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The famed Oxford Union in England has invited talk-radio host Michael Savage to participate in a debate on whether or not fugitive National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden should be called a hero.
There’s only one hitch, as Savage pointed out in his reply to the invitation from the Oxford Union’s Charles Vaughn.
The popular, nationally syndicated San Francisco-based talk host was banned in 2009 from entering the United Kingdom by Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government along with Muslim extremists and leaders of racist groups for “seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred.” The government, however, has never specified what Savage has said that might threaten the nation’s security.
Savage replied to Vaughn: “While I am most honored to have been invited to speak at the Oxford Union, I am unable to enter the great nation of England.”
Official correspondence released under the U.K.’s freedom of information law revealed that the government banned the American talk-host – who had given no indication he planned to ever travel to the country – because it wanted to use his name to provide “balance” to a “least wanted” list dominated by Muslim extremists.
Vaughan extended the invitation to Savage Thursday evening through the talk-host’s syndicator, Cumulus Media Networks.
“We feel that you would offer fascinating and original insights on the motion and the phenomenon of whistleblowing at large, following your comments supporting Edward Snowden’s leaks,” Vaughan wrote.
Snowden fled to Russia and received asylum in August after exposing highly classified programs in which the U.S. collects data on its citizens and important figures worldwide.
“As a talk show host who regularly discusses the importance of government transparency,” Vaughan wrote, “you are perfectly placed to discuss the difficult balance to be struck between individual privacy and national security.”
Savage has called Snowden a “patriot” for exposing U.S. spying on citizens, distinguishing him from convicted U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, who had “no altruistic intent.”
In his reply to Vaughan, Savage said: “If you can convince your government to correct this miscarriage of justice and they will allow me to enter England, perhaps I could arrange to debate before your prestigious organization.”
Savage, who delves inside Britain’s blacklisting in his book “Banned in Britain, said he has not heard back yet from Vaughan, and Vaughan could not be reached by WND.
Asked to comment on the Oxford invitation, Savage noted people now “are living in fear that with the NSA spying and the increasing overbearing government of the West, that very soon free speech will be limited.”
But that’s nothing new, said Savage.
“Guess what? It’s been going on since 2009, when I, Michael Savage, a member of the American media was banned for no reason from entering the United Kingdom,” he said.
Savage said he was assured that the ban would be lifted when David Cameron, of the Conservative Party, replaced the Labour Party leader, Brown, as prime minister.
“It is now 2014, and I am still unable to access the great dental care and cuisine of England,” Savage said. “I guess Cameron turned out to be the Boehner of England.”
As WND reported in May 2009, then-British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that Savage was on a list of 16 people banned from entry because the government believed their views might provoke violence. Smith said it was “important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it’s a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won’t be welcome in this country.”
A year later, Cameron’s new government told Savage it would continue the ban unless he repudiated statements made on his broadcasts that were deemed a threat to public security. Again, the government didn’t cite any statements.
Savage’s daily “The Savage Nation” has been one of the most popular talk-radio shows in the U.S. for more than a decade. On Jan. 1, his show will move to the coveted East Coast drive time, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Oxford’s invitation is not the first time Savage has been asked to participate in a debate at an esteemed English society since the ban.
In 2009, as WND reported, the Cambridge Union canceled Savage’s scheduled participation in a debate via video link just one week before the event. The organizers, who had asked him to debate on the theme of political correctness, claimed they had to cancel because of “numerous legal issues” – which they didn’t name – along with technical and financial problems.
The 2009 invitation from the Cambridge Union said its leadership had been following Savage’s ban “with great interest” and believed he was “more qualified than anyone to talk about the subject of political correctness in America and Britain.” The Cambridge Union, founded in 1815, has hosted the likes of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American presidents Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt.
In the Oxford Union invitation to Savage Thursday night, Vaughan said he and his colleagues would be “honoured if you were to help us continue this tradition of hosting some of the most influential people in the world, and are sure that you would enjoy the experience.”
Founded in 1823, the Oxford Union has featured world figures such as Reagan, Cameron, Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
Savage is the author of 29 books, including six New York Times bestsellers. He was awarded the coveted Freedom of Speech Award by Talkers Magazine and earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
His other bestsellers include “Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America,” “Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama’s Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security,” “The Savage Nation,” “The Enemy Within,” “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” “Political Zoo,” “Psychological Nudity: Savage Radio Stories” and “Banned in Britain.”