When I first saw the story this morning, I thought they’d turned him away at the gate at Heathrow like they did to Geert Wilders. Nope: He never tried to travel there. Evidently the British government simply cooked up a list of notorious figures abroad whom they have a problem with and put it out as a heads up to them not to come knocking. Simply bizarre, and needless to say, a blockbuster publicity coup for Savage. Good work, Gordon Brown.
“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,” [Home Secretary Jacqui] 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…
“[Savage] is someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country,” Ms Smith told BBC Breakfast.
Also on the list: Jihadists, neo-Nazis, that child-killing savage from Hezbollah for whom Al Jazeera threw a birthday party last year, and, oh yeah, Fred Phelps. I’ve never listened to Savage so I’ll rely on our commenters to judge, but as intense as his invective may be, is he really in this category? Is Phelps, for that matter? Fomenting “hatred” isn’t the same as fomenting violence — which would be reasonable grounds for exclusion — unless the Brits are afraid that violence might be directed at, not by, Savage or Phelps. That was their reasoning in excluding Wilders, after all: They didn’t fear that he’d incite an anti-Muslim riot, they feared he’d incite an anti-Wilders riot by Muslims. Maybe that’s their thinking with Savage too, in which case they’re basically admitting that the country’s no longer safe for certain viewpoints — Islamic fundamentalism not included.
Anyway, one publicity-stirring lawsuit, coming up:
Savage told The Chronicle that being included in such a crowd is no laughing matter — and he is now preparing legal action against Smith, he said.
“This lunatic … is linking me up with Nazi skinheads who are killing people in Russia, she’s putting me in a league with Hamas murderers who kill Jews on busses,” he said. “I have never advocated violence … I’ve been on the air 15 years. My views may be inflammatory, but they’re not violent in any way.”
He said he has been defamed and endangered by the British government action. “She has painted a target on my back, linking me with people who are in prison for killing people,” he said. “Does she not think people might hunt me down?”
Savage said he has had no contact with the British government or with Smith’s office and has no idea how he ended up on the British Home secretary’s list.
Good point: His profile’s much higher now among violent nuts abroad than it was yesterday. Exit question: What’s really going on here? Why strain so mightily to make an example of him? Did they add him to the list simply as convenient political cover, to prove to British Muslims that famous “Islamophobes” aren’t welcome in the UK either?