Friday, September 01, 2006

Escape from Oz

Mark Steyn talks about his experience in Australia, known to its inhabitants as Oz. From the sound of it, he met all the movers and shakers in the Antipodes. (More follows)


I was a little stunned by my foray down under. I’d expected to jet in, give a couple of speeches and jet out. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the almost Kylie-esque fever, and very touched to be warmly greeted by so many Australians, from His Excellency the Governor-General all the way up to His Excellency the Tim of Blair.

Fortunately, Mr. Steyn was not above collecting souvenirs.

Thanks for all the gifts with which I was showered en route, among them an Australian Grand Prix number plate – that’s “license plate” in North American – which the Institute of Public Affairs presented me with after a casual remark that my older boy collects ’em. I’m grateful also for the full-length Driza-Bone I received from the blokes at the magazine The Conservative in Canberra. The Driza-Bone, for those unacquainted with it, is an amazing Aussie coat (from ankle-straps to hood) that either makes me look like a cool bush whacker or (according to my little boy) like Darth Sidious. There’s a picture of me in it somewhere scaring a nice young lady from AIJAC (the Aussie branch of the international Jewish conspiracy), so you can judge for yourself. I spent many fruitless hours trying to jam the Driza-Bone into my case before concluding it’s easier to put the case in the Driza-Bone. For any Islamist bombers reading this, it’s made of some amazing impenetrable material impervious to the security scanner, so it’s an excellent way of slipping on to the plane essential terrorist items like toothpaste and gel-filled bras. Not that anyone will notice you’re wearing a gel-filled bra under your Driza-Bone.

Too bad nobody gave him an Akubra hat and the Blundstone boots, after which he'd be completely set up to do the Man From Snowy River gig. But to do that properly it's probably best to start out at least 6'3" in height with the requisite leathery appearance. Lowbrow no-account persons like myself, however, should probably content themselves by imbibing the atmosphere of the Oceanic Cafe, in which I recognized an establishment to which I truly belonged at first glance.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, so I leave you with Mr. Steyn's poignant description of his futile attempt to buy a snow globe to crown his souvenir collection which he somehow turns into a metaphor of all we have lost and all we must continue to fight for.

I was at the airport in Auckland the other day and mooching around the duty free shop. My little girl likes snow globes, so I picked out one showing some charming New Zealand sheep. No snow, technically, but when you shook it, little stars sparkled around the ovine cuties. The Kiwi sales clerk swiped my credit card, wrapped it up, and then said, "Oh, wait. Are you flying to America?" I should have known. She consulted her list of prohibited items and informed me that, in an expansive definition worthy of the Massachusetts Supreme Court constitutional-right-to-same-sex-marriage ruling, the twinkly fluid inside the snow globe had been deemed to count as a liquid.

In theory, I could smash the incredibly thick glass, replace the sparkly stuff with something more incendiary, re-glaze it in the airport men's room with help from co-conspirators among the shadowy networks of antipodean jihadist glaziers, and board the plane to explosive effect. When I scoffed at this thesis, the lady said somewhat petulantly, "Well, it's not my fault you're going to America." Which is hard to argue with. ...

The British Airports Authority has now banned lipstick, mascara and all other cosmetics, so, even if you fly First Class, by the time you get off you'll look like economy class. Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport in England has banned passengers from boarding with gel-filled bras. People have been demanding for years now that we need to start profiling. Well, they're profiling in Birmingham: they're profiling women with padded bras, which is one great profile; their highly trained staff can spot gals who really stand out.

I know I feel safer knowing that unusually curvaceous women are being subject to extra security screening. So gel-filled bras are out, and presumably in another year or two we'll be preventing gel-filled breasts from boarding. This is where we came in five years ago. The airline cabin was already the most regulated jurisdiction in America, a kind of way-up-there-in-the-blue state, where Ted Kennedy and Al Gore's fondest desires on gun control, smoking and indeed free speech had all been implemented.

So on September 11, three out of the four planes followed all the 1970s hijack procedures and everybody died. On the fourth, free-born citizens reclaimed their rights, fought back against the terrorists and provided the only good news of the day.

It cost them, but come to think of it, not any more than giving in.

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