- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2004

Not so ‘Simple’

“Lack of middle-class values is usually considered an underclass problem. But watching season two of ‘The Simple Life,’ the Fox reality show that throws heiress Paris Hilton and her friend Nicole Richie (daughter of Lionel) into the lives of ordinary working Americans, it occurred to me that the moneyed set’s lack of middle-class values — such as restraint, hard work, and a willingness to make the best of a bad situation — can cause equal damage to the character. …

“I’ve noticed that in recent years these rich kids’ habits have trickled down in society, so that now even the offspring of the merely well-off often do no more work around the house than Paris and Nicole. The excuse their parents/chauffeurs give is that the kids just don’t have time, what with all the sports and ballet and SAT test-prep classes and volunteer work for college applications. But I see the sense of entitlement these kids often radiate even well into their 20s, and it isn’t very pretty.”

Catherine Seipp, writing on “Paris When She Fizzles,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Cultural gap

“On the National Assessment for Educational Progress test, the typical black or Hispanic student at age 17 scores below at least 80 percent of white students. ‘On average, these non-Asian minority students are four years behind those who are white and Asian,’ said [Abigail] Thernstrom. ‘They are finishing high school with a junior high education.’

“What’s more, Thernstrom added, differences in socioeconomic status account for only about a third of this gap. The rest is due to a variety of cultural factors — some of which can be overcome by a concerted effort to provide better schooling. …

“But the message of responsibility was most powerfully articulated by … Vanderbilt University law professor Carol Swain.

“Swain identified a number of cultural factors that may hold black students back. … Better schools may provide some solutions, Swain said, but there must also be cultural change, and ‘middle-class minorities must take a leadership role in this area.’”

—Cathy Young, writing on “Class Struggle,” June 1 in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Voting vicious

“The left can sense that their time may have finally arrived, and they’re prematurely settling into their new role as saviors of the national soul, with their former hysteria already reverting to a smug, nurturing tone. …

“What’s worse is that the new smug tone is being accompanied by high-profile outbursts of fake rage. Yesterday’s genuine fury has been hijacked and reified by painted-up frauds like Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. …

“Some people say that the Democrats are actually getting bolder and more vicious. I don’t buy it. What Gore and Pelosi and the others on their bandwagon are really trying to do is snuff out the real rage before it spreads and threatens their fake opposition. …

“This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch Fox News … because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. … So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.”

—Mark Ames, writing on “Spite the Vote,” Tuesday in the New York Press

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