Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Steyn roundup

Here's a trio from Mark Steyn: one on the London bombing and how multiculturalism is suddenly losing ground to assimilation as a social policy; one on the Roberts nomination and one on the shooting of the Brazilian emigre in the London tube last Thursday. Unlike many conservatives, Steyn is not justifying the shooting as a tragic mistake.

We'll lead off with the commentary on the unfortunate shooting. The primary problems? Inconsistent actions by the police AND a lack of information regarding the new shoot-to-kill policy:

we turn to Jean Charles de Menezes, the supposed "suicide bomber" who turned out to be a Brazilian electrician on his way to work. Unfortunately, by the time the Metropolitan Police figured that out, they'd put five bullets in his head. We're told we shouldn't second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn't spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals. And, if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube?

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We at this newspaper are currently defending British soldiers facing prosecution for situations broadly analogous to those in which the Met found themselves. But there's still a difference. Anyone who rubs up against the military in Iraq knows what to expect: attempt to crash a roadblock and don't be surprised if they open fire. But few of us had an inkling of the Met's new "shoot to kill" policy until they shot and killed Mr de Menezes. And although I've had a ton of e-mails pointing out various sinister aspects of his behaviour - he was wearing a heavy coat! he refused to stop! - it seems to me there are an awful lot of people on the Tube who might easily find themselves in Mr de Menezes's position.

Steyn also tweaks the Australians for the multiculturalistic idiocies they blathered until the 7/7 London attacks smartened them up (the Aussies have great affinity for the Pohmmies -- POHMs = Prisoners of Her Majesty, the Brits) and notes the damage such multicultural rubbish has caused since 2000:

WITH hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta's jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier. Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world's largest crop-duster. A novel idea.

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn't get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant's throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington - the White House, the Pentagon et al - and asked: "How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?"

Fortunately, Bryant's been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she recalled. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could."

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For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

Until the London bombings. Something about this particular set of circumstances - British subjects, born and bred, weaned on chips, fond of cricket, but willing to slaughter dozens of their fellow citizens - seems to have momentarily shaken the multiculturalists out of their reveries. Hitherto, they've taken a relaxed view of the more, ah, robust forms of cultural diversity - Sydney gang rapes, German honour killings - but Her Britannic Majesty's suicide bombers have apparently stiffened even the most jelly-spined lefties.

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That's the great thing about multiculturalism: it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - like, say, the capital of Bhutan or the principal exports of Malaysia, the sort of stuff the old imperialist wallahs used to be well up on. Instead, it just involves feeling warm and fluffy, making bliss out of ignorance.

Finally, Steyn rips the Democrats who would try to eviscerate John Roberts because he claims such opposition is primarily motivated by the same HATE BUSH thought process that stems from the 2000 election:

It was the Democrats who introduced us to the Four Chads -- Swinging Chad, Dangling Chad, Hanging Chad and Dimpled Chad -- at a time when, to most Republicans, the Four Chads were that vocal group who'd headlined the party's A-list $3.95-a-plate celebrity fund-raiser. It was the Dems who demanded the election be decided by chad diviners interpreting the subtle, indeed undetectable indentation of the dimple as a decisive vote for Al Gore. America has chads in its politics because Democrat lawyers put them there.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make chads. When their frantic swinging, dangling and dimpling availed them nought, Democrats were consumed by bitterness. Understandably enough. That's one reason why some of us like the old-fashioned method of having the big questions of the day decided by the votes of free-born citizens. When you leave them to be adjudicated by nine men and women on the basis of their opinions and you wind up on the losing side, it's bound to feel less satisfactory. But who turned the election into a lawsuit in the first place? It was the Democrats who went before the courts arguing for the inclusion of dimples, and the exclusion of military ballots, and the post-election amendment of the election law.

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Give it up, guys. Here's the John Roberts case that matters: As the Los Angeles Times put it, Roberts "said police did not violate the constitutional rights of a 12-year-old girl who was arrested, handcuffed and detained for eating a French fry inside a train station." We know what the flailing Times is clutching at here: Look, folks, this right-wing nut favors handcuffing schoolgirls for eating French fries.

No, he doesn't. As he wrote in his opinion, "The question before us, however, is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution" -- i.e., it may be bad legislation poorly implemented, but it's not his job to make the law. If you don't like public-transit policy on French fries, elect new councilors who'll change it. That's how free societies function.

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