The Corner

Re: Just for the record

Agreed, Jonah. The British Home Secretary thinks that by making public the ban on Michael Savage she’s “naming and shaming” him. But she’s shaming only herself and her country. This kind of stuff is very weird from a senior cabinet minister of a G7 nation:

“I think it’s important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it’s a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won’t be welcome in this country,” Ms Smith told GMTV.

“Coming to this country is a privilege. If you can’t live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country and, what’s more, now we will make public those people that we have excluded.”

How many members of King Abdullah’s entourage at the G20 summit the other week live by Jacqui Smith’s “standards and values”? Come to that, how many British subjects live by the “standards and values” of the countries they visit and trade with? The idea of ideological enforcement at the border is repugnant to a free society.

The ferociously anti-American Harold Pinter liked to tell a story against himself. A few years ago he landed at JFK and presented his passport. “Pinter?” said the immigration officer. “The playwright?” “Yes, the playwright,” said Harold, drawing himself up to his full height and getting ready to let fire with a volley on how outrageous it was that he was being singled out by border security purely for his political views.

“Well, welcome to America, Mr. Pinter,” said the official, and handed back his passport.

Ms. Smith is right: Visiting a foreign country is, technically, a “privilege.” But a British passport instructs overseas officials that Her Britannic Majesty “requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance.” Yes, it’s a “request,” but it’s also “required” between friendly nations. The bar should be set very high not to allow the bearer to pass. Ms. Smith’s rationale fails that test.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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