Mark Steyn: a brezzy, larky type — until he waves a gun at you, says Julie Burchill

In a review of The (Un)Documented Mark Steyn, Julie Burchill sympathises with the author’s profound distrust of Islamism and the risk it poses to peace, progress and piano bars

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Mark Steyn is sort of a hairy, successful version of me— a civilised, larky type of chap who was just tootling along minding his own biz and scribbling about his favourite show-tunes when — crash, bang, wallop! — he found himself on the frontline of commentating on the clash of civilisations. He is obsessed with the fact that Islamism poses the greatest risk to peace, progress and piano bars since the second world war and is unable to comprehend why so many people seem so bovinely oblivious to this fact.

Like Richard Littlejohn — another fine, undervalued writer — he is unfashionable, not using 20 words when two will do and never apologising for being alive. I don’t agree with him on everything — but who fears being challenged in their beliefs except someone not entirely secure in them? I’m with him — as I am with Melanie Phillips — on foreign affairs, while differing drastically with him over domestic matters — abortion, the family. But (unlike Phillips) Steyn’s tone is so light and breezy that you are lulled into a chummy sense of accord — only to have him turn on a sixpence.

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  • Freedom

    Mark Steyn a great conservative

    • Frau Katze

      Good writer too.

      Steyn likes to bait Horrified of Hampstead, pricking Guardian pomposity like a clown on crystal meth at a balloon-filled birthday party; after the ludicrous Jaffa Cake-heir George Monbiot has hymned the happiness of poor people in Ethiopia (does that mean socialism, which seeks to make the poor richer, is bad?) Steyn smirks: ‘In Ethiopia, male life expectancy is 42.88 years. George was born in 1963. If the streets and fields are crackling with laughter, maybe it’s because the happy peasants are reading his column.’ Monbiot is joined in the sniggering stocks by his colleague Decca Aitkenhead when Steyn pillories her for her profoundly thick take on Jamaican homophobia which is summed up with the classically stupid Guardian headline ‘Their homophobia is our fault’. I have to say, I fair hugged myself with glee at that one.

  • Frau Katze

    9/11 was the turning point for me too.