By Mark Steyn - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
As I have said, section 13 is not a right-left thing
“Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it.”
Thus, Ray Bradbury in his prescient 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. On June 6, the day after Bradbury’s death at the age of 91, the House of Commons passed Brian Storseth’s private member’s bill repealing Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Fahrenheit 451 draws its name from the temperature at which books burn; Canada’s Fahrenheit 13 is its frosty northern inverse—the temperature at which the state chills freedom of expression. Free speech is the lifeblood of free societies, and, as this magazine has learned over the last half-decade, our decayed Dominion was getting a bad case of hypothermia.
We’re not alone in this. In Britain, Australia, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and many other places, democratic societies have become far too comfortable in policing the opinions of the citizenry. But even by comparison with our Commonwealth cousins and Western Europe, Section 13 and its provincial equivalents are repugnant—practically, philosophically, and operationally.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 101 Comments
The world’s last superpower is on a joyride to oblivion. An exclusive excerpt from Mark Steyn’s new book, “After America.”
Previously on Apocalypse Soon . . .
It was the worst of times, it was the not quite so worst of times. The predecessor to this book was called America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, and, given the title, you may be tempted to respond, “C’mon, man. You told us last time it was the end of the world. Well, where the hell is it? I want my money back. Instead, you come breezing in with this season’s Armageddonouttahere routine. It’s like Barbra Streisand farewell tours—there’ll be another along next summer.”
Well, now: America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It was about the impending collapse of all of the Western world except America.
The good news is that the end of the rest of the West is still on schedule. The bad news is that America shows alarming signs of embracing the same fate, and then some.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 9:55 AM - 99 Comments
MARK STEYN: At least Conrad Black has succeeded in rolling back the ‘criminalization of business’
A year or so back, in the lobby of Fox News, I was approached by a gentleman who introduced himself as a member of Conrad Black’s legal team. That doesn’t narrow it down very much. There’ve been so many of them over the years: Canadian, American, young, old, rough and ready, bespoke and urbane, incompetent and . . . well, marginally less incompetent. “Good news,” this one told me. “We’re really pleased with the way things are going on the Supreme Court appeal.”
“That’s great,” I said, forcing a smile and feeling the way the Indian Foreign Minister must have felt when President Ahmadinejad told him not to worry because everything would be hunky-dory in two years’ time when the Twelfth Imam would be showing up. On balance, the Twelfth Imam seemed more likely to ride to Mahmoud’s rescue than the U.S. Supreme Court to Conrad’s. I’d been in Washington a few days earlier and various legal “experts” had derided Black’s SCOTUS appeal as a pathetic but characteristically self-aggrandizing last roll of the dice that was bound to come up snake eyes.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 369 Comments
MARK STEYN: Why would Ahmadinejad take him seriously when even Karzai flips him the finger?
In 1939, Capt. Peter Sanders, serving with the Tochi scouts on the Afghan-Indian border, was blown up by a Waziri booby trap and lost his right arm. Shortly afterwards, he accepted an invitation to lunch from the tribesman who’d planted the bomb. Awfully decent of the chap, and not a bad spread, all things considered.
Not everyone cares for the old stiff upper lip: “I spit on your British phlegm!” as the Khazi of Kalabar remarked in what remains the seminal work on Afghanistan, Carry on up the Khyber. But imperialism requires a certain dotty élan. Without it, it’s no fun. You’re just a guy holed up in a Third World dump occasionally venturing out in the full RoboCop to pretend to implement some half-assed multilateral “nation-building” strategy that NATO defence ministers all agreed to at some black-tie banquet in Brussels and then promptly forgot about. Instead of the Tochi scouts—Pathan irregulars commanded by British officers—we now have Afghan units “trained,” or at any rate funded, by Western governments. A headline in the Washington Post captures the general malaise: “Afghan forces’ apathy starts to wear on U.S. platoon in Kandahar.” On a recent patrol through the city, 1st Lieut. James Rathmann stopped at a police checkpoint and found them all asleep in a nearby field.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 8:46 AM - 219 Comments
MARK STEYN: In his scathing attacks on Fox News, Don Newman sounds a bit bombastic himself
Fox News? Oh, c’mon, everyone knows it’s a “minaret for America First prejudice” and “hyperventilated extremism” “screeching to the converted” with “the none-too-bright persona of the schoolyard bully.”
So says Christopher Dornan, director of something called the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs at Carleton University, writing in the Toronto Star.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 402 Comments
MARK STEYN: The ‘sanctity’ of this burial ground in Tangiers speaks volumes
Thanks to the wonders of globalization, I’m writing this in a fairly decrepit salon de thé off the rue de la Liberté in Tangiers, enjoying a coffee and a stale croissant grilled and flattened into a panini. What could be more authentically Moroccan? For some reason, the napkins are emblazoned with “Gracias por su visita.”
Through a blizzard of flies, I can just about make out the plasma TV up in the corner on which Jimmy Carter, dubbed into Arabic, is denouncing Israel. Al Jazeera doesn’t so much cover the Zionist Entity as feast on it, hour after hour, without end. So here, at the western frontier of the Muslim world (if you don’t include Yorkshire), the only news that matters is from a tiny strip of land barely wider at its narrowest point than a rural Canadian township way down the other end of the Mediterranean.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 375 Comments
MARK STEYN: Nicholas Kristof is just the latest great thinker to talk himself into a rosy view of Islam
Despite being a bit of an old showbiz queen, I’m not much for the huggy-kissy photo wall of me sharing a joke with various luvvies. I make an exception on the bureau behind my desk for a shot of yours truly and a beautiful woman, Somali by birth, Dutch by citizenship, at a beachfront bar in Malibu at sunset. I like the picture because, while I look rather bleary with a few too many chins, my companion is bright-eyed with a huge smile on her face and having a grand old time—grand, that is, because of its very normality: a crappy bar, drinks with cocktail umbrellas, a roomful of blithely ignorant California hedonists who’ll all be going back home at the end of the evening to Dancing With the Stars or Conan O’Brien or some other amusement.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali can’t lead that life. She lives under armed guard and was forced to abandon the Netherlands because quite a lot of people want to kill her. And not in the desultory behead-the-enemies-of-Islam you-will-die-infidel pro forma death-threats-R-us way that many of us have perforce gotten used to in recent years: her great friend and professional collaborator was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a man who shot him eight times, attempted to decapitate him, and then drove into his chest two knives, pinning to what was left of him a five-page note pledging to do the same to her.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:55 AM - 309 Comments
MARK STEYN: Hedonistic benefits, low birth rates—Europe needs protection from itself
The trick in this line of work is not to be right too soon. A couple of years back, I wrote a bestselling hate crime. Don’t worry, I’m not in plug mode; indeed, I shall eschew even mentioning the book’s title. But its general thesis is that the jig is up for much if not most of the Western world. “Alarmist,” pronounced Maclean’s, reflecting the general consensus of polite society here and in Europe.
Polite society has spent the years since playing catch-up. So if you don’t want your fin du civilisation analysis from a frothing right-wing loon you can now get it from the house-trained chaps at the New York Times:
“Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism . . . ‘The Europe that protects’ is a slogan of the European Union.”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 6:58 AM - 599 Comments
STEYN: Beleaguered taxpayers may finally put a stop to the sheer waste of government spending
Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”
Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 200 Comments
MARK STEYN: As lazy, feckless, corrupt and violent as Greece undoubtedly is, it’s not that untypical
From the Times of London: “The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set ﬁre to the Athens bank where they worked.”
Almost right. They were not an “anti-government” mob, but a government mob, a mob comprised largely of civil servants. That they are highly uncivil and disinclined to serve should come as no surprise: they’re paid more and they retire earlier, and that’s how they want to keep it. So they’re objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paycheques per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the “workers” might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paycheques per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims—a man and two women—were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 285 Comments
MARK STEYN: Here’s what you get when the state hauls nobodies off to jail for quoting the Bible
At the time of writing, I have no idea who’s won the British general election. At the time of reading, you probably have. But, whatever the result, I doubt it will make much difference to the fate of the United Kingdom, which is in the fast lane of the not-so-slow-burn bonfire of the liberties consuming much of the Western world.
The official “defining moment” of the campaign was Gordon Brown’s unguarded post-photo-op dismissal of Gillian Duffy as a “bigoted woman.” Mrs. Duffy, a plain-spoken working-class granny and lifelong Labour voter, had made the mistake of asking Mr. Brown, her party leader, a very mild question about immigrants from eastern Europe. He got back in his car and wrote her off, forgetting he was still miked. So she’s a “bigot.” He’s not. That’s why he makes all the decisions for her, and she just makes the best of them. What part of that don’t you understand?
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 116 Comments
I was surprised to see in last week’s issue of Maclean’s all that disassociation going on
Last year in Toronto, the head honcho of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, got into the spirit of things and marched in the Gay Pride Parade wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “NOBODY KNOWS I’M GAY.” Also entering into the spirit, the Toronto Star’s Antonia Zerbisias wrote tongue-in-cheek of Bernie’s little jest: “I didn’t know he was gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Whereupon, after consulting with fellow CJC execs, the apparently non-gay Mr. Farber sent a formal letter of complaint objecting to the Toronto Star falsely identifying him as gay, notwithstanding that he himself had been the first to falsely identify himself as gay. Needless to say, the Star’s publisher pompously reprimanded Miss Zerbisias for an item that “fell short of the Star’s standards of accuracy.”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 414 Comments
MARK STEYN: Why should Canada’s single-language masses accept rule by their bilingual betters?
After two years, my campaign to rid the nation of its “human rights” commissions doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So, in a spirit of rapprochement, let me try a new tack. Given that there seems to be insufficient actionable racism, sexism, homophobia and Islamophobia to justify the budgets of the “human rights” regime, how about a new ground for complaint?
As we know, every job that matters in Canada is bilingual, from her viceregal eminence in Rideau Hall down to the village postmistress in Pakenham, Ont. The House of Commons has just passed, all but unnoticed, a bill requiring that henceforth all Supreme Court justices should be able to hear cases in English and French without the aid of an interpreter. That’s to say, it’s not enough to be a distinguished jurist capable of a little light banter with a francophone colleague or a discussion of Denys Arcand’s oeuvre at a Canada Council cocktail party: you have to be able to understand highly technical legalisms in a language other than your own, unaided. As things stand, three of the nine judges have to come from Quebec. If the new bill takes effect, it’s hard to imagine any jurist west of Ontario ever meeting the qualifications.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 7:45 AM - 213 Comments
MARK STEYN: Britons have shown a surprising enthusiasm for informing on their fellow citizens
Not long after the fall of the Iron Curtain, I chanced to be in Hungary making a TV film co-produced by the BBC and MTV. Not the MTV of caterwauling rockers but MTV as in “Magyar Televízió”—their version of the CBC, although obviously nowhere near as monolithically left-wing. We spent the first few days in Budapest meeting our local contacts—producers, fixers, interviewees, all of whom were urbane Mitteleuropean charmers, and delightful company. We’d then go on to the next meeting, at which we’d be assured by György that, while József may seem urbane and charming on the surface, he’d spent the previous 30 years as an informant for the Ministry of the Interior. Moving on to our appointment with Gábor, we’d be told that it was the eminently civilized and amusing György who’d been the state informer for the past several decades. Needless to say, Viktor had much the same to say about Gábor, and Imre about Viktor.
The BBC lads found this most disquieting. They had no objection to commies per se, being mostly the usual bunch of university Trots and Marxists themselves. But they disliked the idea of snitches, of never being able to be sure whether your neighbour or workmate wasn’t sneaking to the authorities on your every casual aside. It offended against their sense of fair play; it wasn’t cricket. I took a more relaxed view, having been on the receiving end of the famous British sense of fair play, not least in my dealings with the duplicitous bastards at the BBC. I figured sure, Gábor and Viktor and József and Imre and György and pretty much everyone else we ran into in that post-Soviet spring doubtless had their dark secrets, but under a totalitarian regime the state can apply all kinds of pressure those of us in free societies can scarce imagine. Who are we to judge?
Less than two decades later, something very odd has happened. The United Kingdom is not (yet) a totalitarian regime, yet huge numbers of Britons have in effect signed on as informers to a politically correct Stasi, and with far greater enthusiasm than Gábor and György ever did. Last year, David Booker was suspended from his job at a hostel for the homeless in Southampton after a late-night chat with a colleague, Fiona Vardy, in which he happened to reveal that he did not believe in same-sex marriage or in vicars being allowed to wed their gay partners. Miss Vardy raised no objection at the time, but the following day mentioned the conversation to her superiors. They immediately suspended Mr. Booker from his job, and then announced that “this action has been taken to safeguard both residents and staff.”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 217 Comments
Funny that the ‘Toronto Star’ writer had the opposite view when it came to my columns
Quebec’s move to nix the niqab continues to tie Canada’s commentariat in knots. The funniest column to date was by Haroon Siddiqui, “editorial page editor emeritus” of the Toronto Star. Mr. Siddiqui was not impressed by the arguments mounted against the head-to-toe body bag—for example, the notion that it is a “symbol of oppression”:
“Let’s assume that it is,” he wrote. “Whose business is it to end the practice—that of the state?”
That’s pretty cute coming from a guy who, during this magazine’s long battle with Canada’s “human rights” commissions, argued at length that it was most certainly the business of the state to end the practice of Maclean’s carrying Islamophobic Steyn columns. If the state can regulate what you write and say and think and even (as in the lesbian heckler case at the British Columbia Tribunal) what you quip, it can most certainly regulate what you wear. In Canada, it would be quicker to list what isn’t the business of the state. “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation,” said Pierre Trudeau, unless, of course, you’re tucked up with a nice mug of cocoa reading an Islamophobic edition of Maclean’s. It was a classic bit of Trudeaupian legerdemain: if you’re allowed to roger anything that moves, or doesn’t, according to taste, you won’t notice all the other parts of your life the state has a place in. In Canada, it’s the state’s business when you get your hip operation, not yours: if the state has jurisdiction over your hip, why shouldn’t it also have jurisdiction over which garments the hip can be sheathed in? In Canada, a resident alien is not permitted to own a bookstore, on grounds of cultural protection. If “cultural protection” can prohibit a homosexual from San Francisco opening up a gay bookstore in Vancouver, why can’t it also extend to a Muslim woman’s dress?
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 606 Comments
MARK STEYN: Strange that the more Canada congratulates itself on its ‘tolerance’ the less it’s prepared to tolerate
Well, Ann Coulter is no longer in Canada, but 30 million Canadians are. So, for the sake of argument, let us take as read the frankly rather boring observation of the northern punditocracy that the whole brouhaha worked to her advantage, and consider instead whether the Canada on display during her 96-hour layover actually works to Canadians’ advantage. Which was the claim advanced by the eminent Canadian “feminist” Susan Cole appearing on U.S. TV to support the protesters’ shutdown of Miss Coulter’s Ottawa speech:
“We don’t have a First Amendment, we don’t have a religion of free speech,” she explained patiently. “Students sign off on all kinds of agreements as to how they’ll behave on campus, in order to respect diversity, equity, all of the values that Canadians really care about. Those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedoms, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It’s different, and for us, it works.”
Does it? You rarely hear it put quite that bluntly—“Freedoms”? Ha! Who needs ’em?—but there was a lot of similarly self-regarding blather in Coulter Week euphemizing a stultifying, enforced conformism as “respect” and “diversity” and whatnot. “I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind,” wrote François Houle, the provost of the University of Ottawa, addressing Miss Coulter in the smug, condescending, preening tone that comes so naturally to your taxpayer-funded, tenured mediocrity. “There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this university, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and urge you [sic] to respect that Canadian tradition.”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 10:01 AM - 355 Comments
MARK STEYN: The niqab deserves no more respect than a Vader mask
The other day, a reader wrote to say that, while en vacances au Québec, he had espied me in a restaurant. With a couple of obvious francophones. And, from the snatches of conversation he caught, I appeared to be speaking French. “Appeared” is right, if you’ve ever heard my French. Nevertheless: “You’re a fraud, Steyn!” he thundered. The cut of his jib was that I was merely pretending to be a pro-Yank right-wing bastard while in reality living la vie en rose lounging on chaises longues snorting poutine with louche Frenchie socialists all day long.
I haven’t felt such a hypocrite since I was caught singing The Man That Got Away in a San Francisco bathhouse two days after my column opposing gay marriage. But yes, you’re right. I cannot tell a lie. I have a soft spot for Quebec. Not because of its risible separatist movement, for which the only rational explanation is that it was never anything but one almighty bluff for shakedown purposes. Yet, putting that aside, I’m not unsympathetic to the province’s broader cultural disposition. I regard neither Trudeaupian Canada nor Quietly Revolutionary Quebec as good long-term bets, or even medium-term bets. But, if I had to pick, I’d give marginally better odds to the latter. And the reasons why can be found in the coverage of Ms. Naema Ahmed and her “illegal” niqab, the head-to-toe Islamic covering that only has eyes for you.
The facts—or, at any rate, fact—of the case is well-known: a niqab-garbed immigrant from Egypt has been twice expelled from her French-language classes at the Saint-Laurent CEGEP and the Centre d’appui aux communautés immigrantes by order of the Quebec government. That much is agreed. Thereafter, the English and French press diverge signiﬁcantly. The ROC reacted reﬂexively, deploring this assault on Canada’s cherished “values” of “multiculturalism.” In the Calgary Herald, Naomi Lakritz compared Quebec’s government to the Taliban. So did the Globe and Mail, in an editorial titled “Intolerant Intrusion.” In La Presse, Patrick Lagacé responded with a column called “The Globe, Reporting From Mars!”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 76 Comments
Still foolish enough to be in the private sector paying for the benefits of the public sector?
I can’t remember exactly when I first encountered a pop-culture jetpack. Was it James Bond’s, courtesy of Q, in Thunderball? Or was it some comic book? At any rate, I no longer have to wait for mine. Martin Aircraft of Christchurch, New Zealand, have put one into production, for the cost of a top-of-the-line automobile—or about $100,000. It’s not clear to me where you’d be able to fly it, since government air-traffic agencies don’t seem eager to contemplate a world of individual human flight patterns. But still: the Bond jetpack is belatedly here.
Other than that, the future seems unlikely to be quite as futuristic as expected. The problem facing the developed world isn’t so very difficult to figure out. We’re living beyond not just our means but everybody’s means. You can strap on your jetpack, but where would you go? In the United States, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute calculates that if the federal government were to increase every single tax by 30 per cent it would be enough to balance the books—in 25 years. Except that it wouldn’t. Because if you raised taxes by 30 per cent, government would spend even more than it already does, on the grounds that the citizenry needed more social programs and entitlements to compensate for their sudden reduction in disposable income.
In Canada, the average household’s debt-to-income ratio reached an all-time high in 2009. Credit-card holders at least three months behind with their payments increased by 40 per cent.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 7:00 AM - 43 Comments
MARK STEYN: If he rages naked at his aides it’s because he can do nothing about anything that matters
In the old days, I used to wake up to the morning paper, neatly folded on a silver salver and presented by my valet along with the kedgeree and the brace of grilled quail. Now I wake up to an inbox of Internet stories forwarded by readers that cumulatively feel like the front page from some bizarro kingdom cooked up for an unpersuasive dystopian satire. For example, a headline from the Washington Examiner:
“Transsexual Cabaret Performer Vomits on Susan Sarandon.”
An accident? Or the pilot for a hot new reality format? In other news, the London Evening Standard reports:
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 7:00 AM - 228 Comments
Mark Steyn on the opening ceremonies: Where was the genuinely bizarro cavalcade?
Judging by emails from readers in America, Britain, India, Australia, Europe, Africa and beyond, Vancouver’s Olympic ceremony was a gold medal snoozeroo of politically correct braggadocio impressive even by Canadian standards. A Florida correspondent suggested that Beijing’s decision in 2008 to downplay discreetly its official state ideology might have been usefully emulated by Canadian organizers unable to go a minute and a half without reflexive invocations of their own state ideology of “diversity.” A reader in Sydney said he had no idea until the ceremony that the majority of Canada’s population were Aboriginal. Actually, if they were, you’d be hearing a lot less talk about “diversity,” for reasons we’ll come to later.
But don’t take the word of doubtless untypical Steyn readers. Out on the Internet, the Tweeting Twitterers pronounced it a bust, and even in the Toronto Star Richard Ouzounian declared that “the eyes of the world were upon us and we put them to sleep.” On the other hand, the Vancouver Sun’s reporter cooed that this was “the Canada we want the world to see, magical and beautiful, and talented.” This just after she’d written: “Maple leaves fell from the sky. And then, the divine poetess Joni Mitchell and her haunting Clouds fills the air while a young boy floats and soars above the audience, undulating fields of wheat below.” I was pleasantly relieved to discover that a story about “the world’s most lethal cocktail” concerned some enterprising dealers who’ve been lacing heroin with anthrax, and not whichever malevolent genius came up with the idea of having airborne ballet dancers doing interpretative choreography over the Prairies to a mélange of Both Sides Now and W. O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen The Wind. As is traditional, most of the creativity went into the audience estimates: apparently, this tribute to the only G7 nation comprised solely of high priests of the Great Tree Spirit, armies of Inuit sculptors, and Cape Breton chorus lines of federal grant worshippers was watched by three billion people “worldwide.” As if the Royal Canadian Mint could afford to commission that many commemorative authentic pewter maple-encrusted manacles.
Canada’s message to the world: every cliché you’ve heard about our plonkingly insecure self-flattering PC earnestness has been triumphantly confirmed. You need pay us no further heed until the 2068 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Half the countries, twice as long!
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 7:00 AM - 185 Comments
The Dutch state is prosecuting the platform of the country’s most popular opposition party
At a certain level, the trial of Geert Wilders for the crime of “group insult” of Islam is déjà vu all over again. For as the spokesperson for the Openbaar Ministerie put it, “It is irrelevant whether Wilders’s witnesses might prove Wilders’s observations to be correct. What’s relevant is that his observations are illegal.”
Ah, yes, in the Netherlands, as in Canada, the truth is no defence. My Dutch is a little rusty but I believe the “Openbaar Ministerie” translates in English to the Ministry for Openly Barring People. Whoops, my mistake. It’s the prosecution service of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. But it shares with Canada’s “human rights” commissions an institutional contempt for the truth.
As for “Wilders’s witnesses,” he submitted a list of 18, and the Amsterdam court rejected no fewer than 15 of them. As with Commissar MacNaughton and her troika of pseudo-judges presiding over the Maclean’s trial in British Columbia, it’s easier to make the rules up as you go along.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 59 Comments
The grilling the former British PM is getting over invading Iraq suits the enemy just fine
It’s supposed to be Sept. 12—that’s to say, the post-9/11 era. For over seven years the entire Western world was forced to live out a kind of geopolitical Groundhog Day in which Bush, Cheney, Rummy and the rest of the gang woke up each dawn to the same eternal Tuesday morning in September, the same long shadows of the Twin Towers, the same undying certainty of another six decades of hard, cold, martial winter. It wasn’t only the ideologically opposed among the campus left and the Euro-elites: the vast mass of a once supportive citizenry got ground down, too, exhausted by the very lingo of the “war on terror” and anxious to inter it with the Bush presidency. That’s why Barack Obama was cheered from Berkeley to Berlin. He offered liberation. To invert the old line, war may be interested in him, but he wasn’t interested in war. And in those heady days of late 2008 that seemed almost plausible.
Jaw-jaw is better than war-war, as Churchill said, although he might feel differently if he had to sit through an Obama state of the union. But what about law-law? In the United States, the United Kingdom and even Canada, it’s not enough to move on to Sept. 12: the Bush era itself has to be put on trial. In London, something called “the Chilcot inquiry” has been investigating the process by which the country signed on to the Iraq invasion. For weeks, the usual bunch of shifty grandees have killed any potential awkward line of inquiry with the all-purpose brush-off, “You’ll have to ask Mr. Blair about that.” So finally they did, summoning the now reviled prime minister into the witness box to grill him on the “legality” of the Iraq invasion. Outside, protesters denounced “Bliar,” as his name is now universally spelled: “BLIAR LIED! THOUSANDS DIED!” Like a pedophile serial killer, he was smuggled into the building before dawn, lest the mob turn on him: “The People vs. Ex-Generalissimo Bliar”—or, at any rate, as near as his former comrades on the left seem likely to get to hauling him up before a war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
By Mark Steyn - Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 11:50 AM - 390 Comments
Take the disappearing Himalayan glaciers.
Turns out that ‘research’ was idle speculation.
Whenever I write about “climate change,” a week or two later there’s a flurry of letters whose general line is: la-la-la can’t hear you. Dan Gajewski of Ottawa provided a typical example in our Dec. 28 issue. I’d written about the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit’s efforts to “hide the decline,” and mentioned that Phil Jones, their head honcho, had now conceded what I’d been saying for years—that there has been no “global warming” since 1997. Tim Flannery, Australia’s numero uno warm-monger, subsequently confirmed this on Oz TV, although he never had before.
In response, Mr. Gajewski wrote to our Letters page: “Steyn’s column on climate change was one-sided, juvenile and inarticulate.”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 9:43 AM - 191 Comments
It’s not so much that ‘The Grown-Up’ has died but that he’s born later and later—if at all
In creaky melodramas of the old school, there came a moment when the plucky heroine would announce her intention to go ahead with some ill-advised courtship, and her father would threaten to cut her off without a cent.
Easier said than done. In Italy, a court has ordered, upon pain of having his assets seized, Giancarlo Casagrande of Bergamo to pay his daughter an allowance of 350 euros—approximately $525—every month. Signor Casagrande is 60. His daughter Marina is 32. She was supposed to have graduated with a degree in philosophy eight years ago but, though her classes ended way back at the beginning of the century, she’s still working on her thesis. So Signor Casagrande is obliged to pay up, either in perpetuity or until the completion of Marina’s thesis, whichever comes sooner. Her thesis is about the Holy Grail. Which it’s hard to see why Marina would have any use for, given that she’s already found a source of miraculous life-transforming powers in Papa’s chequebook.
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 9:13 AM - 206 Comments
Airport ‘security’ has to pretend all seven billion of us on this planet are an equal threat
A couple of days after the Christmas Day Pantybomber tried to light up his gusset on the approach to Detroit, I was at a small airport in Vermont shuffling through the line to what they call the “sterile” area. Anyway, I handed over my driver’s licence and, as he had done with all the previous passengers, the Transportation Security Administration agent examined it. And examined it. And examined it some more. He had a loupe, one of those magnifying glasses jewellers use to examine diamonds for any surface blemishes or internal flaws. In this case, he was deploying it to examine how the ink lies on the paper. And when he’d finished doing that he got out his UV light to study the watermark on my licence.
And, looking down at his bald patch as he went about his work with loving care, I was overcome by a sudden urge to point out that nobody had ever blown up a U.S. airliner with a fake driver’s licence. Why bother going to all that trouble when a real one is so easy to get? On Sept. 11, 2001, four of the terrorists boarded the flight with genuine, valid picture ID issued by the state of Virginia and obtained through the illegal-immigrant day-workers’ network run out of the parking lot of the 7-Eleven in Falls Church. Almost two years earlier, Ahmed Ressam, the Millennium Bomber, had been arrested on the British Columbia-Washington state border travelling on a genuine Canadian passport. In that instance, the terrorist had been stopped because the guard thought he seemed nervous when she looked him in the eye. But in Vermont the guy didn’t look me or anybody else in the eye. He remained hunched over his loupes and licences—no doubt in part because if he looked me or any other regular air traveller in the eye all he’d see staring back at him was an expression of total contempt at the pointless and stupid “security.” So they avoid looking at you, and instead peer through their magnifiers, and amble back and forth barking out the rules about how the three-ounce containers of liquids and gels have to be placed in a one-quart zip-top clear plastic bag, and rummage through your carry-on for more and more proscribed items. But they never look at you. Because they’re not looking for terrorists. They’re looking for things, and an ever-growing list of them.