Mark Steyn On Brandeis University’s Disgraceful Treatment Of Ayaan Hirsi Ali
JW: We are going to get started in a very big way. When this show is lucky on Thursdays, we are joined by the Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, and he is joining us now. Mark, to get started off the bat, I would be remiss if I did not bring up New Hampshire. Tonight, Scott Brown is going to enter the race. Will you preempt him right now and say you, too, are entering the race for the Republican nomination?
MS: Well, I’m willing to say that I’m considering setting up an exploratory committee to explore whether I should start exploring an exploratory committee to explore my campaign. I will, and you’ve got an exclusive on that, Jamie. I mean, my position on this Senate race is that you’ve got Scott Brown from Massachusetts, former Senator Bob Smith from Florida, Jim Rubens, who lives at Dartmouth College, and me from Canada. So I figure that in New Hampshire terms, I’m actually the least foreign guy who would be in the race. And in that sense, I’m closer to home than most of the other candidates in this Senate race. So I haven’t ruled it out, yet.
JW: Well, I am taking that as big, breaking news, a big exclusive. But let me ask you a hypothetical. If you run and win the Senate seat and are in the Senate, I don’t know if you saw Angus King, the independent Senator from Maine’s comments today that he might switch parties if the Republicans take over, or not switch parties, but to caucus with Republicans. If you are in the Senate, will you switch depending on who is in power? Is that the way you would run your senatorial office?
MS: No, not at all. I can say right now I’m not in it for the committee chairmanships, so I’m not going to be like dear, old Jumpin’ Jim Jeffords a decade ago, who Bush neglected to invite to the Vermont Teacher of the Year reception, and in return, he changed the government. I mean, governments around the world have fallen on one vote, that the idea that power in Congress should change because you’re not invited to the Vermont Teacher of the Year reception. I’m not going to be pulling any stuff like that.
JW: Well, let’s move away from New Hampshire for a moment, and I think we’re very lucky to have you on today, because what’s in the news is something that you know very well. And your friend, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was supposed to be given an honorary degree by Brandeis University. They rescinded it, calling her an Islamophobe. I just was hoping to get your reaction on this, and maybe explain who Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to those who may not know.
MS: Well, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali woman, a black, feminist Somali who was raised in a brutal, extreme Islamic upbringing where she underwent female genital mutilation, and she was put in an arranged marriage and all the rest of it. And she managed to escape to the Netherlands and get elected to the Dutch Parliament, and she made a film about the state of Muslim women, about the life of women in the Muslim world called Submission. She wrote the film. The guy who directed it, Theo Van Gogh, the film so outraged Muslims in Amsterdam that one of them murdered him, all but decapitated him in the street. His last words were, “Can’t we just talk about it,” and the guy didn’t want to talk about it. He all but decapitated him, and his final act was to put a letter and used a knife to stab it through what was left of Theo Van Gogh’s chest, pledging among other things to do the same to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Now she could have done what a lot of people do. She could have moved to New Zealand, gone into hiding, had a quiet, changed her name, had a quiet life. And instead, she has lived with that death threat and many others, and had the courage to speak out against it. Most of us are never called upon to be that brave. Most of us will never have to actually weigh those odds the way Ayaan did. And no one’s asking these ghastly squishes at Brandeis to show that kind of courage. All this pathetic president, I want to get his name right, I’ve got it written, Frederick Lawrence. All this wretched nothing eunuch man, Frederick Lawrence, had to do, he didn’t have to show courage on that scale. All he had to do was not cave in to pressure group bullies and allow this woman to speak and receive the worthless honorary degree from his worthless institution. These guys won’t defend Western Civilization, and Western Civilization will die, because it depends on the defense of losers like this guy.
JW: And people when they get honorary degrees, it’s not like they only go to non-political people. Universities have awarded them in the recent past to people that want Israel to be wiped off the map and destroyed. Is that not right?
MS: Yeah, that’s true. And that was Brandeis, a guy called Tony Kushner, who says that he thinks the creation of the state of Israel was a mistake, and that the pushiest and most obnoxious Jews are those who support Israel. You know, is that the, nobody is saying that an honorary degree is handed out to people whose every position you support. And most of us, you know, I accept that I’m, that certain kinds of awards I’m never going to get. And I stand back and occasionally roll my eyes at the dreary left-wing hacks invited to give commencement speeches, garlanded with state honors, things that if you trend to the right side of the spectrum, you know you’re going to be labeled controversial conservative, and you never go anywhere near. But this woman is a black, feminist atheist from Somalia. And so what we’re learning here which is fascinating, in the hierarchy of progressive politics identity group victimhood, Islam trumps everything. Islam trumps gender. The fact that she’s a woman doesn’t matter. It trumps race. The fact that she’s black doesn’t matter. It trumps secularism. The fact that she’s an atheist doesn’t matter. They wouldn’t do this if it was a Christian group complaining about her, if it was a Jewish group complaining about her. But when the Islamic lobby group says oh, no, we’re not putting up with this, as I said, these jelly-spined nothings at Brandeis just roll over for them.
JW: Powerful words from Mark Steyn. I’m Jamie Weinstein sitting in for Hugh Hewitt today. Mark, let me ask you about the 2016 presidential race, because there was some news made this week by some potential contenders. Did you hear what Jeb Bush said down at his father’s 25th anniversary presidential reunion about illegal immigration, that it’s an act of love?
JW: I just wanted to get your thoughts on that.
MS: Well, I made the mistake of doing it the other way, the legal way, which I take it isn’t an act of love. And to modify that old 60s slogan, if I’d have known that what Jeb Bush says is the official position, I would have made love, not INS paperwork for the best part of a decade. I think this frankly is insulting. There are individual stories that can be presented as appealing in illegal immigration. There are a lot of illegal immigration stories that are totally unappealing, where people come here, they get mixed up with drug gangs, they drive without a driver’s license and they kill some poor, native-born American citizen guilty of no crime than happening to be crossing the street when an illegal immigrant without a license came plowing towards her. So there’s all kinds of human stories on that. And the idea that the population of Canada moving illegally into the United States is some kind of mass lovemaking act in Jeb Bush’s eyes is preposterous.
JW: You know, there’s been a lot of talk about Joe Scarborough potentially entering the 2016 presidential field. What are your thoughts on that?
MS: Well, I think Joe Scarborough’s a smart guy, actually. And I went to the National Review conservative conference, which was more of a wake, really, held after the 2012 election a couple of months afterwards. And everything he said, compared to a lot of people who were sort of living in a state of delusion, was actually quite smart and quite savvy. But the reality is that he’s not where the 50% of the country that wants an alternative to the Democratic Party is. And he can’t get past that. I mean, it’s asking a New Hampshire electorate quite a lot to swallow some of the things Scott Brown has said on guns, for example. It’s asking a lot more to ask them to swallow what Joe Scarborough says in a New Hampshire primary. I think he’s a smart guy, and he’s cleverly nuanced and all the rest of it, but he’s not where the base is. And as the Jeb Bush thing reminds us, you know, in the end, you can only insult the base so much. And that’s not going to fly this time around, not after all the geniuses have picked the last couple of candidates, and we watched how that played out.
JW: Mike Pence, the Indiana Governor, his name was thrown into the ring this week as a potential contender. What do you make of him? And do you think he’s a serious contender?
MS: Oh, no, yeah, he is. And you know, simply as a point of principle, I’d prefer governors. I prefer executives. I mean, just to go back to Jeb Bush, just to clarify, I think Jeb Bush was an excellent chief executive of Florida. We know he can govern. We know he can walk into the office at 9:00 on a Monday morning and complete a full workweek in a way that the present president of the United States can’t. So I’m in favor of governors getting into the race. But we’ve got to have someone who’s willing to move the meter, not just to be in office, but actually to be in power and use that power.
JW: Well, thank you so much, Mark. Always illuminating, and this time, I think very powerful in a very moral way, the way you spoke on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
End of interview.