The Best Quotes From Mark Steyn’s 2008 Columns
Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be “anti-Islamic” — in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an “anti-German activity.” But I don’t recall even Neville Chamberlain explaining, as if to a five-year-old, that there is nothing German about the wish to terrorize and invade, and that this is entirely at odds with the core German values of sitting around eating huge sausages in beer gardens while wearing lederhosen.
Certainly, not all Muslims want to fly planes into the Pentagon. But those that do do it in the name of their faith. And anyone minded to engage in an “anti-Islamic activity” will find quite a lot of support from leading Islamic scholars
But, by insisting on re-labeling terrorism committed by Muslims in the name of Islam as “anti-Islamic activity,” Her Majesty’s government is engaging not merely in Orwellian Newspeak but in self-defeating Orwellian Newspeak. The broader message it sends is that ours is a weak culture so unconfident and insecure that if you bomb us and kill us our first urge is to find a way to flatter and apologize to you.
In contrast to Giuliani’s take-charge attitude, the incompetent boob presiding over New Orleans, Ray Nagin, raged as wildly as Katrina: “To those who would criticize, where the hell were you?” roared Mayor Culpa, pointing the finger in all directions. “Where the hell were you?” In a town you’re not the mayor of, happily.
To be born a U.S. citizen is, as Cecil Rhodes once said of England, to win first prize in the lottery of life.
Forty-nine years ago, (William F. Buckley) wrote, “We must bring down the thing called liberalism, which is powerful but decadent, and salvage a thing called conservatism, which is weak but viable.” It is an unending struggle because, while the facts of life are conservative (as his friend Margaret Thatcher put it), liberalism is eternally seductive.
Geraldine Ferraro acknowledged a simple truth about Barack — that a white guy with this thin a resume would be hooted off the stage — and she’s the one who got hooted off the stage. This week, Randi Rhodes, the excitable anchorette of the flailing liberal radio network Air America, dismissed Mrs. Ferraro as “David Duke in drag,” and for good measure called Hillary “a big f***ing whore.” Senator Clinton was the establishment candidate running in a party addicted to novelty (in candidates, that is; its policies remain mired in the Sixties). Hill calculated that, given the Dems’ deference to identity politics, her gender would give her enough novelty to sail through. But Obama trumped that…
Sixteen months ago, a school official in Texas accused a four-year-old of sexual harassment after the boy was observed pressing his face into the breasts of a teacher’s aide when he hugged her before boarding the school bus. Fortunately, the school took decisive action and suspended the sick freak. By the way, is that the first recorded use in the history of the English language of the phrase “accused a four-year-old of sexual harassment”? Well, it won’t be the last: In the state of Maryland last year, 16 kindergartners were suspended for sexual harassment, as were three pre-schoolers.
This week Michelle Obama called for Americans to pony up even more dough for their public school system. The United States already spends more per student than any other developed nation except Switzerland, and at least the Swiss have something to show for it. By any reasonable measure, at least a third of the cash dumped into American schools is entirely wasted.
In my book America Alone, I note a global survey on optimism: 61 per cent of Americans were optimistic about the future, 29 per cent of the French, 15 per cent of Germans. Take it from a foreigner: In my experience, Americans are the least “bitter” people in the developed world. Secular gun-free big-government Europe doesn’t seem to have done anything for people’s happiness.
If you want a public culture that reeks of indestructible faith in its own righteousness, try Europe — especially when they’re talking about America: If you disagree with Eutopian wisdom, you must be an idiot. Obama and far too many Democrats have bought into this delusion, most thoroughly distilled in Thomas Frank’s book What’s The Matter With Kansas?, whose argument is that heartland voters are too dumb (i.e., “moronic muppets”) to vote for their own best interests.
Europeans did “vote for their own best interests” — i.e., cradle-to-grave welfare, 35 hour work-weeks, six weeks of paid vacation, etc — and as a result they now face a perfect storm of unsustainable entitlements, economic stagnation, and declining human capital that’s left them so demographically beholden to unassimilable levels of immigration that they’re being remorselessly Islamized with every passing day. We should thank God (if you’ll forgive the expression) that America’s loser gun-nuts don’t share the same sophisticated rational calculation of “their best interests” as Thomas Frank, Obama, too many Democrats and the European political establishment.
A while back, I was struck by the words of Oscar van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay humanist (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool). Reflecting on the Continent’s accelerating Islamification, he concluded that the jig was up for the Europe he loved, but what could he do? “I am not a warrior, but who is?” he shrugged. “I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.” Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. If you don’t understand that there are times when you’ll have to fight for it, you won’t enjoy it for long.
For the last ten years, we have, in fact, been not warming but slightly cooling, which is why the eco-warriors have adopted the all-purpose bogeyman of “climate change.”
The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death.
By most measures, the Jewish state is a great success story. The modern Middle East is the misbegotten progeny of the British and French colonial map-makers of 1922. All the nation states in that neck of the woods date back a mere 60 or 70 years — Iraq to the Thirties, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel to the Forties. The only difference is that Israel has made a go of it.
On a tiny strip of land narrower at its narrowest point than many American townships, Israel has built a modern economy with a GDP per capita just shy of $30,000 — and within striking distance of the European Union average. If you object that that’s because it’s uniquely blessed by Uncle Sam, well, for the past 30 years the second largest recipient of U.S. aid has been Egypt: Their GDP per capita is $5,000, and America has nothing to show for its investment other than one-time pilot Mohammed Atta coming at you through the office window.
Increasingly, the Western world has attitudes rather than policies. It’s one thing to talk as a means to an end. But these days, for most midlevel powers, talks are the end, talks without end. Because that’s what civilized nations like doing — chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, having tea and crumpets, talking talking talking.
President Bush knows where he stands. Just before the words that Barack Obama took umbrage at, he said: “There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It’s natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemnly responsibility to take these words seriously.”
Here are some words of Hussein Massawi, the former leader of Hezbollah: “We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.” Are his actions consistent with those words? Amazingly so. So too are those of Hezbollah’s patrons in Tehran.
(Barrack Obama is a) pretty boy with a resume you could print on the back of his driver’s license, a Rolodex apparently limited to neo-segregationist racebaiters, campus Marxist terrorists and indicted fraudsters, and a rhetorical surefootedness that makes Dan Quayle look like Socrates.
In China, the state-enforced “one child” policy has brought about the most gender-distorted demographic cohort in global history, the so-called guang gun — “bare branches.” If you can only have one kid, parents choose to abort girls and wait for a boy, to the point where in the first generation to grow to adulthood under this policy there are 119 boys for every 100 girls. In practice, a “woman’s right to choose” turns out to mean the right to choose not to have any women.
By midcentury, when today’s millions of surplus boys will be entering middle age, India and China are expected to account for a combined 50 percent of global GDP. On present trends, they will be the most male-heavy societies that have ever existed. As I wrote in my book America Alone, unless China’s planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, what’s going to happen to all those excess men? As a general rule, large numbers of excitable lads who can’t get any action are not a recipe for societal stability.
“I felt this thrill going up my leg,” said MSNBC’s Chris Matthews after one of the senator’s speeches. “I mean, I don’t have that too often.” Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for over six months, see your doctor.
(Sarah Palin) hasn’t voted 397 times against this or that in the U.S. Senate, because she’s been running a state, and a town, and a commercial fishing operation. She’s a doer, not a talker, which is why so many of my fellow professional talkers disdain her.
The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can’t the government sort out my health care? Why can’t they pick up my mortgage?
More to the point, the only reason why Belgium has gotten away with being Belgium and Sweden Sweden and Germany Germany this long is because America’s America. The soft comfortable cocoon in which western Europe has dozed this last half-century is girded by cold hard American power. What happens when the last serious western nation votes for the same soothing beguiling siren song as its enervated allies?
In the Cold War, the world did not stand as one. One half of Europe was a prison, and in the other half far too many people — the Barack Obamas of the day — were happy to go along with that division in perpetuity. And the wall came down not because “the world stood as one” but because a few courageous people stood against the conventional wisdom of the day. Had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan been like Helmut Schmidt and Francois Mitterand and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter, the Soviet empire (notwithstanding its own incompetence) would have survived and the wall would still be standing.
For many of his supporters, Barack Obama is an idea. He offers “hope, not fear”. “Hope” of what? “Hope” of “change.” Okay, but “change” to what? Ah, well, there you go again, getting all hung up on three-dimensional reality, when we’ve moved way beyond that.
In his Wednesday-night infomercial, Obama declared that his “fundamental belief” was that “I am my brother’s keeper.” Back in Kenya, his brother lives in a shack on 12 bucks a year. If Barack is his brother’s keeper, why couldn’t he send him a ten-dollar bill and near double the guy’s income? The reality is that Barack Obama assumes the government should be his brother’s keeper, and his aunt’s keeper
It’s hard for Republicans to hammer Obama as a socialist when their own party’s nationalizing the banks and its presidential nominee is denouncing the private sector for putting profits before patriotism.
If you went back to the end of the 19th century and suggested to, say, William McKinley that one day Americans would find themselves choosing between a candidate promising to guarantee your mortgage and a candidate promising to give “tax cuts” to millions of people who pay no taxes he would scoff at you for concocting some patently absurd H G Wells dystopian fantasy.
In political terms, the message of the gazillion-dollar bipartisan bailout was a simple one: “Individual responsibility” and “self-reliance” are for chumps.
I don’t need Barack Obama’s help to “spread the wealth around.” I spread my wealth around every time I hire somebody, expand my business, or just go to the general store and buy a quart of milk and loaf of bread.
We are told that the “vast majority” of the 1.6-1.8 billion Muslims (in Deepak Chopra’s estimate) are “moderate.” Maybe so, but they’re also quiet. And, as the AIDs activists used to say, “Silence=Acceptance.” It equals acceptance of the things done in the name of their faith.
I wrote in my book, America Alone, that “reforming” Islam is something only Muslims can do. But they show very little sign of being interested in doing it, and the rest of us are inclined to accept that. Spread a rumor that a Koran got flushed down the can at Gitmo, and there’ll be rioting throughout the Muslim world. Publish some dull cartoons in a minor Danish newspaper, and there’ll be protests around the planet. But slaughter the young pregnant wife of a rabbi in Bombay in the name of Allah, and that’s just business as usual.
Whether wars start depends on the intended target’s ability to deter.