- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nostalgia trap

“The business of conservatism is not to get us all riding streetcars again or working on family farms. … The business of conservatism is not to chase Wal-Mart out of town or to bring back men’s hats. The business of conservatism is not to ‘recover the America we knew as recently as the 1950s,’ even if that was ‘the last normal decade.’ …

“The business of conservatism is to conserve essential values and principles as future becomes present and present, past. The principles to be conserved are those our Republic was founded on: personal liberty, autonomy and choice; self-sufficiency and self-support; limited government, loose federalism, and the rule of subsidiarity; freedom of speech, belief, assembly and enterprise. There are now dire threats to all of these principles, and we ought to be busy fighting those threats, not yearning for a lost idyll. …

“Perhaps we can salvage some of that old vitality to fortify us in the coming storms. I certainly hope so. The salvaging won’t be accomplished, though, supposing it can be accomplished by turning us into a flock of hat-wearing, church-going, streetcar-riding, home-schooling, natural-produce-eating, ‘Lawrence Welk Show’-watching brownstone-dwellers.”

— John Derbyshire, writing on “Not Your Father’s Conservatism,” in the Feb. 12 issue of the American Conservative

Sexual politics

“Ayn Rand was born Alissa Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg in 1905, a daughter of czarist Russia. At 21, she left what was becoming the Soviet Union, armed with a one-way ticket to Chicago and a lifelong hatred of Communism. …

“Rand’s women and her ideas on sex and love are the most troubling aspect of her work. The novels are loaded with fetishistic sex, which contributes both to their popularity and her reputation as a writer of philosophy lite. … Rand’s books were meant to be serious, yet were ready-made for appropriation by the sexually curious adolescent. Still, the sexuality in her work is as troubling as it is erotic.”

— Amy Benfer, writing on “Adolescent females love Ayn Rand ? wonder why?” in the winter issue of In Character

Chicks nix hicks

“The whole point of music is to transcend politics, grievances and the differences that divide to help us reconnect to those essential human emotions we all share: love, loss, anger, regret. Unless, that is, you work for the music industry.

“Like its wicked stepsister, Hollywood, the music business has become increasingly divorced from its purpose, estranged from its audience, and maliciously partisan. Not that they seem to care. Case in point: the 49th Annual Grammy Awards … Sunday night. …

“For the Dixie Chicks, who won a total of five Grammys, the evening was a triumph. No big surprise. Natalie Maines, the lead singer for the group, all but [ensured] this outcome in 2003, when, during a concert in London she announced, ‘Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.’ Back on the mainland, a huge chunk of their fan base in red-state America stop whistling Dixie Chicks; the comments would eventually lead to dwindling record sales and a banishment from many country-radio stations.

“The Chicks were unrepentant, and decided to court a more urbane crowd, shaking off the ‘rednecks’ that had made them stars.”

— Raymond Arroyo, writing on “I Hear Music, Partisan Music,” Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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