It's been decades since I was a student at England's Cambridge University. Since I graduated in 1984, I have returned only a few times to this wonderful country, which I love so dearly and whose people so warmly embraced me.
So I admit to shock over British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's publication of 16 names of persons now banned from the United Kingdom for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred. My surprise and dismay was in the odd mixture of names on the list. On the one hand, there's a Hezbollah militant who served 30 years in prison for his role in the killing of four Israeli soldiers and a 4-year-old girl. On the other, there's American talk show host Michael Savage, who, among other provocative commentary, has called the Koran a "book of hate."
So militants who advocate or glorify terrorism are now somehow the equivalent of one of the most listened-to talk radio hosts in America? Surely this can't be coming from the great British nation I came to love; a country where great universities such as Cambridge and Oxford educated generations going back to the 1200s, urged students to explore and express divergent theories and views, even when some of those views were at the time generally considered to be unconventional, extreme and even dangerous.
I have a unique perspective on the situation, both because of the intense value I place on the intellectual contribution the British have made to our civilization, and because I listen on a regular basis to Dr. Savage's syndicated show.
I hope listening to "The Savage Nation" doesn't cause Britain to add me to its list of nefarious characters! But I'll run that risk because this is a situation that deserves an expression of true outrage on the part of all Americans, whether they agree with Savage's comments and positions or not.
Let's take a quick look at Savage. He was born under another name, but adopted the surname Savage, as is not unusual in the entertainment industry. National media generally try to ignore his existence, even though Savage has one of the three largest talk-radio listenerships in the nation.
Most likely media disdains him partly because he is both well educated -- he holds Master's degrees and a Ph.D. from Berkley -- and because his on-air personality is often gruff and cantankerous. Savage is prone to take on controversial social and political issues, often pushing things to the edge of opinion.