Canadian writer and political com­men­tator Mark Steyn is awfully con­cerned about America’s future. He’s Hillsdale’s Eugene Pulliam Vis­iting Fellow in Jour­nalism and will be teaching a two-week class “How to Write a Column.” He shared his thoughts on how much of a weirdo Rick San­torum is, what’s wrong with the Hunger Games, and why there is nothing like a good game of polo with a goat’s head.

PM: In a piece you wrote on Rick San­torum called “Weird Pol­itics” you describe him as weird because he has tra­di­tional values. Are people who are tra­di­tional really con­sidered weird today?

MS: It was inter­esting. Anytime I went into an ABC show all the people said, “How can Rick San­torum be a credible pres­i­dential can­didate? He’s so weird.” Then I actually asked what’s weird about him. He’s weird because he believes mar­riage is between a man and a woman. He’s weird because the family is the basic building block of society. In fact, it was non-weird for almost all of human history. What’s inter­esting to me is not Santorum’s weirdness, but the fact that so much of what he says is now pre­sumed to be weird. I think he’s right on the basic issue, which is that the crisis America faces is not pri­marily an accounting problem or a book­keeping problem. We’re broke for a reason. This country is the most broke nation in history because it is not the republic of limited gov­ernment and self-reliant cit­i­zenry De Toc­queville observed two cen­turies ago. So he’s right in the extent that the [financial] bro­kenness is a symptom of the problem not the problem and in that sense I don’t find San­torum half as weird as 90 percent of his critics.

PM: You mention in that same piece that the eco­nomic sit­u­ation here as well as Greece is a reflection of char­acter.

MS: Yes, in the end you have to accept that. Nobody under­stands that the euro is an attempt to impose a cur­rency in dis­regard of people’s char­acter. In other words, the euro was invented in order to pretend that Greeks were no dif­ferent from Germans. Greeks are pro­foundly dif­ferent from Germans, and that is one reason Greece is insolvent. Every time that the Greeks go to Angela Merkel in Berlin and say, “We’d like another bailout; we spent the last bailout out; can you give us another bailout?” Angela Merkel under­stands that the problem is not the Greek finances. The problem is the Greek people, and the problem here is the American people, and the problem in the United Kingdom is the British people, and the problem in Italy is the Italian people. In that sense, I worry that Mitt Romney is looking at the problem too much as a kind of tech­nocrat. We have a fun­da­men­tally deformed view not just of the role of the state but of the role of the citizen and we need to correct that.

PM: What are your thoughts on the Her­itage Foundation’s World Freedom Index ranking of Canada ahead of America?

MS: I think it ought to be a great embar­rassment to the United States that it’s actually slipping down that league table. How can it not be a mark of shame to any red-blooded American that the survey finds he’s less free than the Dominion of Canada. Every red-blooded American thinks Canada is just some pushover, big gov­ernment, semi-socialist Scan­di­navian basket case that has wound up on the wrong con­tinent. Why isn’t every American ashamed that he comes below Canada and Aus­tralia and these other places?

PM: What were your thoughts on the Hunger Games trilogy?

MS: It seems to me there is some­thing empty about the Hunger Games. In the end the stakes aren’t big enough for it to quite work. There’s nothing primal at stake in the Hunger Games, in part because I assume the author doesn’t sub­scribe to any par­ticular tran­scendent meaning to life. I think there is a kind of absence of that in the book.

PM: In your article“Rave on for Trayvon,” you high­lighted the craziness of the protests around the Florida shooting. Beneath all of that do you see serious civil rights issues?

MS: If you mean by “serious civil rights issue,” do I think its 1962 in Selma, Alabama? Nobody does except Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Sorry, I should say the Rev­erend Al Sharpton or the Rev­erend Jesse Jackson. I don’t know quite how long it’s been since Rev­erend Jackson has been a prac­ticing pastor at any church, but you’re obliged to call him that for all of eternity. These super­an­nuated huck­sters make their livings out of their cob­webbed grievance mon­gering. What’s inter­esting is that the rest of the world has moved on. There’s no real white guy involved in this. They want you to think it’s like a Klansman, this white racist. For starters, this guy is a reg­is­tered democrat. He’s half his­panic, which is why the New York Times has had to invent the term “white-his­panic” hitherto unknown to American jour­nalism. “White-his­panic” was a phrase con­structed so that this guy could still be white enough to fit the nar­rative of the Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton super-annuated race huskers. It’s pathetic. What’s inter­esting about this story is that it shows America has moved on. None of us know the cir­cum­stances. Did this guy racially profile the black teenager in the hoodie and take action? Maybe the black teenager in the hoodie pro­filed the middle-aged his­panic man coming towards him and thought, “Oh what is this? A big Latino gangster? The idea that this fits some sort of Eisen­hower tem­plate of Mr. and Mrs. White-Picket-Fence America being unable to get past their endemic racism -— it’s not at all.

PM: On a lighter note, what do you think of American sports?

MS: I’m the unas­sim­i­lated immi­grant in that respect. When I’m on Rush, I always have to be very careful because I’ll say, “Oh Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest players in American football ever,” and it turns out the guy’s a bas­ketball player or some­thing.

I like the grace of baseball, but I’m not such a big fan of American football. I prefer rugby to American football. I played rugby for a while. I like the way you don’t play it with helmets and you get that old boot crushing into your skull without having to have shoulder pads in the way. I played cricket in Bermuda recently for the first time in many years and enjoyed it immensely. Although I’m not a big fan of Afghan social life in general, I’d like to have a go at bushcazi. It’s that thing that’s like polo that’s played with a cow’s or a goats’ head. It’s in pretty bad shape by the end of the match. The guys are on horses and they’re just thwacking this carcass around. I think they start off with most of the carcass but by the end just the head’s left. Most of the carcass falls away bit by bit.

On the whole, I prefer a good game of bushcazi to the Superbowl.