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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn On The Llamapocalypse, The Sound Of Gaga, And The Root Cause Of ISIS Recruits From the West

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HH: I am fully recovered from my conversation with The Donald yesterday, and I can only follow that up by talking to Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, who begins this hour. Hello, Mark, and how are you?

MS: Hey, I’m doing great, Hugh.

HH: Now we’ve got a lot to cover. We’ve got to cover llamas, the Oscars and the Islamic State, not to mention Chris Christie, so I’ve got to go fast. Did you by chance watch the llama drama on Fox today?

MS: (laughing) Yeah, the llamas on the lam. You can joke, Hugh, but I think the llamapocalypse is upon us. I looked out in the yard, out of the window at the yard about 20 minutes ago, and there were just nine llamas there, and I thought that’s unusual for New Hampshire in winter. I just looked out the window now, and there’s 17 llamas between me and the car. So I think, you know, this is some Planet of the Llamas.

HH: (laughing)

MS: And so now take your, in the words of Charlton Heston, take your hands off me you damned, dirty llama. This is how it begins. The llamapocalypse is upon us.

HH: Planet of the Llamas. I love it. All right, second question, I was watching O’Reilly last night, because Bill, of course, has become the target of everybody on Media Matters and everywhere else. And Dennis Miller was on, and I was in tears, because Miller made the observation which I had not noted until yesterday that Oscar, the statue, looks an awful lot like Vladimir Putin.

MS: (laughing) Yeah, well, it’s close, but actually, Vladimir Putin has more prominent nipples when he’s riding whatever that creature is he rides across the Siberian plains.

HH: It might be a llama.

MS: They are similar. They were separated at birth, I believe.

HH: Okay, so you watched the whole Oscars. After J.K. Simmons won, I didn’t care, because I loved the role, and he’s an Ohio State guy, and he gave a great acceptance speech. But I’m still kind of mad that they snubbed American Sniper, especially as the world grows frantic, rightfully so, over the rise of the Islamic State. It will be the American snipers among us who save us from these people.

MS: Yeah, I think that’s true, but they couldn’t bring themselves to do it. And I think in a way, that’s why Birdman was the beneficiary, in a strange way, in that it would have been too obvious to give it to the film about Alan Turing or the film about Stephen Hawking. But I mean, you’re right. I wrote today at www.steynonline.com about a very brave fellow with the 1st Battalion, in the Paratroop regiment, who just got a Victoria Cross for rescuing a U.S. Marine Corps captain and fighting off single-handedly 20 Taliban guys in Afghanistan. And one of the interesting features about, you know, that’s the first living recipient of a Victoria Cross, British recipient, in the Afghan war. There’s a couple down in Australia. But one of the differences between the press here and the press elsewhere is you know, the New York Times gives very little coverage to tales of heroism from Afghanistan. And people don’t know these guys’ stories. And that’s why you can complain about American Sniper, the movie, and all these snippy, little directors can say what they want. But we know this guy. We’ve heard of this guy. And one of the problems is that the media do not tell the stories of heroism from the God forsaken blighted land of Afghanistan and Iraq.

HH: This is why I have great admiration for Jake Tapper, because he wrote the book, The Outpost, and he went to Afghanistan, and why Dexter Filkins and John Fisher Burns, and people who actually go into combat zones, like you, get my admiration and respect. And I don’t think people ought to be criticizing other journalists who do that except unless they’ve been there. But let me ask you…

MS: Well, wait a minute, wait, wait. Hugh, you know, I don’t want to be included in that honor roll. There are brave war correspondents, and there have been throughout history. I had a very genial motoring trip through Iraq just after the fall of Saddam when it was safe to do so. I certainly do not…

HH: Well, you know, well, let me pause. Jake Tapper said the same thing. Hitchens used to say the same thing. Okay, there are war correspondents like Filkins and Burns, but there are also hazard’s way correspondents like Steyn and Hitchens and Jake Tapper, and they go driving around places that civilians don’t normally go. How’s that?

MS: Well, I’ll tell you why I do that, and it’s nothing to do with war, particularly. But I think you have to have a curiosity about the world, and that sometimes, it’s happened to me in the Balkans and one or two other places where you’re sitting in your favorite breakfast place having a croissant and reading something in the newspaper, and you can’t quite get a handle on what’s going on, and you decide maybe it’s time you took a look for yourself. And I think that, that curiosity about the world is actually necessary for good journalism. But it’s not the same thing…

HH: And before you know it, a llama can come crashing through the window and you’re in trouble. You’re just going to…all right, before we go further down that road, though, I’ve got to ask you about Lady Gaga at the Oscars. I loved that bit. And you did not spend much time on that. What did you think of Lady Gaga doing Sound of Music?

MS: Well, I don’t think Lady Gaga is actually a bad singer of those kinds of songs. I rather regret that she got mixed up with Tony Bennett, because he’ll duet with anybody. I mean, he’s like, he’s done a double CD with my plumber. I didn’t know it. My plumber was working in the room for 15 minutes, and Tony Bennett swung by, and they recorded seven numbers together. Tony Bennett releases three duet albums, in the course of this conversation, he’ll have released another duet album. You’ve probably done a duet album with Tony Bennett yourself, haven’t you?

HH: I was going to say I’m a little bit hurt you didn’t know about mine, but in terms of she did that because it was the 50th anniversary of Sound of Music.

MS: Yeah.

HH: Looking forward 50 years, Mark Steyn, give or take one year, what in the world is the Academy going to be celebrating in 50 years?

MS: Well, I find that, that’s what I found overall the problem with this show, is I hate to go full Sunset Boulevard on you, but you do feel when you watch this ceremony that the films have got small not in terms of budget, and not in terms of special effects, I mean, because you have X Men 12 and Iron Man 47 and Cardboard Man 33. And they mean nothing. And they mean nothing. And they come and go. And I would be very surprised if anyone is interested in X Men 12 or Iron Man 17 when it comes to the Oscar ceremony in the year 2065, and that is, that’s the sad projection on the state of film these days.

HH: Did you watch Whiplash, Mark Steyn?

MS: Oh, the music? No, you keep recommending that to me, and I’ve only ever seen…

HH: Someday, you’re going to come out when the llamas retreat, and you’ll go see Whiplash. Now let’s talk about the very serious story. This is so horrific, I don’t know even how to approach it. The Islamic state has kidnapped as many as 350 Assyrian Christians – women, children, and they’ve taken them away in the night. Meanwhile, we’re learning about Jihad Johnny. And it seems like on this side of the Atlantic, and this side of the world, the only thing the Obama administration can get upset about is Benjamin Netanyahu coming here.

MS: Yeah.

HH: What is, you know, not Valerie Jarrett, but Susan Rice said it’s damaging to the relationship that the Prime Minister, destructive was her word, her exact word. What do you think of this?

MS: No, I think it’s an extremely weird obsession. We are losing to an explicitly genocidal and apocalyptic movement that controls substantial amounts of territory, and as we discussed last week, is incredibly attractive to educated citizens in the Western world. When you were talking, you said they kidnapped all these Christians in the middle of the night. I would doubt they actually did that. You know, that’s the way the old school guys, your Nazis and fascists and communists used to do it. They were furtively, at some level, they knew, they were ashamed of their evil, and they didn’t want it to get out. These guys use evil as their calling card. They use evil in their campaign ads. They use evil in their movie promotions. And it’s very, and it’s horribly seductive to all these thousands of people who are supposed to be nominally citizens of Western nations, not just this Jihad John guy from London, but there’s Americans from Minnesota and elsewhere, there’s Canadians, Australians. There’s all kinds of people for whom the evil, the evil of ISIS, is its principle selling point.

HH: Let me ask you about this, because I asked Jeb Bush this yesterday in an interview with him. What’s the tap root? And he had dismissed Marie Harf’s joblessness claim, as we all do. It’s just absurd and silly and moronic. And I asked him about it, and he fumbled around, and he came up with sort of civilizational alienation. What do you think it is, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yeah, I think there’s a measure of truth in that. I think at the heart of the, at the heart of most modern Western societies is a big hole where young people’s sense of identity is. And some of it, you know, you saw a lot of that at the Oscars. They fill it with sexual politics, with all this LGBTQWERTY. I mean, I don’t even know what the last 17 initials. I know, I haven’t a clue what it is they’re meant to be, these evermore recherché sexual identity politics. Or they said it was climate change. They want to feel they’re saving the planet. And maybe that’s enough for some people. But for other people, it isn’t. And it’s not first-generation Muslims. It’s not second-generation Muslims. It’s the young third-generation Muslims in the Western world who have no attachment to the societies they owe their nominal allegiance to. This gives them an identity that the modern, Western, multicultural state, in its late civilizational decline, does not give them that identity.

HH: Cannot do. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America. Planet of the Llamas and more.

End of interview.

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