Steyn Stands Strong

One of the problems that conservatives have had is that all too often they buy into liberal premises about what is acceptable discourse. If the progressives insist that whole topics are out of bounds and any deviation from orthodoxy is racist, homophobic, islamophobic, bigoted, hateful, ignorant, greedy, and whatever other labels they can think of, all too often, conservatives will back down and agree to abide by the progressive’s rules. This has to stop. We have got to be on the offensive, or we will lose this country. Above all else we must be defenders of liberty, even if it means defending the rights of people we don’t necessarily approve or or whose speech is somewhat less civil than we might like. Mark Steyn from National Review understands this. I wish more conservatives did.

Having leaned on A&E to suspend their biggest star, GLAAD has now moved on to Stage Two:

“We believe the next step is to use this as an opportunity for Phil to sit down with gay families in Louisiana and learn about their lives and the values they share,” the spokesman said.

Actually, “the next step” is for you thugs to push off and stop targeting, threatening and making demands of those who happen to disagree with you. Personally, I think this would be a wonderful opportunity for the GLAAD executive board to sit down with half-a-dozen firebreathing imams and learn about their values, but, unlike the Commissars of the Bureau of Conformity Enforcement, I accord even condescending little ticks like the one above the freedom to arrange his own social calendar. Unfortunately, GLAAD has had some success with this strategy, prevailing upon, for example, the Hollywood director Brett Ratner to submit to GLAAD re-education camp until he had eaten sufficient gay crow to be formally rehabilitated with a GLAAD “Ally” award.

It is a matter of some regret to me that my own editor at this publication does not regard this sort of thing as creepy and repellent rather than part of the vibrant tapestry of what he calls an “awakening to a greater civility”. I’m not inclined to euphemize intimidation and bullying as a lively exchange of ideas – “the use of speech to criticize other speech”, as Mr Steorts absurdly dignifies it. So do excuse me if I skip to the men’s room during his patronizing disquisition on the distinction between “state coercion” and “cultural coercion”. I’m well aware of that, thank you. In the early days of my free-speech battles in Canada, my friend Ezra Levant used a particular word to me: “de-normalize”. Our enemies didn’t particularly care whether they won in court. Whatever the verdict, they’d succeed in “de-normalizing” us — that’s to say, putting us beyond the pale of polite society and mainstream culture. “De-normalizing” is the business GLAAD and the other enforcers are in. You’ll recall Paula Deen’s accuser eventually lost in court — but the verdict came too late for Ms Deen’s book deal, and TV show, and endorsement contracts.

Mark Steyn understands what the progressives are trying to do better than most of us here in the US. As a former resident of Canada, he has had personal experience with attempts to criminalize and de-normalize politically incorrect opinions.

Up north, Ezra and I decided that, if they were going to “de-normalize” us, we’d “de-normalize” them. So we pushed back, and got the entire racket discredited and, eventually, the law repealed. It’s rough stuff, and exhausting, but the alternative is to let the control-freaks shrivel the bounds of public discourse remorselessly so that soon enough you lack even the words to mount an opposing argument. As this commenter to Mr Steorts noted, the point about unearthing two “derogatory” “puerile” yet weirdly prescient gags is that, pace Marx, these days comedy repeats as tragedy.

I am sorry my editor at NR does not grasp the stakes. Indeed, he seems inclined to “normalize” what GLAAD is doing. But, if he truly finds my “derogatory language” offensive, I’d rather he just indefinitely suspend me than twist himself into a soggy pretzel of ambivalent inertia trying to avoid the central point — that a society where lives are ruined over an aside because some identity-group don decides it must be so is ugly and profoundly illiberal. As to his kind but belated and conditional pledge to join me on the barricades, I had enough of that level of passionate support up in Canada to know that, when the call to arms comes, there will always be some “derogatory” or “puerile” expression that it will be more important to tut over. So thanks for the offer, but I don’t think you’d be much use, would you?

Precisely. The end game is to make it impossible to fight against the progressives because you are unable to even articulate any opposing views. This is what George Orwell foresaw in 1984. This is the sort of mindset we are facing. It is no good trying to compromise or get along with these people. They are not interested in getting along. They mean to crush any opposition. We had best grow spines and fight.

 

They’re Very Similar

President Obama urges the Palestinians and Israelis to make peace in this video.

There has been a lot of derision of the president for his implied comparison between the Israeli-Palestine conflict and Canadian-American relations. I understand the point he is trying to make, and it is not as dumb as his critics believe. Relations between the United States and Canada are amicable now, and we have the longest undefended border in the world, but this was not always the case. In fact, the United States invaded Canada, then a British possession, during the War of 1812. There were several naval battles fought on the Great Lakes. There was some support for war against Britain in 1844 over the boundaries of the Oregon territory but President James Polk wisely chose negotiation over fighting a war against Canada at the same time as the Mexican War. British support of the Confederacy during the Civil War also caused some trouble and there even some who proposed a war against Britain as a means of drawing the North and South back together. Even as recently as the beginning of the twentieth, when relations with Britain had much improved, war with Canada was at least conceivable, if only infinitesimally likely. The good relations between Canada and the United States were far from inevitable and history could have turned out differently, if the two nations had not had so much in common, including a willingness to settle their differences peacefully.

All the same though, US-Canadian relations are hardly a model for resolving the conflict between Israel and its neighbors. America, Canada and Britain have similar cultures. We all speak the same language and have the same sort of values. This does not guarantee peace, look at Korea, or the Balkans, but it helps. By contrast, Israel is an outpost of Western civilization. It’s neighbors, including the Palestinians have a historical heritage very different from that of the West. Their languages may be related, but their cultures couldn’t be more disparate. Even worse, the Arabs want to destroy Israel. There is not really much for the two sides to talk about.

I know President Obama would like to earn his Nobel Peace Prize by negotiating some grand plan for peace in the Middle East. Most presidents seem to have had that sort of ambition, which seems to encourage wishful thinking. I think we just need to recognize that there is not going to be peace in that region until the Arabs decide they no longer want to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews. Considering that Muslims have hated Jews since the time of Mohammed, I don’t imagine peace is going to happen anytime soon.

Into the Abyss

John Stossel writes in his latest column about the coming fiscal emergency.

America is falling deeper into debt. We’re long past the point where drastic action is needed. We’re near Greek levels of debt. What’s going to happen?

Maybe riots — like we’ve seen in Greece?

We need to make cuts now.

He doesn’t give up hope. Instead he points out how Canada and Puerto Rico have managed to get their houses in order.

When I think Canada, I think big government. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know that in the mid-’90s, Canada shrank its government. It had to. Its debt level was as bad as ours is today, almost 70 percent of the economy. Canada’s finance minister said: “We are in debt up to our eyeballs. That can’t be sustained.”

Economist David Henderson, a Canadian who left Canada for the United States, remembers when The Wall Street Journal called the Canadian dollar “the peso of the north.” It was worth just 72 American cents. “Moody’s put the Canadian federal debt on a credit watch,” Henderson said.

The problem, he added, was that Canada had a government safety net that was more like a hammock.

“When I was growing up in Canada, people who went on unemployment insurance were said to go in the ‘pogie.’ You could work as little as eight weeks, taking the rest of the year off.”

So in 1995 Canadian leaders cut unemployment benefits and other programs. It happened quietly because it was a liberal government, and liberals didn’t want to criticize their own. The result was that Canada’s debt stopped increasing. As the government ran budget surpluses, the debt went down.

“The economy boomed,” Henderson said. “Think about what government does. Government wastes most of what it spends, and so just cutting government and having that money in the hands of people means it’s going to be used more valuably.”

Canada fired government workers, but unemployment didn’t increase. In fact, it fell from 12 percent to 6 percent. Canadian unemployment is still well below ours. And the Canadian dollar rose from just 72 American cents to $1.02 today.

Fortuno is governor of Puerto Rico. Two years ago, he fired 17,000 government workers. No state governor did anything like that. He cut spending much more than Walker did in Wisconsin. In return, thousands of union members demonstrated against Fortuno for days. They clashed with police. They called him a fascist

Fortuno said he had to make the cuts because Puerto Rico’s economy was a mess.

“Not just a mess. We didn’t have enough money to meet our first payroll.”

Fortuno’s predecessors had grown Puerto Rico’s government to the point that the state employed one out of every three workers. By the time he was elected, Puerto Rico was broke. So the new conservative majority, the first in Puerto Rico in 40 years, shrank the government.

What was cut?

“Everything. I started with my own salary.”

The protesters said he should raise taxes instead of cutting spending.

“Our taxes were as high as they could be, actually much higher than most of the country. So what we’ve done is the opposite.” Fortuno reduced corporate taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent. He reduced individual income taxes. He privatized entire government agencies.

“Bring in the private sector,” Fortuno said. “They will do a better job. They will do it cheaper.”

Fortuno’s advice for leaders who want to shrink the state: “Do what you need to do quickly, swiftly, like when you take off a Band-Aid. Just do it. And move on to better things.”

Unfortunately one of our major parties would rather play politics and watch the country go down the drain.

We badly need more grownups in Washington.

Canada PM Stephen Harper May Get Conservative Majority

From Human Events, I got this good news about our neighbor to the north. I haven’t been following Canadian politics, and I really have no excuse not to, but I seem to recall that the Progressive Conservatives were demolished at the polls back in 1993. The Conservatives in Canada have since regrouped and formed the Conservative Party of Canada, whose leader Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister since 2006, even though his party does not have an absolute majority. It seems likely that this year he might get that majority and be more able to get his agenda passed.