HH: I’ve got a special treat today, because I’ve pretaped an interview tomorrow with Jonah Goldberg, author of the bestselling Liberal Fascism, and I’m on my way tonight to the Southern Hemisphere. I’m talking today with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s work at www.steynonline.com. Get America Alone if you haven’t already. Mark, good Wednesday to you.
MS: Happy Wednesday to you, too, Hugh, and that is a great book, that Jonah Goldberg book.
HH: It really has gotten under the skin of the left, because I think it talks in an unpleasant for them terms about the reality of the leftist impulse towards totalitarianism.
MS: Yes, and I think he’s absolutely right about that, that totalitarianism in the Western world today, it’s not Il Duce strutting about in preposterous uniforms in a semi-militarized state. It’s in a much subtle but deeply damaging way of this belief that the state can in fact envelop you in its nanny embrace from cradle to grave. That is a totalitarian impulse.
HH: You know what I think the left hates, Mark, about Jonah, and you share this with him as well, is they can deal with the Russell Kirks of the new millennium. They can deal with the furrowed brow and the people who are talking in hushed tones. They hate the humor. They cannot stand dealing with people who are funny in replying to them.
MS: Yup. No, I think there’s a big part of that, because again, their sense of themselves is that they are the funny guys, that in fact, they take the view, which I think is almost exactly wrong, that humor is by definition left wing. And of course, that cannot be, because humor is about recognition and observation. And if you hedge yourself in with as many absurdities as the modern left does, so that you cannot accurately identify facets of radical Islam or whatever, you can’t actually identify the comedy in life. And that’s the problem that the left has, and why a guy like Jonah absolutely cleans up when he comes out swinging.
HH: Now I want to tell you a little bit about what I did last night and get your reaction to this. I was at one of those quaint observances of American life. This is the Lincoln Day Dinner in Los Angeles. It’s been held since the early 20’s.
HH: A club of us put on our tuxedoes, go and hear some august personage talk about Lincoln. Last night, it was Harold Holzer, a great Lincoln scholar, comparing the photographs of his life, and where he was at different times, and then Richard Dreyfuss interspersing this with readings from Lincoln. And here’s the irony, Mark. There was never so absolutely relentless and necessarily bloody man as Abraham Lincoln. And his 2nd Inaugural, one would not stay in the Union and would take war, and the other would accept it. And his relentlessness, and here’s Richard Dreyfuss, this man of the left, his mother was Eugene Debs’ secretary…
HH: And we’ve got Barack Obama, an African-American, running for office, and they’re anti the use of any kind of force in pursuit of any kind of principle. It’s a very odd thing that the left would honor Lincoln.
MS: Yes, and I think, I don’t know Richard Dreyfuss. I had one conversation with him on the sidewalk after an event honoring a mutual friend of ours in Montreal a couple of years ago. And that’s all I know him from. He’s a smart guy.
MS: But his smartness, I would say, when it comes to politics, is retrospective. And I’m sure he could put together a very moving evening on Lincoln, because it’s a hundred and fifty years on, and he knows how great and indispensable Lincoln is. And that’s why, you know, so many perfectly orthodox leftist filmmakers are capable of making perfectly fine films about 1930’s fascism. I would like the left to be on the right side at the time, when it counts. And I would like a man like Richard Dreyfuss to understand that the modern world as clearly as he appreciates what Lincoln did a hundred and fifty years ago. And you so very rarely get that from the left. You get it, obviously, from a guy like Christopher Hitchens, you get it from Martin Amis, a left wing British novelist, of conventional left wing views on everything, except that he recognizes that something is under foot with Islam in Britain and Europe, and he won’t duck from that reality. And that’s what makes him a pariah now to many of his lefty pals.
HH: Let’s not duck from the reality of what’s going on again with the cartoons. This is…I’m sure that many people just shudder at this coming back, but it’s back in full-throated fury. Now I was not a big fan of the first publication of the cartoons, but I actually understand this publication of the cartoons after a plot came out to kill one of the cartoonists, and the newspapers are simply saying no, we’re not going to put up with this.
MS: Well, you know, your position is fine, Hugh. At the time, if you’re the editor of the Los Angeles Times, and the guy sends you in these cartoons, you’re entitled to say well, you know, that’s not particularly funny, I’m not going to run those. But once they become a news story…
MS: Once people are being killed for them…
MS: Then obviously, I do think you have to run the cartoons. So I applaud the decision of whatever it was, seventeen Danish newspapers, to show solidarity by reprinting these cartoons. So I applaud the decision of the National Post in Canada, which I believe is the only major North American daily to publish the cartoon of Mohammed showing his turban as a bomb. Once they become a news story, for you not to publish them becomes, in fact, a desire to live in cowardice.
HH: I think that’s absolutely right. Now, do you believe that what’s going on is getting, this second round of cartoon riots, is getting any kind of attention in the West? I don’t see it. I think it’s like the West doesn’t want to look at this.
MS: No. USA Today ran a story in which if you’d read all the way to paragraph 73, you might have identified these rioting youths, “youths”, in Denmark as rioting over the cartoons. But in fact, in paragraph four of the story, the USA Today expressed bafflement at the reason for these cartoons, and suggested it was to do with unusually mild temperatures in Denmark. In other words, you know, global warming is what leads Danish youth to riot. I mean, this is not content with the story in the Scottish newspaper the other day, in which some long time observer of the Loch Ness Monster said the reason there’d been no sightings in recent years was because the Loch Ness Monster was dead from global warming. Global warming killed the Loch Ness Monster, then crosses over the sea to Denmark, and whips up Muslim youth into rioting. We’ll take anything other than the real explanation, which is that there is a crisis in the relations between Islam and the West. And that crisis is going to be a feature of life in the West now for most of the rest of our lives.
HH: Now have you heard that in any way, directly and bluntly, discussed, not only on the Democratic side, but even on the Republican side?
MS: Well, I think it’s clear that if you talk to certain people in the administration, if you talk to Joe Lieberman, who’s a big shot advisor to the McCain campaign, that they understand the broader picture. What they don’t quite understand, and nobody on the Democrat side does, Obama is just offering sort of fluffy…I mean, he seems to oscillate between this weird desire to invade Pakistan and the strange desire to sit down in a room with President Ahmadinejad and talk to him. You know, this is a man who has pledged to wipe the Zionist entity off the face of the Earth, and maybe, you know, Obama would have a successful negotiation, and they’d agree just to annihilate 50% of the Jews. I don’t know. I don’t know what he hopes to accomplish by this negotiation. But you don’t get any sense on the Democrat side of a serious existential challenge to Western civilization.
HH: No, you don’t, and in fact, Ahmadinejad today was using the vilest sort of anti-Semitism, referring to Israel as a bacteria, as a virus.
HH: This is the head of a state, and again, it’s going unremarked upon in the West.
MS: Yes, and I think again, this is very different from the 1930’s. I think whatever one feels about Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax 70 years ago, you can understand that the scale of what was about to happen would be, in some sense, unimaginable to them. But the fact that it happened means that for us to sit back and let it happen a second time will be an even greater moral stain on us. Iran means what it says.
HH: That’s true. Mark, we’ve got about a minute as well, I’ve got to make sure I get your reaction. Is the Hillary Clinton Humpty Dumpty incapable of being put back together again? And if so, why?
MS: Well, you hear all these theories now. I linked at National Review earlier today to some story in a gay Washington newspaper that says Hillary still leads among super gay delegates…not super gay delegates, gay superdelegates.
MS: I don’t know, maybe they are super gay delegates. Maybe they’re super gay gay superdelegates.
HH: Are they gay supermen delegates?
MS: Only in the Democratic Party. I don’t think the super gay delegates can pull it out of the fire for Hillary at this stage.
HH: (laughing) Do they have a Caucus?
HH: They’re going to have great parties.
MS: I don’t know whether it’s a formal…I don’t know whether they’re superdelegates who just happen to be super gay, or whether it’s part of the Constitution of the Democratic Party, that you know a certain percentage of super delegates have to be gay. And you know, if there aren’t enough Barnie Franks available, then Ted Kennedy’s going to get with the program.
HH: What happened to her, though? We’ve got thirty seconds. What happened?
MS: What happened to Hillary?
MS: I think in effect, the Clinton bubble, Democrats understood that the Clinton era Democratic Party was great for the Clintons, not so great for Democrats. And I think without Bill’s charm, Hillary just seemed sort of Earth-bound, where as Obama, whatever one feels about him, saw into the stratosphere…
HH: You bet. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.