- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2006

Forgotten words

“It’s fashionable in the salons of the Right to dismiss the full freight of feminism without examining its manifest. … The debating ploy is as common as it is lazy: spotlight extremists as emblematic of the whole, for if one’s opponent can be cast as moronic or malicious, what need for argument? But no club is that exclusive.

“Feminism certainly wasn’t. Following Friedan’s death last month, on her 85th birthday, Germaine Greer waltzed over her grave, telling the Guardian, ‘Betty was disconcerted by lesbianism, leery of abortion and ultimately concerned for the men whose ancient privileges she feared were being eroded. … The world will be a tamer place without her.’

“That ungracious obituary wouldn’t have surprised Friedan, who admitted, ‘I’m at odds with the radical feminists because I’m not anti-marriage and anti-family. I always thought it was dangerous to go against the idea of the family. I don’t even like the phrase “women’s liberation” because that idea of being set free from everything doesn’t seem right to me.’”

— Kara Hopkins, writing on “Room of Her Own,” in the April 24 issue of the American Conservative

Pluralist perils

“Individualism is militantly hostile to all tradition, for tradition regulates even the details of life: speech (Mr., Mrs., Miss) and behavior (standing up when a lady enters the room). Now we have lost all titles (except for Mr. President). Everything reminiscent of the days when rules and limits existed is no longer, from the Latin language on university diplomas and in the Catholic Mass through the Confederate battle flag, to the use of titles to graciousness on the part of victorious athletes. …

“In our society, prescriptive pluralism reigns. It has ceased to mean acceptance of those who are different and has become domination by diversity. The protest of a single ‘offended’ individual can prevent the majority from praying at a high-school football game or from saying grace before meals at a military academy. Majority rule becomes the rule of one.

“The inability of our courts to see the inherent anti-democratic nature of such developments shows the degree to which pluralism and individualism have destroyed more than the common sense of the good: they have destroyed common sense altogether.”

— Harold O.J. Brown in “Democracy: Self-Evident?” in the March issue of the Religion & Society Report

Cable news feud

“An entertaining history of American journalism could be written based on its feuds. …

“Famous grudges have pitted William Randolph Hearst against Joseph Pulitzer; … Ted Turner against Rupert Murdoch; the New York Post against the Daily News; and Walter Winchell against Cissy Patterson, Ed Sullivan, Time magazine, Whittaker Chambers, Westbrook Pegler, Drew Pearson, and the entire known universe.

“Modern news organizations prevent bad blood from splattering with its former velocity. … But one recent exception is the current on-air tiff between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, who share the weekday 8 p.m. time slot. …

“The feud goes back to May 5, 2003 — if not further — when Olbermann quipped at the close of a segment on Sen. Joe McCarthy’s media manipulations, ‘So it was all programmed to look for fish to shoot in the barrel. Oddly, that’s also how they program Bill O’Reilly’s show.’”

— Jack Shafer, writing on “The Mouth vs. the Bully,” April 18 in Slate at www.slate.com

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