Skip to comments.Transcript of Mark Steyn's Sappho Award Acceptance Speech in Denmark - Terrific!
Posted on 09/24/2010 5:07:13 AM PDT by Steyn Lover
(some introductory remarks are omitted)
This is the first September 11th in nine years that I have not been in the United States of America on this day, but it's fitting to be here in Copenhagen because lower Manhattan and Denmark are really two fronts in the same war. My friend Ezra Levant was the only publisher in Canada to allow his readers to see the... Mohamed cartoons, and as a result, he was investigated by the government of Alberta for three long years in an act of outrageous judicial harassment that changed that province, in the same way that the prosecution we heard about earlier changed the kingdom of the Netherlands, and in the same way that the prosecution that Lars is under threat of, changed Denmark too.
Ezra Levant likes to say that the Danish cartoon crisis may be one day seen as a more critical event than 9/11, not obviously in the comparative death tolls, but in what each revealed about the state of western civilization in the 21st century. After the attacks of Sept 11th, after the slaughter, the civilized world fought back, hit hard, went on the attack, rolled up the Afghan terrorist camps, toppled the Taliban. After the cartoons, we weaseled and equivocated and appeased and apologized and signaled that we were willing to trade core western values for a quiet life. And there is no quiet life, by the way. It's not an option.
So if you are one of the shrewder guys bent on the new caliphate, which would you say was the more telling event about the resolve of the western world? And which would you say is the more effective strategy? You don't need to fly jets into skyscrapers, and kill thousands of people. Because if you frame the issue in terms of so-called multicultural sensitivity, a faint-hearted west will bend over backwards to give you everything you want, including, eventually, the keys to those skyscrapers.
You do not need to impose Islamic law by the sword, because western liberals will volunteer for it in order to demonstrate their multicultural bone fides. So I feel very privileged to find myself in the same pantheon as Flemming Rose and Kurt Vestigard and Melanie Phillips. I think my fellow honorees have it tougher than me because they live in countries with no first amendment protection for free speech and no second amendment right to defend yourself against thugs who want to kill you, either.
But Denmark's fight and Britain's fight is America's too, because as the lights go out on liberty around the rest of the world, they will dim in the United states also. We've been talking today about jokes, humor, satire - jokes are a very important part of the social group. Society needs to have some things in common to hold it together, and the modern multicultural state is less and less holding it together.
For a while I had some sport with a novelist here in Europe, called Oscar van den Boogaard. I read an interview he gave to the Belgian newspaper Der Standard, and reflecting on the continent's accelerating Islamization, he concluded that the jig was up for the Europe he loved, but what could he do?
"I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom; I was only good at enjoying it."
And this seemed such a poignant epitaph for Europe that I started quoting it in speeches, and one thing led to another as it does, and I began adding that Oscar van den Boogaard is a Dutch, gay, humanist - which is, as I like to say, pretty much the trifecta of Euro-cool. It was a cheap crack, but it got a laugh, and back in the Netherlands eventually Mr. van den Boogaard got to hear what I was saying about him and even translated it for his Dutch readers, and he attempted to defend his remarks and expressed his best hope of saving his beloved Netherlands, and he said this:
"Islam must learn to laugh at itself."
Good luck betting the future on that. Islam doesn't need to laugh at itself because it's already too busy laughing at us. So on the one hand we have Oscar van den Boogaard and on the other hand we have the words of the Ayatollah Khomeini:
"There are no jokes in Islam."
Which would you bet on? Like van den Boogaard, I'm not a warrior. But sometimes you don't have any choice in the matter. To modify Trotsky, you may not be interested in Islam, but Islam is interested in you.
When I first saw the Canadian Islamic congress' indictment against me for flagrant Islamaphobia, I laughed my head off. Among the evidence of my "flagrant Islamaphobia" was my review of a Canadian TV sitcom called "Little Mosque on the Prairie." (laughter) And I was guilty of failing to find it sufficiently funny. It was a comedy about moderate Muslims, and I only found it moderately funny. Mainly because it's not comedy, it's propaganda. The Muslim characters get all the best lines, and the non-Muslim Canadians are always uptight, prejudice, drearily provincial, redneck, knuckle-dragging, bozo hicks. It's a classic multicultural, politically correct comedy. I was speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, and someone asked me a question about "Little Mosque on the Prairie," and I replied airily that, "Muslim is the new gay." (laughter) That line also appeared in the Canadian Islamic congress' indictment of me as a notorious Islamaphobe, so I tried to explain that I meant it as a compliment, but that only made things worse! (laughter)
The other line that was cited against me was ...actually not mine. It came from the Ayatollah Khomeini, and I quoted him as saying from his book, he wrote this book in the late 70's, it's basically dating advice, huge best seller in Iran, it's basically advice for Muslims asking questions and he responds with the answers, but there's a lot of useful dating advice, such as, "A Man who has had sexual relations with an animal shall not eat it's meat; he will commit sin." (laughter) So if you're using a computer dating agency..., and they fix you up with a nice goat, it's important to remember this. Now obviously I'm a civilized man, it would never...I would never DREAM of...it wouldn't occur to me, after having sex with my sheep or goat, then to say, 'boy, I'm in the mood for a lamb cob-bob right about now!' (laughter) So, a quiet cigarette, the lights down low, you can listen to your favorite Sinatra album, but you DON'T try to move her toward the grill. (laughter) That's a nice one...As I said, this isn't me, this is the Ayatollah Khomeini! I mean, this is comedy gold! (laughter) You should get his book! ...It's comedy gold! Comedy gold! (laughter)
And I came to appreciate, while finding myself on trial for things like this - the comment one fellow left on a website was that he was "in favor of free speech because the alternatives are just too weird." And I knew what he meant after I spent a week in Vancouver in British Columbia, attending my ludicrous show trial - I wasn't surprised, of course, by the usual Islamic scholars flown in from around the world, they'll probably be at your trial (points to someone in the room), and they'll be in the Netherlands too; they're sort of the international legal jet setters of Islam, they fly in from around the world to testify that to the "overwhelming majority of Muslims, the word jihad has nothing to do with killing infidels, or blowing stuff up, but is a harmless concept meaning healthy lifestyle, low-fat diet..." (laughter)
But I hadn't expected to see a...witness, spending the day in a Canadian courthouse, earnestly testifying on the critical question of whether my jokes were not merely lame but illegal, and indeed being examined by high-priced barristers and queen's council, and whether my "authorial tone" - this is the word the witnesses kept using - my "tone" was not merely inappropriate but criminal.
It looked like any normal courthouse in Canada with the royal coat of arms behind the judges, signifying that this proceeding is being conducted in the name of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II and is part of one of the oldest justice systems on the planet, yet that courthouse in Canada was engaged in a totalitarian act. It was presuming to have the authority to criminalize my jokes - and old, settled, democratic societies do not prosecute jokes, they do not prosecute cartoons, they do not criminalize your sense of humor. We leave that to others.
I don't know if you remember the Reverend Canaan Banana, but in 1980 he became the first president of independent Zimbabwe, and there was a little parting jest by the British colonial office, that they set up the first literal "Banana" republic. So Canaan Banana became the first president of Zimbabwe and folks in Zimbabwe also found it a pretty funny name, so the Zimbabwean parliament passed an act making it illegal to make jokes about the president's name, which in the end didn't do him much good, because later it came out that he had seduced his body guards, his gardener, his chef, several policeman and air force officers, and most of the players on the Zimbabwe government soccer team.
And poor old Canaan Banana found himself on trial for sodomy and by that point the law forbidding jokes about his name couldn't help it, because who needs gags when you have headlines like, "Banana Forced Officer to have Sex" (laughter) that's from The Guardian, and "Banana Appeals Against Sodomy Conviction" (laughter) that's the BBC, and my personal favorite, from the Daily Telegraph, after President Banana fled to South Africa, "Hand Over Banana, Mandela Told" (laughter)
But that's the point - it's places like Zimbabwe that criminalize jokes and there's something very wrong when Canada and Western Europe suddenly find themselves going down the same path. I reject that proposition. My sense of humor is not subject to state regulation - and more importantly, I reject the idea that Islam is beyond criticism. I can understand why observant Muslims would LIKE it to be beyond criticism, but I have nothing but contempt for western governments who want to help Islam achieve that goal.
I have nothing for contempt for men like the former Dutch Justice Minister Piet Donner, who said that he would not have a problem with sharia if the majority of people voted for it. Or with the Swedish Minister of Integration Jens Orback, who said we must be nice to Muslims now, so that when they are in the majority, they will be nice to us. (Actual quote: "We must be open and tolerant towards Islam and Muslims because when we become a minority, they will be so towards us.)
Or Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, whose response to the cartoons crisis was to propose a press charter that would oblige newspapers to exercise "prudence" when it comes to certain controversial subjects. These men are supposed to be the defenders of liberal, pluralist, free societies and instead they sound like they are competing to see who can be Islam's most submissive prison bitch - it is a disgrace! (applause)
Why would Islam ever learn to laugh at itself when the European political class is doing such a grand job of making itself a laughingstock? We're told all the time by western politicians and earnest news reporters that this or that action is "insensitive" toward Islam or "disrespectful" toward Islam. Representations of the prophet Mohamed are "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam", burning the Koran like this Florida pastor... was going to do is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam."
SO WHAT?! So what?! All kinds of things are "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"!
Having a christian bible in Saudi Arabia is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; letting a Jew visit Mecca is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; letting Pakistani Christians receive humanitarian relief after the recent floods is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; permitting a woman to drive in Riyadh is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam", permitting a young girl in Somalia to grow up without being genitally mutilated is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; permitting a third generation Pakistani girl in Yorkshire, England to choose a husband other than her cousin is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; permitting a woman in Waziristan to feel sunlight on her face is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; a chocolate swirl that kinda, sorta looks like the word Allah on top of a Burger King ice cream container is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; a school teacher that lets her pupils name a teddy bear Mohamed is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; Winnie the Pooh's best friend Piglet is "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"; I'm with them on that one, by the way - that's a fatwa I'll sign on to! (laughter)
Now all that's fine if you're a Muslim...but I'm not a Muslim. I'm a free-born citizen of the western world, and telling me what cartoons I can draw, what books I can publish, what films I can make, what plays I can write, what jokes I can tell is profoundly disrespect toward freedom and toward liberty. I have no respect for mobs who want to burn buildings and kill people over cartoons, and I have even less respect - if that's possible - for leaders of western societies who tell me I should. There's no point in worrying about what's "profoundly disrespectful toward Islam"!
I had the honor of being invited to the oval office a couple of years ago, and President Bush ran through selected highlights from the endless list of Islamic discontents, and eventually concluded with a sigh of desperation, "If it's not the crusades, it's the cartoons," he concluded, and I said to him, "That's great, you should put that on a bumper sticker!", because it encapsulates both Islam's inability to move on millennium in, millennium out, plus the perpetually aggrieved utter lack of proportion. They'll kill you over the crusades, or they'll kill you over a teddy bear, makes no difference, the killing part is consistent. (applause)
So I think it is very important. I've been listening today with great respect to people introducing the notion that some part of the left, some part of liberals are on board with all this, and I wish that were true, because I think that is the great lesson of the last few years, that in the end, the people who built, who were responsible for creating the pluralist, secular, multicultural societies that most of Western Europe and North America live in, the people who created them will not defend them, will not defend them.
Western feminists have accepted a two-tiered sisterhood, where if you're one kind of woman, you have the right to exploit your life and live you're life to the fullest, and if you're another kind of woman, you just have to put up with the fact that you're genitally mutilated at birth, you're shoved into a body bag for the rest of your life, and if you're lucky, you'll get to live out your three score and ten without being the victim of an honor killing by your brothers and your father and your cousins, because you want to choose who it is that you fall in love with.
Western feminists have signed on to a two-tiered sisterhood: Islam trumps feminism. I think it will be the same with gays, too. The Netherlands, people say how can this be happening? How can we have an epidemic of gay bashing in the most tolerant country in Europe? How can gays be being beaten up in the streets of Amsterdam, in the most tolerant city of Europe?
It's NOT an anomaly. It's BECAUSE it is so tolerant, that it tolerates anything, and when you tolerate anything, people get that message pretty quickly. Young Muslim men on the streets of Amsterdam have gotten the message: there is nothing - there is nothing - that these people will stand up for in their own society. The most famous gay hotel in Amsterdam recently turned Muslim, so if you're one of these Danish lesbians that I haven't yet had the privilege of meeting, and is the only reason I flew in for, and you're thinking of a weekend in Amsterdam, make sure you don't use an out-of-date guide book, because the most famous gay hotel in Amsterdam is now a Muslim hotel.
And it's the same way with the freedom of speech issues - that in the end, the left, the liberals, the people who have built these societies will not be here for you, so we have to be here instead. This relatively small network of people in Sweden, in the Netherlands, in Germany, in Canada, in New Zealand, who've found themselves under attack for wanting nothing more than the right to draw a cartoon or to tell a joke, we have to share the risk, so that every time - EVERY TIME - someone wants to make it a death threat, we share that risk and say, "You're going to have to kill us all!" (loud applause) "You're gonna have to kill us all!"
That is the most important thing you can take away from here today: let's put them on the defensive, let's say, ok, you want to kill us, you're going to have to kill us all. You better have a great line of credit at the bank of jihad, because this is going to be one almighty expensive operation.
We learned in the cartoon crisis, you know what they should have said in the cartoon crisis? The minute they started killing people, the issue of whether to publish the cartoons is over, really, because then it's a news story. I loathed the news coverage. I felt like I was watching my civilization drive itself off a cliff.
CNN covered the cartoons crisis by showing Mohamed with his face blurred and pixelated, as if he had entered the witness protection program. In reality, it was CNN that had entered the witness protection program, or thought it had, that it would be safe. Think about that: news editors at one of the biggest news networks in the world say, look, this is a cartoon, and they take it to the graphics department, and say, 'we'd like you to make the face all blurry,' and the graphics department says, 'well, it's a line drawing - why should I make it all blurry?'
That's how stupid the world has become! What they should have done, what they should have done, the minute people died, is the Times of London, Le Monde, the Washington Post, Der Spiegel, the Sidney Morning Herald, the South China Post, should all have said, 'we're all publishing these cartoons on the front page this Thursday!' And when they didn't, they told the jihad boys something very important: that in the end, we believe in nothing and we will stand for nothing. And so because they betrayed us, our small network has to stand together, has to stand together!
The most famous Danish story to us foreigners is Hans Christian Anderson's "The Emperor's New Clothes." If you haven't heard it.. (laughter) I don't know! You might get the multicultural studies in... it may not come up these days! You never know! (laughter)
Hans Christian Anderson got one thing wrong in that story. The way I think it would go these days, the little boy who points out that the emperor has no clothes, and suddenly the rest of the crowd joins in, and they're all laughing and jeering at the emperor, I'm not so sure it would go that way today. I think the little boy who points out that the emperor has no clothes, which is something that Lars has done and Shivana has done (points to people in the room), that instead the reaction of the crowd is to club the little boy to a pulp for drawing attention to the fact. That is what Hans Christian Anderson got wrong in that story, and it is a pretty big difference to get wrong. So those of us who are little boys pointing out that the king of multiculturalism has no clothes, have to band together, share the risk, and stand together around the world. Thank you very much indeed. (loud applause)
Welcome to FR!
They’ll have to kill us all, and I aim to make that an expensive operation.
Post video if it exists please. Steyn!
I hoped someone would do a transcript.
Mr Steyn is pointing out that Western Civilization is in danger of going out with a whimper in the flood of Muslim ‘outrage’ that is fed by every zealous Mosque leader who can get media coverage. Here we have CAIR who have well filled rolodexes looking for publicity yet strangely unwilling to look at any offenses from the Islamic World. This is the practiced use of petrodollars to flood our systems with practiced outrages like the UN Human Rights specifying any criticism of Islam as being a Rights Violation.Unless we in the West build our sinews from the limp pasta that they are currently at, we will continue to be a punching bag of those whose comfort zone is in the 9th Century!
Audio of it available at
The West has been internally corrupted from within by moral relativism.
It’s not possible to stand up to evil when you don’t have the moral confidence that you’re on the right side.
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