Sing out strong, &c.


You’ve heard about the “Kung Fu Fighting” case? It is a free-speech case, and also an End of the West case. (I’ve barely begun this column, and already I’m apocalyptic.) Back in April, a singer named Simon Ledger was into his usual set. This was on the Isle of Wight, at a seafront bar. Ledger was singing “Kung Fu Fighting,” that disco hit from 1974.

Two Chinese people happened by. Saying they were offended, they called the police. The police duly investigated. In a detail I love, they contacted Ledger while he was eating at a Chinese restaurant.

I was reminded of this episode when watching a video of Mark Steyn, here. Mark is giving a speech in support of Andrew Bolt, the Australian journalist who has been hounded by the courts for politically incorrect speech. To read about his case is to be worried for the West, genuinely worried. And don’t we normally think of Australia as particularly bold and free?

Anyway, Mark talks about the “Kung Fu Fighting” case in his speech. He even sings a bit of the song, encouraging others to join in — which leads me to the point I wish to make.

The Right is no good at “street theater,” never has been. I borrow the phrase from Bill Buckley: He once referred, with a slight sneer, to “the street theater of the Left.” They are very good at this, these theatrical protests. For instance, they will have a “kiss-in,” or a “die-in,” or a “teach-in.” It stands to reason that the Left is better at collective action than we are. Conservatives are apt to recoil at the very thought of a group.

But wouldn’t it have been neat if conservatives and classical liberals had leapt to Simon Ledger’s defense with a “sing-in” — a mass singing of “Kung Fu Fighting,” at the top of our lungs? The spirit would have been, “Come and get me, copper! You can’t arrest us all! Or can you?”

Perhaps we can have a rousing, colossal rendition of “Kung Fu Fighting” on the upcoming National Review cruise? It is inarguably true that, since the War on Terror began, most conservatives have been in favor of rendition. I note, too, that Simon Ledger performs on cruises. Maybe he’ll be on our boat? Or has the chilling effect chilled him off “Kung Fu Fighting”?

When I was growing up, I was made to understand that threats to free speech came from the right. Perhaps they did then. But when I, in fact, grew up — and here I’ll add the obligatory “to the extent I have” — I found that threats to free speech came from the left. “Kung Fu Fighting” aside, who has imposed “speech codes” on campus? Not we, not we.

Andrew Roberts, the historian, drops something tantalizing in the current Spectator. To read his “Diary,” go here. He attended a party on Martha’s Vineyard, a party also attended by the Clintons. “Bill told my wife Susan and me something rather shocking about one of the Republican presidential frontrunners, unrepeatable in a family magazine such as this. If it’s true, the race is still wide open . . .”

If the Democrats have bombs to drop on the Republican nominee — whoever he is — they will likely drop them a year from now: as Election Day approaches. In the meantime, the Republicans oughta — you know: vet.

It seems to me that the immigration issue is taking an inordinate amount of space in the Republican campaign. It’s taking an inordinate amount of space in conservative discussions generally.

Immigration is a damn important issue, of course. We need to come to grips with illegals. We especially owe something to the Southwest — where hospitals are stressed, ranchers are vandalized (and worse), and many people feel under siege. These people need relief, in the form of border control and clear, sensible law. We all need such relief.

But America is facing a screaming financial crisis. Unless we tackle “entitlements,” in particular, we will be flat on our backs. The immigration issue, while having its economic aspects, is not central to this problem. Also, there’s a war on. Jihadists and their supporters are trying to kill us, every day. What are we going to do about that, going forward (as they say)?

More broadly, there is the question of America’s role in the world: what we should be, what we can be. Crossroads City, as the first Bush might say.

One reason the immigration issue is taking so much space in the campaign, of course, is that Texas governor Rick Perry is in. The other candidates have an interest in depicting him as a doormat for illegals. In the most recent debate, Rick Santorum asserted that Perry was “weak on national sovereignty.” If you believe that, I have a bridge a few miles from where I’m typing that I’d like to sell you.

Day after day, we’ve talked about in-state tuition for the children of illegal aliens — an issue about which decent and patriotic people disagree. It is also a relatively small issue. I think of the passengers on the Titanic: Did they complain about the chicken paillard, as the ship was going down? I feel we are a little like that.

So, let’s get back to the real issue: Perry’s determination to violate innocent little precious twelve-year-old girls with a great big government needle, which causes retardation.