The [Un]documented Mark Steyn
HH: As promised, a special two-hour edition of Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark, welcome and congratulations on the publication of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned, in bookstores everywhere today, I believe.
MS: Yes, that’s right. And assuming you can still find a bookstore in your town, it should still be in there. They keep closing them every time. Last time I brought out a book, Borders was so opposed to it they decided to close that week. So I’m confident Barnes and Noble will be shutting up shop by Friday.
HH: Well, just to make sure everyone gets it, it’s linked over at www.hughhewitt.com. And The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is well worth every nickel you pay for it. I spent the weekend laughing and reading paragraphs aloud to the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, because there is a lot in there, Mark, I’ve never read. We began talking to each on the air probably 11 or 12 years ago, and so I’ve been reading your stuff consistently since 2001 or so. But you wrote so much in the 90s, as you said, if there’d been a 3rd Clinton decade, you could have retired. But that’s all collected here, so I’m amazed at your work or your rights acquisition editor’s work.
MS: Well, the funny thing about it is, as you say, I’ve been on your show since I think just after the Iraq invasion.
MS: So that’s 2003 now. And a lot of people got to know me over the years through your show and through appearing in American publications. And they weren’t aware that I had this sort of vast other life writing in Canadian and British and Australian publications. And so it’s a kind of mélange. And sometimes, I think it’s interesting. If you write for a, something in a Canadian paper, and ten years later you suddenly go oh, yeah, this is actually highly relevant to Obama’s dependency culture, you write something about the National Health Service a gazillion years ago, and it suddenly turns out to be highly relevant to Obamacare. So I had all these moldering old clippings yellowing in the basement, and I figured some of them still hold up over the years.
HH: Well, my very favorite, which we’ll talk about after the break, is a 2003 column from the National Post, so I doubt very much we’ve talked about it on air, but we’ll come back to that. But for, as you mentioned, for 12 years, I’ve been playing Hudson to your Poppleton, or Tom Branson to your Robert Crawley, or…you don’t watch Game of Thrones, do you?
MS: The only think I really know about Game of Thrones is that my daughter and I were on vacation in the beautiful Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland, and she went riding on one of the horses in Game of Thrones. And that’s my only connections with Game of Thrones.
HH: You see, so if I say I like playing Bronn to your Tyrion Lannister, you won’t get that. But you’ll get Branson to Crawley. By the way, there are only a couple of Downton Abbey references in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, but I want to assure those who are hooked on it they will indeed find a little bit of the Crawleys there. In fact, I’m looking at the aristorockracy, on Page 281, “If you’re on the wrong side of the divide, it’s less like Downton Abbey and more like one of those Latin American favelas the presidential motorcade makes a point of giving a wide berth to.” What divide are you talking about there, Mark Steyn?
MS: Yeah, that’s an interesting column, actually…
HH: Yes, it is.
MS: …because it’s to do with the fact that they did some survey finding out that of the British hit parade, of the pop charts, of the top 40, and worked out that 90% of people in it were actually upper middle class, and had been to some of the most expensive private schools in Britain. And it was about, to me, the way I think, which I think is actually one of the great issues facing the United States, which is that we are, have declining social mobility. Pop music used to be the way Elvis was a truck driver, and he stopped outside the Sun Records Studio, and he saved up his money to make a demo for his mom’s birthday. He was going to do an Ink Spots number for her, and that’s how Sam Phillips heard Elvis, and Elvis became a huge star. And now all the pop stars turn out to actually be from Downton Abbey.
MS: And that’s, I’m think one of the strange and depressing features of life, that we have declining social mobility in the United States. The United States actually has less social mobility than the United Kingdom according to the most recent surveys.
HH: Ditto journalism. You pointed out not just pop music, but journalism used to be a way up for people in Great Britain, and I think less so in the United States since the East Coast elites were basically fed by the Crimson and the Yale Daily News, etc. They replicated themselves.
MS: No, no, but if you look at, say, any 1930s movie, and you see the press conference that they call when there’s a murder or whatever, and all the guys in the hats saying press, and they’re all talking like they’ve got marbles in their mouths.
HH: Yeah, yeah.
MS: …and then think to yourself when was the last time you actually met an American journalist like that as opposed to some trusty fundy type whose parents decided to blow a significant six figure sum on sending him to Columbia Journalism School.
HH: You’re right, Jimmie Stewart walking into the Philadelphia Story.
MS: Right, right.
HH: He’s not from the upper reaches.
HH: He’s not from…
MS: You couldn’t make that now, because the whole point about the Philadelphia Story, or if you take like the remake of it, when they did High Society, and Grace Kelly is supposed to be the big moneyed woman living in the big estate, and Frank Sinatra is supposed to be this like blue collar journalist, these days, the so-called blue collar journalists come from the big estates. I mean, that’s what’s happened to it. That profession has been lost as a way out of poverty.
HH: Well, it’s still there in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, and I’m going to spend the next two hours with him. And if you liked America Alone and After America, you’re going to love this, because this one will actually make you laugh more, and consciously attempting to fill you with mirth. I said it got five stars for laughter and a little bit of despair, and I saw you tweeted out you didn’t want it to be that despairing. It’s not like, it’s not a trilogy of despair along with After America and America Alone.
MS: No, no, I like to think because the big picture stuff is in there, and the big picture stuff is highly consequential. But there’s a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of what I would call small detail stuff about the hyper-bureaucracy or whatever, that even if you’re on the receiving end of it, I mean, I recount my children’s border crossing when they had some Kinder Chocolate Eggs, which are legal in every other country on Earth, but are banned in the United States, which devotes six federal agencies to seizing these Kinder Chocolate Eggs every Easter and stores them all in a big warehouse in Buffalo. And yes, you know, it’s despairing in the sense that it indicates how there’s no end to the absolute pitiful, pathetic insanity of the hyper-regulatory bureaucracy. But on the other hand, you know, it’s a bit of a laugh in that my kids found themselves on the sharp end of the federal commissars. And I always find it funny when my youngest boy is being threatened by federal agents. Can’t get funnier than that.
HH: No, collections are unusual things. They are very timely and timed. Krauthammer’s collection sold a million copies. And I think The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is going to, it’s starting from a million copies behind. It’s going to have to sprint pretty hard to catch Dr. Charles, but it is remarkable how suddenly people want to go back and review the last 20 years. And I have a theory about this with Krauthammer’s book, and it came out last night. Katie Pavlich and I were doing Townhall 2014 along with Medved, Prager and our Morning Answer team – Ben Shapiro, Brian Whitman and Elisha Krauss out here in L.A. And she turned to me, Katie did, and she said has it always been like this, this craziness, and I said no, actually, there were days of blue dresses. And there were plodding investigations into Iran Contra. But the speed with which the news evolves, I’m looking at a story today that the Turks have agreed to allow the good Kurds to come help the embattled Kurds in a complete reversal of Kurdish policy.
HH: You have a chapter called the Lengthened Shadows that accurately sums up how badly we’ve spun out of control. But it wasn’t always so, and it used to be kind of nice to move at a different pace.
MS: Yeah, and I think that’s the interesting thing is that history doesn’t turn on a dime. I mean, every once in a while it did, but even then, if you look at, go back to 1914 and the Archduke getting shot in Sarajevo, people thought it was a problem for the Austro-Hungarian line of succession. They didn’t realize the whole world was about to unravel. And so most change is not dramatic. It just happens incrementally, incrementally, incrementally. And that’s true with big societal issues. If you take births out of wedlock, which was basically a consistent one or two percent from the founding of, the first settlement in America all the way to about 1960 and then rocketed up. Well, that’s a profound change. But it never happened, it doesn’t happen on a Tuesday morning so it’s the page lead in the Washington Post. It just happens a little bit more every day until you wake up and you realize that people’s assumptions about family, about marriage, about all these kinds of things, have completely changed in a relatively short space of time.
— – – –
HH: I’m sitting here laughing, because when I read We Aren’t The World by Mark Steyn in his brand new The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, I read it out loud to the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, and I couldn’t get through the paragraph about this song. Mark Steyn, this is my favorite essay in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn.
MS: Well, this is a hilarious thing, which is the BBC ran a poll a few years ago to discover, the BBC World Service, in other words, everywhere. I mean, they’re like the most listened to radio station in Afghanistan and all the rest of it. So the BBC World Service, and they ran a poll to discover the world’s top ten favorite songs, and they counted them down just like Casey Kasem does. And the minute they said that, you assumed it was going to be all those bland multicultural anthems like that Quincy Jones thing, We Are The World.
MS: Or it was going to be the big anthemic blockbusters like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody or I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. And instead, it became, it fell into these highly-nationalist songs from Pakistani Muslims and Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger supporters. And the number one song was an Irish nationalist rebel song, which was…
(really cheesy music plays)
HH: This, I believe, is A Nation Once Again by the Wolfe Tones, which won.
MS: That’s right (laughing).
MS: And I once got into a fight in a bar in Liverpool when some guy started singing that, and I felt as a loyal subject to the Crown is was my job to object. I’m proud to say we had the, we got the better hand, we got the better of that in the end, but I would have, I think I say in that column that I would far rather actually have my eyes gouged out to Irish Republican rebel songs than to Cher. You know, if you’re going to get your head bashed in…but it was interesting, because the big point about that is that for all the multicultural blather, in fact, pop culture is actually one of the most partisan and bitterly-disputed areas of life. I mean, people have, people like, the song even in a relatively mild context such as Ireland, the songs you sing matter, and when you get out to Sir Lanka or Pakistan, even more so.
HH: Well, the exact line is, “We eventually prevailed,” in our bar fight. “But even if we hadn’t, A Nation Once Again is a fine song to get your head kicked into, at least when compared to Believe by Cher, which would rank pretty high on the lists of numbers I’d least like to be listening to as my eye’s gouged out and I fall into a coma, although it would in a way be a merciful release.” And so…(laughing)
HH: But I actually have never, I can’t even pronounce most of these songs, Mark Steyn, on the BBC’s world list top ten songs of forever. I mean, I can’t…
MS: No, no. I mean, if you’re doing the full Casey Kasem, then Big Hit Sound number five, the world’s fifth most popular song is Pooyum Nadakkhuthu Pinchum Nadakkuthu by Thirumalai Chandran. I’ll do the first two bars and then you join in, Hugh.
HH: (laughing) Well, that is alone worth the price of picking up The Undocumented Mark Steyn. But I’m not at all ambivalent about this book. You write, however, in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, on Page 405, that, I can’t say his name, either, Ghazi Algosaibi, who was…
HH: He was ambivalent, ambivalently yours. And I love that, and he was replaced by Prince Turki. And I wanted to ask you a serious question about Prince Turki. I thought he was one of our guys. I thought he was on our side, and you write he’s rather this sinister guy who’s hated you for a long time. Tell us about Ghazi and Turki.
MS: Well, Gahzi Algosaibi was this very amusing man who was the Saudi ambassador to the court of St. Jame’s, and basically, the Saudis are to blame for the world going to hell. We enriched them with oil. They used that oil wealth to advance Wahhabism, this extreme version of Islam, all around the world. That’s basically what the Saudis, the Saudis don’t, are not principally in the oil exporting business. They’re in the ideology exporting business. And it’s been disastrous for the world. But Ghazi Algosaibi is, was one of those bane, Westernized, rather courtly aristocratic Saudis who was the Saudi Ambassador in London. And he and I got into this sort of little kind of point-counterpoint thing all during the first of the 9/11 years. And when he was eventually recalled to Saudi Arabia, because they didn’t really like him doing all this sort of shtick in the papers with me, they, he was made minister of water, which on closer inspection turned out more to be minister of sewage. And I wrote a rather jocular column congratulating him on being appointed the Saudi minister of sewage. And he wrote a letter back thanking me for my kind words, and saying our treatment plants will always be ready to receive the literary outpourings emanating from Mr. Steyn’s humane soil. And given that most of the Saudis you encounter like chopping heads off people or thrashing schoolgirls for leaving school without their coverings when the building is on fire, or flying planes into skyscrapers, Ghazi, I always described Ghazi Algosaibi as my favorite Wahhabi, which isn’t as competitive a title as it ought to be. And he was succeeded by Prince Turki. And Prince Turki was at Georgetown with Bill Clinton. And as you say, you thought he was one of our guys. He’s one of those guys who’s at the center of every Machiavellian machination emanating out of Riyadh.
MS: …and was a far more sinister fellow. And I miss Ghazi Algosaibi. It was a funny thing. We got into jokes about the World Cup when the Saudi team were thrashed by the Germans. And I suggested they were all Mossad infiltrators who’d taken down the Saudi king…
HH: Who were you writing for at this point? How did you write back and forth with the Saudi ambassador? Via which vehicle?
MS: It was in the Telegraph and the Spectator, and he was like, he was a funny guy. And you know, he wrote, and I actually, I hate to sort of plug a Saudi book and say it’s the must-read of the year when I’m meant to be plugging my own book. But he wrote a book, there was a British television show which I think was on PBS over here called Yes Minister.
HH: Oh, yes.
MS: And Yes Prime Minister. And he wrote a Saudi version of that called Yes Saudi Minister. And it’s actually a very funny book. And if you have to, if you only buy one Saudi government official’s book this Christmas season, or this Ramadan season, according to taste, make it Yes Saudi Minister by Ghazi Algosaibi.
HH: But he’s passed on to his great reward.
MS: Yeah, he died a couple of years ago, and I must say that like the fun of, the fun, whole Saudi stand-up comedy routine thing has gone to hell since then. No one has quite picked up the slack from him.
HH: I’m talking with Mark Steyn this hour and next about his brand new book, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned. It is a joy on every page.
— – – – –
HH: I will say about a Mark Steyn collection, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, it’s the easiest thing in the world to get your bump music for, because he ranges wide over the world of culture. And the essay on Doris Day at 90 included a reference to her being called J.B. by Bob Hope, which I’d never read before, Mark Steyn (laughing).
MS: (laughing) No…
HH: We can actually say it on the radio. I checked.
MS: Yeah, can you actually say it on the radio? Yeah, well, everybody has nicknames for Doris Day. I think Rock Hudson used to call her Eunice. Nobody actually calls her Doris. And a lot of her best friends call her Clara. But Bob Hope used to call her J.B, which stood for Jut Butt. And as he told me, he said it’s because you could play bridge on her butt. And I don’t believe Bob Hope ever did. I like to think of that, actually, you know, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour playing bridge on Doris Day’s butt, but I don’t believe they ever did. But no, I had the great pleasure a few years ago of a long conversation with Doris Day, who was absolutely delightful. And I put her in the book, really, because there’s sort of sad show business stories in there. You know, show biz careers generally…
HH: Oh, yeah. We’ll talk about those, yeah.
MS: …don’t end well. You know, even if you’re successful, you’re not successful at 80 or 90, and Doris Day in that sense is a model of sustained celebrity. And I had a delightful conversation with her. But she is so happy now, and I wanted to talk about all her, the great records she’s made and the movies, and she just wants to talk about all these dogs she lives with, which is her big thing, and the fun she has going to the supermarket.
HH: I’m pretty sure not many Americans under the age of 50, and you know, I’m 58, and I can barely remember Doris Day. I don’t think a whole, there’s an entire generation that will not appreciate how large she loomed over American movies for a while.
MS: Well, you say that, but what was, what’s interesting to me is that if you take young female singers, and we’ll use that term generally, anybody south of your age, Hugh, she is a huge figure. And hardly two months goes by without somebody doing an album of Doris Day songs, young singers, young rock era singers, for example, there’s all kinds of poppy rocky versions of Que Sera Sera that you just played, for some reason, simply as a…her persona, for people who are female singers or performers today, actually does touch them. And that’s why she is still relevant to singers of 40, 30, 26, whatever.
HH: Well, I had a question about that. You spend a lot of time in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn on matters of culture, and a lot about songs. And you have the song of the day feature over at www.steynonline.com, which is one of my favorite things, and we’ll talk a lot about that. But the arc of songwriting is not good. We are not headed in a good direction, so they’re going to have to fall back to the Doris Days and the Jerome Kerns, etc, because there just isn’t, I mean, my friend John Ondrasik is a terrific songwriter, and he works very, very hard at it. But there aren’t a lot of people, Jackson Browne is a terrific songwriter, but there aren’t really a lot of people who are working on this now.
MS: Well no, I was, I heard, I was listening to one of these stations that plays the 15 current biggest songs over and over and over, because I thought I needed to apprise myself on what’s, what people were into these days. And I heard this song by Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass, which is like a huge hit at the moment. And it’s basically a song sung by a woman, it’s a love song to Meghan Trainor’s butt. It’s about a woman who has like a, not Doris Day’s pert jut butt. I don’t want to make this the subtext of the show. But she is rather more spectacularly endowed in that department, and she sings, you know, yes, my butt, the song is basically yes, my butt is huge, and isn’t it fabulous, and I’m singing this love song to my butt. It’s basically the I’ll Be Seeing You for butts. It’s basically The Way You Look Tonight for butts.
HH: And it’s not going to make it into…It’s not going to make it into the American…
MS: It’s fantastic to me. I mean, it would never have occurred to Nat King Cole to sing a love song to his butt. And I feel it’s, what I find so odd about these things today is they’re less and less about boy meets girls or whatever, and they’re more and more about, they’re essentially these naval-gazing songs about how fabulous I am. It’s not about meeting, oh, some enchanted evening, you may meet, you may see a stranger across a crowded room. No, it’s some enchanted evening, you may look in the mirror and see how fabulous your personal butt looks.
HH: You are. I’ll be right back with Mark Steyn.
— – – – –
HH: You’ll get the essay Moon River And Me from Maclean’s in November of 2009, which is about Johnny Mercer and much, much more. It’s just a beautiful piece of writing, Mark. And I loved your little touch of the personal, which is not often in your writing, about your country club experience with Moon River.
MS: Yes, when I was, many, many years ago, I was 18 or 19, I took a girl I adored to a country club dance I couldn’t really afford, which as you know is never a good idea.
MS: …particularly if you’re hoping the evening will work out well with the lady in question, because you’re like just incredibly nervous about it, because you’re trying to be smooth. Well, what would you care to drink, darling, terrified that she’s going to do more than just order the cheapest items on the menu. And the master of ceremonies announced a competition. And to win, you had to answer a very simple question, and the question was how wide is Moon River? And of course, I immediately jumped up and said as the song says, wider than a mile. And we won a magnum of champagne, and the waiters were fawning on us. And it was just the best, it was just the best night. And as you say, I don’t write about personal things terribly often, because it’s often not of interest to people. But I always loved the way, just knowing that one silly little bit of song lyric just transformed that evening into a magical evening for me.
HH: Now Johnny Mercer is the primary subject of the essay Moon River And Me, and what a both a remarkable career and a sad one. As you said earlier in the program, you cover the very difficult stuff in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, but you also pause and look into the life of an artist, and they often don’t end well, and this one didn’t.
MS: No, he was a, Johnny Mercer, for people who don’t know him, he wrote some of the greatest songs in the American catalogue – Blues In The Night, One For My Baby, One More For The Road, That Old Black Magic, Goody Goody, on and on. But he was a mean drunk, and he used to, when he’d had one too many, he’d be somewhere, and it didn’t matter whether it was, you were dealing with a big singer or someone, he’d just lash out at them. And then he’d feel about it, if it was just a waitress, and then he’d send them roses in the morning. And Jo Stafford, the great singer, when he started to get mean and drunk and yell at her one night said just stop it, Johnny. I don’t want any of your roses in the morning. And I love that line, because it’s the sort of line that anybody else would turn into a song, Roses In The Morning. And he wrote all the great drunk songs – One For My Baby, One More For The Road, Drinking Again. Sinatra recorded, you know, four or five drunk loser songs by Johnny Mercer.
HH: Yeah, It’s A Quarter To Three, There’s No One In The Place Except You And Me.
MS: …because he knew that world so well.
HH: So Set Them Up, Joe, I’ve Got A Little Story You Ought To Know.
HH: So he was a drunk who wrote about being a drunk. But he also, he was very skeptical that music would last even 50 years. I think he said prior to his death in ’76 that Porter and Hart and Gershwin will be studied and taught in schools and collected and forgotten, but you write, “We’re getting mighty near 2026, and we’re still singing Johnny Mercer. It’s A Quarter To Three, and somewhere out there, Willie Nelson’s promoting the new record of Come Rain Or Come Shine.” The good stuff lasts.
MS: Well, I say that up to a point. I mean, one of the reasons, people say well, how come you like all these old songs? A lot of people who like what I write about music then say why are you always going on about jihad? And I say well, look at it this way. A dear friend of mine is one of the biggest theater owners in London. Well, if, when once you reach a tipping point where London becomes sufficiently Muslim, how many theaters do you think are going to be open? How much music is there going to be in that culture? If you…Islam, whatever one feels about it, is not a font of creativity in the music and the literary sense. I mentioned Ghazi Algosaibi a few moments who was a Saudi government minister, and he had his novels and poetry banned in Saudi Arabia. In other words, even though he was one of the most powerful figures of the state, he couldn’t publish his literary writings in that culture. And the idea that you’ll still be, I mean, you won’t be able to hear One For My Baby and One More For The Road, because you won’t be able to get One More My Baby once all the bars have closed. I mean, these things are linked. These things are linked. A vibrant culture, even when it comes to something as small as a 32 bar song, that sits atop a grand cultural inheritance. And it doesn’t take a lot to obliterate all that, and you suddenly realize there’s nothing left to sing about.
HH: Now we were talking about this last night at the town hall, and The [Un]documented Mark Steyn talks about it a lot. That arc is changeable. I don’t know that you really believe it’s going to change, but that can be tweaked back in a different direction. We’re going to break in 20 seconds, so I’ve left you no chance to rebut me, though I think you probably would.
MS: Well, I think the last chapter in the book, which is about a remarkable man who is not as well-known as it should be, William Wilberforce, who changed the world. And that’s the difference one person can make. I’m optimistic on that or I wouldn’t have ended with what I wrote about Wilberforce.
HH: I’ll be right back with Mark Steyn.
—- – – – –
HH: He included an essay on Pete Seeger, because when the old communists died, I pointed out he was an old communist, and I got a lot of heat from my listeners, Mark Steyn. And he was, I gather he wasn’t an unrepentant Stalinist. I called him that. But I think he never made it quite above board that he turned out to have missed the murder of 60 million people.
MS: No, no, he never did, and he got all that wrong. He lived a long time. He was down there at the Occupy Wall Street demos.
MS: …where he went down to sing his songs to them. And it’s a cheap joke, but I always enjoyed making it, I wondered whether faced with those rank and malodorous Occupy Wall Street types, he’d sung Where Have All The Showers Gone. But I don’t know whether he actually did do that. But he was, as you say, basically, the Washington Post called him America’s favorite commie. And if you think about that, America doesn’t have a favorite Nazi, according to the Washington Post. I doubt the Washington Post would even concede America had a favorite Republican. But the idea that somehow you can be a communist, a shill and a promoter for mass murder, you can be on the wrong side of every conflict in history, going all the way back to the Second World War when he attacked FDR and Churchill, and yet you can still somehow be a cuddly totalitarian is bizarre and actually…
HH: You know, Mark, I’ve got a friend, Richard Botkin, who is making a documentary about the fall of Saigon, and how we abandoned the Vietnamese to their fate in a disreputable fashion, which we’ve done, of course, to Iraq now.
HH: And no one ever gets called on voting to cut off aid in ’75, and no one’s getting called on pulling out of Iraq in 2011. They’ll, perhaps that is a sub-current in the election that looms. We talked about that last night at Townhall 2014. Maybe the rise of ISIS will finally mean political payback for the cut and run crowd.
MS: Well, and I don’t, I think there’s a limit to how often you can betray your friends, which is a line I quote from Prince Sirik Matak quite a bit in Vietnam, who was one of the, no one remembers him, because he was just one of the millions of corpses. His skull was just on a pile of bones. But that was the sad letter he wrote when he was offered asylum in the United States and he said no. I will die among my own people. But I never thought it would come to this where you would betray your friends. And I think whether you’re talking about Kurdistan or other parts of the world, there will be a lot of people who recall those words when you look at the actions that Obama has taken in the last five years.
— – – – –
HH: It’s been my great joy over the last dozen years to have Mark frequently on the program, almost every Thursday when he’s not on some walkabout in Australia, or vanishes to drive to Fallujah. He remains the only man I know who rented a car in Jordan and drove to Fallujah. And Mark Steyn, I appreciate very much that you have stuck around even after becoming Rush’s guest host, and even after not really needing to do radio for anybody else once you become Rush’s guest host. And I wonder, I wanted to talk this segment a little bit about you, because not many people know much about you. You put high stock in loyalty. It comes through in your writings about Conrad Black, it comes through in your continuing appearances on the Hugh Hewitt Show. And I don’t know when that developed or why it developed.
MS: Well, I’ve always been grateful. I worked in Fleet Street, and if you know anything about those slimy, duplicitous Englishmen, particularly the ones who infest the media, you will know that after you spend a couple of years among them, you’re grateful for loyalty. Conrad Black was loyal to me when I needed it, and I’m loyal to him not for any, I’m a sort of semi-reclusive guy, so when Conrad fell afoul of the U.S. Department of Justice and wound up going to jail for three and a half years or whatever it was in some terrible federal prison in Miami, where I went to visit him, because under some bizarre quirk of American law, Canadians are not eligible for minimum security prisons. So the guy wound up going to a prison full of, although he’d committed a sort of so-called white collar crime largely invented by the government, he wound up going to jail with a bunch of murderers and rapists and drug dealers. And it was very odd-like sitting in the visiting room surrounded by all these menacing people you’d normally cross the street to avoid. But Conrad, you know, he was loyal to me. I’m always grateful to you. I wasn’t really known in the United States when you asked me to appear on your show, and there’s certainly no reason why you should have some obscure foreigner telling your listeners everything that’s wrong with the world every week, but you were kind enough to me at a time when hardly anybody knew who I was in this country. And that’s always the most important thing, that the first break you get in a certain market, whether it’s America, Australia or whatever, I don’t forget that. And I’m very grateful for it.
HH: I always, when I’ve interviewed Carol Burnett or Dick Van Dyke or Andy Williams, they’ve always in their memoirs include the club owner who gave them a shot at the microphone in Greenwich Village in 1955…
HH: …or the first opportunity to be in a writer’s room somewhere. And it’s fascinating, however like Charles Krauthammer in his enormously successful collection, and I think The Undocumented Mark Steyn is going to be an enormously successful collection, I think people should go and get it right now in great numbers because of the cultural side and because of the demographics, and because, of course, the darkness looming over the world which we’ll talk about this hour more than we did in the last hour, like him, you do not tell us much. And I had to drag it out of him. Who were Mr. and Mrs. Steyn? Who were your mom and dad? And how did they produce you, who are an autodidact, and you seem to know everything?
MS: Well, my mother is, was, she died a few weeks ago…
HH: Oh, I’m sorry.
MS: My mother was Belgian, and my father was Irish. And they met in Canada where my father was sort of chugging around the colonies for a couple of years as one did back then. And he was someone who was just trying to get a bit of work here and a bit of work there with a couple of pals, one from Belfast and one from South Africa. And they wound up in a terrible Canadian mining town, and the only jobs were the local mine. And his two friends were hired as miners. And he got to be the elevator boy for the mine. So he’d take all the miners down in the morning, including his pals, and they’d go and work in the mines all day. And he’d just sit there in the elevator reading a paperback book until he was ready to take them back up to the top. And he had good luck. He had a charmed life until the end, all like that. And I always found that, and along the way, he happened to meet my mother who was a Belgian girl, and had in fact been doing chemistry at the University of Ghent in Belgium, was in the first year when her parents decided to emigrate to Canada for no other reason than that their town had been liberated by the Royal Canadian artillery, I believe it was, in the Second World War. And that’s like the accidents of history.
MS: …on which people depend. If they’d been liberated, there were all kinds of, there were, in the liberation of Belgium, there were British troops, there were American troops, there were some Polish troops, too. But their town happened to be liberated by Canadians, so they wound up going to Canada where my mother met my father. And that’s the only reason I’m here, because of that strange fluke of history.
HH: Then how did you get back to England into the public schools, and eventually to Fleet Street?
MS: Well, I was at high school in England at Tolkien’s old school. We weren’t there at the same time. But actually, I wound up having an old Greek dictionary that he’d used. And so I’m always unsympathetic, because I’ve served on school board committees in New Hampshire, where they say oh, well, it’s ridiculous. Some of these textbooks that our children are having to cope with go all the way back to the 70s as if the laws of physics have been completely rewritten since then. And I find this bizarre, because the school I went to, these books were passed down from generation to generation to generation. And you always, the first thing you did was look in the fly of them to see what eminent scholars who’d been before you had had these books.
HH: Yeah, every parochial school I ever attended had a closet of books that was at least 30 years old.
HH: And sometimes, the information wasn’t so accurate. But you’re right. And the names would be in the back year after year. Talk a little bit if you will, though, about London and when you went to Fleet Street, because there’s an interesting, very interesting Footsteps In The Desert essay where you mused about the triumph of Islam across the Maghreb and Levant. Islam is king on a field of corpses where Cairo used to be a wonderful place to be, and where Beirut used to be a wonderful place to be. And now you fear London is in the early stages of the same disease that crippled those cities and turned them into gray, vast cemeteries of fun.
MS: Yeah, I think I write there about Alexandria. Alexandria used to be a truly vibrant, multicultural city. It’s an Egyptian city, and it was full of Egyptian Muslims. We also had a huge Greek community. It had a lot of Christians. It had a lot of Jews. It had a lot of British people, because the British were, at one remove, the sort of ultimate authority in Egypt until the fall of the Egyptian monarchy. So there was this thriving city with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Arabs, Europeans, Greeks, British, and all that is gone. And we now think it entirely normal. In a sense, we’ve accepted the Muslim view that these should be homogenous societies in which everybody who’s not Muslim is basically on the way out the door. It’s just how quickly they get to figure that out. And in particular, I think it’s absolutely shameful that the last Christian church was razed to the ground in Afghanistan on America’s watch.
MS: There has been this confessional cleansing of one of the oldest Christian communities on Earth, which is the Christians in Iraq on America’s watch. In other words, not something that happens after the U.S. troops leave and after the U.S. money dries up, but something that happened as we were expending enormous amounts of blood and treasure on these people. And if you cannot even, if the superpower cannot even enforce its will to assure that that doesn’t happen in American protectorates, and I think that’s absolutely shameful. There are a lot of consequences…
HH: But you are also very, you are very pessimistic about London. And I was in London this summer in Knightsbridge during the annual sort of migration from Riyadh and Bahrain of the princelings.
HH: And it is, it’s a remarkably different Knightsbridge than when I first went 20 years ago, and I think it’s going to keep changing. And you write that there are places where people will approach you, this is not Great Britain, this is a Muslim area, and deny the ability for English culture to thrive in its kind of chaotic, varied styles of living, whether it’s gay or straight, or punk or tipsy. I mean, they just won’t put up with it.
MS: Yeah, no, I think it’s sad if you go through parts of the East End now, where they’ve chased out Jews, they’ve chased out the gay pubs and all the rest of it. They’re saying to women you can’t go uncovered in these streets. They’re very clear about what they regard as the Islamic emirate of Tower Hamlet, which is the old East End. You know, that’s where Lionel Bart, the composer of Oliver, comes from. He was a great East End Jew, and that’s the old Jewish part of the East End where the Jews and the Dockers, and the Marxists all stood up to Oswald Mosley’s fascist marches in the 1930s.
HH: Not anymore.
MS: And now, there’s nobody.
HH: I’ll be right back with Mark Steyn. Don’t go anywhere, America.
— – – –
HH: 25 years of terrific, a ramble of writing across an entire city of subjects, one of which is Bob Dylan, and I’m going to come back to that in just a second, but I want, at the end of the last segment, you mentioned where the dock workers and the Jews stood up to Mosley. You know, Ken Follett has got his third book of his trilogy out.
HH: And they’ve become progressively less interesting. But the first one where, the rise of fascism in London was resisted by those people, was captured by Ken, and beautifully written about. And it’s, you know, the 60s are just not as interesting as the 30s in Great Britain. They’re dismal, actually, and the 70s are really terrible.
HH: But that neighborhood, you’re saying, is now gone?
MS: Yeah, they had a Holocaust memorial there a couple of years ago. They had some Jewish tour group that wanted to see all the sites in the old Jewish East End around the commercial road, Tower Hamlets and that part of the East End. And a mob of young Muslim men stopped them. It was an echo, in fact. It was the inversion of what happened in the 30s when the Jews stopped Mosley’s marches. In this case, the Muslims stopped an entirely harmless Jewish tour group from commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day by shouting if you go any further, you will die. And they threw lumps at them, and a young lady from Toronto, and a fellow from somewhere in the United States wound up being taken to a hospital. And they returned to North America. What do you think they think of Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom when they wind up actually getting attacked and taken to hospitals?
HH: Now tell me, is that neighborhood anywhere near Crouch End Hill in which you talk about Dylan looking for Dave Stewart?
MS: No, London is a city of villages. And Crouch End Hill is a much more salubrious part of North London. My lady who worked for me for many years, my dear friend, Bonnie, actually lives there, and so do a lot of big time rock stars, including Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. And Bob Dylan was in town and was visiting Dave Stewart and the Eurythmics at his recording studio, and got into the cab. And all the streets around there have the same name. They’re all like Crouch End Hill, Crouch Hill End, Crouch End Road, Crouch Hill Road, Crouch, you know…
MS: They’re all basically permutations of Crouch, Hill End and Road. And he was taken to the right street number, the right house number, but in a parallel street. And so Bob Dylan knocks on the door, and this lady answers, and she says, and he says is Dave in? And she says no, assuming that he’s referring to her husband, Dave, who was out on a plumbing job. But she says he should be back soon. So Bob Dylan says do you mind if I wait? And 20 minutes later, Dave the Plumber comes back from the plumbing job and asks the missus whether there have been any messages, and she says no, but Bob Dylan’s in the front room having a cup of tea.
HH: That is too good to be true.
MS: And I loved the idea, because Bob Dylan has this strange sort of suburban yearning somewhere deep inside him, and I love the idea of him just in Dave the Plumber’s house having a cup of tea.
HH: Yeah, it’s the best concert I ever saw was the Rolling Thunder Review in Boston in ’76, so I love Dylan. But I went back and saw him two years ago. He’s playing the county fair circuit now, and it was unintelligible. I mean, it was absolutely the worst concert I’ve ever been to. So he was both the best and the worst concert I’ve ever been to. And you have an observation which is pretty poignant that he always has wanted to be old. Other elderly rockers like Rod Stewart do whatever they can to stay young. But Dylan was always intent on being an old geezer.
MS: Yeah, I know. That’s what’s so weird about him, because rock is a cult of youth. Mick Jagger a few years ago, he was interviewed by, he agreed to do this interview. He was going to be the cover story. And he was horrified when it came out, because it turned out to be the publication for British seniors. I think it’s called Saga. And you know, it was like Mick Jagger, still fabulous at 112 or whatever.
MS: And rock is a cult of youth. Rod Stewart is the great, is the great exemplar of that with his hair that looks as if he’s just plugged his fingers in the electric socket, and his gold lame’ pants and all the rest of it. And Dylan, right from the age of like 23, was always pretending to be an old geezer. And I think that actually explains a lot of his longevity, although you said he was unintelligible. I make no great claims for my Christmas albums, but vis-à-vis his Christmas album, you can hear all the words on mine.
HH: Well, that is, that’s what I mean. We could not understand a lick of what he was singing, and he was singing standards. By the way, on the new Christmas album, and I played last week your French version of The Way You Look Tonight, and we loved that song. And thank you very much for recording it. Is that going to be on the new Christmas album?
MS: Well, that actually was sort of, you’re very kind. That actually was just like a last minute thing, because I was in the studio with the guys. And I was going to attempt to record something terribly ambitious. And I realized, because I’ve been distracted by family matters the last few weeks that it was actually too difficult to learn, and I wasn’t going to do it. So I thought oh, what would be nice and easy? And it’s very odd, actually, because that French version of The Way You Look Tonight, because normally, I start with the song. You know, if it’s a melody I like, or it’s a lyric I like, or you know, both, really, but in this case, I had the sort of idea for a sound. I just wanted a sort of gently rhythmic guitar, and I had the sound of the backing singers, and the sax on top of it, and I had that sort of sound in my head. And I thought well, what would be a nice song to do in that style? And knowing that you and your missus love The Way You Look Tonight, I thought I love The Way You Look Tonight, too, but I felt it had largely been sung, so I thought I’d sing it in French, which is just different enough, because the rhymes fall in different places.
HH: Oh, it’s terrific, but is it going to be on the album?
MS: Well, I’m in two minds about it. I mean, I might to a whole album of, you know, Rod Stewart, and we mentioned Rod, he did very well with all those Rod Stewart slays the great American songbook albums. Rod Stewart slaughters the great American songbook. He did terrific with those, so I might do…
HH: Oh, Mark, you’ve got to.
MS: …Mark Steyn slaughters the French language for a couple of CD’s.
HH: Oh, don’t limit it to, you’ve just got to do the great American songbook. Steyn does torch songs. And we’ll go out here with a little bit of Mark Steyn, The Way You Look Tonight, as I know the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt is listening. But I’ve got to say I don’t know when the Christmas album comes out. I haven’t seen it over at www.steynonline.com, yet. Do you know?
MS: No, no, no, we’re still working on it. For people who think my albums are terrible, you should hear them in the raw state. I mean, we have to do a lot of work before they’re actually ready to inflict on you.
HH: We’ll be right back.
— – – – –
HH: I knew I was in for a treat when on Page viii, actually, xi, Daydream Believer of the Monkees shows up in this line, “I followed,” Mark writes, “After America, I followed America Alone with After America: Get Ready For Armageddon – debt, doom, decadence, social meltdown, total civilizational collapse, all the even more fun stuff. I don’t know whether the Monkees in their serious artist phase ever felt it might be nice to sing Daydream Believer occasionally, but after a decade of apocalyptic despair, I found myself passing the closet and eyeing Monica’s dress wistfully.” Mark Steyn, you want to go back to the 90s? You’re going to get your chance. Hillary’s coming.
MS: No, a few years ago, a publisher took me to lunch, and she pitched me a book as these people do. And she said she wanted me to write a John Kerry election diary. And I hemmed and hawed. I had absolutely no interest in doing that, but I was trying to be polite. You know, she was buying me lunch. And eventually, after my dodging the issue, she said well, okay, what would you like to write a book about? And I replied well, I’ve got this idea for a book called The End Of The World. And you could see the color drain from her face. And she sort of metaphorically began backing out of the room, and shortly thereafter, she literally backed out of the room. You know, she thought I’d gone bananas. And she was reacting to me the way, I think his name was Don Kirshner, who was the great pop guru in the 60s…
MS: …when the Monkees came to him and said they were sick of doing all this bubble gum stuff, and they wanted to grow as serious stuff. And she loved my bubble gum stuff, this publisher. She loved, I wrote a satirical column in about 1998, ten years hence, when Monica’s dress has entered the witness protection program, and has had cosmetic reconstruction surgery and is living as a pair of curtains in Idaho. And she loved all that stuff and couldn’t understand why I suddenly wanted to write about Islam, demography, total civilizational collapse.
HH: Well, what about this Hillary coming back, though? I mean, I, last night, the question was asked can she be stopped, and I’m not sure I want her stopped. It depends on who the alternative is. And there were two remarkable statistics last night. Only 10% of the audience of 1,200 conservative activists, and you’re doing one of these, I believe, this weekend in Chicago.
MS: That’s right, that’s right.
HH: …where you get 1,200 hard-core conservative lovers of talk radio and Mark Steyn and Hugh Hewitt and Prager and Medved, etc, and you do a little poll. Only 10% want comprehensive immigration reform, but 50% want Mitt Romney to run again. And the panel could only come to the conclusion that they’re scared to death of Hillary and that he’s the only guy that could possibly beat her. What do you think of Hillary’s return?
MS: Well look, I would say that no Republican can beat Hillary. But Hillary can beat Hillary, which is what is going to happen. I would be, Hillary is an appalling, Hillary Clinton is an appalling, leaden candidate. And I’ve seen her, watched her for fifteen years from campaigning in upstate New York, where on her so-called listening tour where she was absolutely terrible, where she’d freeze. If you asked her a question she wasn’t comfortable with, she would just freeze. And she hasn’t gotten any better than that. That’s why even softball interviewers, people who actually agree with her and want her to be president when they ask her questions that discomfort her, she can’t do it. And I don’t think in the end she will run. You know, I’ve got a couple of Hillary pieces in there just because as I said right up front when you began the show, you said if there’d been a third Clinton term, I could have retired to the Bahamas. You could, that is comedy gold dropping off the trees into your lap. And in the end, the idea of a leaden Hillary Clinton, who is not the, she’s a smart woman, but she has no instinctive feel for the hustings, for politics on the stump. And that’s the difference between her and her husband. I mean, one thing that always made me laugh was that bit in the Starr report. We’ve been talking a lot about music, but when Monica Lewinsky says that Billie Holiday’s version of I’ll Be Seeing You will always be our song, that’s on Page 437 of the Starr Report. And that’s what, when Hillary knew it was true, because I’ll Be Seeing You had always been their song.
MS: And you wonder how many people across the planet has I’ll Be Seeing You been the song of Bill Clinton and (insert name of chick here)? And that is, people are not going to want to live with another eight years of that.
HH: Oh, I don’t think you’re right, but I hope you are. Mark Steyn will be right back.
— – – – –
HH: One of the most interesting essays in Mark Steyn’s new collection, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned, and it’s linked over at Hughhewitt.com, go and get it, or you can get an autographed version, I believe, at www.steynonline.com. Am I right about that, Mark? Can you get an autographed version?
MS: Yeah, yeah, certainly. My bleeding stump of a hand will be happy to drip all over the title.
HH: That’s what you ought to do. Go to www.steynonline.com. But The 70 Year Itch came out in 1996, so I had never seen it in the Daily Telegraph, and it is a hypothetical interview with a still-alive Marilyn Monroe. This is a very interesting piece, Mark Steyn, that has worn very well, right through the last line where to be one of the poster people, that’s forever. So my hat is off to you on this piece.
MS: Well, that was something an editor asked me to do. I used to do a lot of satirical columns and things over in London, and I always enjoyed it. And this editor asked me if I would do a piece to mark Marilyn Monroe’s 70th birthday as if she were still alive, as if she hadn’t died. What would she be doing? Would she be appearing in Dynasty? Would she be joining Don Ameche and the other old timers on Cocoon, which was the big film, big geezer film at the time? What would she be doing? And of course, the first thing you do when you write those kind of pieces if you do all the cheap jokes. You do all the cheap jokes. And then you have another pass at it, and you realize there’s actually something more heartfelt and touching you want to say in it. and the trick with something like that is to balance, is to balance the sort of satirical wackiness and the comedy with something slightly more wistful and elegiac. And I hadn’t looked at that piece, because you know, as I said, there are a lot of these things are pre-internet, so they’re sort of moldering yellow cuttings lying around in cardboard boxes. I hadn’t looked at that piece in a long time. And I thought you know, that isn’t, that doesn’t hold up half bad.
HH: Oh, it’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. The paragraph, “The movies fizzled out for her after The Graduate flopped in 1968. ‘I blame myself,’ she says. ‘The director, Mike Nichols, wanted someone else, but the studio forced me on him. It killed all our careers, but it was my fault. I still feel guilty about that boy. What was he called? Justin Hoffberg? He drops me a line every couple of years. Last I heard, he was running a not-for-profit theater in South Bend, Indiana. He could have been a big star.’” That’s actually funny, funny, funny. It’s also boy, careers do depend upon one big break, and he got it. and you’re right, they sometimes did that in those days before the movies turned into what they are today.
MS: Well yes, and I think that’s true now. You always, I’m always astonished. I mean, Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman was the role that made her career. And I’m always astonished by the number of actresses who turned down that part, you know, ladies who were quite big in the mid to late 80s, but just, that script came across their desk and they thought no, I don’t get this. And they didn’t do it, and Julia Roberts did, and it made her a star. And that’s the funny thing about, in a way that isn’t quite true to the same degree for other areas, although it is true for politics that you make a certain decision on a Wednesday morning, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but everything changes. And I think that’s true for show business, but it’s true for politics as well. You have your moment, and you don’t know it’s your moment and you don’t seize the moment, it passes and doesn’t come again.
HH: Now in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, there are a few references to Sir Elton John. He came up last night, because Medved pointed out that, Michael was talking about the fact that he had performed as Rush’s wedding, and I think we were probably talking about the man you refer to as the supreme intergalactic arbiter, Anthony Kennedy, in The End Of Marriage As We Know It In America. But Elton John is making cameos throughout The Undocumented Mark Steyn. Is he a friend of yours?
MS: No, I couldn’t honestly say that. My friend, Tim Rice, writes with Elton John. Tim and Elton wrote the score for The Lion King, which was like a huge hit for Disney, and has been a huge hit on stage ever since. And Tim is always trying to, Sir Tim, is always trying to persuade Sir Elton, because all these rockers have knighthoods now for some reason, but Tim is always trying to persuade Elton to do an album of standards. Tim wants to hear Elton sing The Way You Look Tonight. I don’t know why.
HH: Maybe he’ll do a duo with you on one of those.
MS: But Elton fortunately has the good taste to resist so far.
HH: But I’ve got to say, the interesting thing, he didn’t want to be one of the poster people. You wrote once about Bob Hope being one of the savviest businessmen ever in America, who was always on top of whatever the genre was while he was collecting real estate like some people collect Hummels.
HH: And so Elton John didn’t want to be one of the poster people. He’s just become, he’s gigantinormous in terms of his money and his influence and his pedigree.
MS: Yeah, but I think, I do think in a way, British celebrities live more normal lives in some strange way.
MS: And I find one of the most unattractive features of life is the idea that there’s a kind of walled-off elite that never encounters the masses. And you know, I don’t think that’s healthy. I was once asked, years ago, I was at an event, and it was at Radio City, and there was a party afterwards. I think it was at the Hilton on 6th Avenue, which is across the street, kitty corner, it’s, you know, two blocks on 6th Avenue, and I was asked to walk Whitney Houston to the Hilton, because she didn’t like, she was terrified of crossing the street on her own. And I thought that was rather sad. It’s sad when it happens to celebrities. When you have a political class that’s walled off…
MS: In other words, when you have Eric Holder using government planes to fly his children to sports events, I think that’s just terrible for any kind of shared civic culture. And the whole 40 car motorcade culture here that people now think is normal for the president of the United States, it’s not. It shouldn’t be normal.
HH: It was not normal in the 80s for President Reagan, and it is now ubiquitous. One last segment with Mark Steyn.
— – – – –
HH: The most disappointing aspect to me of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, Mark Steyn’s terrific new collection of work dating back 25 years, it’s just going to be a marvelous read and a bestseller, and you ought to make it so today by ordering it at Amazon.com. I’ve linked it at Hughhewitt.com. You can get an autographed copy over at www.steynonline.com. I learned that Stephen Foster was born in Pittsburgh, the city that I loathe, and that he died, it was very sad, he died at the Welfare Island Hospital penniless. And then I learned that Jerome Kern died at the Welfare Island Hospital not penniless, but nevertheless somewhat sad, Mark Steyn. The first professional songwriter, I wanted to close by just saying you’ve got this new feature over at www.steynonline.com, the song of the week. And it lets you, you know, it’s great you get to do that now. You used to have to get an editor to write your obituaries. Now you can do whatever you want with a website like www.steynonline.com.
MS: Yeah, I like the freedom to write about things, and sometimes that means, I mean, I like human stories. And so this book, unlike, say, After America or America Alone, it’s got like the big issues in there. But I love filtering them through tales of real individuals. William Wilberforce, whom I mentioned earlier, he’s the man who basically abolished slavery.
MS: Slavery was not something invented by mean old Americans. It was a part of human existence since the dawn of man. And one man, one man almost single-handedly, I mean, you still have it in parts of Africa today, but one man basically eradicated it. It was thought to be as normal a feature of life as the air we breathe. And one man made a difference. And that’s why whether it’s Stephen Foster or William Wilberforce or Mrs. Thatcher or Ronald Reagan, we should never forget that as bad as things get, individuals make a difference.
HH: Now we talk almost, at least once a month about your epic struggle with the crazy climate Nazis, and as a result, I didn’t talk much about it today, because we cover it a lot. But I did notice that when you were writing about Salman Rushdie, you admitted in the note prior to it that you just didn’t get the bigger picture when Khomeini came after him. That was really the first shot across the bow of free speech in the world. And now it’s coming from both the far fanatical fundamentalist Muslim right and from the environmentalist left.
MS: Yes, and I think actually if you go to most American campuses, in the Rushdie days, people at least used to say well, I agree with Voltaire’s apocryphal victim that I disagree with what you say, but I would fight to the death for your right to say it. And I got rather tired of that line during my troubles up in Canada. But if you go to American campuses, they don’t even bother saying that now. The left no longer even bothers paying lip service to freedom of speech. And it’s the biggest issue facing us, I think, in the world today.
HH: And that’s why…
MS: …and whether we are free to talk about stuff.
HH: Yeah, that’s why people need to go and get The [Un]documented Mark Steyn and give it to their favorite lefty to open their eyes to the threats around us. Mark Steyn, good luck on the book tour this week. The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is linked over at Hughhewitt.com.
End of interview.