There remains in liberal circles the ongoing tired mythic argument as to whether an individual can hold “conservative” views and still be perceived as intellectually intelligent, as if anybody holding “conservative” views needs or wants the annointive stamp of liberal intellectual approval. The liberal mainstream’s conservative intellectual icon was always William Buckley, Yale graduate, friend of liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, author, founder of the conservative literary digest National Review, and most identified with their acceptance, conservative foil interviewer and debater on The Firing Line on the “”above the fray” outlet for liberal-speak, National Public Television. Buckley epitomized the emblematic presence of the intellectual – graduate of an “accepted” school, erudite, articulate in the classical sense, and capable of hobnobbing at parties of the intellectual elite. Certainly, they had to painfully overlook his early and consistent support of Ronald Reagan and that shopowner’s daughter, Margaret Thatcher, but in a sense he was safe, because as far as they could tell, he was one of them, and he was the only one intellectual conservative in a sea of “dolts”.
Mark Steyn is the modern answer to what is intellectual conservatism and a important presence in the ongoing ramparts list of people we should know. He is an anathema to the traditional liberalist view of accepted attributes of an intellectual. He is a Canadian citizen who lives in the United States, a profoundly well versed intellectual who quit school at age 18, a respected journalist without a journalism degree, and an in-depth commentator on art and cultural issues without the typical liberal credentials associated with the humanities. Schooled in the sharp and concise journalism of Fleet Street British tabloid style, he is very likely the most effective writer of the three hundred to a thousand word essay in journalism today. The style is an enjoyably clear, acerbic, satirical, consise and logical tome that captures the reader into the argument regardless of the reader’s personal opinions on the subject. Steyn has written brilliantly on subjects as diverse as Broadway musicals, obituaries, political analysis, and cultural trends in outlets as diverse as the National Review, Macleans, the Jerusalem Post, and the Atlantic Monthly magazine, all with preservation of the witty style and probing intellect that defines him.
He has been fearless in the defense of the tenets of western civilization and is best known for the New York Times and Amazon best-selling book America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It defining the trends and effects of islamic population growth and extremist culture on western society and cultural tenets. His strong defense of western ideals in the face of islamic cultural intolerance expressed in a Maclean’s article in 2008 led to an attempt of an entities of bureaucracy called the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to review his right of free speech against the perceived “insults” alleged to have been received by the Canadian Islamic Congress. Steyn has not backed down an inch on Canadian governmental hypocrisy of “holding a tribunal “over his right to point out the intolerance and discrimination in an intolerant and discriminatory islamic culture. He is the singular most effective voice in western society today for the honest and in-depth discussion of the collision with of the bedrock western tenets of individual freedom, free expression, and tolerance with fundamentalist Islam.
Mark Steyn is one of many publicly accepted voices today of intellectual conservatism once held solely by Mr. Buckley. He is another example that the modern defender of the ramparts of western civilization’s fundamental values of freedom, tolerance, individual endeavour, and intellectual license is , increasingly, a conservative voice.