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Mark Steyn: Hey, Roeper! I was right
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | 11/24/2002 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 11/24/2002 11:41:13 AM PST by Pokey78

I see my colleague Richard Roeper has been kind enough to apologize to readers on my behalf. "If there's one thing conservatives despise more than liberals, it's admitting they were wrong. About anything," wrote Richard the other day. "Too many of them are bullies, and bullies aren't good at backtracking."

Who could he be talking about? Well, as it turned out, he was talking about me, and everyone's favorite excitable blond, Ann Coulter, and the New York Times' token non-leftie William Safire. What were we bullies bullying on about this time? ''An awful lot of conservatives really, really wanted the snipers to be terrorists,'' explained Richard.

''But they were wrong. I'll say that because they never will.''

As it happens, in the same week Roeper said I'd never say I was wrong, the Sun-Times' sister papers, the Spectator and the Jerusalem Post, ran a column of mine on the midterm elections headlined, ''I Was Wrong Again! Hurrah!" From this, the casual observer will deduce two things: 1) I said I was wrong; 2) and not for the first time, either.

Indeed, I find that in that week's Sunday Telegraph in Britain I also said--quote--''I was wrong,'' prompting Professor Glenn Reynolds to write on his Instapundit Web site ''You've got to admire a pundit who can admit when he's wrong.'' It would appear that I've cheerfully said I was wrong more times this month alone than Richard Roeper has in his entire career-- and we've still got a week to go! If it weren't that I'd look like an even bigger bully, I'd issue a strong demand for Roeper to have the guts to admit he was wrong about me never admitting I'm wrong.

As for the snipers, well, John Allen Muhammad is a supporter of al-Qaida who celebrated the Sept. 11 attacks by changing his name and intensifying his Islamic identity. John Lee Malvo, his ''ward,'' is an illegal alien or, in the current PC euphemism, ''undocumented.'' This particular member of the Undocumented-American community is from Jamaica, and Roeper has great sport with conservative paranoia about the poor schlub being ''one of those evil non-Americans'' from ''our dreaded rival, Jamaica.''

Include me out on that one. In those terms, I'm an evil non-American myself. Malvo and I were both born subjects of Her Britannic Majesty, he in Jamaica, I in Toronto. The issue is not where he's from but where he went: America. He was detained and released by the INS in breach of their own procedures. That's what ties young Malvo to Sept. 11: Like the Saudi mass murderers with their perfunctorily filled out joke visa forms, he's yet another guy let loose in this country by the federal bureaucracy to kill Americans.

So, for the moment, there are a lot of fellows who should be way ahead of me and Ann and Safire in the Apology line. Not just the feds, but state and local authorities, too. We now know that the snipers were stopped in the vicinity of the shootings at least 11 times, but on each occasion cops let them go because, as the D.C. chief told the Washington Post, ''everybody was looking for a white car with white people.''

Racial profiling, anyone? Federal sensitivity to the ''undocumented'' gave John Lee Malvo his opportunity to kill; state and local deference to the prevailing cultural biases enabled him to boost his body count.

Whether Muhammad and Malvo shot their victims as part of an Islamist scheme remains to be seen. If they didn't, I can assure Richard Roeper that this is one right-wing blowhard who won't stand on his dignity. After all, generally speaking, we conservatives take the world as we find it, instead of trying to jam weird new pegs into the old ideological holes: ''Stop Your Racist War!'' ''It's all about oil!''

For most of the left, ideology trumps everything, not least reality. A couple of weeks back, I wrote in this space: ''The Internet is abuzz with rumors about Paul Wellstone's death. According to syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall and Dr. Michael Niman, a media professor at Buffalo State College (New Yorkers' tax dollars at work!), Wellstone was killed by 'government gangsters' acting on the orders of the 'unelected' Bush and his corporate masters. Whatever, dudes.'' Dr. Niman has now written to say that ''I never said or wrote the words, 'government gangsters,' which are attributed to me in quotation marks, in reference to Paul Wellstone or anyone else. I also did not accuse George W. Bush of ordering any such killing.''

The phrase ''government gangsters'' is not from Niman but from his co-conspiracy theorist, Ted Rall. As to whether the professor implicated George W. Bush in the death of Sen. Wellstone, readers can judge for themselves by visiting the Web site alternet.org, on which his column appeared. If you have trouble locating it, it's titled ''Was Paul Wellstone Murdered?''

Calling for an international inquiry into his death, Niman does not directly accuse the president but the only guys he seems to think would have any motive for offing Wellstone are those for whom the idealistic senator had ''emerged as the most visible obstacle standing in the way of a draconian political agenda by an unelected government. And now he is conveniently gone.'' I don't know why Niman is suddenly so sheepish. If he's not implying that Wellstone was killed by forces linked to the ''unelected government,'' perhaps he could enlighten us as to what precise point his column was making.

Here's the thing: Ted Rall, Barbra Streisand and Niman reckon there's something fishy about the Wellstone crash for no other reason than that a left-wing man is dead and a right-wing government's in power. Say what you like about us right-wing nuts, but we know how to run a decent conspiracy theory: Vince Foster was at least dead in the park from a gunshot wound before we began dialing the talk shows with a riot of bizarre details.

But Ted and Barbra and the prof have no details: no black boxes, no autopsy inconsistencies, nothing but their own ideological animus. This, too, is revealing of the difference between left and right these days: Conservatism deals with specifics, liberalism subordinates everything to ideological generalities. It's enough that Wellstone is progressive and Bush is an oil stooge. QED. The trouble is the generalities don't fit the real world, whether in that plane crash or in the sniper case.

Chris Patten, when he was chairman of Britain's Tory Party, liked to say, ''The facts of life are conservative.'' Whether one agrees with that, what's clear since Sept. 11 is that the facts of life are not liberal. Which is why the left has less and less interest in anything so humdrum as facts.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: marksteynlist

1 posted on 11/24/2002 11:41:13 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...

2 posted on 11/24/2002 11:42:39 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
I read the Roeper rant and wanted to puke. I'm glad that Steyn took the time to respond.
3 posted on 11/24/2002 11:47:25 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Pokey78
For most of the left, ideology trumps everything, not least reality.
Can anyone say "election law"? I knew you could.
4 posted on 11/24/2002 11:49:10 AM PST by Dutchgirl
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To: Pokey78
bump
5 posted on 11/24/2002 12:14:58 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Pokey78
I don't see why everyone keeps insisting that Muhammad and Malvo can't be "terrorists" unless they are affiliated with an organized group. They can be freelance jihadis, inspired by the organized groups. They are still terrorists.
6 posted on 11/24/2002 12:18:40 PM PST by lady lawyer
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To: Pokey78
"This particular member of the Undocumented-American community..."

Undocumented-American as another form of hyphnenation!

ROFLMAO!!!!!!!

LONG LIVE MARK STEYN!!!!

7 posted on 11/24/2002 12:22:29 PM PST by badfreeper
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To: Pokey78
Conservatism deals with specifics, liberalism subordinates everything to ideological generalities.

  I'm whipping that out the next time some twinkie is stupid enough to argue with me.

The quote that is....

8 posted on 11/24/2002 12:32:17 PM PST by Fintan
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To: Pokey78
Like the Saudi mass murderers with their perfunctorily filled out joke visa forms, (Malvo is) yet another guy let loose in this country by the federal bureaucracy to kill Americans

C'mon, Mark. Give it to us straight. Don't sugar coat it!

9 posted on 11/24/2002 12:55:17 PM PST by Gritty
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To: All
Not to change the subject, but can someone give me the link to the story about the mother who slapped her daughter and was either arrested or taken to task over it?

Thanks in advance for any help.
10 posted on 11/24/2002 1:13:23 PM PST by frnewsjunkie
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To: Pokey78
If they were right-wingers, does anyone doubt the left would be calling them terrorists, even in the absense of any connection to other right-wingers? And does anyone doubt they'd be blaming everyone to the right of John McCain?

Free-lance terrorist is not a contradiction in terms.

11 posted on 11/24/2002 1:40:03 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: Pokey78
the facts of life are not liberal. Which is why the left has less and less interest in anything so humdrum as facts.
All the left is interested in is PR. Conservatism is interested in what works. So leftism is simply the difference between good policy and good PR.

12 posted on 11/24/2002 2:01:35 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: Pokey78
Bump
13 posted on 11/24/2002 2:40:53 PM PST by facedown
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To: lady lawyer
Anyone who doesn't see that the snipers were acting out of jihad is a fool.
14 posted on 11/24/2002 2:52:00 PM PST by Bullish
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To: scholar; Bullish
Ping
15 posted on 11/24/2002 3:41:01 PM PST by knighthawk
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To: Pokey78
The Black Muslim Farrakahn follower, with illegal alien sidekick from the Islands, IS a terrorist!
16 posted on 11/24/2002 3:58:16 PM PST by MonroeDNA
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To: Pokey78
I could never figure out why Roger Ebert picked Roeper to succeed Gene Siskel when he died. Roeper has always been meaner than a snake. Ebert is a gigantic liberal, but he's not mean, petty and vindictive.
17 posted on 11/24/2002 4:18:03 PM PST by nygoose
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To: Pokey78
Liberalism's chief operating principle today is apparently to tell people that they are not responsible for their lousy lives. Someone else is, and that someone is mostly likely that nasty, adult, white, male Republican who spends every waking moment (and a lot of dreaming ones) scheming and thinking of ways to do nasty things to people who aren't adult, white, male Republicans. In short paranoia and ignorance are what the Democrats offer to the American public nowadays.
18 posted on 11/24/2002 5:21:20 PM PST by driftless
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To: Pokey78
Here's the thing: Ted Rall, Barbra Streisand and Niman reckon there's something fishy about the Wellstone crash for no other reason than that a left-wing man is dead and a right-wing government's in power. Say what you like about us right-wing nuts, but we know how to run a decent conspiracy theory: Vince Foster was at least dead in the park from a gunshot wound before we began dialing the talk shows with a riot of bizarre details.

Zackley.

19 posted on 11/24/2002 6:10:23 PM PST by MeekOneGOP
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To: Pokey78; All
Maybe the INS isn't bleeding heart kind. Maybe the INS takes bribes.

Malvo and I were both born subjects of Her Britannic Majesty, he in Jamaica, I in Toronto. The issue is not where he's from but where he went: America. He was detained and released by the INS in breach of their own procedures. That's what ties young Malvo to Sept. 11: Like the Saudi mass murderers with their perfunctorily filled out joke visa forms, he's yet another guy let loose in this country by the federal bureaucracy to kill Americans.

20 posted on 11/24/2002 7:39:58 PM PST by GOPJ
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To: Pokey78
Conservatism deals with specifics, liberalism subordinates everything to ideological generalities

Add to that, solipsism (the view that only the self exists, as the self perceives itself (and the world) to exist---in other words, a liberal's view of the world is "true" simply because the liberal believes it to be, despite any and all concrete evidence to the contrary).

21 posted on 11/25/2002 4:43:14 AM PST by nicmarlo
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To: lady lawyer
"I don't see why everyone keeps insisting that Muhammad and Malvo can't be "terrorists" unless they are affiliated with an organized group. They can be freelance jihadis, inspired by the organized groups. They are still terrorists."

Exactly. They responded to Bin Ladin, who commanded all muslims everywhere to commit jihad against us.
22 posted on 11/25/2002 5:08:00 AM PST by keats5
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To: keats5
They responded to Bin Ladin, who commanded all muslims everywhere to commit jihad against us.

B-b-but that's hate speech!!

23 posted on 11/25/2002 5:26:06 AM PST by martin gibson
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To: Pokey78
thanks pokey! (still hate hmongerin, i see)
24 posted on 11/26/2002 6:45:57 AM PST by 1john2 3and4
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To: Pokey78

Heh, heh, heh-heh...he said, "Coulter"


25 posted on 11/26/2002 6:59:34 AM PST by Hatteras
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