Monday, February 15, 2010

Can't Steyn go back to covering musicals?

Mark Steyn worries that fashionable young men are taught to be ridiculously pliant and compliant when it comes to authoritarian demands from the state--especially when it comes to environmental programs that are only loosely based on science. So far so good. Then he tells a story about a young American who is harassed when he returns to his country because he is studying Arabic. He is even asked what he thinks about 9/11. Surely Steyn is going to say this is also a bunch of unacceptable fascist tricks, and good for the young man if he sought an opportunity to call bullshit on it.

No, Steyn is upset because of what the young man said about 9/11:

According to the Inquirer’s Daniel Rubin, “He said he hemmed and hawed a bit. ‘It’s a complicated question,’ he told me by phone.” However, young Nick ended up telling his captors, “It was bad. I am against it.”

My, that’s big of you.

Take it as read that the bozos at the airport called this one wrong. The problem is not that Nick George, his radical haircut notwithstanding, is a jihadist eager to self-detonate on a transatlantic flight. The problem is that he is an entirely typical American college student — one for whom 9/11 is “a complicated question.” After all, to those reared in an educational system where the late Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States (now back in the bestseller lists) is conventional wisdom, such a view is entirely unexceptional. It’s hardly Nick’s fault that the banal groupthink of every American campus gets you pulled over for secondary screening when you’re returning from Amman.

Let's say fascism is a kind of authoritarian populism that tends (contrary to Goldberg) to skew right rather than left: traditional elites of property, church, and military rather than new elites of secular social workers, teachers, economists and bureaucrats. The use of fascist methods should be troubling to lovers of liberty, even if they are dished out by people we have been inclined to trust. Some of the right went mad over 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, with lots of lying, cluelessness and the use of fascist tricks including torture. A huge standing military is now accepted, it seems, by virtually all Americans. The left is also capable of group think, and the use of fascist tricks to support their schemes to build bureaucracies and re-distribute income. Since the end of communism, the left is a bit less likely to kill anyone--their sentimental regard for some "authentic" radical Moslems is not as dangerous as the widespread defence of Communism was in the Cold War, and in fact the analogy between the two situations is very weak.

Steyn's brain is mush--the whole argument that the Moslems are taking over has driven him mad. It's far more true of Israel than of any European country that they are surrounded by Moslems who harbour killers. It's far more true of some European countries than it is of the United States. Even Israel is remarkably safe, and we are talking about perhaps dozens of people, worldwide, who are actually prepared to commit suicide in the course of killing Western civilians.

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