- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How go the wars?

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for Democrats to deny that their support for ‘abortion rights’ is hurting them, not helping them…. The abortion rate peaked in 1990 (1.6 million) and public support for abortion peaked soon thereafter.

“In retrospect, it is easy to see that even at its height, the pro-choice movement had major weaknesses…. Abortion had never been normalized in the culture. The public refused to see it as just another medical procedure. The reluctance of most doctors to perform it was a constant source of consternation to pro-choicers, who naturally blamed that reluctance on intimidation by violent pro-lifers (What other reason could there be not to do abortions?).

“Characters on television shows, no matter how much bed-hopping they do, rarely have abortions. In 2005, one pro-choice writer noted, with disgust, that on soap operas, more characters had come back from the dead in one season than had gotten abortions in the history of the genre.”

— Ramesh Ponnuru in “Winning, and Losing, on Abortion” May 8 in the National Review

Mall towns

“The nation’s megachurches — which are only 10 percent of the country’s congregations but they contain roughly half of all regular churchgoers — are supplying people with something they want. What is it that draws people to their pews? Most megachurches offer an upbeat, nonjudgmental version of Christianity…. They also work hard to be solicitous and inviting….

“If megachurches sometimes seem like small towns, one reason might be because they have taken on these functions as other forms of community have withered. In a society in which many civic institutions seem to be declining, the church provides a rock for many urban Americans to cling to.

“As James Twitchell writes in his book on this phenomenon, ‘A megachurch mimics the Norman Rockwell town center, complete with the town square. …By taking on roles as various as those of the Welcome Wagon, the USO, the Rotary, the quilting bee, the coffee shop and the country club mixer — and of course the traditional family and school — these ‘next churches’ have become the traditional villages that many Americans think they grew up in and now can find only on television.’”

— Bart Hinkle in “Small Town Religion” in the May issue of the American Enterprise

Immigrant reporting

“[There is] a dilemma faced by an increasing number of newsrooms in areas where large immigrant populations are integral parts of the community…. Immigrants are altering everything from the way teachers teach to the ways preachers preach. Census data from 2004 put the immigrant population at nearly 34.3 million, double what it was in 1990. Immigrants now make up 12 percent of the population and, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, an estimated 30 percent of them are in the country illegally….

“The undocumented are retreating, becoming less willing to talk, while interest in immigrant issues is on the rise. That means reporters and editors must decide if they are willing to conceal the identity of an illegal immigrant if that’s what it takes to get the story. And if they do, how do they do it? What details do they include and which ones do they leave out?

“Is it ethical to use a name, even with permission, if it could get someone deported?… Figuring out if, when and how to do that can be a daunting task, and with the credibility of journalism at a low point, if not an all-time low, it’s even more difficult today.”

— Lucy Hood in “Naming Names” in the April/May issue of the American Journalism Review

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