America Alone by Mark Steyn
GLENN: Mark Steyn, he's the author of "America Alone" is with us now. Mark, welcome to the program.
STEYN: Thank you. Always good to be with you.
GLENN: We wanted to talk a lot about Islamic stuff and Petraeus and et cetera, et cetera but this story has come up with these teenage girls just beating the snot out of another girl and doing it for fame and fortune and my theory is, my thesis that I would like to forward to you is we're not that different.
STEYN: Well, I think we have got problems and in part, you know, the whole Western decadence/Islamic extremism thing are dancing this sort of lopsided Tango together. The more incidents you have like this, the more Muslim women in the West conclude that, you know, why would we want to be emancipated Western women if it's just the freedom to behave like knuckle driving folks. The two things are related.
GLENN: I mean, here's where I think we're not that different. I believe they're worshipping a false god. They are worshipping a god that they understand tells them to kill in his name. And I think it is a -- these extremists have taken God and just built him into something that he is not. We are worshipping a false god and that's fame and fortune.
STEYN: Yeah, I think that is a point, too, that in fact there's a sort of deadness about celebrity cultures that even if you think it's pathetic and worthless to be Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan or any of these people. I mean, I feel rather sorry for somebody like Lindsay Lohan who was kind of moderately talented five or six years ago and then becomes a joke figure. But you can't underestimate the appeal of it. And I think in a sense what both these things have done for them is that they arise in a vacuum. If you are raised in school and you are not taught to have any real heroes, then the idea of just sort of electronic celebrity, beating somebody up, putting it on YouTube, I think you can sort of see the rationale for that. Also I think --
GLENN: Hang on. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Go back to that because I never thought of that. We don't really have any real heroes anymore. We're not taught about real heroes. Everybody's fake. Everybody is flawed. Everybody isn't what they said they were.
STEYN: No, and I think we venerate self-esteem if you listen to most of these school mission statements, they venerate self-esteem unrelated from achievement which tells you something right from the word go anyway. In other words, I think esteem, self-esteem and general esteem should be related to what you accomplish but the idea that just you, whatever you do are worth celebrating in and of yourself, which is what a lot of the guiding philosophy of child rearing is about now, I think is a bit more problematic.
Also because the schools don't actually in and of themselves distinguish between different types of behavior anymore. I mean, you have on the one hand these absurd zero-tolerance things which again arise in the vacuum so that your 6-year-old can be declared a sex offender even though he's got no real idea what sex is, an 11-year-old can be forced to be strip searched for bringing pills to school. In a sense you introduce people to all the worst aspects of adulthood anyway. They might as well go for the full Paris Hilton.
GLENN: But I don't think these kids anymore are kids. I don't think -- you tell me, Mark. Are you -- when you were 16, were you these kids?
STEYN: Well, when I was 16 I was in a -- I think I was in a hurry to be a grownup, but I don't think that meant in those days getting the sort of electric rush or the electric charge that these kids are looking for. I think you're right that in the big offense we've actually abolished childhood. We say to people now doctors are anxious to stop protecting kids from sexual diseases at the age of 8 or 9 and what have you and yet -- and so they live in this kind of artificial physical adolescence with no real intellectual growth for the next kind of 15 to 20 years.
STEYN: And I think that's the idea that sort of licensing people's physical appetite without any kind of emotional or intellectual growth is the problem.
GLENN: Do you have kids?
STEYN: Yes, I do. I've got three and I would be horrified if they were doing this kind of stuff and I'm horrified by, already by, you know, most of the stuff that is peddled as children's entertainment.
GLENN: You know, it's funny. How old are your kids?
STEYN: They are 12, 10 and 7.
GLENN: Okay. So were they young enough to see Curious George, the movie Curious George?
STEYN: Yes, they did.
GLENN: When I saw that movie, I haven't seen a movie like that, that was just sweet and innocent and kind and was really truly a children's movie. I hadn't seen that in I don't know how long and I mean, we've stopped with all of the -- I mean, so many of the children's movies that are out now, I mean, you look at Shrek. The kids will love it, but that's not a message of sweetness and kindness and just innocence. We've lost the innocence of childhood.
STEYN: Yeah, and I think you can actually see it in movies like Shrek. You know, Shrek is an amazingly accomplished work in some respects except the story I think is small at heart and you get these rather sort of crass and vulgar jokes along the way. And there's always that aspect of childhood, you know children fascinated by flatulence or whatever. But great children's literature didn't celebrate flatulence and there's some way in which we've kind of diminished the imagination of children. I mention this, I prefer reading to my kids classic children's books rather than these grubby ones the school tries to inflict on them which is all, you know, so-and-so thought it was going to be a boring summer working at the community center but then his new Hispanic friend took him to meet somebody who was a drug addict mom, and it's all social problems.
STEYN: There's nothing heroic in it.
GLENN: I have to tell you I'm reading a new book. It's coming out in, I don't know, a month or so. New book. It's written for 12-year-old boys. I'm about halfway through. And if it finishes the way it has started, it is the first book that I have read that is mainstream heroic boy adventures. I don't think I've read anything like this since I was a kid. I don't think I've seen anything like this since I was a kid. And you're exactly right. There's just, that's not what our culture puts out anymore.
STEYN: No. And I think actually that eventually connects to what -- because if you look at what is happening in schools, it's basically a racket now to suppress boydom, to suppress your boyishness and boy-like behavior. And one consequence of that is that you get this disgusting so-called behavior from girls that you've been talking about. But the whole idea of childhood is a way that boyishness and boyhood is a problem that has to be suppressed, psychologically controlled and medicated. In 20 years time what kind of men do you have raising a society like that?
GLENN: You know, we were just talking about that on who's worse, the boys or the girls and never really thought of it in the context of what we're talking about now. In this book it's about a boy. It starts out with him in his little sailboat with his dog and he's trying to get back into shore, et cetera, et cetera. There's a point where he's protecting his little sister. I mean, it is -- you see a boy on an adventure with his dog and protecting his little sister. I mean, when's the last time you saw that story celebrated?
STEYN: Yeah, exactly. And that is the classic story. I always thought -- I was asked this question at a speech the other day because I've been critical with reference to some of these school shootings we have and I referenced one up in Montreal where some crazy guy, Islamic fellas it happens, walked into the classroom, ordered the boys to leave and then shot all the girls and I'm saying that, you know, it is disgraceful that these boys left the classroom, these young men. It was a college. So they are like 19, 20, 21. They went and stood in the corridor and then this guy walks past them. And I said at some point just diminishing boyhood and diminishing the virtues of manliness and has a consequence for the kinds of society we raise.
GLENN: Let me switch gears alone because I know America Alone comes out in paperback today, right?
STEYN: That's right.
GLENN: If you haven't read this book, I've been telling you for over a year you've got to read this book. It will really give you a handle of what we're facing and what we're really facing over in Europe and I mean, it is all upside down over in Europe and it is going to put us in a situation where we are alone. Did you add any new chapters to this?
STEYN: Yeah, I added a new introduction because you've been very kind to the book, Glenn. But people have said, oh, this is unnecessarily alarmist. Since the book came out, we had obviously things like the archbishop of Canterbury saying that the introduction of Islamic law to the United Kingdom is inevitable; so we might as well just get on with it. That would have been unthinkable if on September the 10th the idea that people in Western countries would be saying that. We've discovered that in Toronto now polygamists can claim welfare checks for each of their wives.
GLENN: You know, I have to tell you something, mark. I thought of you just the other day when I saw the -- was it yesterday when they went in and stormed that fundamentalist Mormon compound?
GLENN: And they took all these polygamists out and I thought, look at this. We not only go try to arrest these people as we should, not only try to break this kind of sickness up as we should, we'll do that on one hand but while the rest of the western world is not only not coming out against polygamy of Muslims but they are helping endorse it. They are paying for welfare, they're working in the divorce courts with it. I mean, it's craziness.
STEYN: Yes. And it's the worst of both worlds, east is east and west is west and when they meet you get the worst of four worlds. He has to do it on his own dime. If he wants to get the government to subsidize his polygamy, he needs to move to France or Britain or Canada.
GLENN: Mark, I'll talk to you again, my friend. And how are things working out with the paperback coming out in Canada? Are you going to be able to release it in Canada?
STEYN: Well, it comes out supposedly next month and on June the 2nd, my show trial for hate crimes begins in British Columbia. So it might only be a four week window of opportunity to buy the book north of the border.
GLENN: Are you going up into Canada to stand trial?
STEYN: Yeah. I'm going to confront my accusers, I'm going to be reporting live from the witness box insofar as I can because I don't believe the book is a hate crime and if the government of Canada wants to make it a hate crime, then they are going to have to tell me to my face.
GLENN: What's the worst thing they can do to you up in Canada?
STEYN: Well, like they did with this pastor in Alberta who wrote a letter to his newspaper about gay marriage. They have given him a lifetime ban on ever speaking or writing publicly about homosexuality anywhere in public again. I mean, amazing things they pass up there.
GLENN: That's absolutely incredible.
GLENN: All right. Well, Mark, we'll talk to you again and we'll talk to you as we get closer to the trial, you've got to let me know. I'd love to be up there covering it with you.
STEYN: Okay, that sounds great. That's what they need up there, Glenn. Thanks a lot. Bye.
GLENN: Name of the book is "America Alone," Mark Steyn.