A funny thing happened while I was surfing rightwing sites like Free Republic and Little Green Footballs this week: I discovered that Mark Steyn, the world's only warmongering Canadian journalist, has actually managed to fool the gullible readers of these blogs. And there are thousands of these right-wing blogs, all featuring grumpy-looking bald eagles, 3-d American flags and Christian dating services -- into accepting him as an American patriot.
I guess I should explain first what I was doing dipping into ideological porn like FR and LGF. First of all, I like to look at these sites when things are going badly for the Right. I like to watch them writhe, and they've been writhing very nicely lately.
Besides, I used to be one of those people. Yep, I was an American patriot back in the 90s. That's how I first encountered Steyn. He was the author of one of the most viciously anti-American articles ever written: an article so steeped in America-hatred that I actually got involved in a letter-writing campaign against Steyn almost a decade ago. His article was first published in London's Sunday Times in August 1996. The title will give you an idea of the tone of this little gem: "Welcome to the United States of Losers and Bozos."
Mark Steyn: neo-con Hobbit
The article started by mocking the US authorities' bumbling response to the bombing in Atlanta: "Federal agents are not discreet. They run around in fancy combat gear, they yell 'Go, go, go, go, go,' and they attract a lot of attention...The evidence suggests they have more than enough [power and money], but that they don't know how to use them."
Could this possibly be the same Mark Steyn who joined the big homoerotic swoon for men in uniform after 9/11? Just listen to the new Steyn going all gooey about America the Beautiful in the column "Primal," published right after September 22, 2001:
"If you want a word for the mood of this immediate aftermath, try 'primal'. In a feminized culture, guys were back -- big burly firemen evoking Iwo Jima and raising the flag atop the ruins of the World Trade Center. Watching tanks rumble down the street, Manhattanites were amazed to discover that the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue really is an armoury, and not just, as it is to most New Yorkers these days, a heritage site you can rent for art and antique shows. On the steps of the Capitol, members of Congress broke into a spontaneous performance of 'God Bless America'. 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is about an historic event, 'America The Beautiful' is about the topography, but, when it comes to the nation, Irving Berlin said it simplest and said it best: 'God Bless America, Land that I love.'"
Sorry, Steyn, but uh...could you stop lying? You don't love America. You hate America as only an Anglophile Canadian Tory can. And as Steyn's 1996 Atlanta article revealed, his hate isn't restricted to a few scapegoats; he hates ordinary Americans with a special rancor:
"[In] Atlanta...Incredibly fit people on steroids were cheered by incredibly fat people on cheeseburgers, and delighted by this arrangement, the Games' sponsors -- the purveyors of Coke and Big Macs and other performance de-enhancing products -- maintain an iron grip."
What's this? Not only does Steyn use the "fat stupid American" cliche favored by Old Europe social-democrats, but he denounces corporate sponsorship like a Belgian Maoist.
Worse yet, he actually equates American enterprise with terrorism: "The ads for Nike and other products offer obnoxious, aggressive sportsmen opining, for example, that there's no such thing as 'winning silver'...In their advocacy of total war, winning at any price, the end justifying the means, the philosophy of the commercials is virtually indistinguishable from your average terrorist group's credo."
Whoa, Markie! Did you actually SAY that? My, my, what will your fans at Free Republic and Little Green Footballs say when they find out you actually equated America's drive to be Number One in sports with Al Qaeda?
Steyn is so consumed with hate that he even makes fun of the name of the woman killed in the Atlanta Olympic bombing: "It's as if the unfolding events in Georgia were no different from the networks' moronic daytime soap operas...Alice Hawthorne, whose death in Atlanta provided such an exciting plot twist to CBS, named both her younger daughter, Fallon, and her thriving business, Fallon's Ice Cream and Hot Dog Stand, after a character in Dynasty."
Ha ha, those black people have such funny names, huh?
So much for compassion for the victims of terrorism, one of the major planks of Steyn's post 9/ll reinvention of himself as American patriot.
Steyn's rant ends with one of the nastiest displays of sheer joy at America's humiliation you'll ever find. Not content to gloat over the Atlanta bombing, he drags in Oklahoma City and even the JFK assassination as proof of America's stupidity:
"Forget the militia, the ayatollahs, Colonel Gaddafi, the only conspiracy that fits is a conspiracy of dunces, of boners and losers and no-hopers. At Atlanta, Oklahoma City, all the way back to that prototype bozo in the Dallas Book Depository three decades ago...That's the humiliation of Atlanta: in front of the Russians and Chinese, the Cubans and Bosnians, they blew it, and they blew it not to professionals, but to some two-bit punk with a homemade pipe bomb."
Whoo! It's not every day you find hatred that vicious. Even America's worst enemies didn't gloat outright over the killing of JFK and the slaughter of day-care kids in Oklahoma City. But there's Steyn not only celebrating America's worst hours but rubbing it in by reminding us that it happened in front of all our avowed enemies: the Russians, Cubans and Chinese.
Steyn's Atlanta rant was written for a British audience and first appeared in the Telegraph, favorite reading of bitter old Tories. It was reprinted in a New Zealand newspaper, the Sunday Star-Times, where I read it on August 11, 1996. Though I can't claim to be a noisy American patriot like you Steyn fans, I was angry enough to write a letter to the Telegraph. I took some time composing it; it was designed to inculcate a healthy humility in any British readers tempted to join in Steyn's protracted gloat. I remember my letter pretty much word-for-word:
"I was surprised to find Mark Steyn's crowing over the Atlanta bomb in a British newspaper, given the way IRA bombers have been able to attack British cities with utter impunity. As clumsy as the Americans may have been at Atlanta, they have yet to see their great cities flattened by the underclass of their most benighted province. To witness a security failure on that scale, one must look to Britain. Therefore one might have expected British journalists to react to the Atlanta bombing with compassionate humility, rather than Steyn's shrill gloating."
That letter got quite a reaction. Every constipated retired colonel and thwarted Vicar's sister from Dover to York took pen in hand to curse me, my country, and my nonexistent progeny. And since the only address they had for me was the NZ university where I was teaching, all that hastily-scrawled hate mail came through the department secretary.
Most of my correspondents confined their abuse to the letters, but some slipped unflattering epithets into the address on the envelope. It got so bad that the secretary started wincing when she handed me my mail. Several of the letters were suspiciously bulgy. I never opened those at all; whatever those people were sending me, I was pretty sure I didn't want it.
And now here's Mister Steyn, all famous and rich telling Americans how much he loves their fat, stupid asses. It's been a very lucrative lie for him. No doubt he only reveals his true hatred for our country to a few safe friends, after a few drinks. The land that he doesn't love has made him famous; how satisfying it must be for Steyn to reflect that, in their utterly gullible, naive acceptance of his false flattery, "the United States of Losers and Bozos" has revealed itself to be every bit as stupid as he suspected.
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