Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mark Steyn on Australia's John Howard

Mark Steyn's column in The Australian tomorrow (HT: Hugh Hewitt) is a tribute to Australia's former Prime Minister John Howard.

First, the prime minister grasped the particular challenge posed by Islam. "I've heard those very silly remarks made about immigrants to this country since I was a child," said the Democrats' Lyn Allison. "If it wasn't the Greeks, it was the Italians ... or it was the Vietnamese." But those are races and nationalities. Islam is a religion, and a political project, and a globalised ideology. Unlike the birthplace of your grandfather, it's not something you leave behind in the old country.

Indeed, the pan-Islamic identity embraced by many second and third-generation Muslims in the West has very little to do with where their mums and dads happen to hail from. "You can't find any equivalent in Italian or Greek or Lebanese or Chinese or Baltic immigration to Australia. There is no equivalent of raving on about jihad," said Howard, stating the obvious in a way most of his fellow Western leaders could never quite bring themselves to do.

"Raving on about jihad" is a splendid line which meets what English law used to regard as the reasonable-man test. If you're a reasonable bloke slumped in front of the telly watching jihadists threatening to behead the Pope or Muslim members of Britain's National Health Service ploughing a blazing automobile through the check-in desk at Glasgow airport, "raving on about jihad" fits in a way that President George W. Bush's religion-of-peace pabulum doesn't. Bush and Tony Blair can be accused of the very opposite of the traditional politician's failing: they walked the walk but they didn't talk the talk. That's to say neither leader found a rhetoric for the present struggle that resonated. Howard did.

Likewise, Peter Costello. Sympathising with Muslims who wish to live under sharia law, he mused: "There are countries that apply religious or sharia law: Saudi Arabia and Iran come to mind. If a person wants to live under sharia law these are countries where they might feel at ease. But not Australia." It's a glum reflection on the times that such an observation should be controversial.

Yet it stands in marked contrast to, say, the Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, who remarked that if the electors voted to bring in sharia he'd be OK with that, or the Swedish politician who said that Swedes should be "nice to Muslims while we are in the majority so that when they are in the majority they will be nice to us".

Steyn has an uncanny ability to put his finger on the pulse of a situation. Plain-speaking leaders like Howard and Costello are a breath of fresh air in a world full of mealy-mouthed blabberers like President Bush, when it comes to addressing the jihadis. I hope Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd continues the plain speaking from Down Under.


Jacob said...

We also had to put up with 11 and a half years of blame shifting and solid lies from this man, whose main asset in holding on to power was his words. He was a leader who, in spite of this, locked kids away in prisons in the desert, was completely and totally obseqious to the US on almost every point in defiance of what the Australian people overwhelmingly thought.

Peter Costello was a smirking shit, through and through, a terrible communicator and a bit of a shitstain on the Australian political scene, and it was due in a very large part to him that Howard was defeated by such a huge margin at last week's election.

Anything that either of them said about the Islamic religion was said purely to mollify and stroke the racist streak that Australia has been smeared with for pretty much all of its history. Even worse was the things they didn't say, but allowed some of the fringe elements of the Parliament to say for him (see: Pauline Hanson, Bill Heffernen, Bronwyn Bishop).

SkyePuppy said...


I was hoping you'd reply. America is very self-centered in the sense that we only get the news about other places when it relates to us. In World History class in school, once we got to America's founding they skipped any world events that we weren't involved in (Crimean War, Boer War). So I know what we've heard about Howard & Costello has been only what had the words, "America" or "War on Terror," in it.

Still, I will miss their outspokenness to the Shariafication groups. Just once at least, I'd like to hear President Bush or other high official here tell these people, "This is America, and we welcome all legal immigrants, but only under the rule of our constitution and legal structure. If you don't like who we are, go someplace else more to your liking."

But that doesn't happen. Instead they cave in to CAIR's demands for the re-education of the infidels.

I wish you well with PM Rudd. I don't expect to learn much about him, except how he reacts toward America.