Monday, October 16, 2006

Mark Steyn interview

My favourite columnist, Mark Steyn, is interviewed in the National Post by Linda Frum.

On Ramadan and cheap jokes.

Being offensive actually has its merits. An excessive deference to sensitivity is very harmful, particularly when you're dealing with people so ready to take offence. I didn't really think of it in an Islamist context until the fall of 2002, when I said in the National Post, something like: "Is it just me, or does Ramadan seem to come around quicker every year?" The point is Ramadan is every eleven and a half months. And of course I immediately got all these humourless letters from people saying, "Oh, you complete idiot! Are you not aware that under the Islamic calendar Ramadan comes..." Of course I'm aware! I'm making a cheap joke about it! It's my standard Ramadan joke, and I'm going to do it every 11-point-however-many-months for as long as I live.

On multiculturalism.

Well, I think at some point a profound question mark goes up about where a society is going. If you drive around certain parts of town you'll see more headscarfed women. It's the sort of thing nobody really thought about much before September 11th. We all assumed that everyone thinks the same, that everyone who gets off the plane at Pearson is coming because they want to be part of a multicultural, pluralist, liberal democracy. But what proportion of people are opposed to that view of society for it to become a problem? We're not at that stage in Canada, but they've already reached that stage in Belgium, in the Netherlands, in France, in Scandinavia and in many other parts of Europe. I don't want to see Canada having the incompatibility, the tensions that are now the absolute fundamental political dynamic in the Netherlands and Belgium.

On the future.

Well, I'm in this for the three year-olds. My youngest child is six now, but my little girl and your little girl, when they're our age, they will find a large number of places in what we think of as the free world, the developed world, far less congenial than we would. I mean, you and I would think nothing of hopping on a plane, going to London, Paris or Berlin. Those are going to be very uncomfortable places for a young, middle-aged Western woman circa 2020, 2030, and it's precisely because we've taken for granted this very unusual period in history.

On England and Canada.

Every Canadian is the heir to a thousand years of constitutional evolution from the one civilization that has done the most to create the world we live in.

That "thousand years of constitutional evolution" and "one civilization" would be England.

Canada has very little to be ashamed of in its inheritance. Every country needs a heroic national narrative. Canada has actually got one. Why not tell it?


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