Standing before stage scenery from the Guthrie’s current production of Romeo and Juliet, Mark Steyn held forth for a bit less than an hour at the Center of the American Experiment’s fall briefing last Monday. John Hinderaker, president of the Center, introduced Howard Root, the sponsor of the event. Before doing so, he appropriately requested and received a moment of silence for those killed and wounded in the Las Vegas shooting.
Root gave an eloquent introduction to one of America’s most perceptive political and cultural observers, cleverly noting that the only knee Steyn would take would be for the Queen. Steyn, in turn, remarked on Root’s five year legal nightmare at the hands of a disgracefully weaponized Department of Justice in the Obama administration. The stage, as it were, was set.
Scott Johnson wrote about the night at Powerline. Unfortunately, I recognized only a small portion of the evening and I was in the fourth row, literally taking notes.
Steyn observed that Hillary Clinton had earlier that day sent a tweet politicizing the Las Vegas tragedy, although to be fair even to Lady Macbeth, she was in good company on the Regressive Left. I was heartened to hear Steyn say that he opposed “sentimentalized grief,” by which he meant the idea that strangers can have real emotions of loss for people they have never met. It’s a widespread phenomenon, especially on social media and it does nothing but cheapen us. The competition to out-emote one another is the single worst aspect of technology, bordering on the obscene.
Despite these faux emotions, we live in an age where these tragedies don’t bind us Steyn said. He mentioned a public school teacher who tweeted that she hoped the “Trumptards” in the Vegas plaza died. A CBS executive vice-president said that she didn’t really care about the victims because at a country western music festival, they were likely to be republicans. These are the people, he observed, who talk about empathy.
He openly wondered how it was that we got here, because it is a wonder. Referring to the ridiculous images of multi-millionaire professional football players kneeling, he said the point of a national anthem is to have a national reaction to it. I’ve long pointed out that destroying the idea of having a national anything, with the underlying unity it would represent, is a goal of the Regressive Left.
Declaring “I’m not dead or decayed like the CBS veep or the public school teacher,” Steyn said he had little in common with the gay nightclub scene of Pulse in Orlando but nonetheless mourned honestly the slaughter there. We live in a world of “hedonism and self expression,” where people at the club couldn’t imagine that there were those in the world that wanted them dead.
He mocked Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau for appointing a Somali immigrant as Minister of Immigration and said the oath of citizenship had been changed so that new citizens had to honor “indigenous treaties,” contemptuously noting that none of Canada’s new arrivals would know about them or care. It was all a liberal conceit.
We’re making ourselves more stupid, Steyn lamented, adding that Western Civilization was being squeezed “from both ends.” He found that “sad, pathetic, lame.”
Yet a revolution occurred in November, he said optimistically. None of the local coverage of Steyn’s appearance remarked on his comments about this, about President Trump and his fight against the swamp, which Steyn said was more partisan than ever but harder to change. Cafeteria Catholics decide which teachings of the Catholic Church they will follow. Cafeteria Conservatives™ seem to select only portions of the seminal, ongoing, political changes to support, usually the safest, most banal & inconsequential, which is to say, ones their donors can live with.
It’s as though we can get speakers in the Twin Cities who understand the zeitgeist but even then we won’t fully report to those not at the event what was actually said. This is the worst form of censorship: self-censorship and it doesn’t reflect well upon conservatives in Minnesota. In fact, I’d say it makes them part of the problem though they don’t know it.
Loathing of Trump, Steyn believes, is class based, with most of the Never Trumpers living in the D.C. suburbs. Politics have become tribal, with like minded people for the most part choosing to live among like minded. Referring to his appearance on Tucker Carlson about a librarian who rejected First Lady Melania’s gift of Dr. Seuss books because they were “racist,” Steyn practically gave up the ghost saying “society has become too stupid to survive.”
Keith Ellison came in for some deserved scorn, with Steyn informing his audience that the former had compared “dreamers” to Jews hiding in the attic from Nazis. Local media, as is their wont, deliberately didn’t cover the story, save for the outlet you’re reading now.
Trump’s wall? People don’t understand it, Steyn argued, brilliantly in my view. The wall is about the right of a sovereign nation to build it and thereby tell the world that it is a sovereign nation.
The travel ban itself lasted less than the time it took to adjudicate the lawsuits about it, Steyn said. I’d add that the President was vindicated by a unanimous Supreme Court. I marvel at how local Never Trumpers can cheerfully applaud, as they should, the outstanding judicial appointments the President has made to date when they were perfectly willing, because of their ersatz, vaunted “principles,” to let someone like Hillary Clinton capture the judiciary for a generation or more.
Troublingly, Steyn worried that we were bifurcating, becoming two societies, one where the law is never applied to them and the other where those were put upon about almost everything.
The way the world is going, he shrewdly observed, excludes the majority that make up the second society and deprives them even of “the consolation of culture.” The contours of their landscapes are rapidly changing and enjoying the simple things that used to be normative is now under attack. To object to the attack is to be the recipient of fierce, sustained and grossly unfair assaults on their persons, their cultural heritage, sex, race and religion. “Multiculturalism,” Christopher Hitchens said, “is a one way street.”
Democrats have pursued barely detectable demographics, Steyn claimed, in order to stitch together some sort of electoral coalition. This ignored entirely, however, the millions of Americans for whom the American dream no longer works, for whom it has passed by. It does work for the elites in both parties but leaves them utterly behind.
Rising to the climax at the end of his speech, Steyn fairly shouted “The conspiracy against the American people is over. That’s why they want the wall. The wall tells them so.”
* * * *
The conspiracy against the American people. That’s a good line and one that can be applied here. The stakes for Minnesotans in next year’s election are high. The future of the state hangs in the balance, perhaps our side could rouse itself. Despite Trump’s strong showing here in November, it’s anyone’s guess whether republican candidates can take advantage of that, and the issues which undergird it, in order to win statewide. So far I’m not encouraged; it’s not even a failure of nerve, because that presupposes in those candidates nerve to begin with, something for which the evidence is scant.
Reporting candidly on what speakers like Mark Steyn and Senator Tom Cotton actually say when in the Twin Cities would be a start but so far, apart from my columns, we’re not there yet. Draw your own inferences about next year.
* * * *
In addition to Alpha News, John Gilmore is also a contributor to The Hill. He is the founder and executive director of Minnesota Media Monitor.™ He blogs at MinnesotaConservatives.org and is on Twitter under @Shabbosgoy. He can be reached at John@alphanewsmn.com
Photo credit: The Daily Caller