The Undocumented Mark Steyn

The Undocumented Mark Steyn

by Mark Steyn

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Overview

The Undocumented Mark Steyn by Mark Steyn

He's brash, brilliant, and drawn to controversy like a moth to a flame. For decades, Mark Steyn has dazzled readers around the world with his raucous wit and brutal honesty. Whether he's sounding off on the tyranny of political correctness, the existential threat of Islamic extremism, the "nationalization" of the family, or the "near suicidal stupidity" of America's immigration regime, Steyn is always provocative—and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. The Undocumented Mark Steyn gathers Steyn's best columns in a timeless and indispensable guide to the end of the world as we know it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621573180
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
Publication date: 10/20/2014
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 281,112
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Mark Steyn, the bestselling author of America Alone and After America , is a globetrotting commentator, broadcaster, and recording artist who seems to have been everywhere and to have met everyone. His writing on war, politics, the arts, and culture has appeared in most of the major English-language newspapers around the world.

Read an Excerpt

Signs of the Times

Whenever I write about the corrosive effect of Big Government upon the citizenry in Britain, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere, and note that this republic is fairly well advanced upon the same grim trajectory, I get a fair few letters on the lines of: “You still don’t get it, Steyn. Americans aren’t Euro-pansies. Or Canadians. We’re not gonna take it.”

I would like to believe it. It’s certainly the case that Americans have more attitude than anybody else—or, at any rate, attitudinal slogans. I saw a fellow in a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt the other day. He was at LaGuardia, and he was being trod all over, by the obergropinfu¨hrers of the TSA, who had decided to subject him to one of their enhanced pat-downs. There are few sights more dismal than that of a law-abiding citizen having his genitalia pawed by state commissars, but having them pawed while wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” T-shirt is certainly one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I like “Don’t Tread on Me.” Also, “Don’t Mess with Texas”—although the fact that 70 percent of births in Dallas’s largest hospital are Hispanic suggests that someone has messed with Texas in recent years, and fairly comprehensively.

In my own state, the Department of Whatever paid some fancypants advertising agency a couple of million bucks to devise a new tourism slogan. They came up with “You’re Going to Love It Here!,” mailed it in, and cashed the check. The state put it up on the big “Bienvenue au New Hampshire” sign on I-93 on the Massachusetts border, and ten minutes later outraged Granite Staters were demanding it be removed and replaced with “Live Free or Die.” So it was. Americans are still prepared to get in-your-face about their in-your- face slogans.

No other nation has license-plate mottos like “Live Free or Die.” No other nation has songs about how “I’m proud to be a Canadian” or “Australian” or “Slovenian”—or at least no songs written in the last twenty years in a contemporary pop vernacular. And yet, underneath the attitudinal swagger, Americans are—to a degree visiting Continentals often remark upon—an extremely compliant people.

For example, if you tootle along sleepy two-lane rural blacktops, the breaks in the solid yellow line are ever farther apart. One can drive for miles and miles without an opportunity to pass. Motoring around Britain and Europe, I quickly appreciate being on a country lane and able to see the country, as opposed to admiring rural America’s unending procession of bend signs, pedestrian- approaching signs, stop signs, stop-sign-ahead signs, stop-sign-ahead-signs-ahead signs, pedestrian-approaching-a-stop-sign signs, designated-scenic-view-ahead signs, parking-restrictions-at-the-designated-scenic-view signs, etc. It takes me a little longer to get used to the idea that I’m free to pass other cars pretty much whenever I want to, as opposed to settling in behind Granny for the rest of the day as the unbroken yellow lines stretch lazily down broad, straight, empty rural blacktop, across the horizon and into infinity. Want to pass on a blind bend in beautiful County Down or the Dordogne? Hey, it’s your call. Your decision. Fancy that.

Italian tanks may have five gears for reverse and only one for forward, but in a Fiat the size of your cupholder it’s a different story. The French may plant trees on the Champs-E´lyse´es because the Germans like to march in the shade, but they’ll still pass you at 120 on the Grande Corniche. When you’ve done your last cheese-eating surrender-monkey crack, that cloud in your windshield is a dinged deux chevaux leaving your fully loaded SUV for dust. Continentals would never for a moment tolerate the restrictive driving conditions of the United States, and they don’t understand why Americans do. Mon dieu, is not America the land of the car chase?

Gitcha motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure. . . .


Actually, America is the land of the car-chase movie. Off-screen, it’s a more sedate affair. Gitcha motor running, head out on the highway, shift down to third gear as there’s a stop-sign-ahead sign ahead. At dinner in Paris, I listened to a Frenchman and an Italian while away the entre´e chortling at how docile and deferential Americans are.

Most of all they were amused by the constant refrain from the American right that if the nation doesn’t change course it will end up as mired in statism as Europe. “Americans love Big Government as much as Europeans,” one chap told me. “The only difference is that Americans refuse to admit it.” He attributed this to our national myth-making—“I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” Yet, on that two-lane blacktop, unlike the despised French surrender monkeys, Americans are not to be trusted to reach their own judgment on when it’s safe to pull out and leave Gran’ma eating dust. Odd.

But these days what can Americans be trusted with? The U.S. has more highway signs than almost any other country: not just mile markers but fifth- of-a-mile markers; not just “Stop” signs, but four-way “Stop” signs. America also has the worst automobile fatality rate in the developed world, in part because there’s so much fascinating reading material on the shoulder. Our automobile fatality rate is three times that of the Netherlands, about the same as Albania’s, down at sixty-second in the global rankings, just ahead of Tajiki- stan and Papua New Guinea. President Obama warns that unless we “invest” more in roads, we risk becoming “a nation of potholes”—just like Albania. Except that there’ll be federally mandated “Pothole Ahead” signs in front of each one.

You may have noticed those new lime green pedestrian signs sprouting across the fruited plain, in many cases where no pedestrian has been glimpsed in years. Some new federal regulation requires them to be posted wherever pedestrians are to be found, or might potentially be found in the years ahead. I just drove through Barre, Vermont, which used to be the granite capital of the state but, as is the way, now offers the usual sad Main Street of vacant storefronts and non-profit community-assistance joints. For some reason, it has faded pedestrian crossings painted across the street every few yards. So, in full compliance with the Bureau of Compliance, those new signs have been stuck in front of each one, warning the motorist of looming pedestrians, spring- ing from curb to pavement like Alpine chamois.

The oncoming army of lurid lime signs uglies up an already decrepit Main Street. They dominate the scene, lining up in one’s windshield with the math- ematical precision of Busby Berkeley’s chorines in Gold Diggers of 1935. And they make America look ridiculous. They are, in fact, double signs: One lime green diamond with the silhouette of a pedestrian, and then below it a lime rectangle with a diagonal arrow, pointing to the ground on which the hypo- thetical pedestrian is likely to be hypothetically perambulating. The lower sign is an exquisitely condescending touch. A nation whose citizenry is as stupid as those markers suggest they are cannot survive. But, if we’re not that stupid, why aren’t we outraged?

What’s the cost of those double signs—three hundred bucks per? That’s the best part of four grand wasted on one little strip of one little street in one small town. It’s not hard to see why we’re the Brokest Nation in History: You can stand at almost any four-way across the land, look in any direction, and see that level of statist waste staring you in the face. Doesn’t that count as being trod on? They’re certainly treading on your kids. In fact, they’ve stomped whatever future they might have had into the asphalt.

A variant of my readers’ traditional protestation runs like this: “Americans aren’t Europeans, Steyn. We have the Second Amendment, and they don’t.” Very true. And Vermont has one of the highest rates of firearms ownership in the nation. And Howard Dean has a better record on gun rights than Rudy Giuliani. Or Chris Christie. But one would be reluctant to proffer the Green Mountain State as evidence of any correlation between gun rights and small government. And Continentals don’t see a gun rack in your pickup as much consolation for not being able to pass for the next twenty-eight miles.

If I’ve sounded a wee bit overwrought in recent columns, it’s because America is seizing up before our eyes. And I’m a little bewildered by how many Americans can’t see it. I think about that chap at LaGuardia with “Don’t Tread on Me” on his chest, and government bureaucrats in his pants. And I wonder if America’s exceptional attitudinal swagger isn’t providing a discreet cover for the withering of liberty. Sometimes an in-your-face attitude blinds you to what’s going on under your nose.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Me and My Little Black Dress ix

I Up, Down, Over and Out

Viagra Nation 1

Decaffeinated 6

Unsung Songs 9

Oh, Say, Can You See? 14

II Spirits of the Age

Life Class 23

E Pluribus Composite 26

Sheet Music 32

Did the Earth Summit Move for You? 36

The Media's Maternal Instincts 40

Living Large 44

III The Republic of Manners

Potpourri Roasting on an Open Fire 51

Last Dance 55

We've Figured It Out 58

The Audacity of Grope 62

In the Absence of Guns 67

Arms Are for Dining 73

IV The Bureau of Compliance

Signs of the Times 79

Carried to Extremes 84

Illegally Admiring the King's Deer 87

Ninjas vs. Turtles 91

The Butt Stops Here 99

V Homeland Security

Priorities 105

Choc and Awe 109

The All-Seeing Nanny 112

The Paramilitarized Bureaucracy 117

VI The Stories we Tell

Meeting Mr. Bond 123

Boy, Meats, Girl 128

Look Where Your Stories Have Landed You 134

Cover Story 141

When Harry Met Hillary 145

VII Imperial Echoes

Keeping It 151

Queer Theory 156

Son of Empire 160

The People's Queen 166

Celebrity Caesar 170

The Footstools of Camelot 174

VIII September 12

History's Calling Card 179

The Brutal Afghan Winter 181

The Brutal Cuban Winter 186

The Limits 191

Too Big to Win 194

Drone Alone 202

A National Disgrace 205

The Man at the Border 209

IX The War on Women

My Sharia Amour 217

Barbie in a Burqa 223

How Unclean Was My Valley 228

X Mystic Chords

Sounds of the Rude World 235

Decoration Day 240

Say, It Ain't So Joe 244

Happy Birthday, Mister Bob 249

We Aren't the World 253

The Parliament of Euro-Man 258

Changing His Tune 263

Changing His Words 267

Moon River and Me 270

XI After Work

The Aristorockracy 279

The Waste of People 282

A Town with Pity 285

The Post-Work Economy 290

Tribal America 294

XII Birth of Tomorrow

Post-Modern Family 301

Only the Clonely 305

Stork Report 309

The Right to Choose 314

How Weird How Soon? 317

XIII Curtains

Double Act 323

Croc of Gold 328

Every Dog Should Have His Day 333

The Seventy-Year Itch 339

XIV Last Laughs

Joking Aside 347

The Pinkshirts 351

Little Stasi-on-Avon 357

"There Is No More Molly" 362

The Unsafe Space 369

XV Lengthened Shadows

Footsteps in the Desert 377

Sex at Sunset 381

A Stroll at Twilight 384

XVI Against the Grain

Dutch Courage 389

The Uncowardly Lioness 393

The Reformation of Manners 397

Postscript: Everyone's a Critic

Throwaway Line 403

My Favorite Wahhabi 405

Of All the Gin Joints in All the Towns in All the World 409

Laying It on the Line 411

Acknowledgments 417

Index 419

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