I’m in Europe myself at the moment and I was shocked when someone said to me, “Did you hear about the huge bomb in Paris?” It took me a couple of minutes to realize she was talking about Kerry’s press conference.
But, as I said, satire is dead.
It was the French who dubbed America l’hyperpuissance – the hyperpower. But now the hyperpower is the hippiepower – and who doesn’t love that? Following his rendition of “You’ve Got A Friend”, James Taylor saluted the visiting mullahs from Qom with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s favorite song, “How Sweet It Is (to be loved by ewes)”.
Barack Obama then joined John Kerry on stage for a moving duet of “I’m So Vain (I prob’ly think this song is about me)”, after which Secretary Kerry updated us on the latest talks with Teheran with a highly nuanced version of Joni Mitchell’s “(I’ve looked at Iranian mushroom clouds from) Both Sides Now”.
His lovely wife Teresa then delighted the French audience with a riveting selection of slides of the Kerrys’ home in Boston as she and John sang Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Our House (is a very very very fine house).” Mahmoud Abbas got into the spirit and serenaded the Secretary of State with the Beatles’ “Hey, Jew!”, but Mr Kerry explained that was just one great-grandfather and it was a long time ago back in the Hapsburg Empire.
Asked about excitable young men who talk about avenging the Prophet and open fire while yelling “Allahu Akbar!”, Secretary Kerry responded that he and President Hollande had disagreed on whether to call them “radical extremists” or “extremist radicals” before compromising with a performance of “A Force With No Name”. Two decapitated heads that had been through the desert with Islamic terrori …I mean, a force with no name then entertained the crowd with a Cat Stevens medley of “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and “Another Saturday Night (and I ain’t got no body)”.
The recital was brought to an end with Secretary Kerry’s performance of the first line of Carole King’s “I Feel The Earth Move (under my feet)”, at which point ISIS blew the US Embassy sky high.
But, as I said, satire is dead.
Archive for Mark Steyn
We posted here the other day about Mark Steyn’s legal harassment by Michael Mann, the wielder of the Hokum Hockey Stick.
I’m a little overwhelmed by your generosity in the wake of Judge Weisberg’s ruling in the Mann vs Steyn case. Readers from not only America but also Canada, Ireland, Norway, India and Australia, among others, have swung by the SteynOnline store to help prop up my unsought sojourn in the DC Superior Court by buying my book on free speech and various other products. However, Neil McNeill in Toronto writes:
The battle with Mann is critical to so many people. Let little guys like me support your fight. If I buy $100.00 worth of mugs, you only have the profit with which to pay lawyers. If you pass the hat, all of the $100.00 is available.
You have given me so much pleasure over the years. Let me and you get full legal bang for my buck.
Neil McNeill Toronto
Steyn has an answer (as when does he not?):
[A] couple of readers suggested we bring back our SteynOnline gift certificate, which we usually only offer during the Christmas season. So one way to help out is to buy a gift certificate for yourself (starting at $25 and going up from there). If you want to give us the “full legal bang for the buck” (as Neil puts it), that’s great. If you want to redeem part of it for a book and let SteynOnline have the rest, that’s also fine. If you want to hold on to it and load up with Christmas presents this December, that works, too. The gift certificates have no expiration date, so if, in ten years’ time, Neil has a sudden burning desire for $100 worth of SteynOnline mugs, he’ll still be able to load up.
The gift certificates are available online here, or US and Canadian customers can make a telephone purchase by calling 1-866-799-4500 toll free from 8am to 3pm Eastern time on weekdays. We also take checks (or cheques) drawn on US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British banks, and in euros. Please make them payable to SteynOnline and mail to Box 30, Woodsville, NH 03785. Anyone purchasing a SteynOnline gift certificate will receive by way of thanks one of our SteynOnline “Liberty Stick” souvenirs, in which we reclaim the poor blameless hockey stick from its unfortunate association with Dr Mann.
You will be shocked to learn (ha!) that Steyn is not going gentle into that good night:
In a post at NATIONAL REVIEW’s website, I mocked Dr. Michael Mann, the celebrated global warm-monger, and his “hockey stick,” the most famous of all the late-Nineties global-warming climate models to which dull, uncooperative 21st-century reality has failed to live up. So he sued. We then filed an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss.
SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation” — i.e., using legal action to cow an opponent into silence, and withdrawal from the public square.
In fairness to Dr. Mann, the two-year anti-SLAPP hearing is not entirely his fault. We are now having to start all over from scratch, with a brand new complaint, brand new motions to dismiss, and a brand new judge — all thanks to the original judge’s remarkable incompetence and careless management of her case. I’m an immigrant and I’m told that in America one shouldn’t criticize judges, but I’ve done so in England and Ireland, Canada and Australia, and I don’t really see why a third-rate judge should be any more immune from criticism than a third-rate plumber. At the risk of oversimplifying, I wonder if in a republic a society’s natural monarchical reverence doesn’t simply wind up getting transferred elsewhere — in this case to omniscient robed jurists. At any rate, it seems to me that a fear of offending judges is unbecoming in a free people. So screw that.
Dr. Mann has been brandishing his hockey stick out on the campaign trail against Republican candidates. In Virginia, he appeared in the Democrats’ attack ads against Ken Cuccinelli, and helped get Clinton’s bagman Terry McAuliffe elected governor. When his candidate Mark Herring also prevailed over the GOP in the attorney general’s race, Mann crowed and published tweets from his acolytes congratulating him on “two fresh notches on your hockey stick.” That would seem, definitively, to move the hockey stick into the realm of political speech explicitly protected by the First Amendment — and perhaps one day, two or three or five years down the line, a D.C. court will agree. But it’s not much of a First Amendment that requires a bazillion dollars in legal fees and a half-decade vow of silence to enjoy the security thereof — all while the plaintiff’s using his freedom of speech to knock off your political allies.
Free speech is about the right to thrash out ideas — on climate change, gay marriage, or anything else — in the public square, in bright sunlight. And you win a free-speech case by shining that sunlight on it, relentlessly. As we embark on our second year in the hell of the D.C. court system, that’s what I intend to do.
Steyn has all but split from National Review—over this and other issues. He’s on his own, even serving as his own lawyer. Readers of this site (hi mom!) will know we tolerate being wrong (leading by example every day!). What we do not tolerate is left-wing bullying—Liberal Fascism, as another NR writer put it. Mark Steyn, Caroline Glick, James Taranto, and Dennis Prager have been my wise elders in my reeducation as a conservative. I’ve even written an unabashed fan note to Steyn, offering to buy him a drink next time he ventures down I 93 into Boston (his assistant thought I might have a shot). I hope he’ll take a rain-check on that drink and accept a contribution in its stead. I’ll buy a $100 gift certificate now, and redeem it when he publishes his prison memoirs.
Some of you may be aware of Mark Steyn’s legal problems. No, his current legal problems.
He’s being sued by the cloddish climatologist, the Mann of the Hokum Hockey Stick, Michael Mann.
On Tuesday morning, January 21st, I filed a motion with respect to Dr Michael Mann’s defamation suit against me, National Review, Rand Simberg, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. I did so because I felt the procedural fiasco the case has been reduced to since last July 10th thanks to the incompetence of the previous judge, Natalia Combs Greene, required what I called “an act of jurisprudential hygiene” from the new judge, Frederick Weisberg. Unfortunately, the DC Superior Court seems disinclined to clean up its act. I appreciate that, to those who followed the fun and frolics of my free speech battles in Canada five years ago, the tedious procedural codswallop of the Mann case has been eye-glazing and butt-numbing. But that’s apparently how they do things in America. Still, at the risk of rendering even the loyalist reader comatose, let me précis the most recent developments:
On December 19th, the Appeals Court ruled that appeals relating to Dr Mann’s original complaint were moot. (Bear with me, it gets much more boring yet.) The implication of this was that we would be getting a fresh hearing on the amended complaint with what Judge Weisberg had promised on October 9th would be “a new set of eyes”. Whatever the state of His Honor’s eyeballs, I never got a look at them – because on Wednesday evening, January 22nd, he denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (along with my Motion to Vacate) without benefit of a hearing. So it looks like the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st century is on. Book your tickets now!
As I wrote in my motion:
Defendant Steyn does not live in the District of Columbia and visits it only for the purpose of attending these proceedings. As stated in his original Motion to Dismiss of December 14th 2012, “he denies that this Court may exercise personal jurisdiction over his internet commentary, since that commentary was not purposefully directed at the District of Columbia. See, e.g., Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984). Nor is Mr Steyn subject to general jurisdiction in the District of Columbia.” He voluntarily submitted to the Court’s jurisdiction “solely to expedite this litigation as a matter of administrative convenience”. It is a matter of regret to Defendant Steyn that Judge Combs Greene proved unable to expedite anything.
That’s putting it mildly. I’m not the first to discover too late that the American court system is no place for wee unsuspecting foreigners. Although I was the only one on the NR side who’s actually won a free-speech battle (and so decisively that the law was eventually repealed), I was prevailed upon through the course of last year to leave it to the experts. The result is that we blew through half a million bucks, and have nothing to show for it – other than what even Judge Weisberg calls a “convoluted procedural history” that utterly buried the real issues at the heart of the case. As my motion put it:
Defendant Steyn has been in many courtrooms in his native Canada and many other parts of the British Commonwealth and has never seen a case so procedurally bungled.
Many “climate skeptics” wonder why the defendants would want to get the complaint dismissed rather than put Mann through a trial in which he would have to take the witness stand and discuss his work under oath. I can understand their enthusiasm for this but for me the priority has always been the broader cause of free speech:
Defendant Steyn stands by his words and is willing to defend them at trial and before a jury, should it come to that. However, as a noted human-rights activist in Canada and elsewhere, he believes that the cause of freedom of expression in the United States would best be served by dismissing the amended complaint, and that a trial would have a significant “chilling effect” in America of the kind the Anti-SLAPP laws are specifically designed to prevent.
The “chilling effect” is a bigger threat to civilized society than all Dr Mann’s warming. But the judge chose instead to put us on the road to a full-scale trial. So be it.
As readers may have deduced from my absence at National Review Online and my termination of our joint representation, there have been a few differences between me and the rest of the team. The lesson of the last year is that you win a free-speech case not by adopting a don’t-rock-the-boat, keep-mum, narrow procedural posture but by fighting it in the open, in the bracing air and cleansing sunlight of truth and justice.
Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann. Graham Spanier, the Penn State president forced to resign over Sandusky, was the same cove who investigated Mann. And, as with Sandusky and Paterno, the college declined to find one of its star names guilty of any wrongdoing.
If an institution is prepared to cover up systemic statutory rape of minors, what won’t it cover up? Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.
Which has led to months and thousands upon thousand of dollars of litigation.
I don’t know how Steyn is paying for it all, especially as he’s told National Review to shove off. He did write this:
Several readers have asked if I have a legal-defense fund. No, and I don’t really care for them. But, if you want to support the cause of free speech, you could do far worse than buy a copy of Lights Out from the SteynOnline bookstore. Or, if you’re in the vicinity, swing by to one of the stops on my Florida tour – I’ll be giving away my antidote to Mann’s hockey stick, the Liberty Stick.
Books, mugs, t-shirts. I have a lot, but not all. Now that my Christmas bills are paid off, I’m going to fill the gaps in my library and wardrobe. So should you. For free speech.
Seriously. Buy something. Shame if you haven’t already.
[A]n unarmed woman was gunned down on the streets of Washington for no apparent crime other than driving too near Barackingham Palace and thereby posing a threat to national security. As disturbing as Miriam Carey’s bullet-riddled body and vehicle were, the public indifference to it is even worse. Ms. Carey does not appear to be guilty of any act other than a panic attack when the heavy-handed and heavier-armed palace guard began yelling at her. Much of what was reported in the hours after her death seems dubious: We are told Ms. Carey was “mentally ill,” although she had no medications in her vehicle and those at her home back in Connecticut are sufficiently routine as to put millions of other Americans in the category of legitimate target. We are assured that she suffered from post-partum depression, as if the inability to distinguish between a depressed mom and a suicide bomber testifies to the officers’ professionalism. Under D.C. police rules, cops are not permitted to fire on a moving vehicle, because of the risk to pedestrians and other drivers. But the Secret Service and the Capitol Police enjoy no such restraints, so the car doors are full of bullet holes. The final moments of the encounter remain a mystery, but police were supposedly able to extract Ms. Carey’s baby from the back of a two-door vehicle before dispatching the defenseless mother to meet her maker.
Did I mention she was African American? When a black teen dies in a late-night one-on-one encounter with a fellow citizen on the streets of Sanford, Fla., it’s the biggest thing since Selma. But when a defenseless black woman is gunned down by a posse of robocops in broad daylight on the streets of the capital, the Reverend Jackson and the Reverend Sharpton and all the other bouffed and pampered grievance-mongers are apparently cool with it.
This isn’t very difficult. When you need large numbers of supposedly highly trained elite officers to kill an unarmed woman with a baby, you’re doing it wrong. In perhaps the most repugnant reaction to Ms. Carey’s death, the United States Congress expressed their “gratitude” to the officers who killed her and gave them a standing ovation.
This was a repulsive act by Congress.
Miriam Carey is already forgotten, and the lawyer her family hired has now, conveniently, been jailed for a bad debt. I am not one for cheap historical analogies: My mother spent four of her childhood years under Nazi occupation, and it is insulting to her and millions of others who know the real thing to bandy overheated comparisons. But there is a despotic trend in American government. Too many of our rulers and their enforcers reflexively see the citizenry primarily as a threat. Which is why the tautness of one’s buns is now probable cause, and why in Congress the so-called people’s representatives’ first instinct is to stand and cheer the death of a defenseless woman.
Worship him as I do, Mark Steyn glosses over a few important points. The late Ms. Carey did have a documented history of erratic behavior—if not outright loopiness (yes, loopiness—look it up in the DSM). She did try to drive her car onto White House grounds, and she did knock over a Secret Service agent while trying to get away.
The chain-of-events began when the woman sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of barricades. When the driver couldn’t get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, said B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore.
“This wasn’t no accident. She was not a lost tourist,” Campbell said later near the scene that had been blocked off with police tape.
Then the chase began.
“The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb,” said Matthew Coursen, who was watching from a cab window when the Infiniti sped by him. “The car got boxed in and that’s when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car.”
And yet, the story may not be so cut and dry. Before the lawyer was jailed:
Besides, I remember another time Mark Steyn held his applause at the gunning down of another “terrorist”:
Mark Steyn 12:01AM BST 26 Jul 2005
[W]e turn to Jean Charles de Menezes, the supposed “suicide bomber” who turned out to be a Brazilian electrician on his way to work. Unfortunately, by the time the Metropolitan Police figured that out, they’d put five bullets in his head. We’re told we shouldn’t second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn’t spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals. And, if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube?
[F]ew of us had an inkling of the Met’s new “shoot to kill” policy until they shot and killed Mr de Menezes. And although I’ve had a ton of e-mails pointing out various sinister aspects of his behaviour – he was wearing a heavy coat! he refused to stop! – it seems to me there are an awful lot of people on the Tube who might easily find themselves in Mr de Menezes’s position.
I happened to be passing through London on Friday. It didn’t feel terribly warm, but I spend half a year up to my neck in snow so when it climbs to a balmy 48 I start wearing T-shirts. But I can understand why a Brazilian might find 61 and overcast no reason to eschew a heavy jacket. So a man in a suspiciously warm coat refuses to stop for the police. Well, they were a plain-clothes unit – ie, a gang – and confronted by unidentified men brandishing weapons in south London I’d scram, too.
Mr de Menezes is forgotten; Miriam Carey is on her way to join him in oblivion eight years later. Their behaviors aroused suspicion, and in tense times (Tube bombings and Navy Yard shootings) their unnecessary deaths were “collateral damage” in the war on terror. There’s a fair amount of that going around—if I were a Waziristan grandmother, I’d leave the fu**ing okra to rot on the vine, or however it grows.
It is what it is, the sports cliche goes. But we don’t have to like it. We don’t have to excuse it. And shame on us, forever, if we choose to forget it.
In too much of Islam the answer is “one”:
[I]n a throwaway Tweet, Professor Dawkins observed that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” This time round, the old provocateur managed to get a rise out of folks. Almost every London paper ran at least one story on the “controversy.” The Independent‘s Owen Jones fumed, “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism. You are now beyond an embarrassment.” The best-selling author Caitlin Moran sneered, “It’s time someone turned Richard Dawkins off and then on again. Something’s gone weird.” The Daily Telegraph‘s Tom Chivers beseeched him, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging.”
It’s factually unarguable: Trinity graduates have amassed 32 Nobel prizes, the entire Muslim world a mere 10. If you remove Yasser Arafat, Mohamed ElBaradei, and the other winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Islam can claim just four laureates against Trinity’s 31 (the college’s only peace-prize recipient was Austen Chamberlain, brother of Neville). Yet simply to make the observation was enough to have the Guardian compare him to the loonier imams and conclude that “we must consign Dawkins to this very same pile of the irrational and the dishonest.”
That’s not what stopped me in my tracks. This is:
Ten years back, even the United Nations Human Development Program was happy to sound off like an incendiary Dawkins Tweet: Its famous 2002 report blandly noted that more books are translated by Spain in a single year than have been translated into Arabic in the last thousand years.
Think the pace has picked up over the past decade? Me neither.
Whatever its virtues, Islam is not a culture of inquiry, of innovation. You can coast for a while on the accumulated inheritance of a pre-Muslim past — as, indeed, much of the Dar al-Islam did in those Middle Ages Dawkins so admires — but it’s not unreasonable to posit that the more Muslim a society becomes the smaller a role Nobel prizes and translated books will play in its future. According to a new report from Britain’s Office of National Statistics, “Mohammed,” in its various spellings, is now the second most popular baby boy’s name in England and Wales, and Number One in the capital. It seems likely that an ever more Islamic London will, for a while, still have a West End theater scene for tourists, but it will have ever less need not just for Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward and eventually Shakespeare but for drama of any kind. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe Dawkins is wrong, maybe the U.N. Human Development chaps are wrong. But the ferocious objections even to raising the subject suggest we’re not.
I doubt The Satanic Verses would be accepted for publication today, but, if it were, I’m certain no major author would come out swinging on Salman Rushdie’s behalf the way his fellow novelist Fay Weldon did: The Koran, she declared, “is food for no-thought….”
Fay Weldon and Salman Rushdie are still alive. But the spirits of curiosity and inquisitiveness in Islam are as inanimate as Richard III’s bones. Back in the Middle Ages, when Islam was relatively tolerant, it was contrasted by the hardened strictures of Christianity. Would the pussy-footed media types have reacted with horror had a medieval Richard Dawkins tweaked the Pope? Of course: if they agreed or merely let it pass without condemnation, they would have feared retribution from the Grand Inquisitor.
Same today. Fear. Of Islam. Of Christianity, not so much:
In 2010, the bestselling atheist Richard Dawkins, in the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, called the pope “a leering old villain in a frock” perfectly suited to “the evil corrupt organization” and “child-raping institution” that is the Catholic Church. Nobody seemed to mind very much.
The opposite of faith is not belief in nothing: it is belief in anything. Including the belief that Islam is a religion of peace™. If non-reading Muslims (and brain-dead liberals) of the world actually cracked open a book (book?) or a newspaper, they might have to concede the point.
I signed. Will you?
HH: I am telling you, we could rally the country! We could rally the country to Steyn For Senate, think about it. I might even, I encourage my listeners to go to Steynonline.com.
MS: Wait a minute! Wait a minute, Hugh! I mean I will, now I’m warming to it, but I don’t know whether, don’t know whether I should aim a little higher. I don’t know whether I could dust off my Hawaiian birth certificate and just run straight for President.
Everybody else, everybody else Ted Cruze [sic], Marco Rubio has some sort of incipient birther problem with the 2016 campaign so I might as well just throw my hat in that one as well.
HH: Well, I say first step, first step. You’ve got to spend at lest a week in the United States Senate before you run for President and so I—
MS: Of course, that’s right! That’s right. I could be Senator for a week and then I’m qualified to be President. Sorry, I forgot about that.
Steyn worries that his columns are instant opposition research for the incumbent, Jeanne Shaheen. He should have turned in copy that read only “present”.
This column is not alone in thinking it’s possible the Internal Revenue Service stole last year’s election. Economist Stan Veuger describes new research he conducted with colleagues at Stockholm University and Harvard:
[We] set out to find out how much impact the Tea Party had on voter turnout in the 2010 election. We compared areas with high levels of Tea Party activity to otherwise similar areas with low levels of Tea Party activity, using data from the Census Bureau, the FEC, news reports, and a variety of other sources. We found that the effect was huge: the movement brought the Republican Party some 3 million-6 million additional votes in House races. That is an astonishing boost, given that all Republican House candidates combined received fewer than 45 million votes. It demonstrates conclusively how important the party’s newly energized base was to its landslide victory in those elections. . . .
President Obama’s margin of victory in some of the key swing states was fairly small: a mere 75,000 votes separated the two contenders in Florida, for example. That is less than 25% of our estimate of what the Tea Party’s impact in Florida was in 2010. Looking forward to 2012 in 2010 undermining the Tea Party’s efforts there must have seemed quite appealing indeed. . . .
It might be purely accidental that the government targeted precisely this biggest threat to the president. It may just be that a bureaucracy dominated by liberals picked up on not-so-subtle dog whistles from its political leadership. Or, it might be that direct orders were given.
As we’ve repeatedly emphasized, the possibility that the IRS was acting under orders from the White House, as alarming as it is, is far less so than the “dog whistle” alternative. If the IRS did the bidding of the party in power without having to be ordered, then the federal government itself, not just the current administration, is so corrupt as to call into question the very integrity of American democracy.
Mark Steyn has made the same point:
[L]et’s take the president at his word that the existence of this shadowy IRS entity working deep within the even shadowier U.S. Treasury planted in deep cover within the shadowiest conspiracy of them all, this murky hitherto unknown organization called “the Executive Branch,” that all this was news to him. What that means then is not that this or that elected politician is corrupt but that the government of the United States is corrupt.
Hundreds and hundreds of groups were consigned to the purgatory of “pending” — a term for IRS customers not as favored as Malik Obama can stretch leisurely from six months to ten to twenty to thirty, and beyond. When the most lavishly funded government on the planet comes after you, eventual guilt or innocence is irrelevant: The process is the punishment.
Americans are fearless if some guy pulls some stunt in a shopping mall, but an IRS assault is brutal and unending. Many activists faded away, and the media began writing stories about how the Tea Party had peaked; they were over; they wouldn’t be a factor in 2012. And so it proved. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out the other day, the plan worked.
More accurately, this was the face of voter suppression 2012:
Hey, bitter clingers! How’s my a** taste?
When I ever do get around to retiring from running the Grand Duchy of Bloodthirstan, I’ll just hang a sign on the gate: “See Mark Steyn”.
He says it better, earlier, and funnier than I ever could. (But you already knew that.)
[T]he government doesn’t build much of anything these days — except for that vast complex five times the size of the Capitol the NSA is throwing up in Utah to house everybody’s data on everything everyone’s ever done with anyone ever.
A few weeks after 9/11, when government was hastily retooling its 1970s hijacking procedures for the new century, I wrote a column for the National Post of Canada and various other publications that, if you’re so interested, is preserved in my anthology The Face of the Tiger. It began by noting the observation of President Bush’s transportation secretary, Norman Mineta, that if “a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach, Florida” and “a Muslim young man” were in line to board a flight, he hoped there would be no difference in the scrutiny to which each would be subjected. The TSA was then barely a twinkle in Norm’s eye, and in that long-ago primitive era it would have seemed absurd to people that one day in America it would be entirely routine for wheelchair-bound nonagenarians to remove leg braces before boarding a plane or for kindergartners to stand patiently as three middle-aged latex-gloved officials poke around their genitals. Back then, the idea that everybody is a suspect still seemed slightly crazy. As I wrote in my column, “I’d love to see Norm get his own cop show:
“Captain Mineta, the witness says the serial rapist’s about 5?10? with a thin mustache and a scar down his right cheek.”
“Okay, Sergeant, I want you to pull everyone in.”
“Everyone. Men, women, children. We’ll start in the Bronx and work our way through to Staten Island. What matters here is that we not appear to be looking for people who appear to look like the appearance of the people we’re looking for. There are eight million stories in the Naked City, and I want to hear all of them.”
A decade on, it would be asking too much for the new Norm to be confined to the airport terminal. There are 300 million stories in the Naked Republic, and the NSA hears all of them, 24/7. Even in the wake of a four-figure death toll, with the burial pit still smoking, the formal, visible state could not be honest about the very particular threat it faced, and so in the shadows the unseen state grew remorselessly, the blades of the harvester whirring endlessly but, don’t worry, only for “metadata.” As I wrote in National Review in November 2001, “The bigger you make the government, the more you entrust to it, the more powers you give it to nose around the citizenry’s bank accounts, and phone calls, and e-mails, and favorite Internet porn sites, the more you’ll enfeeble it with the siren song of the soft target. The Mounties will no longer get their man, they’ll get you instead. Frankly, it’s a lot easier.” As the IRS scandal reminds us, you have to have a touchingly naïve view of government to believe that the 99.9999 percent of “metadata” entirely irrelevant to terrorism will not be put to some use, sooner or later.
I discovered Steyn soon after 9/11, when my disillusion with liberalism was but a green shoot. He was Miracle-Gro for my burgeoning conservative transformation.
First of all, who even remembers Norman Mineta—or can tell him apart from Leon Panetta? Did Panetta just slip into to Mineta’s size 9 1/2 Ferragamos when no one was looking? Does it matter?
All -etas look alike!
If you’ve read even one post of mine you know my anger and despair (and most of the other stages of grief) over our flaccid response to terrorism. We can’t name the enemy—can’t even call him an enemy—though he names us and so calls us daily. That “Muslim young man” of whom Mineta (or do I mean…?) is so enamored is statistically unlikely to be any threat—but he is infinitely more threatening than the “a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach, Florida”. So she gets the body cavity search while he gets a pillow and a magazine. (“The latest issue of Inspire? Why, yes we do.”)
Unless and until Aggie and I take up arms (and that’s not how we roll), our “metadata” is irrelevant to national security. Same goes for Buck, Kimmi, Kerri, Norm, Leon, Ted, and Alice. Worse than irrelevant, such searches and seizures are statistical noise, drowning out whispered plots, discreet nods and winks. Worse than irrelevant and counterproductive, they are carried out without probable cause, therefore definitively unconstitutional.
We have suspended the Constitution so as not to give offense. But offense to whom? That “young Muslim man” would presumably like to take off and land safely just like everyone else. No, the people we fear offending are ourselves, at least those who are easily offended. To spin the old sports cliche, the best defense is to give offense.
For the past two days I’ve been checking Mark Steyn’s site to read his reaction to the cold-blooded Islamist butchery of a British soldier in southeast London—but to no avail.
I needn’t have feared. I just had to wait, that’s all:
On Wednesday, Drummer Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, a man who had served Queen and country honorably in the hell of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, emerged from his barracks on Wellington Street, named after the Duke thereof, in southeast London. Minutes later, he was hacked to death in broad daylight and in full view of onlookers by two men with machetes who crowed “Allahu akbar!” as they dumped his carcass in the middle of the street like so much road kill.
As grotesque as this act of savagery was, the aftermath was even more unsettling. The perpetrators did not, as the Tsarnaev brothers did in Boston, attempt to escape. Instead, they held court in the street gloating over their trophy, and flagged down a London bus to demand the passengers record their triumph on film. As the crowd of bystanders swelled, the remarkably urbane savages posed for photographs with the remains of their victim while discoursing on the iniquities of Britain toward the Muslim world. Having killed Drummer Rigby, they were killing time: It took 20 minutes for the somnolent British constabulary to show up. And so television viewers were treated to the spectacle of a young man, speaking in the vowels of south London, chatting calmly with his “fellow Britons” about his geopolitical grievances and apologizing to the ladies present for any discomfort his beheading of Drummer Rigby might have caused them, all while drenched in blood and still wielding his cleaver.
If you’re thinking of getting steamed over all that, don’t. Simon Jenkins, the former editor of the Times of London, cautioned against “mass hysteria” over “mundane acts of violence.”
Oh no he di’n’t! How insulting and degrading—not least to the jolly jihadists themselves!
What does a murdering Mohammedan—not by my reckoning, by his own—have to do to rise above the level of “mundane acts of violence”? I can’t even imagine. But then I couldn’t imagine ramming my car into a lone soldier, and then butchering him on the spot (my failing). I can’t even imagine what that poor soldier would have been thinking in his soon to be detached head.
Back to Steyn:
Being jumped by barbarians with machetes is certainly “mundane” in Somalia and Sudan, but it’s the sort of thing that would once have been considered somewhat unusual on a sunny afternoon in south London — at least as unusual as, say, blowing up eight-year-old boys at the Boston Marathon. It was “mundane” only in the sense that, as at weddings and kindergarten concerts, the reflexive reaction of everybody present was to get out their cell phones and start filming.
Consider how that will play when these guys’ jihadist snuff video is being hawked around the bazaars of the Muslim world. Behold the infidels, content to be bystanders in their own fate.
This passivity set the tone for what followed. In London as in Boston, the politico-media class immediately lapsed into the pneumatic multiculti Tourette’s that seems to be a chronic side effect of excess diversity-celebrating: No Islam to see here, nothing to do with Islam, all these body parts in the street are a deplorable misinterpretation of Islam. The BBC’s Nick Robinson accidentally described the men as being “of Muslim appearance,” but quickly walked it back lest impressionable types get the idea that there’s anything “of Muslim appearance” about a guy waving a machete and saying “Allahu akbar.” A man is on TV dripping blood in front of a dead British soldier and swearing “by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” yet it’s the BBC reporter who’s apologizing for “causing offence.” To David Cameron, Drummer Rigby’s horrific end was “not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam. . . . There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”
How does he know? He doesn’t seem the most likely Koranic scholar. Appearing on David Letterman’s show a while back, Cameron was unable to translate into English the words “Magna Carta,” which has quite a bit to do with that “British way of life” he’s so keen on. But apparently it’s because he’s been up to his neck in suras and hadiths every night sweating for Sharia 101. So has Scotland Yard’s deputy assistant commissioner, Brian Paddick, who reassured us after the London Tube bombings that “Islam and terrorism don’t go together,” and the mayor of Toronto, David Miller, telling NPR listeners after 19 Muslims were arrested for plotting to behead the Canadian prime minister: “You know, in Islam, if you kill one person you kill everybody,” he said in a somewhat loose paraphrase of Koran 5:32 that manages to leave out some important loopholes. “It’s a very peaceful religion.”
This line is so old, we retired our Religion of Peace™ trope long, long ago. Too often, zealous Muslims act like theirs is a Religion of Pieces: a severed head (London) or leg (Boston), a torso, a still-beating heart (Syria).
The short version of what happened in Woolwich is that two Muslims butchered a British soldier in the name of Islam and helpfully explained, “The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day.” But what do they know? They’re only Muslims, not Diversity Outreach Coordinators. So the BBC, in its so-called “Key Points,” declined to mention the “Allahu akbar” bit or the “I”-word at all: Allah who?
Not a lot of Muslims want to go to the trouble of chopping your head off, but when so many Western leaders have so little rattling around up there, they don’t have to. And, as we know from the sob-sister Tsarnaev profiles, most of these excitable lads are perfectly affable, or at least no more than mildly alienated, until the day they set a hundred cars alight, or blow up a school boy, or decapitate some guy. And, if you’re lucky, it’s not you they behead, or your kid they kill, or even your Honda Civic they light up. And so life goes on, and it’s all so “mundane,” in Simon Jenkins’s word, that you barely notice when the Jewish school shuts up, and the gay bar, and the uncovered women no longer take a stroll too late in the day, and the publishing house that gets sent the manuscript for the next Satanic Verses decides it’s not worth the trouble. . . . But don’t worry, they’ll never defeat our “free speech” and our “way of life.”
One in ten Britons under 25 is now Muslim. That number will increase, through immigration, disparate birth rates, and conversions like those of the Woolwich killers, British-born and -bred. Metternich liked to say the Balkans began in the Landstrasse, in southeast Vienna. Today, the Dar al-Islam begins in Wellington Street, in southeast London. That’s a “betrayal” all right, but not of Islam.
I cede to Steyn the field on the issue of Western impotence in the face of physical and cultural aggression. Though even he neglected to mention the army’s reaction: not to dress like a soldier when in certain neighborhoods.
But I still have to ask: what’s going on in Islam?
The Muslim Council of Britain, within hours of the attack, said: “This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.” They went on to point out that British Muslims have long served in the Armed forces and that “this attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder.”
Contrast this heartfelt condemnation with the extraordinary statement released by the Muslim Council of Britain, following the 7 July bombings in London.
“We do naturally feel deeply for the sufferings, injustices and oppression the world over. Yet we also remind ourselves of the verse of the Qur’an,
“O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity and let not abhorrence of any people make you swerve from justice. Deal justly, that is nearer to God-fearing. Fear Allah. Allah is aware of what you do.” (Al Maidah, 5:8) We also call on the international community to work towards just and lasting peace settlements in the world’s areas of conflict and help eliminate the grievances that seem to nurture a spiral of violence.”
Unqualified condemnation is a start, but nothing short of prevention—by any means, including informing the police—is acceptable. I note that Boston’s own home-grown slaughterer, Tamerlan “Speed Bump” Tsarnaev, was tossed from his Cambridge mosque by the elders for his crazy talk. They wanted no part of him, and I’m sure they told the FBI the same when (if?) they asked about him.
I regret I can’t find the quote now, but I read a story shortly after the Woolwich slaughter in which a Muslim leader was quoted as saying he didn’t know what more could be done. He was distraught, and I’m sure he was sincere, and I’m not even sure he was wrong. Whether the divide is by generation or by something else, today’s Muslim leaders hold no sway over the Speed Bumps or Bloody Hands of their flock. They preach a religion of peace, but some of their followers—and more than a few preachers themselves—practice it differently.
Twenty-four hours later, Mr. Sirota had a second feather in his cap. The two suspects in the Boston bombing turned out to be Caucasian males — that’s to say, males from the Caucasus, specifically the North Caucasus, Chechnya by way of Dagestan. Unfortunately for his delicate sensitivities, the two Caucasians were also Muslims. They were alumni of Cambridge Rindge and Latin, one of the oldest public schools in America and latterly one of the most “diverse,” boasting (being the operative word) students from over 80 countries. The Tsarnaev brothers had spent most of their lives in the United States, and lived the diversity dream.
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry observed that Tsarnaev’s faith is about as relevant to the investigation right now as are Ben Affleck movies about violent events in Boston. Her panel guests agreed, and said that Americans have to “otherize” violent actors in order to absolve themselves from responsibility for or connection to their violence.
“We don’t really know,” said Harris-Perry, throwing her hands up about the discussion into the Tsarnaev’s motives. “The younger brother, he’s getting all kinds of tweets from his friends. I think part of the answer is that it’s still an open question.”…
“Given that they’re Chechen, given that they are literally Caucasian, our very sense of connection to them is this framed up notion of, like, Islam making them into something that is non-[unintelligible],” Harris-Perry continued.
Frankly, the whole thing is unintelligible. I can’t even be sure she’s as much of an imbecile as I thoroughly suspect she is.
The Declaration of Independence hold certain Truths to be Self-Evident. The Left holds certain Utopian Constructs, certain Untested Narratives, to be Truths. And they cling to them as bitterly as the any rube does to his gun or religion. These Liberal Fantasies are as cherished to them as any Bible or AR-15.
I didn’t say which country—the one in this story sounds like the old Soviet Union:
He wiped the front counter and smoothed the edges of a sign posted near his register. “Yes! We take Food Stamps, SNAP, EBT!”
“Today, we fill the store up with everything,” he said. “Tomorrow, we sell it all.”
At precisely one second after midnight, on March 1, Woonsocket would experience its monthly financial windfall — nearly $2 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Federal money would be electronically transferred to the broke residents of a nearly bankrupt town, where it would flow first into grocery stores and then on to food companies, employees and banks, beginning the monthly cycle that has helped Woonsocket survive.
SNAP enrollment in Rhode Island had been rising for six years, up from 73,000 people to nearly 180,000, and now three-quarters of purchases at International Meat Market are paid for with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Government money had in effect funded the truckloads of food at Pichardo’s dock … and the three part-time employees he had hired to unload it … and the walk-in freezer he had installed to store surplus product … and the electric bills he paid to run that freezer, at nearly $2,000 each month.
Pichardo’s profits from SNAP had also helped pay for International Meat Market itself, a 10-aisle store in a yellow building that he had bought and refurbished in 2010, when the rise in government spending persuaded him to expand out of a smaller market down the block.
SNAP has been rising for six years, and we’ve been in economic “recovery” for over three and a half. There is no economy of Woosocket; there is only government largesse. That’s okay if you’re on the receiving end of the largesse, but where does the largesse come from? Obama’s stash? Guess again: look in the mirror. Whether it’s Woonsocket, RI or Stockton, CA or Detroit, MI, whole swathes of America don’t exist—couldn’t exist—as independent going concerns.
That’s not by fate or by accident. It’s the result of policies pursued by a largely-Democrat power structure, and at a certain point it appears intentional. Dependency breeds dependency: you depend on me for food, housing, even dignity; I depend on your vote. Everybody wins.
Except the health of the nation as a whole. Treating taxpayers as indentured servants of the non-working class is degrading to the workers and non-workers alike. A society that relies on such a system is at its tipping point of viability. I think we passed that point several exits ago on the interstate.