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Mark Steyn On The Serious Side Of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn

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HH: Joining me on this Thursday morning, a Canadian himself, Mark Steyn. It’s so good to have you back. Mark, I’m sorry that the third hour of our conversation about your new book, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, has to be under such a grim set of circumstances.

MS: Well, it is grim, and it made me very sad, because I love Ottawa. And one of the things I love, I prize about it, was the relaxed and intimate and very open feeling you have in that capital city, compared to, say, the big security state in Washington. I know that Centre Block. I’ve walked down that Centre Block to testify to the House of Commons during my troubles with the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, and I join the members of Parliament in thanking Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms, who understood that in a split second that moment when your ceremonial role suddenly turns real. And it’s not just about carrying the mace into the chamber before the speech from the Throne, but you’ve actually got to take down somebody who wants to destroy all that, who wants to destroy parliamentary democracy, responsible government, and individual liberty. And I thank Kevin Vickers, and I hope that in the years ahead, enough of us have that primal survival instinct.

HH: I noted on your website last night,, that you were doing, you’re in the middle of a book tour. And you’re a Canadian-American, and so you, obviously this came up. And you noted that as the day went on, you got angrier. But at whom? And regarding what, because there’s so many things to get angrier about on a day like yesterday.

HH: I think that’s true. I probably overheated a little. I was on with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, and as is the way, the president of the United States happened to say something just as I wandered on set, and I got very annoyed about it, because he’d used this phrase. For a start, I didn’t like his whole, the whole sort of soporific approach that he took, as if they’d fired an elephant dart into his butt before he came out and started talking about it. I thought, as I did when the poor fellow from down in southern New Hampshire got beheaded, and he went and gave his little statement before heading off to the links for another round at the Vineyard Country Club, that a little bit of righteous indignation about this stuff occasionally wouldn’t come amiss. And so I overheated a little with Neil Cavuto, because I do not want a world that is built to accommodate these people. In other words, I don’t want us to change to deal with the fact that we have lunatics who have got this kind of ideological Ebola in their bloodstream, and who want to pump bullets into a corporal from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, because he’s standing in front of the Canadian War Memorial, and they want to destroy all that that represents. The price we’re being asked to pay is too high. I want to kill that ideology. It is an ideological Ebola, and we have got to eradicate it. And I’m not interested in more detectors and more rules and taking my shoes off and taking my underwear off and taking everything off and shuffling like a zombie through ever-longer security lines because we don’t have the guts to deal with it.

HH: You know, all day long, CNN’s been playing a lower third – police probe shooter’s motive…

MS: Right.

HH: …which gets me. You know, steam comes out of my ears as well. There’s not a lot of doubt about the shooter’s motive. You know, just go to any ISIS website, and you’ll find out the motive is to carry out the Abu Baghdadi’s crazy vision of a caliphate. But…

MS: Which isn’t that crazy, actually, which isn’t that crazy, because it’s not just the fact that he’s on the brink of taking Baghdad, which was actually the seat of the caliphate for the best part of half a millennium, but it’s also the fact that increasingly, there are no-go zones. I mean, there are all kinds of stories about what happened yesterday. At the time the shooting broke out, the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Ottawa Police, were actually in one, in some meeting on multicultural outreach. The mother of this killer is the deputy chair of the Canadian Immigration Board…

HH: Oh, my gosh.

MS: …who married a so-called Libyan businessman. It’s almost like, it’s almost like a parody of the Western suicide cult. And so to say that the caliphate is crazy, when we’re actually crazier right now…

HH: Well that’s, you’re right. You know what I did last night after the events of the day and the broadcast, I went back and reread The [Un]documented Mark Steyn in a different way. I read every entry about Islam in the order in which they appeared in the book, because on Monday, we had two hours of happy talk. We were doing, you know, Jerome Kern, and we were having a good time talking about songwriters and Doris Day’s J.B. nickname. And then all along comes Wednesday, and it’s different. And so my first question is do you think today your years-long battle with the thought police of Canada would go differently? Has Canada woken up?

MS: Well, that parliament that was attacked on Wednesday actually repealed that law, because they understood as uncongenial as it might be to them, that the fact that the Canadian Islamic Congress came within a hair’s breadth of using Canadian hate speech laws to impose a lifetime publication ban upon me showed that the whole ‘let’s be tolerant even of the intolerant’, which is actually the sort of celebrate diversity message, had gone too far. And so those people who were attacked yesterday actually repealed that law last year. But you know, you’re right, we did talk happy talk. And I enjoyed our conversation very much on Monday. But I said somewhere in the course of it that one of the reasons, you know, I love writing about songs, but you have to earn small pleasures…

HH: Yes.

MS: …even the smallest pleasure, even a 32 bar song. The right to sing that requires a certain amount of vigilance. That small pleasure is not universal. The Taliban banned music. They criminalized music. I said at one point, I think that if the Islamization of the West continued at pace, then you would see a lot of West End theatres in London closing up, because it’s not a culture that produces great plays or great songs or whatever. So these things are connected. And what upset me yesterday is this feeling that in a strange way, what upset me was also what happened on Monday where another guy, a recent convert to Islam, a purlin Quebecer, Quebec Catholic, presumably in his family origins, had gone full jihad and ran over two soldiers in Saint-Jean-Sur-Ricehelieu, which is the town where the Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean, the Royal Military College, so it’s like you remember when we were at Annapolis at the Naval Academy a couple of…

HH: Yes.

MS: It’s the kind of, the Quebecois equivalent of that. It’s a soldier’s town. If you want to go and kill soldiers, you know they’re there. But it’s also a town that I love. It happened to be my daughter’s favorite fondue restaurant, so it’s a town that we used to take her on birthdays and things. And the idea that it’s somehow tainted by, as I said, this ideological Ebola, that it seeps into everything you love and taints it, and yesterday, I was just sick of it. I’m sick of it. I’m tired of having to pussyfoot around this stuff, because the solution of the Obamas and the Camerons is that no matter how many heads they chop off, Obama and Cameron stand up on television and say oh, no, no, there’s nothing to see here, all jihad is local.

HH: You know, people do wake up. I noticed in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, the first reference to Islam comes on Page 134 in your essay, Look Where Your Stories Have Landed You, about Sir Salman Rushdie. And you wrote that in 1990, that was an Independence piece from October 1, you had missed the bigger picture, and that when Rushdie wrote back, if he’d been on the ball, he’d have rightly taken me apart for downplaying the whole free speech thing. So we’ve got a minute to the break, Mark, but people change over time. They do wake up. They do get educated about how one contains and defeats ideological Ebola.

MS: Yeah, I think so. And Rushdie, again, I think he would feel differently about that today. He now says he couldn’t publish his novel today…

HH: Right.

MS: …because in a sense, we reacted to that the way most publishers in New York and London have reacted to that is to say well, thanks, awfully, Salman, it’s a terribly interesting novel, but not quite our cup of tea, in other words, preemptively self-censoring. That’s how they deal with that now. They’ve lost their commitment to free speech.

—- – – – – –

HH: That’s Five For Fighting with John Ondrasik singing Tuesday from his Slice album. I play it, because Mark Steyn is my guest this opening hour talking about The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, his brand new bestseller, which is linked over at I really recommended it on Monday. Now after the terrorist attack yesterday, I think it’s almost essential that people go and read especially those essays included in there on the rise of radical Islam that occurs concurrent with the rise of Mark’s career to, as I say, Columnist To the World. After that first essay, Mark, we next encounter Islam in your book on Page 191, a National Review column called The Limits, which includes the words, “My personal chronology of the Bush years is simple enough. For the first eight months, we all did shtick. Then came a Tuesday morning in September.”

MS: Right.

HH: And so that’s why I played Ondrasik’s Tuesday. That was the day on which most people got it, though then subsequently, many of them forgot it.

MS: Yes, and I think that piece is title The Limits after a dispute over at the Corner, at National Review, where people were moaning a bit. Why doesn’t George W. Bush do this? And why doesn’t George W. Bush do that? And John Podhoretz responded, he’s the editor of Commentary, he responded, “You guys don’t get it. George W. Bush is as good as it’s going to get.” In other words, what Bush does is as far as anyone can go. And so for all our dissatisfaction with Bush, we came to understand that in those months after 9/11 where he called it a war on terror, which is you know, a tactic, a strategy at most, it is, it’s a war in which you don’t identify the enemy. When you’re at war with Germany, when you’re at war with Japan, you have some sense of how that war ends and in which national capital you’re going to be running your flag up the flagpole with when you receive the surrender from your enemy. And there’s something very dangerous and slippery when you’re in a war, and you have to tiptoe very carefully around who the actual enemy is. And so we have Josh Earnest standing at the podium of the supposed global superpower talking about violent extremism. We don’t call it terrorism anymore. We talk about it as violent extremism. Extremism of what? And that, those taking refuge in these evermore pathetic and preposterous evasions, that piece, The Limits, talks about how even at that time, as John Podhoretz said, Bush was as far as it was ever going to go.

HH: You know, the preposterousness of it is growing more and more evident, Mark Steyn. And you write about the world’s slowest rush to war, and VDH has often said, Victor Davis Hanson, that you need Sherman-like tactics – sudden, short and sharp. I don’t know if you’ve seen the new movie, Fury, yet, which does a very fine job in communicating the totality of the war effort in World War II, how everything was destroyed in the march to destroy Nazism.

MS: Right.

HH: And marching across Germany, and they wouldn’t give up, and the babies are being shot up. And it’s a brutal movie. And people may be getting to the point where they realize ISIS and all that is erupting out of ISIS can’t be beaten with 60 air strikes.

MS: No, and it’s not, I don’t think it’s really about air strikes. And I think a few pages on from that Bush piece, I reference the great observation of Basil Liddell Hart, a very distinguished military historian, who says the object of war is not to destroy the enemy’s tanks. It’s to destroy his will. And I well remember a couple of weeks after Saddam had fallen, driving through western Iraq in territory now held by ISIS, motoring down the equivalent of the interstate there and coming to a great bombed-out crater and a burned-out tank and having to detour onto the median, and onto, it was an empty highway, but onto the oncoming roadway of traffic to get past this burned-out tank. So I pulled over, and I stopped and I poked around in that tank, just looking at it, and it’s kind of awesome to think of America raining death from the skies and obliterating this tank. But, but, Basil Liddell Hart is right that you don’t win by destroying tanks. You win by destroying the enemy’s will. And they have bet when they switch on the television, and they see Obama talking about senseless violence, and Josh Earnest talking about violent extremism and the premiere of Quebec, Monsieur Couillard, talking about spontaneous acts of extremism, which is an even more stupid formulation, and about Justin Trudeau, who God help us may well be the next prime minister of Canada, his first reaction is to issue some statement of solidarity with the Muslim community. Those ISIS guys have made a bet that we have no will. And every time Obama, Earnest, David Cameron, Monsieur Couillard, Monsieur Trudeau stand up, they confirm what ISIS thinks about us.

HH: But Harper does get it. Your column that you’re referring to, Drone Alone, appeared on March 8th in 2013. It’s part of your syndicated column. It’s on Page 202 of the collection, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn. And you write about insofar as drones relieve Washington of the need to think strategically about the nature of the enemy, the drone is part of the problem. Rummy thought about the nature of the enemy. Cheney thought about the nature of the enemy. They, for example, they knew Abu Ghraib was a horrible thing, but they also knew it was a complete sideshow to the enemy’s nature, that in fact it became a prop for the enemy in, the Islamist enemy, in continuing the propaganda campaign against the West’s own will to conduct this. But I think Harper gets it, and Abbott gets it, and there are a lot of Republicans who get it. I don’t know that there’s any Democrat left who gets it. Coming up to this election, I’m going to be talking next hour with Chris Cillizza, and hour number three with Jim Geraghty. I honestly don’t know how any American can vote for any Democrat, Mark Steyn, after the rise of ISIS, the attack on Canada, the bumbling Ebola response. It’s like suicide to vote for Democrats.

MS: Well, they want to pretend that it’s not about that. I think Ebola has slightly muddied the waters. But they want to, the people who vote for Democrats want to think that foreign policy is something that happens to foreigners. In other words, there can be all this bad stuff going on around the planet, and it doesn’t impact your ability to vote for the party that’s promising more food stamps and better Social Security benefits and longer unemployment benefits, and bigger and bigger Obamacare subsidies. And none of that is connected with anything going on in the rest of the planet. I mean, Canada may disturb them. Ottawa, Saint-Jean-Sur-Ricehelieu is a stone’s throw from Burlington, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York. It isn’t that far away, and the idea that it can happen there, but that somehow you can draw a line on the map of North America and it doesn’t come south is ridiculous. But people, the vote in 2008, I think, was a kind of ‘we just want to be left alone’ vote. We can’t handle living in September the 12th. That’s the title of one of the sections of my book, September the 12th, the world we lived in after that Tuesday morning.

HH: It’s coming back, I think.

MS: And by 2008, Americans didn’t want to.

HH: It’s coming back, as I will with Mark Steyn.

— – – – –

HH: Why am I playing that for Mark Steyn, the author of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned in bookstores everywhere, selling like hotcakes, he’s all over the media. And he’s doing so in the middle of a sort of a national trauma in Canada, Prime Minister Harper giving a very good speech earlier today about not being intimidated by the Islamists. We’re finding the Islamists in the all the old familiar places, Mark. You wrote in The Man At The Border that for a brief time in 2003, there was a hole where Saddam was, and you could actually rent a car in Jordan and drive to Fallujah and have dinner, because you were part of the West and the Iraq war had demonstrated something. But now, the Iraq-Syria border no longer exists, ISIS has simply erased the Anglo-French settlement of 1922, you write, and the difference that a decade makes between 2003 and your road trip, sans the Hope-Crosby partner, to Fallujah, would not be, if you made it five yards, be a parade of black flag restaurants. I mean, how quickly can that change again?

MS: Yeah, and well, that’s the question, isn’t it? This is why eventually the Obama administration understood that Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border is important, because it’s one thing for ISIS to take all this land when America isn’t paying any attention. When America is committed to degrade and destroy ISIS, as Obama says, and then they take the town of Kobani, they’ve not just defeated a bunch of ragtag Kurds or Yazidi or Shia or Assad’s guys. They’ve actually, in some sense, defeated the United States of America. And eventually, Obama figured that out, and they’ve now been getting aid to the Kurds and helping them to hold that town. And it would be the same thing if you see these ISIS guys marching into the Green Zone and taking over the world’s most expensive embassy in the history of embassies, which is the U.S. Embassy inside the Green Zone. That would be understood, and running up the black flag of ISIS on the American Embassy inside the Green Zone, you know, ISIS understands what that means. And those Democrats who you were talking about earlier, who think that life is about Dancing With The Stars and what Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are going to name their baby, those, they may not get it, but the rest of the planet certainly gets…

HH: Yeah, it’s the reverse, it’s the negative of the photograph of our toppling Saddam’s statue with the tank, or our standing in Saddam’s palaces. It’s the reverse of all that and has enormous symbolic value. You write as well that Obama and the Z graders who fill his administration are just blundering buffoons, also underscored yesterday on the day of terror. We extended the nuclear talks with Iran…

MS: Right.

HH: …because John Kerry is going to get a deal that will make him a historical figure, but it’s going to make him a historical figure in the, I can’t remember the Defence secretary that served under Neville Chamberlain who went down to Italy, Samuel Hoare…

MS: Yeah.

HH: …came back with the Hoare whatever deal, there was something, some name to it.

MS: Yeah, yeah, secretary of War, they called it in those days, because they hadn’t yet taken refuge in that term, Secretary of Defense, yeah.

HH: And we’re going to end up with John Kerry bringing back that kind of a deal that Hoare brought back from Italy, from Iran. And then we’re going to be the bad cop nuclear Shia, as you put it, versus the worse cop, the head-hacking Sunni tribes.

MS: Yeah, yeah, and I think, which is in a sense the great paradox of our coalition here. We’re, we’ve invited the Saudis to join us in this fight against ISIS, the Saudis presumably being the good beheades against the ISIS bad beheaders. You know, the Saudis are moderate beheaders or whatever. And this lack of strategic clarity, this lack, this idea, for example, that large swathes of the planet can go to hell, but your comfortable, prosperous life will not be disturbed is, I think, the biggest illusion of the age. And everything in most people’s homes now is made elsewhere, whether it’s made in like a Chinese factory of whatever. The stuff from that Chinese factory requires a safe and stable planet to make it all the way to get to your home in Kokomo or wherever. And so this idea that that is not relevant to how you live your life, I think is sad and pathetic. And you know, history will not look kindly on a superpower that simply goes out of business because it would rather go to the shopping mall.

— – – – –

HH: You Must Remember This reminded me of Barbie In A Burqa, your Macleans December 14th, 2009 piece, has a line in it which is just so relevant. “Resisting terror is exhausting.” And I also found in that article, Mark Steyn, a piece of Obama rhetoric that I hadn’t seen before. “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.” You add, “My, oh my, he’s a profile in courage, isn’t he?” I think that’s the most self-damning thing he’s ever said. But the trend, we must remember, that overall, it’s very, very bad for women around the world. And Hollywood and the left, and Democrats, don’t really seem to care about that.

MS: No, this is the war on women. He went to Cairo. I think this is really quite disgusting, actually. He went to Cairo and he stood up and declared in that usual self-flattering way he does, that he has the courage to speak up for the right of a woman to wear a burqa, the right of a woman not to feel sunlight on her face. And he knows, he knows that that decision, that right, so-called right is not a woman’s. It is made for her by the men in her family who decide that she will go around in a body bag in public for the entirety of her life. And it is not something we should be comfortable with. When you walk around the East End of London, and you see more covered women than you do in downtown Amman, for example, in Jordan, that is not a good sign, because that covering is essentially a mark separating these people form the broader society. And I have waited so long for the National Organization of Women and Gloria Steinem and all the rest of it to actually say yes, there is a real war on women going on, and it’s nothing to do with what Todd Akin is burbling about when his tongue runs away with him on some stupid radio interview or whatever. It’s actually being waged all over parts of the Western world where a woman is beheaded in upstate New York, a girl is run over by her father in Arizona because she wished to live like Western women, three girls end up at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ontario, because they wanted to live like Western women. And shame on Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer and the National Organization for Women for accepting a two-tier sisterhood, where if you happen to be born…

HH: What about Hillary Clinton? Shame on Hillary Clinton who spent four years at Foggy Bottom and never once raised this issue while proclaiming herself to be the great champion of women and girls around the world. It’s come down to a hashtag held by the First Lady begging people not to slaughter innocent Christian girls in Nigeria.

MS: No, and again, that tells our enemies something about our will, that the wife of the so-called most powerful man on the planet, the so-called leader of the free world, thinks that the way to react to barbarism is to put on a sad-looking face and hold up a piece of cardboard with a hashtag written on it. They don’t care about hashtags. They’re not in the hashtag business. They’ll gladly cede the hashtags to us, because when they’re getting on with sex slavery, and chopping heads off, they’re not bothered about what the hashtags say.

HH: There is a piece in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, There Is No More Molly, which is very, very chilling. “Too many people in the free world have internalized Islam’s view of them.” You point out that there’s a brand new copy of the Koran in every cell hung in surgical masks, and that our crazy pastors in Florida get batted about, and well and good for that, but that General Petraeus never said a word about the “rampant buggery of pre-pubescent boys by Pashtun men in Kandahar.” In other words, we unilaterally surrendered in the war against the Ebola ideology even as we were crushing their fighters for ten years.

MS: Yeah, and that title, There Is No More Molly, is a reference to a cartoonish I had some correspondence with there at the time, who a very liberal, leftist woman, I think she’s in Oregon or Washington State. She’s not there anymore. Nobody knows where she is. The FBI changed her identity and put her in the witness protection program. And quite by accident, not because she’s been doing it for years like me, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or Geert Wilders or anybody else, quite by accident, she fell afoul of Islam and got death threats issued against her. And her alternative newspaper, for this impeccably liberal woman, simply announced, “there is no more Molly,” and this cartoonist, Molly Norris, not a word has been heard from her since. She’s disappeared. An American citizen’s life has been erased, and she’s gone into hiding, and she has ceased to exist because the crazy guys rampaging around Ottawa yesterday decided that they didn’t want her doing cartoons anymore. And that liberal newspaper in Washington State or Oregon or wherever it was gave in and just said in this limp-wristed way, “There is no more Molly.” And Obama, the man who stands up for the right for women to be put in lifelong body bags in Cairo never said a word about the erasure of an American citizen, an American woman’s entire life. He never said a word about it. And it’s chilling to me. I think about Molly Norris. I wonder if she’s still alive. I wonder if she’s still in America. I wonder if she’s fled to New Zealand or somewhere else. I think about this poor, liberal woman who discovered the hard way that when the chips are down, the liberal left isn’t there for you.

HH: And you write, “The basic rule of life that is if you reward bad behavior, you get more of it, every time Muslims commit violence or threaten it, we reward them by capitulating. Indeed, Obama and Company are now telling Islam you don’t have to kill anyone. You don’t even have to threaten to kill anyone. We’ll be your enforcers.”

MS: Right.

HH: And that was yesterday’s Oval Office meeting when he just, I mean everybody in the world knew what it was. You don’t shoot poor Corporal Cirillo at the War Memorial if you’re, well, I’ll come back after the break, if you’re anything other than an Islamist radical.

— – – – –

HH: Today on the CNN feed before I left California and got over to Arizona, Mark, it was Canada defiant, Canada defiant. I remember Boston strong was the way, and then it fades.

MS: Right.

HH: But eventually, people do wake up. And I think back to the 1938, all around London, billboards were paid probably by Max Beaverbrook, but no one knew, that just put up the world Churchill and his picture. And eventually, people get to that point. Are we getting to that point?

MS: I hope so. You know that War Memorial in Ottawa is a beautiful thing. I walked past it with a friend of mine who is a cabinet minister up there a couple of months ago, and we were talking about what a wonderful job they’ve done on it. And it honors Canada’s war dead in the Great War. It was opened by King George VI, the Queen’s dad, just before the Second World War. And Canada at that time, like America, like France, like Britain, Western nations knew who they were. They might have found it hard to articulate it, but it beat in their chest. And my worry is that, and that guy knows who we are, too. That’s why he wants to put a bullet not just through Corporal Cirillo, but he’s doing it at the War Memorial to put a bullet through the heart of the Canadian state. And in some sense, our enemies understand better who free societies are, who we are. They understand who we are and the threat we represent to them better than we do ourselves. So I hope we learn the lesson of what happened yesterday, because what that War Memorial represents, that the way of life it represents, the liberty is represents, the law it represents, the civilization it represents, that’s what that guy really wants to kill.

HH: You know, we’ll know, Mark Steyn, in 12 days, because if you don’t elect a Tom Cotton, who has fought that enemy, if you don’t elect a Joni Ernst who has fought that enemy, if you don’t elect a Dan Sullivan who has fought that enemy, then at this moment, after these events, you truly do think that…we got cut off…you truly do think, Mark had to go away. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to break. You really do think, if you folks want to go out there and elect Democrats after the month that we have had, and after the weeks and weeks and weeks that we have had of bad, terrible news, and yesterday’s attack in Canada, you want to go out and vote for Democrats, by all means.

End of interview.


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