Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Land of the Mini Carta"

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced yesterday that Michael Savage (born Michael Alan Weiner), one of our nation's most popular conservative talk radio commentators, was named on a list of hate-mongers banned from entering the UK. The list also included neo-Nazi leader Erich Gliebe, former KKK Grand Wizard Stephen Donald Black, and Hamas member Yunis Al Astal, among other extremists who likely had no immediate plans to visit the UK.

For many years, I had to endure The Savage Nation radio show broadcasting in the car while my father drove me home from school. It didn't take many listens for me to realize that I hated few things more than Michael Savage and his trademark brand of angry nationalism. As for my father, he usually drove in silence, only rarely responding to the broadcast by accusing Savage of being hateful and racist. Given that neither of us seemed to like Savage, why did the radio remain tuned to his voice?

I suppose, bigoted though he was, there were some laughs to be had from his diatribes against Islamofascism, or his deliberate screening for liberal fool callers to annihilate on air. Yet, even though he was humorous and entertaining, he also seemed absolutely genuine in his views and above partisan politics, unlike Rush and the rest. I guess, even as I despised the man, a part of me admired his fierceness and consistency.

In any case, I now happily keep my own car free of his Savagery.

So imagine my surprise when, while listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR, I heard a familiar cantankerous voice. Savage had been invited on to respond to the day's news of the UK banning him. The segment was as farcical as everybody probably anticipated. Savage mostly just recited his opening remarks from the day's broadcast of his own show. When host Neal Conan tried to steer the conversation, Savage responded to questions with loaded questions of his own, quickly overpowering the surface objectivity of the flustered Conan. The interview came to an abrupt end when Conan took a listener call that Savage probably rightly perceived as an ambush.

Honestly, I'll be glad if that's the last time I ever have to hear his voice. Even so, while I found his show offensive, I never perceived his speech as threatening. Savage may indulge discontent, but, while it's been some years since I last tuned in, I don't recall ever hearing him advocating violence. I normally like to keep politics at a rifle's length, and so it remains as I say now that Jacqui Smith has earned his outrage this time with this rather absurd and arbitrary measure.

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