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Mark Steyn On The Reaction To The South Carolina Church Shooting And The Pope’s Climate Change Encyclical

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LHC: Obviously a day of sorrow as we follow what happens in Charleston. We’re joined by Mark Steyn, regular guest here at the Hugh Hewitt Show. Mark, this is a tragic day, it’s a difficult day, and obviously, the American people mourn. What’s your reaction to all that’s happened in the last 18 hours here or so?

MS: Well, I think there’s something particularly depraved about gunning people down during a church service, during worship. And it’s something we hear about and expect to hear about from other places. A few weeks ago, it happened in Lahore, and Sunday morning service, a couple of the jihad guys decide to go in and bomb and kill people while they are worshipping. And whether it happens in Pakistan, or whether it happens in the United States, I think it’s a depraved act on a scale beyond opening fire in other circumstances, because it suggests a murderer who sees himself as beyond God, and that is a terrifying thought. And it’s particularly terrifying when you then hear that his roommate knew that he planned to start a civil war and wanted to die after killing a big bunch of people, but apparently thought that is just part of the chit chat of the day. And maybe it is. But if it is, that’s a disturbing sign. Other than that, I regret the President attempting to politicize it. I think these are times for not playing to your tropes. I didn’t write about this episode today in part because I’m so shocked by it. But I think when it is a different scale of depravity, when you choose a house of God as a symbol for your act of murder, then the atrocity and the horror is diminished by the President just playing to his lame tropes about gun control.

LHC: Yeah, it is interesting, Mark. You mentioned the response, and I was shocked, too. You know, this is a day, really, when the American people reflect and they mourn, and I think you’re right. There’s something particularly depraved about the act happening in a house of worship when people where there to learn more about the word of God. There’s something particularly just ugly about that. But the response, you know, politicians will be politicians, I suppose, but the response from the President, I don’t know, Mark, if you heard Hillary Clinton’s response, but those responses in particular struck me as tonally being a little bit off. And I was surprised. Why do you think they did what they did?

MS: Well, I think, I’d separate them, slightly. I think Hillary is a candidate, and if she wants to, she’s entitled to play this as a candidate. But the President speaks for the nation, including the 50% of the nation that don’t vote for him. And that 50% of the nation includes an awful lot of people who own an awful lot of guns, and will never do what this man did. And in that sense, you know, I live here in Northern New Hampshire. I’ve got a lot of neighbors who have got more firepower in their homes than the average European Union army. And they’ve got no plans to kill anybody. And so I think for the President to make it a political issue, in other words to take this murderer who is responsible for his actions and to tie him to a huge percentage of the general population is an abomination. I mean, aside from the fact that it devalues the specific nature of this event and the victims, the specific real victims of this event, I think there’s something just obscene in trying to attach millions of law abiding people to the act of this mass murderer.

LHC: Yeah, and you mentioned Hillary Clinton a little different there. You think because she’s running for office, because she is, you know, a candidate and not sort of in a position to be the unifier-in-chief, if you will, maybe we should give her a little more latitude?

MS: No, no, I’m not really saying that at all. What I’m saying is I can understand. You know, she’s on the make. She looks at everything as what’s in it for me. And if you’re a candidate, that tends, you know, is this a way to open up, you know, Bernie Sanders, who’s her principal opposition, is a Vermont Senator. And Vermonters have quite a high rate of gun ownership, and Bernie Sanders has a good record on gun rights. So perhaps she’s thinking well, maybe Bernie came, looked good in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe I can use this as a bit of a wedge issue, which is what happens when you think of everything in political terms. There was a civil servant somewhere in Whitehall in London on September 11th, who even as the Towers were crumbling on that day sent an email out to her department saying now would be a very good time to get out any news we wish to bury. In other words, there’s some people who cannot even react, who are so politicized, and I think I would put Hillary Clinton in that category, who are so politicized that they cannot look on any, even the most shocking action, act out of the blue, and not think of it in political terms. That’s one of the depressing and miserable things about modern life is that everything has been politicized. But maybe this isn’t political. Maybe this is just a mad, murderous individual who decided, he sat there in that church for an hour, apparently, before killing everyone. That’s, whatever happens, this isn’t Democrat, this isn’t Republican, and for the President and Mrs. Clinton to try and make it a Democrat or a Republican issue is vile.

LHC: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think that the notion that this would be politicized, particularly at this early moment, is disconcerting. I want to change topics, Mark. I’m with, Mark Steyn joins us, Pope Francis weighed into the discussion about climate change, and I wanted to take, get your reaction, get your take on what Pope Francis said and whether it poses a political dilemma for the Republican presidential candidates in particular.

MS: Well, I’m not a Catholic, and so I take popes as I find them. And I preferred the other guys, the Pope Emeritus, as we rather improbably are supposed to call him these days, and he certainly wouldn’t have come up with an encyclical like this. My problem with it is that climate change, I’m the co-author of a book that’s come out and is doing rather well, in fact, called Climate Change: The Facts. And I’m the know-nothing, but there’s a couple of dozen really hot shot scientists in there. And what we’re all agreed with, really, is that we’re now 18 years into the global warming pause, and the sky is falling alarmism needs something else. Nobody’s buying it. Even if the Pope gets on the bandwagon, the Pope is the last guy to get on the bandwagon. And even if he does so, it can’t change or make any more marketable this tired climate alarmism that nobody is buying. People, climate science, climate science and the whole climate change industry needs something new. This isn’t terribly to their liking, because he comes out against a carbon tax. But it comes out, it comes out with a worldview that’s entirely inverted. To go with the big climate alarmism industry is to condemn one and a half billion people in the poorest parts of the world, it’s to say to them you’ll never get out of poverty. I can live in the Vatican, I’ve got a fabulous pad here in Rome, but you guys out there in the jungles and the deserts, you’re never going to have anything like that, because for some reason, Western consumerism is the problem. Western Civilization lifts people out of poverty. The Pope cares more supposedly for the poor people of this world than anything else, and this big climate alarmism is a conspiracy by wealthy people and the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries against the poor of the world. It says we’ve got ours, tough on you guys.

LHC: It is interesting, because some of the language from the encyclical certainly phrases is such that you know, this is, we’re pitting the wealthier countries, and it’s time for the wealthier countries to I guess do their fair share. How do you think this, does this play into the discussion of the U.S. at all? Or is this sort of just another opinion in this long-standing debate?

MS: No, but you know what I think of as doing “my fair share,” it doesn’t mean that I give up my SUV, or I give up my electric clothes drying and agree to pay higher taxes and hang my clothes on a washing line. What it means is that I should be, instead of doing all that, which does nothing for the poor of the world, we should be coming up with schemes for better electricity in the developing world, and cleaner water in the developing world, not all this sort of, this kind of narcissistic frivolity, which is what most of this stuff boils down to.

LHC: Mark Steyn, thanks for joining us again. Hugh Hewitt Show, Lanhee Chen sitting in today.

End of interview.


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