Wow, Tim Blair has a long memory. I see that he has linked to a post here from 2006 in which I did something I haven't done for a very long time - defend Mark Steyn.
For some, this will no doubt raise the question of how much my political colours have changed since I started the blog. It has certainly long irked Catallaxy commenters that I maintain "conservative" in the title of this place, despite my support of the Gillard government, disdain for Tea Party and "conservative" politics of America, dismay at the election of Trump, and full support of climate change action (ideally, by a carbon price - but I remain skeptical of emissions trading schemes).
Now I have been through this exercise before, but it doesn't hurt to re-state it:
People should remember that I was completely unimpressed by Kevin Rudd from the start, and was calling out his apparent personality issues long before their true extent became clear; I have never resiled from basic support of the Howard government; I still think much of the criticism of George W Bush was overblown even though the Iraqi intervention turned out to be something of a disaster; I would much prefer that gay relationships were recognised as civil unions rather than marriage; I'm pretty skeptical of the way many now think of transexualism, too; I'm leery of IVF and certainly against the mooted "brave new world" of things such as three parent babies; I think much of pro-decriminalisation of drugs argument is ill founded and continually oversimplifies the issue, and I would be perfectly happy if we could maintain the one legal drug of alcohol, with appropriate constraints; I've been as dismayed as anyone about the rise of ISIS and the ongoing fallout the world is suffering from an internal Islamic dispute stemming back more than 1,000 years. I've posted quite a few times about the seemingly peculiar susceptibility of Islamic societies to conspiracy and rumour; although since the rise of the importance of fake news to the Trump voter, clearly I can now be called out as being a bit unfair in singling out the Islamic societies in that regard.
Here's the thing: it's the American Right (and its Australian followers) that has moved since the start of this blog from a position of "reasonable" conservatism to one of unreasonable, ideologically based positions that are no longer pragmatic, but in fact aggressively dismissive of evidence.
The prime bell-ringer of this change is global warming, of course, where Mark Steyn and his ilk have basically been conned by a mere handful of contrarian scientists and a much larger body of amateur self-aggrandising wannabe scientists and propagandists (Monckton, Watts, Inhofe, etc). It's the climate change denialists who have moved from mere skepticism about the exaggeration of some forecasts of the imminent effects of climate change into the world of dishonest or disingenuous cherry picking of graphs and quotes, and conspiracy belief about how science works, and thus unwisely decided to double down rather than admit they were wrong. Steyn in particular fully deserves to be sued for defamation by Mann, who I hope succeeds in his action. Andrew Bolt is similarly impervious to evidence.
The same thing can be said of economics, too: the American Right can't get over belief in Laffernomics, despite recent and older examples of its failure. In a sense, though, their gullibility on this is more explicable than it is on climate change - as I noted recently, there is so much going on in societies that economics presents a wealth of opportunity to come up with multiple explanations for current economic success or failure. I don't think that climate change science allows even half way plausible alternatives.
And then there is the issue of Islam. It is a serious problem, of course, whenever a group of immigrants seek to bring illiberal attitudes, violence or crime into a society that is prepared to given them a home. But the likes of Steyn have, I think, lost historical perspective on the matter, and are now prone to exaggeration on the risk of terrorism. Furthermore, it seems to me that anyone on the Right who supported the Iraq invasion has some gall if they try to shift the blame for the humanitarian crises we see subsequently from the Islamic Middle East onto a Left which never supported the de-stabilising effort in the first place.
I think Andrew Bolt is particularly offensive with his "who let them in?" dog whistles whenever there is migrant crime in Australia. There is no doubt humanitarian immigration is something worthy; there is also no doubt that sometimes it comes with gang related problems, for a time. And there is also no doubt there is no magic detector for working out which migrant families may harbour future gang members.
Other examples of the ways in which the American Right has come to dismay me: the barely disguised racism underpining much of the Right wing populist attack on Obama, and their non common-sensical approach to gun control which would consider Ronald Reagan to be a Lefty on the issue.
So there you have it - it's so called American Right wing conservatism which has walked away from the reasonable, under the influence of a variety of self serving interests; not me. And Mark Steyn is a prime example of someone who has followed this sad path.
Update: the blips on my hit map alert me to the fact that Mark Steyn has picked up on Tim Blair's post, and in doing so has linked to my old post too (and referred to this blog by name.) Obviously, Mark is not a regular reader here...and nor will many of his referrals if they look around the modern incarnation of the blog!