First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
--Pastor Martin Niemoller
From the people who brought you the wildly successful WWII-era appeasement policies...the following is a partial list of the 101 people that have been listed as "unwelcome" in Great Britain by the United Kingdom's Home Office:
Yunis Al Astal - Hamas terrorist and radical preacher who urged his subjects to conquer Rome
Stephen Donald Black - Former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of StormFront
Erich Gliebe - White Supremacist and CEO of the National Alliance neo-Nazi group
Samir Kuntar - terrorist and convicted murderer of 4 Israelis including a four year old whose head he smashed with the butt of a rifle
Nasr Javed - senior operative of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba
Shirley Phelps-Roper - anti-gay activist and member of the Westboro Baptist Church which conducts demonstrations at the funerals of American soldiers and AIDS victims thanking God for killing them
Michael (Alan Weiner) Savage - conservative radio personality of the Savage Nation, the 3rd most popular talk show in the United States
An American TALK SHOW HOST is on the same list as convicted murderers, terrorists, neo-Nazis and people who disrupt the funerals of heroes for some insane, twisted religious agenda? A list of people that are barred entry into one of the great Western democracies includes a former botanist...? That seems a little out of line, doesn't it?
Well, let's take a look at the reasons for this. The Home Office states the following on their site:
Statement from the Home Secretary
Jacqui Smith said, 'Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life. Therefore, I will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views as I want them to know that they are not welcome here.
'The government opposes extremism in all its forms and I am determined to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. This is the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour.'
All right...people who abuse Great Britain's "standards and values" and "foster extremist views" are banned in Britain. Well, if that's the case, here is a short list of people who apparently DO NOT abuse any British standards and must not be extremists in the eyes of the Home Office.
All of which are included on this year's Parade Magazine "World's Worst Dictators" list...except for Arafat because he's dead and Chavez because I guess he's not "out of the closet" yet, since technically he is still winning "elections" and all.
In any case, none of those men made the British Home Office's list and all have visited London within the past decade. Between them on the list, these dictators have been responsible for the following:
1. Violence against their opposition, including killing supporters of their rivals
2. Repression of women - barring them from working, traveling or driving (hmmmm maybe not such a bad idea...hardy har har just kidding Britain please don't ban me too)
3. Forced "dissidents" (loosely defined as anyone who disagrees with the government) into "reeducation camps"
4. Complete and total strangulation of all media
5. Promoting international terrorism, often against British citizens or British allies
6. Countless deaths, often literally as their countries' news services do not report them, of their own subjects due to political purges, denial of medical services, horrendous domestic policies aimed at social "progress" or enforcing religious law. Between them they arguably have the blood of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.
Many of these dictators have committed several of these offenses, by no means are they limited to only one. All have been welcome in Britain. None have been named by the Home Office.
But Michael Savage has.
Now make no mistake...Michael Savage has said some highly offensive things in his day. I've been an on-again-off-again regular listener since at least 2004. So I know a little about him and a little about the show. I can tell you I disagree with most of what he says...especially when he launches into tirades about Obama-related conspiracies to monitor your health records from birth or when he opines about autistic kids or when he refers to Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck as "the leprechaun" and "the hemorrhoid" respectively...
However, Dr. Savage (as his army of devoted listeners - estimated at 8 to 10 million - refer to him) has also been a staunch defender of Israel, a tireless crusader for individual rights and freedom of speech, a major critic of unnecessarily big government and enemy of terrorism and fascism the world over. He has used his show as a platform to rail against Islamic totalitarianism and has been a leader in exposing many issues - such as the Van Jones disaster - long before the mainstream media gets involved.
Critics claim he is a "hate-monger" and "homophobe" but frequent listeners will tell you that many of his bombastic claims and rants are part of his legendary ability to get on free-association rolls. In all, much of the criticism leveled at him is taken out of context. And of course some of it may be justified. If you disagree with his viewpoints, you will have a lot to disagree with - as Savage holds nothing back and pulls no punches whatsoever. In fact, he even has the following statement before every show begins:
"Warning: The Michael Savage Show contains adult language, adult content, psychological nudity. Listener discretion is advised."
In other words...expect to be offended and if you don't like that, change the station quickly. Frequent readers of mine will remember that this isn't the first time a controversial radio show was the inspiration for a post on this blog, so this has never been a problem for me personally. It also wasn't an issue for the reporter who did a rather positive profile on Savage for the New Yorker - which could not be confused for a right-wing publication by anyone's wildest fantasy.
In any case, it's clear that Savage, whether you agree with his views or not, has said some very outlandish things that most would consider offensive and many might even consider hateful.
Guess what. Whether he offends you or me or your mother is IRRELEVANT.
Let's go back to the list of people the Home Office didn't ban. Do you know what they all have in common? BLOOD.
Michael Savage is an ENTERTAINER. His job is to ENTERTAIN people. And his fans adore him. He's not getting on his radio show and telling people to blow up cars or bomb buildings...he's just expressing his opinions which is his Constitutional right in this country and should be in any other self-respecting democratic nation. For Great Britain to put him on a banned list for SPEAKING while ignoring the TANGIBLE ACTIONS of repressive dictators and terrorists who force religious law and totalitarian rule on their subjects is a disgrace of the highest order.
What honest democracy could possibly hope to govern fairly if there are limits on what the citizenry can and cannot say? You may not like Michael Savage or his viewpoints, but a lot of people agree with him and he represents a movement in this country that can not and should not be stifled. You can paint him as a hate-monger, but in reality he just says a lot of things that you and your friends probably say to each other when you think no one can hear you. And if you don't? Who cares! If you don't like it, change the station. Censorship is wrong in a liberal democracy. It's wrong when it's applied to anyone, whether they are political commentators, shock jocks, Geert Wilders or just random people walking down the street.
People like to act as if shutting up opposing viewpoints will make them go away. But they won't. In fact, all you accomplish by stifling viewpoints that you disagree with is to create an atmosphere of repression instead of creating an atmosphere of open debate. One option has the potential to actually settle disputes in a civilized way and bring both sides to understand each other. Repression on the other hand leads to other things...
Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.
Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people.
--Heinrich Heine, 1821
You see there is something very annoying about hearing things you don't want to hear. No one wants to be subjected to listening to people they don't like, saying things they don't like. And it is very satisfying to silence these opposing viewpoints after you've heard them.
But it never stops with just "shock jocks" like Michael Savage. Nor will it stop with him just being barred entry to a country he probably wasn't heading towards anytime soon anyway. Expect every introduction and conversation about Savage to include a tag line such as "notorious shock jock Michael Savage, who was recently BANNED from entering Britain" as part of the movement to have him taken off the air in the United States as well. Remember Savage was already fired once for telling a caller to "get AIDS and die" on MSNBC. Offensive? Sure. But who forced you to listen or watch in the first place?
No, it never ends with this. Because once these people have acheived this power they start to feel like they need to go after other viewpoints they don't like. Hannity, O'Reilly, Glenn Beck - all have made offensive comments in the past...but it is their Constitutional right to do so. And what they say is no worse than the Bill Mahers and Jon Stewarts of the world. Are we going to go after them too? Will they too be banned in Britain? Will anyone who says something Jacqui Smith (or her replacement) doesn't like be denied an an entry visa? Where does it end?
How about instead of going after entertainers, comedians, political commentators and Michael Savage we focus our energy on people like Mugabe, Assad, Abdullah...you know, people who have ACTUALLY BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR REAL DEATH DESTRUCTION AND VIOLENCE - as opposed to just talking about it like the talk show hosts. How about instead of banding together to support a self-admitted child-molester like Roman Polanski, we rally in support of real freedom of speech and expression??
They won't do it - because they don't want to hear Michael Savage. But someday, there may be someone who doesn't want to hear them either.
And then who's going to be left speak up for them?
Who's going to speak up for you?
Click here to sign the petition to free Michael Savage