Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas
A House Republican leader is battling Britain’s ban of Michael Savage, urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter today to use her position to press the U.K. to grant the top-rated radio host a travel visa immediately.
Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, the assistant Republican whip, says Savage wants to visit the U.K. for scientific research, noting his rare medicinal plant specimens from Fiji and Tonga are housed in a world-class collection at Kew Gardens in London.
Savage, who has a doctoral degree from the University of California at Berkeley in nutritional ethnomedicine, spent several years researching botany in the South Pacific.
Culberson told Clinton he plans to work with colleagues in Congress in the coming weeks to help protect Savage’s First Amendment rights. He points out in his letter that the British government “has classified a well-known and popular member of the American media alongside criminals, murderers and terrorists, which is defamatory and disturbing.”
“Michael Savage is a loyal American, and he is passionate about protecting America, which is why I enjoy listening to him,” Culberson writes.
As WND reported, then–British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced May 5 that Savage was on a list of 16 people, along with terrorists and neo-Nazis, 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.”
Culberson says Savage “speaks for most Americans when he criticizes people who apologize for our success and who will not protect our borders, our common language, and our American culture.”
“If he were at the fringe of society like other people on the U.K. list, he would not have a nationally syndicated radio show, and he would not be the third most popular talk show host in America,” the Texas lawmaker argues.
Culberson says he listens regularly to Savage’s show and has never heard him encourage hatred or incite anyone to engage in violence.
The U.K. list includes Hamas leader Yunis Al-Astal, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe and radical American pastor Fred Phelps, known for his virulent anti-gay protests at funerals.
Savage has documented his ordeal with the U.K. in his book “Banned in Britain,” which includes official correspondence, released under the U.K.’s freedom of information law, that reveals a decision was made at the highest level of government to use his name to provide “balance” to a “least wanted” list dominated by Muslim extremists.
“We will want to ensure that the names disclosed reflect the broad range of cases and are not all Islamic extremists,” reads a draft recommendation, marked “Restricted,” that was obtained as part of Savage’s libel lawsuit against the government and Smith, who resigned from her home secretary post in June in the wake of scandal over personal use of taxpayer funds and her controversial ban of Savage.
An e-mail message dated Nov. 27, 2008, from an unnamed Home Office official, says, with regard to Savage, “I can understand that disclosure of the decision would help provide a balance of types of exclusion cases.”
Another e-mail points to complicity by other agencies and even Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
“HO (Home Office) intend to include [Savage] in their quarterly stats … Both the FS (foreign secretary) and PM (prime minister) are firmly behind listing and naming such people,” it reads.
The e-mails include a message from an unnamed civil servant whose cautions were ignored.
“I think we could be accused of duplicity in naming him,” he wrote without explaining the reason.
Smith’s successor, Alan Johnson, called the ban a terrible blunder and told the London Daily Mail he would scrap the policy of maintaining an enemies list. But Savage told WND two days later that according to his attorney, Johnson’s announcement did not mean his name had been removed from the list.
Savage still demands an apology from Smith, who has admitted she was not up to being home secretary, explaining she should have been given some training for the job before being named.
Savage’s legal complaint against Smith notes the home secretary’s office said in a press release that the “controversial daily radio host” is “considered to be engaging in unacceptable behavior by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to intercommunity violence.”
The allegations are “entirely false,” the complaint asserts.
“At no time has our client provoked or sought to provoke others to commit crimes or serious criminal acts.”
Savage hosts the nation’s third most popular radio talk show, with an estimated 8 million listeners a week on about 400 stations, according to his syndicator, the Talk Radio Network.
On his website, Savage appealed to his listeners to contribute to his legal fund, which he has used for various efforts, including a lawsuit last year against the Council on American-Islamic Relations for waging a boycott using excerpts of his copyrighted remarks. In the case of Savage’s U.K. ban, however, CAIR has sided with Savage, arguing “freedom of speech is a two-way street.”