streets by moving out (if they can). Thus the flight of Jews from Molenbeek and gays from London's East End. You can say a lot of things about Islam, but it acts with great strategic clarity.
~Speaking of public space, it's not accidental that the famous final scene of the original film of Planet of the Apes shows a shattered Statue of Liberty: the toppling of statuary is perhaps the easiest shorthand for civilizational overthrow. Of course, in our age of ahistorical vandalism, we are our own apes - hence, the toppling of President McKinley in California, Sir John A Macdonald in British Columbia, and at Cambridge University of its former chancellor. Field Marshal Smuts is one of only two South Africans honored by a statue in Parliament Square in London (the other being Nelson You-know-who), but I wonder how long that will be permitted to stand. My old boss Charles Moore addresses what the Speccie's headline writers call Smuts-shaming:
Cambridge University, of which Jan Smuts was once Chancellor, has removed his bust from public display. According to John Shakeshaft, the deputy chairman of the university's governing council, Smuts has 'uncomfortable contemporary significance', as 'part of the system that led to apartheid'.
That's one way of putting it. It was the National Party that introduced apartheid to South Africa in 1948, and the only reason they were able to do so was because they defeated Smuts' United Party in the general election. Smuts' party won 49.18 per cent of the vote, whereas Malan's Reunited National Party got under 38 per cent, but through the various quirks of constituency boundaries won a narrow majority of the seats - and immediately went full steam ahead on dismantling the pre-apartheid South Africa built by Smuts. In other words, Jan Smuts was the civilized alternative to apartheid, and a fat lot of good it does him in the eyes of the hack mediocrities on Cambridge's governing council.
True, Smuts, like virtually every white leader of his generation, did not want full democratic rights for black people in South Africa, but there are other things to be said. That he helped Britain win two world wars, put forward the plan for the League of Nations after the Great War and helped compose the UN Charter after the next, that he was a leading botanist, a great general, and the man who created the Union of South Africa, thus bringing into being the most important country in Africa.
I cited just a few weeks ago Churchill's characterization, in a very famous speech to the House of Commons, of Smuts as "that wonderful man, with his immense profound mind". He was the only man to serve in the Imperial War Cabinet in both world wars, and during the first, as I wrote earlier this year, he played the key role in creating the Royal Air Force:
On this day exactly a century ago the RFC and the RNAS were merged to form an entirely separate third branch of the British military - the Royal Air Force, the first such independent air force in the world.
A hundred years on, if you walk into the RAF Club in Piccadilly, the first chap you see as you enter the foyer is not an Englishman but a South African - that's to say, a bust of General Jan Smuts, later Prime Minister of South Africa, and the only South African to be honored with a statue in Westminster's Parliament Square until Nelson Mandela's went up. Smuts was a member of Lloyd George's Imperial War Cabinet, and it was his report arguing that air power should be treated as entirely distinct from land and sea that led to to the creation of the RAF.
Smuts' was an extraordinary life, rich and varied: as Charles Moore acknowledges, he was a man of his time, but one whose greatness transcended it. And his influence lingers to this day, in that perhaps the most famous speech the Queen has ever given (and one whose commitment she has stood by) was made with significant input from Smuts:
Above all, in this context at least, he is a fascinating study as a white man who fought the colonial power, led his country to independence, yet maintained the value of the British connection. It was partly under Smuts's influence that the present Queen made her famous promise to the Commonwealth in Cape Town ('All of my life, whether it be long or short...') in 1947. I wonder if his detractors have thought about any of this. Whether they have or not, Cambridge should.
It is so depressing to watch, almost on a daily basis, the erasure of great men by know-nothing non-entities who can build nothing, create nothing, do nothing but destroy all that does not conform to the ever shifting pieties of present-tense virtue-signalling. A few years ago, I wrote about the contrast between Smuts' South Africa and today's. That applies to the imperial metropolis, too.
~We had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with a full hour of me in the anchor chair at "Tucker Carlson Tonight". Our Saturday movie date marked the twentieth anniversary of There's Something About Mary, and our Song of the Week previewed the upcoming Mark Steyn Club Cruise with a perfect pop song, "On a Slow Boat to China". If you were too busy packing your steamer trunks this weekend, we hope you'll want to check out one or two of the foregoing as a new week begins.
Speaking of that inaugural Steyn cruise from Montreal to Boston, we hope you'll want to join me and my doughty crew Michele Bachmann, John O'Sullivan, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, plus special musical guest Tal Bachman, as we attempt some seaboard versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Tales for Our Time, our Sunday Poem and other favorite features. If you're thinking of joining us, don't leave it too late, as the price is more favorable the earlier you book.
~Tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, we'll be attempting another one of our Clubland Q&As, in which I take questions from Mark Steyn Club members live around the planet. It kicks off at 4pm Eastern in North America. That's 5pm Tuesday in the Maritimes, 5.30pm in Newfoundland, 6pm in Bermuda - and, beyond the Americas, 9pm in the British Isles, 10pm in Western Europe, 11pm in the Middle East, midnight in Moscow, 1.30am on Wednesday in Delhi for all you Newfoundlanders who move to India for the half-hour time-zones, 4am in Singapore and Western Australia, a 6am daybreak breakfast in Sydney and Melbourne, alas, and a rather more civilized hour for the kedgeree and eggs Benedict in New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu et al. I do hope you'll join us.
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Catch you on the telly tonight with Tucker live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific - or in audio only live across the globe on tomorrow's Clubland Q&A.