Michael Moynihan is on a Swedish cruise, about to get into a brawl. He has slipped into English and drawn the ire of a drunken Swede, who declares, “You’re American. I [expletive] hate Americans,” before pouncing. A cruise employee restrains the Swede, who tries to reason with the shipman: “You don’t understand. He’s American.”
Moynihan says he doesn’t get beaten up often, but having followed his Swedish girlfriend to Stockholm, he has gotten used to a certain amount of verbal pique. Swedes regard his support for George W. Bush the way chickens might view support for Colonel Sanders. Returning the compliment, Moynihan is launching, this month in Stockholm, an English-language conservative newspaper, which he’s named The Spectator.
A budding leftist when he arrived at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to study history, Moynihan soon traded in his Marx for Hayek. But he says most of his friends are libs. “I’m atypical of most conservatives. I used to play in punk bands, which allowed me to fly under the radar.”
For the past three and a half years, Moynihan has worked odd jobs to support his writing habit. His primary outlet has been his own website, the Politburo, whose main purpose is harshing on smug liberal pieties in pop culture and beyond. Working online has allowed him to hit the road whenever the mood has taken him. And it’s taken him all over, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, Manchester, England, San Francisco, Kansas City, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, and now Sweden. “I don’t know many Republicans,” Moynihan says. “Because I’ve never lived in places where there have been many Republicans. I’ve always been the alien.”
The Spectator will be modeled after The New York Press, Vice Magazine, and the English Spectator. Moynihan hopes the paper will be “conservative, hip, and mean,” but has a unique task ahead of him. “Our opponent is the entire Swedish media establishment.”
There will be also an online version at www.thespectator.se – should all the paper copies suddenly go missing. To make that less likely, Moynihan will also provide a healthy dose of apolitical content. The editorial section, with Moynihan and New York-based journalist Celia Farber at the helm, will always lean to the right, but Moynihan wants The Spectator to be a reliable source for events and culture. And as if to balance the political ticket, Moynihan has hired a Marxist Swede to edit the music page. Also, the majority of local writers he plans to employ are leftists.
The editorial section will take on many of Sweden’s liberal orthodoxies, but Moynihan wants to steer clear of religion. Sweden is nominally Lutheran and deep down atheist. Only four percent of Swedes attend church regularly and most have an even lower tolerance for religion than they do for the free market. Moynihan concedes there will be few social conservative writers in residence at The Spectator.
“The Swedes are relaxed about everything, but when it comes to intellectual diversity, there’s a certain lack of it here.” Recently, the Swedish Broadcasting Commission censored an episode of Oprah for being too pro-war. In the show’s panel discussion on Iraq, the commission complained, “all longer statements supported the view that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the U.S.” Only one newspaper even bothered to run an item on the decision.
If political debate rarely heats to a boil in Sweden, it may be due to the lack of an adversarial press. Which is where Moynihan comes in. In The Spectator‘s debut issue, the American upstart documents blatant and repetitive plagiarism at Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s premier newspaper, and demands the immediate resignation of Peter Borgstrom, a regular contributor. It’s possible, of course, that The Spectator will not put out a second issue, but Moynihan remains optimistic. “The paper comes out April 1st and my apartment should be on fire April 2nd.”
Meghan Keane is an editorial associate at National Review who also edits swamp-city.com, a news and gossip blog about Washington, D.C.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Andrew Stiles