Well, truth be told, Mark Steyn actually did not have to "conquer' the audience of die-hard fans, and they came out in droves-it was standing room only, to Chapters Indigo to hear the man speak.
Heather Reisman-the CEO of Chapters Indigo, was clearly delighted to be hosting the conversation, though at times, it was excruciatingly obvious just how far the ideological and philosophical divide is between host and guest (picture a gulf about twenty times as wide as the Grand Canyon...)
Steyn began, at Reisman's request, reading from the book (a selection from Pot Potpourri Roasting On An Open Fire), and quickly had the audience in stitches from the get go. But then the conversation turned very serious, very quickly as the the focus switched to the plight of the Aboriginals in Canada-specifically referring to the mess of Davis Inlet. Steyn referred to well- meaning bureaucrats who decided that the decrepit town, with all of its addiction and poverty issues, was the problem. So, a whole new town was built, and that, too-quickly became a gas-sniffing, alcohol and welfare dependent hell on earth.
He explained that an extraordinary amount of taxpayers money is spent on Aboriginals-enough for each one to be put up at the Ritz Carlton hotel and eating $17 Toblerones from the mini-bar, and maybe if we did that, some individuals would eventually get bored of that, and actually decide to step outside one day into the fresh air and become a functioning member of society. Gas sniffing, he noted, was never part of Aboriginal culture.
"And that," he said, "is one of the great evils of welfare". It is a terrible waste of money, yes-but it is a terrible waste of people. Reisman said 'so welfare is that bad' and Steyn noted that yes, "it’s profoundly wicked, and future generations will say that it was as wicked as colonialism".
Reisman then asked about the 'springboard' versus 'safety net' theories of social assistance and what would have to change for assistance to be more effective. Steyn said that to be more effective, you cannot have a bureaucracy whose purpose is solely to metastasize.
"There is a relationship between the dependent class and the bureaucracy that serves it. When you have disability programs, you suddenly notice an enormous increase in the numbers of people who are disabled. Something like 20% of Americans are now “disabled”. We know people are gaming that system. If you are on an unemployment program, it should only be a limited time and then you should have to do something else."
Reisman said that she believes that most people want to be productive and work and you could hear the groans emanating from the audience. That was definitely one of the moments where the ideological divide between liberal and conservative could be pinpointed very clearly.
Steyn described the idea of Vermont being a bucolic paradise, where hippies fleeing the Vietnam war settled because it was "close enough" to Canada, eating their "Chunky Monkey Huggy Honey" Ben & Jerry's ice cream. In fact, he noted, there are growing numbers of heroin addicts and raging unemployment-the two are related "life requires purpose".
My good friend Blazing Cat Fur got a shout out for breaking the Mosqueteria story. Reisman brought up the subject, and for those of you who don't know about it, it's the story of how a Toronto District Public school allows Muslim prayers in their cafeteria, in an area heavily populated by Muslim immigrants. The boys go in the front, girls behind, and menstruating girls must identify themselves as "unclean" and sit behind the "clean" girls-all this after going through separate male and female entrances.
"It’s a public school, we have supposedly separation of church and state, you can’t have a Christian service in a school, but every Friday, they have Muslim prayers which are held under the strictures of Islamic laws, that is to say the boys in the front, the girls in the back because they are inferior, by the separate door."
"The menstruating girls at the back: let’s do that now, shall we-right here!" (Lots of laughs at that.)
"Hey they have to go to prayers, but they might be late for LGBT studies. Imagine from the girl’s point of view, your parents are from Pakistan, but you like that you can grow up as a normal Canadian girl, and you go to your public school in Toronto and there they tell you that you are unclean and that you have to sit at the back."
Reisman, at this juncture, mentioned that the school was "allowing" the students to go to prayers, not "forcing". Her focus was 'what constitutes openness and respect for others and the other side, which is racism and Islamophobia, or structured intolerance"-again the massive ideological divide reared its painfully obvious head.
And this is where the killer line of the evening came out:
"A tolerant society, tolerating the avowedly intolerant is a society signing it’s death warrant."
"There are Dutch schools that no longer teach the Holocaust, because half the students don’t think it happened and the other half thinks 'hey, that wimp Hitler didn’t finish the job'. So you say, oh we’ll teach the crusades, oh no-maybe LGBT?!"
"Public Schools “cannot” accept Danish Jews at school and the French say: we can take the Jews as long as you change your name say from “Abraham Cohen” to something else. That is actually happening at a French government school at Tolouse. And at the Jewish school, the Jews were murdered. "
(Honestly, nobody on the planet puts the pieces together better than Mark Steyn.)
"And the people doing this," he continued, "these people are not Muslims, but have incorporated Western ideas about celebrating diversity, by telling them that hey, Abraham Cohen you become Abraham Belliveau. This is terrible," he said.
And, thus, he said "ordinary dreary French, Dutch bureaucrats therefore see how easy it is to drag them down to the next step".
Reisman got very solemn at this point and said "we need to have this discussion".
Steyn then noted dryly that police responding to the Ottawa terrorist attacks were coming from a mandatory diversity training session on Islam, led by a local Imam. Doesn't that just summarize it all-'the police handing out smiley diversity stickers on the other side of town' while a Muslim terrorist attacks the symbols of Canadian democracy?
The next question was if there are any world leaders that fit the bill.
Steyn said that the general problem with him endorsing candidates is "if I am ever asked to nominate, they usually become unelectable" and that Jason Kenney might not be elected because he laughed at one of Steyn’s jokes. Stephen Harper, he said, is less wrong on this than Obama, and yes, he knows that he is damning him with faint praise. But he's 'more right' about things than Tony Abbot, Francoise Hollande or Angela Merkel or David Cameron. And Harper, he said has led fewer hostages to fortune than any other leader and is very right on certain things, especially being a friend of Israel. Steyn says he knows that bar is not set high and not great, and is kind of like being the “best gay bar in Riyadh”.
(Could you not die?!??!!)
Asked if the terror in Paris will cause anything to change, or just a momentary pause in thought, he said that we have to be staying one step ahead of terror.
"I worry that we have gotten too used to these things. These guys ran a magazine, very different and some day someone kicks the door down and yells Allahu Akbar, and if we get used to that…there is a term that bureaucrats use, it’s an ‘acceptable level' of violence, and a lot of Western leaders feel we have to get used to that."
"What it will mean", he said, "is that we’ll get used to it, and hope we won’t catch its eye, but you have to kill it head on".
Asked if he makes a distinction between "radical" Islam and "moderate" Islam (because Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for example does not but Heather Reisman does), Steyn emphasized that we have to fight Iranian and Saudi style extremism on the ideological level. He was not impressed with the grovelling at the grave of King Abdallah.
Steyn: "After the fall of the Soviet Union, I visited the "stans"; Uzbekistan, Khazakstan, when to the “stans”, they were the most relaxed Muslims, they have this hooch that they sit around drinking, it was great fun to get drunk with Muslims, you don't see that every day. Bosnian Islam was a relaxed mom and pop Islam. But the Iranians and the Saudis have come in and spent a lot of money, now you see mosques in Saudi style, they are fighting it on the ideological level, and BTW the groveling at the Abdallah corpse was absolutely disgusting."
Reisman asked when there is a choice in the Middle East between not good and terrible, what do you do?
Steyn smiled and answered:
“When you show up at the Middle Eastern disco, there aren’t a lot of chicks you want to dance with."
|Reisman starts out by saying Steyn has been called 'brash', 'insane', and then someone yelled out "sexy".|
"So the question is, are you applying pressure to move them to the side of sanity. People think it’s impossible, when the kingdom of Egypt was founded, the finance minister was a Jew, who now lives in France, he wrote to me, and he will soon enough have to live in France. It’s not just that a Jew can’t be finance minister in Egypt, it's that a Jew can’t be in Egypt."
"The British idea was you taught the benefits of Magna Carta, the benefits of a functioning civil society, it worked, Americans think that exports are cheeseburgers, the most potent exports as Iran and the Saudis and ISIS understands is ideology, so we have to be in THAT game. "
Reisman understood this point and seem to agree that we should 'try to move those people along so that what they are exporting is not the worst'.
"Saudi Arabia is a profoundly wicked state treat women and foreign domestic servants appallingly behead them for witchcraft. Everyone says we want to offer sympathies to the custodians to the two mosques. When the queen dies, president whoever it is, I wish to offer my condolences the custodian of the Church of England. Why a flag at half-mast for a country where a Christian caught with a bible can be executed?"
The obsequies offered before this guy, he said were disgusting.
Steyn was then asked about guns and the Second Amendment.
Reisman said that she feels safe, and feels comfortable with police being relied upon for law and order, for them to have guns.
"Law and order? The poor fellows in Paris had a police officer present and outside, when the guys with the AK 47 came there was nobody there from them."
He noted that the Sargent at Arms in Ottawa, all ceremonial and in knickerbockers and with the mace, ("it’s Tuesday, I got the mace, Thursday, I cover up the mace"), in a split second he knew to ditch it and it turned real, and he got his pistol out of the drawer and he put a bullet in that killer, we don’t know who he might have taken out."
"The people at Charlie Hedbo didn’t have a pistol in the drawer"
“Jews are beaten up on the Metro in Paris, cartoonists are killed, a Swedish artist's home is firebombed, a Norwegian restaurant has Molotov cocktails fired at his business, my friend in Copenhagen opened door his front door and was shot, but the guy missed, and the Danish government let him leave the country and the Turks would not extradite him.”
"People have the right to defend themselves; in a crisis the police are not on site."
Asked by an audience member if Ezra Levant's lawyer did a good job: NO. (Steyn offered to provide legal services for only $175 an hour, instead of a gazillion....)
On immigration, he noted:
"Transformative immigration is a feature of the modern world and is a great experiment, in some places it has worked out well, but when you have border immigration, remorselessly from one place-it effectively moves the border north."
Steyn said that he and Barbara Streisand don't have a lot of mutual friends, but they did have two, and these mutual friends were complaining about how Republicans were so pissed at someone waving Mexican flags at a sporting event, but couldn’t understand why California wasn’t working, they made no connection between first incident and how LA wasn’t operating as well."
"Transformative immigration-that is basically moving the border north."
A great question came from the audience:
"You talk about changing the culture-how do you do that? You speak of the decline of traditional values and western civilization itself and not just to elect a conservative, but to change the culture-how do you actually do that."
Another money quote here:
“You do it on the ground floor, every day of your life, in the little things.”
OK at this part, it started to get Freaky Deaky, because Steyn started talking about the new provincial
Reisman had not heard anything about it! It was quite a shocking and candid admission.
Even if you don't have school aged children, this has been all over the news. Steyn eluciated the topic.
"I am not a proponent of cultural relativism, how about sex education in the province of Ontario, teaching a 6 year old child, does not have the mental capacity to understand the intimacy of a sexual relationship-if I had a six year old, I would say no to that, sexualization of childhood, beyond social engineering and reconfiguring identity."
"You have to do something, if you let the school board and the municipal gov and county government why be surprised that you go and the government changes but nothing that matters changes. Getting cultural change on all the little stuff, and if you can’t do it for your six year old kid being sexualized then what?"
"Now I’ve had Lenard Bernstein’s tongue in my mouth, and when my kids’ teacher said I was homophobic, I said I’ve got no problem with adults, people doing what they want to do but not with six year olds."
The last topic was a mix of free speech and the question of whether or not Jews should be armed, in Europe. Big ideological divide here as well. A European Rabbi, the head of the largest group of European Jews, recently called for arming Jews. Yet, Steyn noted that many other mainstream organized, Jewish groups think otherwise.
"Other Jewish groups have called for more hate speech law, rather than guns, guns are more practical than empowering the state to arrest people over tweets and blog posts. A lot of the big Canadian Jewish groups think the state can mediate between hostile parties. To hyper-regulate speech is not to Jews’ advantage, or to any group."
He noted that extremist, jihad-promoting, fundamentalist preacher Anjem Choudary is a testament to free speech, he is honest.
Steyn said that here and now, 58% of British Jews feel they have no future in the UK, "and they discuss it in Times of London like that that is a perfectly normal phenomenon".
"So the crazy ones, he said, "are the mainstream media who talk about this as if it’s something like '37% of Lindsay Lohan fans feel she hasn't made a good movie lately".
And so the evening ended, for me, anyway. But Mark Steyn stayed on (probably for many hours) chatting with people and signing books.
All in all, a great evening with much food for thought-and best enjoyed, as I did, from MAH SPIFFY FRONT ROW SEAT WITH ALL MY VRWC PEEPS.