Michael Savage is one of the most influential conservative voices in America. His groundbreaking radio show, “The Savage Nation,” is the third-largest program in the country with over 10 million listeners. His straight talk about radical Islam was deemed so offensive by politically correct censors that he was banned from entering the United Kingdom in 2009. A pioneer in ethnobotanical research, Dr. Savage has master’s degrees in medical botany and medical anthropology and a Ph.D. in epidemiology and nutrition sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. Bestselling author of 28 books, his new release is “Train Tracks: Family Stories for the Holidays” (William Morrow, Nov. 6). You can find out more about Dr. Savage’s causes and endeavors at MichaelSavage.com.
Decker: Perhaps it is due to vivid storytelling, but your characters from days gone by seem so much more interesting than the average man on the street today. As you explain in the introduction, the point of “Train Tracks” is to show, “that in the ordinary there is the extraordinary.” What is it about the modern permissive society that encourages everyone to do what they want but forms such a “uniform individuality”?
Savage: What comes to mind is George Orwell’s famous saying from the 1930s that the more he hears people screaming freedom, freedom, freedom, the more he hears their chains rattling. I think that about sums it up. Today we have people who think that they are wild and free and crazy because they are engaging in risky, insane, round-the-clock sex, using drugs, defying everything decent in society. But that’s not freedom, is it? That’s not even anarchy. What it is, is simple conformity. That’s all it really is.
Decker: In your story about the leather man, the merchant who had everything and lost it was despondent, said he’d rather have cancer than be poor and soon thereafter died of brain cancer. My mom fought cancer and Dad recently died of brain cancer, which forces one to confront the fleeting nature of life. Our culture is dominated by the dream of eternal youth. Is there some failure to live life well as good, decent people that makes so many want to live forever? Perhaps a fear of meeting God and having to explain themselves?
Savage: I don’t have a direct answer to that. The mortality questions are so individual — it’s difficult for me to speak in generalities about it. What makes people want to live forever? I don’t think it’s limited to our materialistic society of today. Let’s go back to even early Christian times. They were writing about eternal life after death. So even in death there was a discussion of eternal life. I think this is a universal human desire. It’s a horrible thought that this conscious being of ours — with our beautiful bodies — is one day going to decay and die. I don’t think it so much has to do with the fear of meeting God, as it is just the thought that this all ends.
Decker: You quote George Orwell’s harbinger that, “The more people chant about their freedom and how free they are, the more loudly I hear their chains rattling.” That hits the nail on the head regarding what we’re facing here at home as spy drones are deployed on U.S. soil, traffic cameras watch our every move and dispense arbitrary fines, eminent domain is used to rob owners of their private property, free speech is abrogated, and religious freedom is stamped out under the bureaucratic boot. Where do you see this heading, and how do you explain that our civil liberties are being voided with barely a whimper of protest?
Savage: To me, it’s got everything to do with the so-called “sexual liberation movement.” You’ll notice that in all of these constrictions — or restrictions — on our freedoms, the tightening noose of Big Brother or Big Sis, there’s no suggestion that there’s any control upon our ability to engage in any type of sexual activity whatsoever whether it be with multiple partners, with animals, even with children. Yes, there are laws but they seem to be looking the other way. What’s happening here is quite obvious to me and has been for many, many decades now — which is that some of our most intelligent citizens, who would otherwise be the strongest civil libertarians, happen to be gay and are obsessed with gay “marriage” and so-called gay rights. As a result, some of these most activist, intelligent people are not there for us and therefore our society is being turned into a sort of prison camp.
Decker: A lot of old-fashioned verities about hard work, self-reliance and doing what it takes to make ends meet rise to the surface in “Train Tracks.” One example is how you wore a dead man’s pants as a youth that your father bought at an estate sale. Fast forward to 2012’s disposable society where everyone wants everything now and borrows to the hilt to buy luxuries they can’t afford. How does such manic living beyond one’s means and the related dependency culture of government handouts suffocate what you call “the values beyond money”? And what are the consequences?
Savage: Well Brett, once again your question is the answer itself. I hate to be trite and so brief but the fact of the matter is people throw things away because for one, clothing is much cheaper proportionate to the dollar today than it was in my time. If you bought a pair of pants it had to last a long time if you were a working kid because pants were quite expensive proportionate to your salary. Now the reason clothing is cheaper, I’m sorry to tell you, is because it’s made largely with very cheap, Third World — and in some cases — slave labor. That is the utter embarrassment of all of this discussion.
Decker: The souls you describe exude so much character, which helps many of them face life head-on and power through challenges. The United States is facing myriad existential crises today, from debilitating debt and moral decadence to external threats such as Islam and a rising China. Do you worry that we no longer have the individual and collective character to turn the country around?
Savage: No, I don’t worry at all. The very same situation was mimicked in the 1930s. As Hitler was rearming and going to war with the world — to subjugate the world to Nazism — he said that the Americans could never fight the German youth; never fight the German soldier. He said the Americans were too busy eating hot dogs, going to dances and watching ball games. Does that sound familiar? Well, guess what happened. As Patton said to his men — and I don’t mean patent leather of the type of generals we have today — but Gen. George S. Patton of World War II fame, he gave a famous speech in which he said, “Boys, many of you fear that you won’t know what to do when you are in combat. Well, let me tell you something. When you see your friend’s guts spilling out of his body, you’ll know what to do.”
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times and coauthor of “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).