Mark Steyn, Accommodation, and the Fall of Khartoum

Since 9/11, Mark Steyn has emerged as one of the West's most important public intellectuals and culture critics. His weekend columns at NRO (National Review Online), as well as his "Happy Warrior" columns in the wood pulp National Review are must-reads, as is his landmark book America Alone. Occasionally, Mr. Steyn guest hosts on FNC's Hannity, and he's a terrific fill-in for El Rushbo on EIB. Steyn travels widely, and it's hard to keep track of all the journals around the world that he writes for. But in all of it one finds a penetrating intellect, an uncommon level of erudition, and a terrific sense of humor. Mark's the man.

In his recent column "Acceptance, Silence, and Submission" in National Review, Steyn warms to one of his big themes: the Islamization of the West:

"Terrorism's great achievement isn't hijacking jetliners, but hijacking the debate," wrote George Jonas in Canada's National Post. "Successful terrorism persuades the terror-stricken that he's conscience-stricken." Which is why, in the decade after 9/11, Western governments ramped up Islamic immigration instead of slowing it to a trickle; and their citizens were "very supportive" of those who converted in record numbers, instead of mourning the wholesale abandonment of their inheritance; and their community-outreach enforcers dragged those who disrespected the Prophet into court for ever more footling infractions, instead of obliging Islam to adjust to core Western values like freedom of expression.

Steyn reports that the two chaps who slaughtered British soldier Lee Rigby on the streets of London were "British-born sons of Nigerian Christians" and converts to Islam:

Captured by the cameras with, literally, blood on their hands, they reminded me of another convert, the British comedian Omar Brooks. Mr. Brooks's best-known surefire side-splitting showstopping gag is that the attacks on the World Trade Center "changed many people's lives." Comic pause. "Especially those inside." It brought the house down!

A few years back, in a debate at Trinity College in Dublin, he was asked what Mohammed's message to non-believers was and replied, with disarming honesty, "I come to slaughter all of you. . . . We are the Muslims. We drink the blood of the enemy." I thought of Omar Brooks for the first time in years as I watched his two blood-soaked coreligionists stagger about Wellington Street bragging about what they had done in the name of "almighty Allah."

All this English blood brings to mind the central scene in a movie about a great Englishman whose blood was shed by a Muslim spear: Charles George Gordon, aka Gordon of Khartoum. The movie is Khartoum (1966), and the scene is between Gordon and a Muslim who fancied himself the Mahdi. As to how fair the scene is to Islam, I won't venture, but the lone credit for the screenplay goes to Robert Ardrey. Yes, that Robert Ardrey, the guy who authored African Genesis and The Social Contract.

Regardless of how fair to Islam the scene is, it's terrific dialog. I searched for a proper screenplay, but found only this transcript. So I had to separate out the speakers. Except for the blank lines between speakers and the initial identification of the speakers, I've left the text like I found it, (it looks like a prose poem or something). I did vet the transcript against the video, and except for leaving out "and confounded," it seems pretty correct. "Abri" (herba abri?) is a drink the Mahdi offers Gordon. You'll get something out of this scene; refreshments to follow:

Is it because you are an infidel, Gordon Pasha,
that I feel myself in the presence of evil?

I doubt it, Mohammed Ahmed, for you are not an infidel, but I smell evil.

I have 30,000 soldiers in my camp.
Is it because you are so brave or so foolish
that you come here alone, unarmed, with only a black slave to hold your robe?

Khaleel is not a slave, he's a free man. He comes with me out of love.
And he does not hold my robe, but a gift for you.
Years ago, I led the armies of the emperor of China at a time of great trial.
And when his enemies were crushed [and confounded] and his throne was again secure,
he made me this gift.
I have brought it from London for you.

It is most exquisite.
When the emperor of China ceases to be an unbeliever,
and accepts me, the Expected One, as the true Mahdi,
then I shall be happy to receive such a gift.

You will wait just outside.
Abri. Real abri.
I've had none in five years.

Your meeting with Zobeir Pasha was less than happy, I believe.

Your intelligence service has an excellence beyond my expectations.

How much you must regret having killed his son.

I executed his son. I have no regrets.
It was a necessary object lesson in my campaign against the slave trade.
And it was successful. I brought peace to the Sudan.

But since you have come back now with instructions to evacuate Khartoum,
most happily the peace of the Sudan no longer concerns you.

What a pleasure it is to negotiate with a man who knows even my instructions.
We need waste so little time in preliminaries.
What are your instructions concerning Khartoum?

I have been instructed by the prophet, blessings and peace be upon him,
to worship in the Khartoum mosque.

There are those among the Sudanese who will oppose you.

I welcome in peace all those who worship with me.

And the others?
Mohammed Ahmed, may I suggest that when first I came to the Sudan,
its body was sick, stricken with hunger and abused by war.
I cured it.
This land.
I'm not a loving man, Mohammed Ahmed,
but this land became the only thing that I have... ever loved.
I cannot, under my God... Do you understand?
I cannot leave it to the sickness and the misery in which I once found it.

I respect you, Gordon Pasha.
-- I make no war on you.

Make no war on your own people.
I'll take the Egyptians back, I'll leave the Sudan to the Sudanese and be contented.
But if I'm to leave Khartoum to sickness and misery, to... death...

The Egyptians must remain in Khartoum.
I am a poor man of the desert.
But I am the Mahdi, the Expected One.
On my cheek is the mole,
between my teeth... the space.
And so that all men may know that I am the true Mahdi,
the prophet Mohammed, blessings and peace be upon him,
makes miracles.
Do you understand?

I begin to.

Gordon Pasha, do you believe that the prophet, blessings be upon him,
has instructed me to pray only in the mosque at Khartoum?
I am to pray in the mosque at Cairo, and at Mecca, and at Baghdad,
and in the mosque at Constantinople.
He has commanded me to make holy war
until all of Islam acknowledges the purity of his biddings
and all the world trembles before me.
But all Islam must know who I am
and believe.
Gordon Pasha, for tasks of such greatness
great deeds are needed.
Egypt opposes me,
and so the Egyptians must remain in Khartoum.
For I shall take it in blood.
And the streets will run in blood.
And the Nile will taste of blood for a hundred miles.
And every Egyptian will die.
Every child, woman, man --
Sudanese too -- who opposes the will of my lord Mohammed, will die.
This is how it must be in Khartoum.
A great and terrible thing.
Or I shall not pray in the mosques of Cairo and Mecca and Constantinople,
nor will the world ever tremble before me.

I had thought in my lifetime that I had witnessed all things.

And you have.
You have described to me how it was an object lesson
when you slaughtered the sons of the slavers
and brought peace to the Sudan.
You have no regrets.
What is the difference, Gordon Pasha?
An infidel object lesson, or... a holy miracle?
If Khartoum is sacrificed, then all Islam will tremble and bow,
and in peace I shall proceed to all the mosques where I must pray.
And the lives of millions will be spared.
Whisper to me, Gordon Pasha.
Is there a difference?

This is how it will be?

This is how it will be.

(If you enjoyed that, you can watch the whole movie at YouTube; it's been uploaded in one piece. But if you'd just like to watch the above scene, position the bar at about the 48:30 mark and you'll be positioned where Gordon rides in on his camel and enters the Mahdi's tent. The two actors, Olivier and Heston, are magnificent.)

Since the death of Major-General Gordon in 1885, the U.K. has had lousy leadership, the exceptions being Churchill and Thatcher. (Upon Mrs. Thatcher's recent passing, Steyn wrote: "She was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain's most important peacetime prime minister.") But Britons shouldn't feel all alone, because the rest of the Old World has had leaders just as foolish as Britain's. And what they've accomplished over the last few decades with their insane immigration policies is to let in whole armies of people longing for their Mahdi. The bombings, beheadings, riots, defiled urban skylines, and murders of folks like Lee Rigby all attest to Europe's dearth of decent leadership.

Brits watching the ouster of Egypt's Mohamed Morsi on the telly might be asking themselves: Why can't we ever have a coup?

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 

If you experience technical problems, please write to