Mark Steyn On the fascination of the Etch-A-Sketch Here, But the Use Of The Etch-A-Sketch by MSM in France when reporting anti-Semitic jihadi terrorism.
HH: Joined now by Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark, I apologize for demoting you today, but Mitt Romney is going to be the next president of the United States, so he got to go first. And so I hope you’ll…
MS: Okay, so what does that make me? Ambassador to Papua New Guinea or whatever? That’s the 21 minutes after…
HH: That could…you’re still in the running to be the vice president. Actually, you can’t be the vice president, can you? You can’t.
MS: Okay, I don’t mind. I like to hear Willie Nelson, Hugh. You know who made a great version of that song, by the way? Rosemary Clooney, Rosie Clooney, George Clooney’s aunt made a terrific version of On The Road Again.
HH: Monsita, her daughter, is a good friend of mine. I didn’t know that. Oh, that’s very interesting. I’ll have to ask her. Okay, let me ask you about, I was going to talk to you about France, and I’m going to, but I just have to test on you Joe Klein’s assessment of the Etch-a-Sketch incident. It begins, “I’ve been thinking about this all night, Eric Fehrstrom’s Etch-A-Sketch gaffe yesterday, may go well beyond a momentary embarrassment, and become a campaign-defining disaster much as John Kerry’s ‘I voted for it before I voted against it gaffe, which came at almost exactly the same point in that campaign as Kerry locked down the nomination. This is true for several reasons,” and he goes on. What is your immediate reaction to hearing Joe’s opening assessment?
MS: Well, I wish I’d bought stock in Etch-A-Sketch, because I gather it’s gone up like 300%…
HH: Yeah, Ohio Art.
MS: …since that happened. And I gather Etch-A-Sketch is in fact actually made in China, so that regardless of what the alleged gaffe is going to do for prospects in November, there’s a factory in China where they’re all on triple time, and the economy’s going gangbusters. I don’t know…
HH: Yeah, it’s a bad way to start a trade war.
MS: These things, I don’t…in a sense, I sort of take what Joe Klein is saying, that you know, the Mitt Romney campaign has got this kind of knack…and I know you may disagree on this, but it sort of, it kind of snatches close shaves from the jaws of victory. So he had a terrific night in Illinois, and then this guy goes onto, nobody’s ever heard of before, goes on TV and say this thing, and the spectacular victory in Illinois is tainted, and we stagger onto the next thing. But I disagree with…I don’t think this is going to be one of those ‘I voted before it before I was against it’ thing. I think actually, that stuff has to come out of the candidate’s own mouth.
HH: Exactly. It’s a Sports Illustrated cover jinx sort of thing, and they do have a cover jinx. Whenever they win, something goes wrong, but it might just be the nature of media. But Kerry said that to a live audience. I’ve got that button here in the studio.
HH: Romney didn’t say this, and so I think you’re exactly right. But what I also thought is Joe Klein said I’d been thinking about this all night, and I thought what a poor, impoverished life. There’s nothing (laughing)…
MS: (laughing) And I think that’s the kind of, that’s a kind of…I mean, from the guy who wrote Primary Colors, you know, which I’m not a big Joe Klein fan, but I think he captured a lot of the essence of Clinton and the essence of the campaign in that. And this is like circling down the drain of his own biography to be sitting up all night obsessing on the Etch-A-Sketch thing.
HH: Yes. And I actually like that movie. I thought John Travolta did a fine job of being Bill Clinton.
MS: Yeah, and Emma Thompson. Let’s put in a word for Emma Thompson as Hillary. They always get the Brits to play the unsympathetic characters. That’s the Hollywood rule.
HH: (laughing) All right, I want to go the serious, very serious, big switch of subjects now. In France, an Islamist kills seven people, including three Jewish schoolchildren, three soldiers, and a rabbi. And the New York Times yesterday wrote this. “In the middle of a long and heated presidential campaign,” Steve Erlanger, “with President Nicolas Sarkozy trying to win back disaffected supporters who have drifted to the far right National Front, the shootings have raised new questions about the tone and tenor of the debate here about what it is to be French, a debate on the role of immigration, assimilation, halal butchering, street prayers, the full veil and other elements of cultural difference is inevitably about French identity – and the nature of tolerance and intolerance. But it has mostly centered on Muslims, not Jews.” This happened, the bodies weren’t buried, Mark, before they began to blame other than the terrorist for what happened.
MS: Yeah, and they wanted it to be some right wing crazy National Front supporter, a supporter of Marine Le Pen. Of course, then when it turns out to be a guy called Mohammed, then they oh, well, no, the next stage of the story is oh, no, he’s just a lone wolf. They’re all lone wolves. There’s an amalgamated union of lone wolves. You know, they issue cards. It’s a very strict union. And then they go on and they say well, this has nothing to do with Islam, and then they’re already running stories today, French Muslims fear backlash. You know, there’s something distasteful about this. As you say, when the dead Jewish children have not yet been buried, I think in a strange way, the most interesting aspect of this story is the fact that he killed three French Muslim soldiers. And I wonder if what we’re seeing here is something that I know for example from Northern Ireland, where Catholic members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary were targeted by the IRA, that in other words, these guys see Muslims who serve loyally as soldiers in the French army as somehow collaborators. There was a plot to kill British Muslim soldiers returning from Afghanistan. And I think there’s a real, there’s so many more interesting aspects of this story…
HH: I agree. In Tucson, they tried to make the insane guy actually a right winger. And here, they’ve taken the very deliberate Islamist killer, and they’re trying to make him insane. It turns out, the Post reported, he went back and forth to Afghanistan twice.
HH: He’d been arrested 15 times. He’d been followed by domestic intelligence for years. And it makes me think about, you know, ‘the public was never in danger’ line that we always hear about when we pick up one of our home-grown jihadis…
MS: Right, right.
HH: They’re selling him a fake bazooka or something. I think this is going to be much more about domestic intelligence failures to follow the Islamists than it is about anti-immigration sentiment.
MS: Well, I think the idea that this…I mean, I think in a sense, it’s not a…the media made themselves look silly, the establishment media, the New York Times, the BBC, these guys. But in a way, they’re two sides of the same coin, that the social fabric in Europe is fraying. Jewish life now proceeds under armed guard – armed guards at school, armed guards, heavy security at synagogues, heavy security at Jewish community centers, and you hope that the guys make it between these various places. They don’t, often. Sometimes, they get pulled off on a bus and set alight, they get beaten up on the subway. Jewish life in Europe is under siege in a way that it hasn’t been since the 1930s. And there’s really something actually grotesque and shameful in the way not just the Times, but Baroness Ashton, the European Union’s risible so-called foreign minister, actually ducked this central issue, which is the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and naked Jew hatred to a degree not seen in 80 years in Europe.
HH: Now how much reporting do you expect the American media to pay? I know you’re going to be on Rush tomorrow, and I’m going to listen to you, because I hope by that point, the news will have caught up with the details of this. How much do you think our media will dig into the implications of this attack, because he is a trained jihadi about whom the domestic intelligence agencies were warned?
MS: Yeah, I think there’s a reluctance to investigate that. I mean, if you look at, for example, the U.S. media are likely to steer clear of this, because they remain remarkably uncurious about Major Hasan, who was on…
MS: …the watch list of two separate anti-terrorist unites in U.S. intelligence. By the way, that’s how wasteful our government is. In most cases, it’s just one intelligence unit that blows it.
HH: Here, it’s two.
MS: In the Major Hasan case, two did.
HH: Mark, we’ll listen tomorrow on Rush for more analysis, Mark Steyn. Go to www.steynonline.com for everything Mark.
End of interview.