HH: Mark Steyn joins me, Columnist To the World. Read everything Mark writes at www.steynonline.com. Mark, you’re probably the best known defender of free expression among the scribbling world. What was your reaction on hearing this yesterday? I read what you wrote about I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees by editor Stephane Charbonnier. But what have you thought about it since then?
MS: Well, it’s made me more angry as the hours have gone by. These men were exceptionally brave. Most of the people expressing solidarity with them are not that brave. I’m not that brave. But when the Canadian Islamic Congress attempted to criminalize my writing, I fought back, and I pushed back, and I got a law changed in the Canadian Parliament, because that’s how important I think freedom of speech is. But I wasn’t asked to die for it like these guys were. And to be honest, it makes me vomit to see people holding these Princess Dianified candlelit vigils, and using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, I am Charlie, and in effect appropriating these guys’ sacrifice for this bogus solidarity. It makes me sick to see all these ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ cartoons that have appeared in newspapers all over the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Australia, everywhere, from other cartoonists, again expressing solidarity with these very brave men, but not doing what they did. And I would have liked, these guys are dead, because back in 2005, these Danish cartoons were published in an obscure Jutland newspaper, and a bunch of fanatics went bananas and started killing people over them. So a couple of publications on the planet, including mine in Canada, and Charlie Hebdo in Paris, published these cartoons. And as a result, Le Monde didn’t, and the Times of London didn’t, and the New York Times didn’t, and nobody else did. And as a result, these fellows in Charlie Hebdo became the focus of murderous rage. If we’d all just published them on the front page and said if you want to kill us, you go to hell, you can’t just kill a couple of obscure Danes, you’re going to have to kill us all, we wouldn’t have this problem. But because nobody did that, these Parisian guys are dead. They’re dead. And I’ve been on enough, I’ve been on enough events in Europe with less famous cartoonists than these who live under death threats, live under armed guard, have had their family restaurant firebombed. It’s happened to a Norwegian comedienne I know, have come home and found their home burned, as a Swedish artist I know happened to. And all these people doing the phony hashtag solidarity, screw your phony hashtag solidarity. Let’s have some real solidarity, or if not, at least have the good taste to stay the hell out of it.
HH: Well, let me ask you about, I’m going to play an interview I’m still fuming about that I conducted earlier today in the next hour with a fellow by the name of Bill Donohue at the Catholic League. And Bill Donohue wrote yesterday, and I’ll read you the excepts I read to him. “Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.” He goes on later. “What unites Muslims in their angers against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed.” Then he goes on to say later, “It is too bad he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. Had he not been so narcissistic, he might still be alive.” He went on to say, “I’ve never counseled violence,” but he quotes Madison saying, “liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuse of power.” Now I got into a very heated argument with him. I’m appalled, I’m embarrassed as a Catholic. It’s just, it’s disgusting, actually, that anyone would blame the victims here. But that’s already begun when people like Bill Donohue are suggesting that this is ever, ever excusable.
MS: Well, I think there’s a real danger here. And we all know that you can’t provoke Bill Donohue to kill you. And so you can do a play, as was produced on Broadway ten, fifteen years ago, in which Jesus Christ gets sodomized by Judas Iscariot, and they’re in a homosexual relationship. And Bill Donohue will send seven people to hold placards outside the stage door. And that’s fine.
HH: And he’ll get the Mayor, he’ll get Rudy to come down to the Brooklyn Museum of Art when Piss Christ is on display there. You bet.
HH: Right. No one will get hurt. Everyone will go home on time to be in bed by 10.
MS: Exactly, and what these people are teaching, and this is why Bill Donohue’s reaction is disgraceful, is it’s actually incentivizing violence. I mean, we shouldn’t think, by the way, that as lunatic and murderous as these guys in Paris were yesterday, that they’re the only ones who’ll figure out that the way to get a craven, sniveling West, including people like Donohue…
MS: …to kowtow to you is to actually just threaten to kill you. I mean, one of the problems here, the whole business with the Muhammad cartoons is misunderstood. And it’s been disgustingly misunderstood by Donohue. It’s one thing to say oh, we should be sensitive about this, and we should be sensitive about that. But when lunatics are actually killing people over a drawing, you’ve got to be on the side of the people who do the drawings. There’s an American woman…
HH: Unequivocally on their side.
MS: …Molly Norris, whose life was erased over this.
HH: Yeah, unequivocally, 100%, not you know, I wish they hadn’t insulted the Prophet, but unequivocally, 100% on their side.
MS: Yes, absolutely. And I say that, you know, and the thing about, Islam is a very peculiar religion. It’s an insecure religion in that sense. And Bill Donohue is fortunate in that he represents, or purports to represent a religion that is actually more secure, and can shrug off insulting provocations. And one of the disturbing things about this is the way so many people who matter, starting with the President and the senior figures of this administration, are willing to put freedom of speech up for trade. The professions of regret at what happened yesterday from the administration are in contrast, for example, to their criticism of Charlie Hebdo three years ago. They didn’t think, they agreed with Donohue that Charlie Hebdo shouldn’t have done those cartoons. Yet funnily enough, Hillary Clinton is sitting in the Book of Mormon, the big hit Broadway musical, laughing her head off and giving a standing ovation to the most obscene provocations against Mormonism. What’s the difference?
HH: Let me ask you as well, on Sunday last…
MS: Yeah, the only difference is that Mitt Romney isn’t going to kick your door down and open up an AK-47 on you. And that’s what they’re teaching us. That’s all they’re incentivizing.
HH: Oh, that’s what I told Larry O’Donnell. Yeah, the Mormons will bring you a strudel. The Mormons will simply drop off some baked goods and smile at you. That’s the difference.
MS: That’s right.
HH: al-Sisi, the president of Egypt, went to the number one university in the Muslim world on Sunday and said to the imams you have screwed us up completely. You’re destroying the ummah, you’re destroying our religion. You’ve got to stop this. Crickets greeted that. No one said anything. In fact, yesterday, Jake Tapper told me before the assassinations, he was planning to cover it. That would have been the first major media outlet to cover the fact that our long-awaited person who stood up and challenged the clerics, and he’s not Mr. Liberty, right? He throws journalists in jail as well. But at least he challenged the Wahhabists. And he did it on his own turf. And crickets greet him. What is wrong with our, we finally get someone, and we’re treating him like a pariah, Mark Steyn.
MS: I know. It’s a weird, it’s absolutely weird to me that Western leaders, you would have thought that John Kerry or Barack Obama, who feels the urge to weigh in on grand jury decisions ten minutes after they’ve been taken, would actually have something to say and welcoming and encouraging this development, and that all the people who purport to be experts in Islam, like Howard Dean, you know, that these guys would actually be addressing this. But because it isn’t major, it’s actually a major step when someone says to him, when a major, the leader of the central nation in the Middle East is actually saying no, you guys have got to get this ship in order. And as you say, you almost get the impression, you almost get the impression now that the Western appeasement crowd are in fact willing to be Islam’s enforcers in the West. And that’s very dark and very disturbing, and bad things will flow from that if we cannot even honestly talk about this.
HH: On this show yesterday, Lindsey Graham said this is a religious war. Now we have a minute left, Mark. I’m glad someone finally said it. It’s not a war with Islam, but it’s a war with a portion of Islam, both Sunni and Shiia.
MS: Yes, and I think it’s at war with a culture that basically does not have the spirit of liberty and the spirit of intellectual inquiry. So you can come up with the most devastating, witty, trenchant argument, and the other fellow is just going to reach for the scimitar and slice your head off. And that calls into question, I think it does call into question as to whether Europe, in allowing Islam to nest within Western pluralistic democracies, has actually placed an existential question over its future. That’s a real question for France today.
HH: Mark Steyn, it’s always a pleasure, especially on a day when the 1st Amendment is on the table. www.steynonline.com.
End of interview.