- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2005

Tediously wrong

“Jimmy Carter’s 20th book is a tedious meditation about the appropriate uses of moral values in political life — as wisely and humbly exemplified by Himself — and of their misuses under the current Bush administration. …

“Everything about ‘Our Endangered Values’ is wrong, beginning, obviously, with the title. The values Mr. Carter says are ‘ours’ are certainly not mine and probably not yours and therefore, necessarily, not ours. In fact, it is not at all obvious that the things Mr. Carter speaks of even qualify as values, properly speaking, unless you believe that ‘economic justice’ is a value, or you subscribe to Marxist liberation theology … or you can think of nothing bad to say about Saddam Hussein except, perhaps, that he is ‘obnoxious.’

“Who, or what, is doing the endangering? … What chiefly exercises Mr. Carter’s indignation are neoconservatives, the Southern Baptist Convention and their allegedly converging and insidious influence on government.”

— Bret Stephens, writing on “The World According to J.C.,” Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal

Indoctrination

“[My high school’s] ‘integrated science’ curriculum … was one massive serving of mixed Green salad: global warming, overpopulation, ecological disaster, the evils of DDT, pollution, Alaskan oil drilling, species ‘endangerment,’ and American consumption were all served up as scientific fact. Never was it mentioned that these are subjects of profound debate within the scientific community. Academically dishonest versions of political events, such as the woeful effects of George Bush’s ‘withdrawal’ from the sacred Kyoto Treaty, were taught instead.

“And the bias was not confined to any one class. It seemed all our teachers had taken leave of their obligation to teach us in favor of political indoctrination. English class themes (to borrow Dorothy Parker’s classic phrase) ‘ran the gamut from A to B’ — A being anti-Semitism, B being [exploitation of blacks]. A doggedly superficial treatment of racism — ‘stereotyping is bad’ — was rammed down our throats from sixth grade on, through a stream of repetitively third-rate literature heavy in cultural relativism and light on any intellectual analysis. … Even their interpretations of classic texts strained for these one-dimensional perspectives.”

— Alec Mouhibian, University of California at Santa Barbara student, writing on “Politicized Pubescence,” Thursday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Space dialectic

“With the release of ‘Episode III Revenge of the Sith’ on DVD … George Lucas’ audience can finally see all six ‘Star Wars’ films back-to-back, as a single text. This is how Lucas himself regards the series. … Looking at these familiar films with fresh eyes, unfiltered by the lens of nostalgia and sentiment … we start to see just how deeply weird they really are. Three decades on, the kids who grew up playing with Luke Skywalker action figures and carrying Princess Leia lunchboxes may be startled to discover that ‘Star Wars’ is really just one big elephantine postmodern art film. …

“[T]he films are an elaborate meditation on the dialectic between chance and order. They all depend upon absurd coincidence to propel the story forward. Just what are the odds, in just one of near-infinite examples, that of all the planets in that galaxy far, far away, the droids should end up back on Tatooine, in the home of the son of the sweet (if annoying) boy who had built C-3PO decades before?”

—Aidan Wasley, writing on “The greatest postmodern art film ever,” Nov. 1 in Slate at www.slate.com

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