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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn on the media reaction to the new Pope, and the orthodoxy of the left

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HH: I’m pleased to begin today’s show with Father Mark Steyn. Everyone else is going to be a priest on today’s show. I might as well confer that on you, Mark Steyn. Welcome, great to have you on.

MS: OH, come on, I was hoping to be at least, at the very least a cardinal.

HH: His eminence, Mark Steyn. Mark, yesterday, I had on Fathers McCloskey and Spitzer. Today, I’ve got on Father Sirico and Father Barron and Father Fessio.

MS: Right.

HH: I’ve got all these different Roman…

MS: Oh, I know. I know. It’s like when you’re listening to the Hugh Hewitt Show, you can wait weeks for a Father to come along, and then they all come along all at once. I don’t know what’s going on.

HH: But I need a good non-Catholic reaction to the reaction of non-Catholics at CNN and elsewhere to the election of Pope Francis. What do you make of this media frenzy, and the people who have been commenting?

MS: Well, you know, I think the papal coverage in the so-called serious media, particularly in the United States but elsewhere, too, has been completely ridiculous. And in fact, whatever one feels about this new Pope and however he turns out, the great thing about a new Pope is it ends all the speculation on the Pope coverage from CNN and the New York Times. I mean, this idea, the parochialism of it, the idea that somehow the American media’s preoccupations – gay marriage and abortion, should also be the preoccupations of the oldest continuously functioning entity in the world. The Catholic Church has basically been, unlike AOL-Time Warner, or whatever it’s called this week, the Catholic Church has actually been operating under the same name for a couple of thousand years now. And the shallowness and the trivial nature of the coverage right down to the stupidity of CNN announcing that this was the first non-European Pope, apparently thinking that, you know, St. Peter was a nice Milan boy or whatever, has utterly shamed…and the fact that these guys have to go to Columbia Journalism School to talk this kind of ignorant codswallop to the world, is amazing to me.

HH: Mark Steyn, because the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt is gone, I have of course lost my clicker, so I had to turn on one station and leave it there last night. And I turned on CNN, and it became fascinating, because…and I’m not angry about this, I’m fascinated by it. Along with the spokesperson for the prelature of Opus Dei, and of course John L. Allen, who knows what he’s talking about, there they had an episcopal priest who had been a Catholic priest but left because he wanted to get married and got married, and they had a nun who left because she had an affair with another nun. And so they had the lesbian commentator and the married priest, and I thought there 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, and they can’t find four of them? What were they thinking in terms of covering this?

MS: Well, but this is basically the template for them. The Washington Post, their coverage of the new Pope, was to basically hold a conclave of their own, of all the people who were excluded from the official conclave, which is just for old, white European men. And so they had people who, they quoted one of them who said she is a Catholic, she enjoys being a Catholic, she takes her Catholicism seriously, she married a fellow Catholic woman, and they took their Catholicism so seriously that they were married by an ex-nun. This idea that the onus is on this irrelevant institution to bring itself into line by electing the first lesbian Pope is, as I said, it’s the narcissistic parochialism of it that is so offensive. I must say, and by the way, as you say, they’re often interviewing people who actually know quite a lot. I mean, just he’s up on the old anti-Americanism here, I saw Canada’s most famous newsreader, a man who’s like the Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw rolled into one, a guy called Peter Mansbridge. He interviewed Cardinal Ouelette, the former archbishop of Quebec, who was in the running to become the first Canadian pope at this conclave. And you could, and again, he was asking these shallow, secular…the questioning from a shallow, secular perspective. And Cardinal Ouelette is far too polite a man to say to him this is the dumbest bunch of questions I’ve ever had to sit through, and responded very politely to him. But really, the shallowness, the shallowness and triviality of the questioning should ashame the media right now.

HH: And Mark, it’s cowardly, too, because the interesting question is do you believe that Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead? And do you really believe this new Pope believes that? Or you could go get a Muslim scholar to come on and say well, that’s all very nice, but it’s not true, or you could get an Islamist jihadist to come in and say we’re going to destroy the Church and everyone who believes in it. But to go get these left wing, it’s so tired and boring and dull.

MS: Yeah, and I think it testifies to the fact that for many in the secular world, in the elite institutions of the secular world such as the media, the sort of liberal pieties, the orthodoxies, the dogma of the age, are a kind of substitute, are a kind of substitute religion, the one true faith.

HH: Yes.

MS: …which has its own sacraments. And you have to believe in those sacraments, like abortion and gay marriage and all the rest. And whatever one believes on the question of same sex marriage, there’s nothing in two thousand years of Christendom to indicate that the Catholic Church is anything but opposed to it.

HH: Yes.

MS: And so if you take the Catholic Church seriously as an institution, an institution that goes back to St. Peter, whereas the idea of homosexuality as a 24/7 identity actually only reaches back about two generations. I mean, in the 19th Century, homosexuality was an act. It was something you did. Then in the late 19th Century, it kind of became a condition. It was regarded as a kind of illness. And then since the 1960s, early 70s, it’s been regarded now as in fact a positive identity. And one or another of those may be correct. But if you’re the Catholic Church, and you’ve been in this game for two thousand years, the idea that the orthodoxies of the last two generations trump the previous two millennia is looking at it from the wrong end of the telescope.

HH: And here’s what happens when you question the secular absolutism religion. Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, asked a very good question to Dianne Feinstein today. You know, Senator, what if we start treating the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments the way you want to treat the 2nd? Here’s what Dianne Feinstein did. Cut number two:

DF: I just want to make a couple of points in response. One, I’m not a sixth grader. Senator, I’ve been on this committee for twenty years. I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in and I saw people shot. I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered. Look, there are other weapons. I’ve been up, I’m not a lawyer, but after twenty years, I’ve been up close and personal to the Constitution. I have great respect for it. This doesn’t mean that weapons of war, and the Heller decision clearly points out three exceptions, two of which are pertinent here. And so I, you know, I mean, it’s fine. You want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here for a long time. I’ve passed on a number of bills. I study the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well educated. And I thank you for the lecture. Incidentally, this does not prohibit, you used the word prohibit, it exempts 2,271 weapons. Isn’t that enough for the people in the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high powered weapons that military people use to kill in close combat? I don’t think so. So I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views. 

HH: So Mark Steyn, that’s what happens when you dare ask a question of the left orthodoxy.

MS: Yeah, in fairness, it’s better than, it’s a better answer than the person who asked Nancy Pelosi where in the Constitution it said that the government had the power to regulate the health care arrangements of the American people, and she laughed at him, and she said are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? The kind of emotionalist distraction that Senator Feinstein engaged in was at least a bit more artful than that. Yeah, she has been there, whatever it was. She’s been on that committee for twenty years. That’s actually a big part of the problem. The idea of a permanent political class making rules for the rest of us, you can see in her answer she regards herself as essentially a patrician paternalist who knows what’s best for the citizenry. And I don’t think that’s what America is about.

HH: As a saint. She thinks she’s a saint. Honestly, it just struck me as exactly what is wrong with the media and the left. Mark Steyn, for all of Mark’s work.

End of interview.


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