Happy New Year - and welcome to the Roaring Twenties! The new Jazz Age! William Thomas cautions:
@MarkSteynOnline listened to your broadcast while you were sitting in for Tucker Carlson ... you talked about last few days of this decade ... the decade ends on 12/31/2020, not 2019.
Indeed. But, as Mark has noted elsewhere today, it's this particular year that from now until 2100 will mark the decadal divider - the Twenties, the Thirties, the Forties, Fifties... That being so, instead of our traditional Three-Hundred-and-Sixty-Se'nnight of Steyn on NewYear's Day, we thought we'd offer a more extended farewell to the Decade Without A Name (only two-thirds or thereabout qualify as "the teens"). So, in case you missed it, here's how the last ten years looked to Mark:
Almost exactly a decade ago, Steyn gave an extended interview to Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. We feel it holds up pretty well ten years later - except insofar as the trends identified have accelerated and deepened, and the reversing thereof will be even more difficult:
If any current EU member with a population over 10 million people in 2007 officially withdraws from the EU before January 1, 2020, I will pay you $100. Otherwise, you owe me $100.
Mark took the bet.
~Throughout the decade childhood stretched ever deeper into middle age:
Italy's bamboccioni have their equivalents around the developed world. In Japan, they're called parasaito shinguru—or "parasite singles," after the horror film Parasite Eve, in which alien spawn grow in human bellies feeding off the host until they're ready to burst through. In Germany, they're Nesthockers with no plans to move out of "Hotel Mama." In Britain, they're KIPPERS (Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings). In Canada, we have the phenomenon but without any disparaging term: by 2006, 43.5 per cent of adults aged 20-29 lived with their parents. Between 1981 and 2006, the percentage of men in their late twenties living at home doubled, and the percentage of women near tripled. By 2006, 31 per cent of Canadian men aged 25-29 were still sleeping in their childhood bedroom each night.
~Conversely, the free world's ruling class increasingly regarded its middle-aged citizens as backward infants. In response to voters demanding a wider choice than that offered by the mainstream left-of-center party and the mainstream ever-so-slightly-right-of-left-of-center party, the media and political class sighed that democracy was all very well, but the masses were simply too stupid. Steyn on the rise of Geert Wilders:
The BBC gave it their best shot, concluding their report thus: "Correspondents say his Freedom Party (PVV), which has nine MPs in the lower house of parliament, has built its popularity largely by tapping into the fear and resentment of Muslim immigrants."
Gotcha. This democracy business is all very well, but let's face it, the people are saps, gullible boobs, racist morons, knuckle-dragging f–kwits. One-man-one-vote is fine in theory, but next thing you know some slicker's "tapping into" the morons' "fears and resentments" and cleaning up at the polls.
Strange how it always comes back to a contempt for the people...
The PermaState's solution was to criminalize its opposition and prosecute Wilders and many others:
The judge in his wisdom has decided to deny the defendant the level of courtroom security they afforded to Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Theo van Gogh. Wilders lives under armed guard because of explicit death threats against him by Mr. Bouyeri and other Muslims. But he's the one put on trial for incitement. His movie about Islam, Fitna, is deemed to be "inflammatory," whereas a new film by Willem Stegeman, De moord op Geert Wilders (The Assassination of Geert Wilders), is so non-inflammatory and entirely acceptable that it's been produced and promoted by a government-funded radio station. You'd almost get the impression that, as the website Gates of Vienna suggested, the Dutch state is channelling Henry II: "Who will rid me of this turbulent blond?"
There's no shortage of volunteers.
No, indeed. Mark was in Copenhagen later that year to accept the Sappho Award and observe the fifth anniversary of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. At an event protected by the PET (the Danish Secret Service), Steyn told both the Islamic enforcers and their western enablers that "you will have to kill us all".
They gave it a jolly good go: Of the four other people he shared the stage with that day, the Dutch cartoonist Nekschot has been forced out of cartooning and into hiding; the Norwegian comedienne Shabana Rehman had her family restaurant firebombed; the Swedish artist Lars Vilks has likewise retired from public life following the fatal shooting of a film director during an attempt to kill Lars at a speaking event; and their host Lars Hedegaard was shot at point blank range by a man posing as a postman, but fortunately survived. None was alongside Steyn for the tenth anniversary.
It was that kind of a decade for free speech.
~While in Copenhagen, Mark was interviewed by one of Denmark's top TV interviewers, Kurt Strand, about the broader background to the attacks on cartoonists and cartoons - the demographic transformation of Europe. Mr Strand seemed astonished by Steyn's assertion that Malmö, the first Christian city in what was then Denmark, was on course to be the first Muslim city in Sweden. Mark in turn was astonished that Kurt appeared entirely unaware of what was happening just a half-hour train ride over the Øresund Sound from where they were sitting. With many of Malmö's problems having migrated across the Øresund, Mr Strand would not be so astonished a decade later. But Steyn was committing the journalistic crime of being too right too soon:
It was a miserable decade for jokes - which increasingly, in North America and Europe, could get you prosecuted and/or fired. Free speech was similarly imperiled in the British Commonwealth. After a disgraceful decision against Andrew Bolt Down Under, Mark sent the following video greeting:
~Later in 2011 North Africa and the Middle East were roiled by the "Arab Spring" and its so-called "Facebook Revolutions". On air with Megyn Kelly as Mubarak was lowered into the express checkout, Steyn was more skeptical, both of what was happening on the ground and western reactions to it:
Even as Steyn was speaking, the most famous uncovered woman in Tahrir Square was being set upon by a pack of savages. The "take-your-turn" would soon come to Cologne and other western cities.
~Steyn ended the year at LaGuardia, touched by the sight of a man in a "Don't Tread On Me" T-shirt being trod all over by the obergropinfuhrers of the TSA:
I think about that chap at LaGuardia with "Don't Tread on Me" on his chest, and government bureaucrats in his pants. And I wonder if America's exceptional attitudinal swagger isn't providing a discreet cover for the shriveling of liberty.
The espresso era does seem to have presided over a transformation in the dominant cultural aesthetic. Inertia has never been cooler. It's seeped out of the coffee house to stalk the land..
I don't go in for as much pop sociology as, say, David Brooks. But, for the sake of argument, let's say he got it right on the general sensibility of a decade ago in Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. Would you put money on his contemporary American elites to rouse themselves before catastrophe strikes? Or is somnolent, myopic complacency unto the end the way to bet?
Steyn helped win a rare victory in the decade's onslaught against free speech. In June, the House of Commons in Ottawa voted to repeal Section 13, Canada's squalid and disfiguring "hate speech" law. Mark permitted himself a short gloat. Australia's equivalent has proved a tougher nut. On Steyn's antipodean tour, at an event attended by former prime minister John Howard and other eminences, he chewed over free speech issues with Janet Albrechtsen, Tom Switzer and Jon Roskam:
~There were free-speech issues at play on September 11th, when on the 9/11 anniversary a well-armed mob overwhelmed the US consulate in Benghazi. President Obama, Secretary Clinton and other senior officials chose to lie to the American people and instead blame the death of a US ambassador on an all but unwatched video:
"It's got nothing to do with the video - and there's always a video, there's always a cartoon, there's always a teddy bear, there's always some pretext for the mob to go crazy," Steyn told Hannity.
Steyn said he amount of law enforcement that was sent to retrieve the filmmaker [in Clifornia] compared to the amount of security around the murdered U.S. ambassador to Libya was "absolutely disgraceful."
"And it's absolutely disgraceful the sight that you just showed here, of those guys, those armed guys, going at midnight on a weekend to take this filmmaker in for questioning. You know, if the ambassador in Benghazi had had that level of armed force, he'd still be alive today," Steyn said.
~Despite the turbulence roiling the globe, some things endure. Thus the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, and Mark celebrated with her Australian subjects, both loyal and not so.
It was a dispiriting decade for work, family, self-reliance and human dignity:
Large numbers of Vermonters have adopted the dysfunctions of the urban underclass for no reason more compelling than that there's not much else to do. Once upon a time, St. Johnsbury made Fairbanks scales, but now a still-handsome town is, as Norman puts it, "hollowed out by the loss of work and purpose." Their grandparents got up at four in the morning to work the farm, and their great-great-great-whatever-parents slogged up the Connecticut River, cleared the land, and built homes and towns and a civilization in the wilderness. And now? A couple of months back, I sat in the café in St. Johnsbury and overheard a state official and a chamber of commerce official discuss enthusiastically how the town could access some federal funds to convert an abandoned building into welfare housing.
In not unrelated news, it was also a dispiriting decade for sex: There's less and less of it about.
~After the UK's local elections, Mark considered the choice before the voters:
The Labour, Liberal, and Tory leaders all came off the assembly line within 20 minutes of each other in the 1960s and, before they achieved their present ascendancy, worked only as consultants, special advisers, public-relations men. One of them did something at the European Commission, another was something to do with a think tank for social justice — the non-jobs that now serve as political apprenticeships. The men waiting to succeed them are also all the same. There are mild variations in background — this one went to Eton, that one is heir to an Irish baronetcy — but once they determine on a life in politics they all lapse into the same smarmy voice, and they all hold the same opinions, on everything from the joys of gay marriage and the vibrant contributions of Islam to the vital necessity of wind farms and the historical inevitability of the EU. And they sound even more alike on the stuff they stay silent on — ruinous welfare, transformative immigration, a once-great nation's shrunken armed forces...
On all the issues that matter, competitive politics decayed to a rotation of arrogant co-regents of a hermetically sealed elite, and with predictable consequences: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones.
At which point, enter Nigel Farage:
What, other than the walled-up windows of the Westminster village, makes UKIP's 23 percent the "lunatic fringe" and the Conservatives' 25 percent the "mainstream"? The real problem facing Britain (and Europe) is a lunatic mainstream, determined on a course of profound, existential change for which there is no popular mandate whatsoever.
~Facing Republican demands to do something about the debt, Democrats began the year with an inspired suggestion by Paul Krugman: Get the United States Treasury to mint a trillion-dollar coin. Seriously. Later that year, the US Government shut down - which meant that almost every government entity stayed open but the National Park Service made a determined effort to shut down the open air.
In such a world, rattled conservatives began a short-lived campaign to draft Mark for the US Senate. As the New York Daily News saw it, Steyn was John the Baptist to Trump's Messiah:
Where is Donald Trump when you need him?
Conservatives are rallying around pundit Mark Steyn, a popular fill-in for bombastic radio host Rush Limbaugh, to run for Senate in New Hampshire.
There's just one small problem: Steyn isn't even an American, he's a Canadian...
That's kind of picky for the open-borders crowd.
~As Obama's second term cranked into gear, America remained focused on things that really matter - like a grade-schooler nibbling his Pop Tart into an alleged gun-like shape and the consequent need for school lockdown, attending police, trauma counselors, etc. Mark put this one into his Too-Stupid-to-Survive files:
As Steyn pointed out, a generation so raised could never storm the beaches of Normandy because they would be traumatized as soon as they scramble from the landing craft: "Oh, no! The Germans are pointing Pop Tarts at us..."
It was a terrible decade for what remains of Jewish life in Europe - made worse by the cowardice of the "official Jews" in Canada and America, as Steyn addressed in "Hath not a Jew eyes?"
~On President Obama's watch, a new caliphate rose and metastasized across the Middle East, erasing national borders and seducing millions of foreign fighters from Scandinavia to Australia, and distilling America's ineffectually waged wars into one shaming image:
If you had asked me, in that café in Rutba eleven years ago, as I was enjoying what passed for the 'mixed grill' with mein host, what utter defeat would look like in a single image, it would be hard to beat the scene that now greets you in the western desert: An Iraqi border post staffed by hardcore jihadists from an al-Qaeda spin-off. The details are choice - the black flag of al-Qaeda flies from buildings built by American taxpayers, they drive vehicles paid for by American taxpayers, they shoot aircraft out of the sky with Stinger missiles donated by American taxpayers - and thousands of their footsoldiers are nominally Britons, Frenchmen, Aussies, Canucks, Americans and other western citizens for whom the open road in Iraq, decapitating as they go, is the greatest adventure of their lives. Until they return 'home'.
But, as I said, these are details. The central image - the al-Qaeda man at the border post - is in itself an image of complete and utter defeat.
The President nevertheless dismissed ISIS as the "JayVees" of jihad. Steyn disagreed:
If there is a JV player on the court at the moment, if you ask Putin, if you ask the mullahs, if you ask the Chinese Politburo, if you ask ISIS, if you ask every rinky-dink jihadist on the outskirts of Benghazi who the JV player is on court, they're going to have no problem telling you it's President Obama. A man who's shredded American foreign policy and left Al Qaeda, ISIS, and its affiliates running around, gamboling across a vast swathe of territory from West Africa to Afghanistan - that's the JV player on the court today.
~A mere two years into his lawsuit with "hockey stick" inventor Michael E Mann, Steyn spoke about the suit with his old boss Conrad Black:
~It was a possibly terminal decade for western men - which may explain all the transitioning:
In some sense, the swollen ranks of the transgendered seem to have intuited that the jig is up for guys. Might as well check out of the guy business entirely. I'm thinking of pitching Marvel Comics a new superhero group featuring a transwoman, an ambigender, a pangender, an intergender, a bigender and a 2-spirited called Ex-Men.
We are all ex-men now.
The year began with a massacre of cartoonists, writers and other staff at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that had insisted on its right to offend Muslims as much as Jews and Christians. Mark spoke about the attacks with Megyn Kelly:
~In June a New York property developer came down an escalator in his Fifth Avenue skyscraper. Three weeks later Steyn wrote:
Trump is supposed to be the narcissist blowhard celebrity candidate: He's a guy famous for erecting aesthetically revolting buildings with his "brand" plastered all over them, for arm-candy brides, for beauty contests and reality shows. The other fellows are sober, serious senators and governors.
And yet Trump is the only one who's introduced an issue into this otherwise torpid campaign - and the most important issue of all, I would argue, in that ultimately it's one of national survival. And so the same media that dismiss Trump as an empty reality-show vanity candidate are now denouncing him for bringing up the only real policy question in the race so far...
Trump, like other philosophically erratic politicians from Denmark to Greece, has tapped into a very basic strain of cultural conservatism: the question of how far First World peoples are willing to go in order to extinguish their futures on the altar of "diversity".
~Later that year Steyn was back in Copenhagen for the tenth anniversary of the Mohammed cartoons:
Following the cancellation of the post-event dinner, Mark's colleague Douglas Murray summarized the state of affairs thus:
Ten years ago, you could publish depictions of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Ten years later, it is hard for anyone who has been connected with such an act to find a restaurant in Copenhagen that will serve them dinner.
Steyn will never abandon his brave Danish friends, with or without meal service.
~It was a grand decade for transgender triumphalism, culminating in the delirious huzzahs for Queen Caitlyn:
The chromosomocentrists are missing the point. The left's saying, "Yeah, XY chromosomes, big deal. You're right, but so what? No one's saying she's a woman. We're saying she's a transwoman - a new, separate and way more glamorous category that's taking its seat at the American table and demanding public affirmation. This isn't your father's sex change. Changing from man to woman is so last century."
The coronation of Caitlyn is ultimately not about the right to choose which of the two old teams you want to play on. It's about creating a cool new team... and accepting, as the author of the now passé Vagina Monologues has been forced to do, that there is such a thing as a woman with a penis.
~As Mann vs Steyn began its fourth year in the choked toilet of DC justice, Mark spoke on climate change to the Heartland Institute:
Shortly before the speech, Michael E Mann's lawyer attempted to break into the room.
At the end of the year, Mark testified before the United States Senate - and rebuked America's legislators for seeking to criminalize opposition to "climate change" orthodoxy:
There was a particularly grim moment when a wretched little man called Ed Markey, contemptible even by Senatorial standards, attempted to prevent Steyn's fellow witness Judith Curry from responding to his grotesque slur of her:
It was a grim decade for white working-class girls all over England, sacrificed on the altar of diversity by an evil and shameful officialdom. In 2016 Mark traveled across Europe meeting with the victims of Islamic sex crimes, but nowhere were a society's womenfolk more abandoned than in Rotherham:
To Mad Ash and his fellow 'Asians', the likes of Jessica and Katie are 'white slags'. To Her Majesty's Constabulary, they're mere 'Paki-shaggers', and thus unworthy of valuable police resources. The girls recall the night Mad Ash's brother Bannaras was in his car having sex with a twelve-year-old. A 'jam sandwich' - a police cruiser - pulled up alongside, and the officer rolled down the window. 'She's just sucking my c**k, mate,' said Bannaras Hussain.
The cops drove away. It must have been an abiding image for Jessica, for Katie, for Bannaras Hussain's twelve-year-old, for the girl who would later testify that all three brothers pissed on her like 'a pack of animals', for a thousand and more 'Paki-shaggers' and 'white slags' all over Rotherham, year in year out, for decades: The police driving away ...and leaving them.
~Mark and Nigel Farage participated in the Munk Debate on the "refugee" crisis against Louise Arbour, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights and Chief War Crimes Prosecutor in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and BBC telly historian Simon Schama. It was neither Mme Arbour's nor Sir Simon's finest hour:
Arbour sneered at both Steyn and Farage as "newborn feminists" (she got a laugh), while Schama disgraced himself with "I'm just struck by how obsessed with sex these two guys are, actually. It's a bit sad, really." (That got a very big laugh.) I took one look at Steyn's glowering face after that remark — Schama will regret having said it to his dying day, I know it — and I kind of felt sorry for those two liberals, because I knew what was coming.
Steyn slowly rose...
That was the moment that cost Steyn and Farage's opponents the debate. But Mark's closing statement was also memorable, mocking the sentimental pap of Emma Lazarus's poem on the Statue of Liberty:
~Just a few weeks after their joint stage appearance, Nigel Farage's lonely quarter-century campaign was rewarded: The United Kingdom's voters defied their party leaders and elected to leave the European Union.
~In Florida the son of an Afghan "refugee" slaughtered 49 patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando - the largest ever mass murder of American gays, and the highest death toll in America since 9/11. Steyn resented what he saw as officialdom's attempt to lie about the nature of what had happened:
Later, he recalled his recent visit to Copenhagen to conjure vividly the modern west as a "party at the end of the world":
The Trump Administration began with inaugural threats of impeachment from Democrats and mockery from the media. A presidential aside on the state of Sweden brought hoots of derision that Trump was a know-nothing. Au contraire, the President had grasped the essentials - and it was the complacent and parochial dweebs of the American media who were invincibly ignorant:
The above segment was supposed to air on something called CRTV, but its duplicitous and dishonorable owner Cary Katz broke Steyn's contract at the behest of his deeply insecure business partner and plunged Mark into over two years of multiple multi-million-dollar lawsuits. Katz lost, and then decided he'd like to lose some more. Steyn learned a hard lesson about the bad-faith grifters and opportunists of Conservatism Inc.
The start of the second year of the Trump Administration was also the start, by strange coincidence, of the second year of the Comey "investigation". Mark was struck by the heavy Anglo-Aussie involvement in the stitch-up of Trump staffers, as he outlined in the widely read "Tinker Tailor Clapper Carter Downer Halper Spy" and later on Sky Australia's "Outsiders".
~It is not enough for the "progressive" left to hold NPR and every university common room. It is far more satisfying to hollow out institutions that are explicitly "traditional" and, in particular, male. Thus the US military staff's neurotic obsession with diversity, and likewise the gaying and transing and eventually the full-blown girlification of the Boy Scouts:
~President Trump turned his eyes to the heavens and announced the creation of America's "Space Force". Most commentators mocked, but Steyn interviewed Michio Kaku, who was minded to take it seriously:
Back on earth it was business as usual: the surrender of the public square to Islam; the accelerating demolition of the entire western inheritance; and the rise of the phallocentric woman.
We have focused in this retrospective on what Mark regards as the "big picture" issues: the rise of Islam, the decline of the west, the dawn of the trans, the death of the family, the end of sex... But news in the daily sense is mainly about politics and politicians, who rarely have anything of interest to say about any of the above. So in a year of pre-primary presidential campaigning let us salute the things that really matter - Joe Biden's battle-hardened experience:
Also Joe Biden's rumbles with Corn Pop:
And Joe Biden's willingness to slap domestic violence around and punch its lights out:
And finally Joe Biden's dearth of malarkey:
Joe Biden will be rhapsodizing about his leg hairs when the mullahs nuke us. So there's that to look forward to.
As the Roaring Twenties begins, let's end on a cheery note with something that's also roaring back - the Plague, as in that Plague, the Black Death. The future has decided to go medieval on our flabby decadent asses:
At the end of yet another year of total legal vindication for Mark, all of us at SteynOnline are relieved and surprised to have survived. We thank all of the guests, musicians, audio and camera crew, producers and directors and editors and others who help create the content at this site - and we especially thank all those Mark Steyn Club members and Steyn cruisers and gift-certificate purchasers all around the world who've helped see us through to our eighteenth year. We wish you and yours only the best in both the twelve months and the decade ahead, and we look forward to ringing in the new through 2030 at least - starting with three hours live on Thursday January 2nd behind the Golden EIB Microphone.