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Interviews

A Very American Blog: John Hawkins Interviewed

from Totally Fushed, September 2003

There’s something oddly unsettling about holding admiration for someone with whom you disagree on almost everything. John Hawkins is an American, worse, a conservative, and worse again, thinks my hero Michael Jackson is ‘perhaps the sickest, most ridiculous freakshow walking the planet today’. Oh dear. Nevertheless, an unlikely crossing of paths occurred when I fumbled upon Mr. Hawkins’s website, Right Wing News (www.rightwingnews.com), which was linked to our own Nottwel Forum via a pop-up ad. Initially, I dismissed RWN as something along the lines of that risible, ultra-conservative breeding ground of intolerance, www.worldnetdaily.com. Gradually and reluctantly, however, I was sucked in by the snappy, matter-of-fact prose on John’s daily blog. After several e-mail exchanges, I finally asked John for an interview. And that, folks, is why we’re here today.

Mr. Hawkins’s unique brand of US conservatism owes as much to cutthroat lefty-bashing as it does to, y’know, things like logic, but that’s okay, ’cause even when it’s not infuriating, it’s always entertaining. And sometimes, just sometimes, John has a way of slicing through an argument which would make any self-respecting European middle-class liberal wince with recognition. Take Hawkins on America’s imperial benevolence, for example: ‘Then there’s what I think of as the ‘fairy tale effect’. That comes from people comparing the United States to ideals that could never exist anywhere except in fairy tales then deciding that we don’t cut the mustard. ‘Oh, the United States slaughtered the Indians, had slavery, and used dirty tactics across the world while it was fighting the Soviet Union. This means the United States is a terrible country!’ Whenever I hear people using that line of reasoning, I always think of people who sneer at the rich because they’d ‘give all the money they had away if they were wealthy’. Sure, that’s very easy to say when you’re not wealthy just like it’s very easy for other nations to talk about how much better off the world would be if they were as powerful as the United States. But, when you look at the nations that have actually been as mighty as the US is right now or at least close, you’ll discover that we have been far and away the most magnanimous and benign power of our size that the world has ever seen.’ Ouch.

So, from where, exactly, did RWN emerge? ‘I thought the press coverage of the 2000 election was horribly biased against George W. Bush’, says John. ‘It was clear as a bell that Bush had won the election and that Gore was trying to steal the election with the help of the ultra-liberal Florida State Supreme Court. As the controversy over the elections dragged on and on, I became more and more disillusioned with how the media was covering it. The breaking point for me came when I was watching TV and a viewer commented that Bush should concede. Concede? Concede?! The votes had been counted multiple times and he had never been behind! That was the moment I decided to create a conservative website. In August of 2001, I got RWN up and running, although things didn’t start to pick up until I changed formats in April of 2002.’ So, what’s particularly great about running your own blog? ‘I really enjoy getting to interview writers whose work I admire like Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson and Walter Williams.’ It’s also gratifying, Hawkins says, when his work is mentioned in respected publications like The Wall Street Journal. ‘Eventually I hope to make some real money off this although I’m not at that point yet.’ What about the downsides, are there any? ‘Yeah’, Hawkins continues, ‘if you run the show that means you’re responsible for putting up entertaining material and if it doesn’t measure up it’s nobody’s fault but yours. There’s a lot of work involved and in the end it’s all on your shoulders.’ A major responsibility, to be sure. John says running RWN doesn’t become tiresome, though, because ‘I enjoy what I do. Supposedly that’s the key to success, finding something you enjoy and making it your career. It’s not a career yet, but in another year or three I think it will be…’

One of RWN’s most entertaining aspects is a regular feature called Anyone Can Post On The Internet (ACPOTI). For this unusual feature, Hawkins wades through forums of filth – paedophiles, neo-Nazis, anything goes – to report to us exactly what these freaks say when they think no ‘outsider’ is watching. I asked him where the idea for ACPOTI came from…‘I used to hang out in the Utopia Politics forums and some of the people there used to delight in finding off the wall forums with bizarre posts in them and I thought they were interesting as well. I mean intellectually on the one hand you know there are kooks and Nazis out there, but on the other hand it’s sort of mind blowing to actually run across someone talking about what a hero Hitler was or how there are lizard people running half the planet.’

With the name that’s in it, of course, Right Wing News’s primary purpose is to provide conservative commentary. And naturally, Hawkins himself is rarely without an opinion. I began the next part of our interview by asking him why he thinks Americans, in general, are more patriotic than, say, Europeans: ‘For one thing, Europeans tend to associate nationalism with war, imperialism, and colonialism in a way that Americans don’t because they’ve had different experiences. When we’re waving the flag around we’re thinking of Patrick Henry giving fiery speeches and American forces helping to save the world from the Axis. On the other hand, Europeans are thinking of Nazi parades and African countries their nations trampled under foot for the “glory of empire”.’

September 11 2001 was of course an historic day for the Western World. Undoubtedly, we will all remember for years to come where we were when news of the terrorist attacks reached us. Within hours, the most popular soundbite was that our world had changed irreversibly. But how much have international relations really altered since ‘9/11’? ‘The world order that was built to deal with the cold war has now been rendered obsolete without a conflict between the US and the Soviets to hold it all together’, claims JH. ‘The UN has been shown to be ineffective, NATO seems purposeless, and Europe and the US are drifting apart. Plus, we’re going to be stirring the pot for years to come while we’re fighting the war on terrorism. So in short, the old world order has been smashed and a replacement hasn’t been devised yet.’ How does Hawkins feel the War on Terror should proceed following the toppling of Saddam? ‘I’d like to see us help the Iranian people overthrow the Mullahs while we simultaneously force Syria to round up Hizbollah. In North Korea, I believe we can cut a deal to get them out of the nuke business. However, under no circumstances should we allow them to start selling nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. Better war then that. We also need to force Saudi Arabia to crush the Al-Qaeda supporters they’re coddling as well as the mullahs who are supporting their radical agenda. Meanwhile, we have to go after Al-Qaeda all over the world and we need to be prepared to go to war again if necessary. We have a lot of balls in the air right now and it’s probably going to be that way for a few more years.’

Hawkins’s site being what it is, the man himself is never slow to pick on liberals for their faults. What annoys him most about the Left? ‘If I were to pick one thing’, he begins, ‘it would be the fact that much of the Left is dishonest about what it wants to do. Animal Rights kooks who want animals and humans to be equivalent under the law portray themselves as just being interested in taking care of fluffy animals – just like your pet. Environmental extremist luddites who’d like to ban nearly every new source of power other than windmills and solar panels say they just want clean water and air. They’re so far out of the mainstream that they can’t be honest about their agenda. That’s why the left seems so negative and bereft of ideas these days, they don’t dare tell you what they really want to do.’ And who annoys John most on the Left? Robert Fisk? Michael Moore? No…‘There are of course a lot of people to choose from, but Jimmy Carter would probably top the list. Here’s a guy who was perhaps the worst President of the century. He neglected the military, destroyed the economy, gave away the Panama Canal, and didn’t even have the most basic grasp of foreign affairs. Yet, now that we have a war on terrorism, he’s giving speeches left and right and telling the world what America should be doing. Carter should stick to doing the things he’s good at, building houses, glad-handing dictators, that sort of thing. He should leave the foreign policy to people who have better instincts for it than he does – which is just about everyone from the people working the cash registers at Wal-Mart up.’

Strong words. One of the things I find refreshing about JH, however, is that he is as willing to attack the Right as the Left. He reveals to me who he really hates among American conservatives…‘Pat Buchanan really gets on my nerves because of the unworkable 1930s style of Paleoconservatism that he advocates.’ Ah yes, even on this side of the Atlantic, Pat’s fiery rhetoric and backward-thinking lunacy is infamous. Pat has attempted to run for President a few times, and written a book called The Death of the West. He still has a regular syndicated column and his own TV show in the US. ‘He’s an isolationist’, says John, ‘[he’s] for protectionism, constantly uses anti-Semitic rhetoric, and most of the time you can’t tell the difference between him and Robert Fisk when he’s talking about the war [on terror]. I can’t believe someone as far out of the Conservative mainstream as Buchanan still gets his own TV show.’

So we know that Hawkins is no stranger to speaking out against his own side. What about speaking out against the Bush administration? ‘While I like what Bush has done overall, I do disagree with him on more than a few issues. I thought steel tariffs were a mistake, I want the assault weapons ban lifted, and I’m strongly against amnesty for illegal aliens…Because of the way it’s structured, the current “Roadmap to Peace” [Israel/Palestine – Ed.] is a waste of time that can’t possibly succeed.’

And is there any Democrat who might be a serious contender for the Presidency next year, or will it be a walkover for Bush? ‘Either Hillary Clinton or Al Gore could easily win the nomination if they chose to run’, claims John, ‘and both of them have stepped aside. What does that tell you? Exactly, Bush is going to be tough to beat. Of course, he could still lose and I think Lieberman would be his toughest opponent.’ Joe Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000; had Gore won, Lieberman would have become America’s first Jewish Vice President. Now Joe’s running for the Big One, and unfortunately, the phrase ‘the most Republican Democrat’ springs to mind. Many Dems feel the man is in the wrong party. That said, anyone but Bush, right? And beggars can’t be choosers. ‘Lieberman is a hawk’, admits JH, ‘he’s serious about the war on terrorism, and he comes across as a moderate on domestic issues.’

While we’re on the subject of issues – what are the ones that Hawkins himself feels most strongly about? ‘I believe we need to keep aggressively prosecuting the war on terrorism. Safeguarding our country from outside threats is the most important thing our government does.’ He follows in the footsteps of his hero Ronald Reagan on the issue of a law to ensure a balanced budget: ‘I’d also love to see a balanced budget amendment to force the government to get spending under control…I’m not sure there’s another way to get that done. Then give me a flat tax to keep our economy humming long term and school vouchers [grants to allow poorer families to choose private schools (I think) – Ed.] to get our schools up to snuff, and I think America would be in good shape for a long time to come.’

Finally, the really important question: What is the American Dream? ‘The dream varies from person to person. For some it’s a wife, two kids, and a little house with a picket fence. For others it’s becoming a millionaire. For me it’s making a living off my writing. In any case, if you have a dream, America is probably the best place to pursue it, unless you want to become a dictator like Saddam or dream of being an impoverished peasant.’ Speaking of John’s writing, what are his plans for that – for RWN and beyond? ‘I intend to keep building my audience and milking it for revenue’, he says. ‘Then as I get better known, I want to write columns and books and supplement my income. Down the line I intend to move to the beach and live off what I make writing.’ Wouldn’t all us amateur writers love that! Well, we wish him the best of luck with it. I’m getting this disturbing feeling that Right Wing News won’t be the last America hears of John Hawkins.

Hawkins: Blogmeister

Here are some quick questions we asked John…

Are you a heart or a head person?

‘I’m right out of the Mr. Spock school of Vulcan logic so I’d definitely be a head person.’

Is the glass half full or half empty?

‘I’d say it’s half full for anyone who lives in America.’

Who would you most like to have breakfast with?

‘Mariah Carey, as long as it was breakfast in bed.’

Who has influenced you the most?

‘Other than the standard and boring answers (parents and grandparents), I’d say Rush Limbaugh. He definitely had a role in shaping the way I think and write.’ [Limbaugh is a right-wing US commentator and talk show host – Ed.]

Name a person you admire. Why?

‘Ron Reagan. When he came into office our military was weak, the Soviet Union was strong, our economy was a disaster, and some people thought the United States was in decline. By the time he left office, our military was incredibly powerful and growing stronger, the Soviets were on their last legs, our economy had started an almost two decade long growth spurt (with just a few blips) and we were about to become the only superpower. If you look at the wealth America has, the dominance of the American military and all the free nations of Eastern Europe, Reagan deserves a good bit of the credit for that.’

Name a favourite song. Why?

Just Like Heaven by The Cure. It’s a beautiful song from a beautiful album.’

Name a favourite book. Why?

‘I thoroughly enjoyed PJ O’Rourke’s All The Trouble In The World. It was funny and more educational than you’d think. Too bad PJ isn’t cranking out the books like he used to.’

Name a favourite film. Why?

‘My personal fave is Braveheart. Gibson is my favourite actor, the battle scenes were excellent, and the plot was great.’

Why do you take an interest of politics?

‘Why do some people take an interest in doing crossword puzzles or reading mystery novels? It’s just something I enjoy discussing.’

Discussion

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  1. [...] A Very American Blog: The John Hawkins Interview ‘Either Hillary Clinton or Al Gore could easily win the nomination if they chose to run’, claims John, ‘and both of them have stepped aside. What does that tell you? Exactly, Bush is going to be tough to beat. Of course, he could still … [...]

    Posted by A Very American Blog: The John Hawkins Interview at Hillary Clinton On Best Political Blogs | November 10, 2008, 12:48 am
  2. [...] A Very American Blog: The John Hawkins Interview ‘Either Hillary Clinton or Al Gore could easily win the nomination if they chose to run’, claims John, ‘and both of them have stepped aside. What does that tell you? Exactly, Bush is going to be tough to beat. Of course, he could still … [...]

    Posted by Hilary Clinton On Best Political Blogs » A Very American Blog: The John Hawkins Interview | November 10, 2008, 12:49 am

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