- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

Test-tube fears

“In the quarter century since the first child was conceived outside the body, [in vitro fertilization] and its variants have been pursued by an ever-widening circle of would-be parents. …

“The issue of IVF babies’ health burst into the open two years ago, when a group of researchers published a controversial study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that IVF children were more than twice as likely as naturally conceived children to have been diagnosed with a major birth defect by [the time they were] 1 year old. … Subsequent studies … have confirmed the findings. …

“As one doctor pointed out, women undergoing IVF ‘are not the normal population; they may not have a normal uterus or vascular supply.’ Moreover … existing studies suggest that IVF may interfere with the delicate process of genetic expression that takes place during the early days of embryonic development. …

“Thanks to a relatively new but now common technique called ICSI, in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg, virtually any man can now become a biological father, no matter how weak or slow or scarce or chromosomally problematic his sperm. This breakthrough is, as one doctor put it, ‘anti-Darwinian.’ It allows the propagation of a sperm that would never on its own have been able to penetrate an egg.”

Liza Mundy, writing on “How Do IVF Babies Turn Out?” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Heroes and demons

“Ho Chi Minh was a mass murderer — not in Stalin’s league, it is true, but he did the best he could with the tools he was given. Yet to the Left, Ho is a hero, a sainted figure. … Who can forget the raptures of American intellectuals in the 1960s and 1970s about Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong? …

“It is in this context that we must understand the comment of an American admirer of Castro who enthusiastically described him as ‘a sort of Cuban Ho Chi Minh.’ No higher praise was available. …

“America occupies an indispensable place in today’s politically correct cosmology. … If there is misery in the world, the root cause is, somehow, America: its power, its influence, its supposed irresponsibility, its stupidity, its cupidity, its very being.”

Roger Kimball, writing on “Saintly institutions?” in the November issue of the New Criterion

Naming names

“Fifty years is an eternity in pop culture, but it’s probably not enough time to restore Elia Kazan’s ‘On the Waterfront’ to its rightful place of honor. Kazan’s 1954 drama about an ex-boxer turned dockworker who informs on his corrupt union won five Oscars, earned a spot in the pantheon of noteworthy American movies and made Hollywood safe for Method acting, courtesy of Marlon Brando’s still-astonishing performance as tormented hero Terry Malloy. But it’s a classic with a political asterisk that threatens to eclipse the film’s considerable merits.

“The asterisk was born in 1952, when ex-socialist Kazan was twice called before the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating communist influence on the entertainment industry. He resisted at first, then caved and named names. Years later, Kazan pointed out that many other working artists named names without experiencing such intense, sustained vilification. … He wondered … if American communists would say they were sorry for tacitly cheerleading tyranny.”

Matt Zoller Seitz, writing on “Judas to Christ,” in the Tuesday issue of New York Press

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