- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Contrary Clint

“And 37 years ago, [Clint Eastwood] starred in a film that has been a bone of contention ever since, and which is the reason for our conversation …

Dirty Harry - the story of a cop railing against bureaucracy and pursuing criminals according to his own whim - has been so imitated that it is hard to imagine the revulsion that spilled over it upon its release. The New Yorker’s critic, Pauline Kael, called it ‘fascist,’ and other reviewers heaped similar scorn on it … they wondered whether the San Francisco setting was a slap at one of America’s most liberal cities; even the … belt buckle sported by Scorpio, the serial killer in the film, was interpreted as a swipe at the left. …

“‘Of course people built a lot of connotations into the film that weren’t necessarily there,’ Eastwood grins. ‘Being a contrary sort of person, I figured there had been enough politically correct crap going around. The police were not held in great [favor] particularly, the Miranda decisions had come down [forcing police to read arrested suspects their rights], people were thinking about the plight of the accused. I thought, “Let’s do a picture about the plight of the victim.””

-from “Dirty Harry Comes Clean,” in the June 6 issue of the Guardian

Professor pathology

“Academia also has become a place where professors can achieve the highest rewards, except in the protected fields, for acting out their pathologies. …

“One cannot wholly escape these sides of universities even by majoring in the hard sciences; at least a few humanities and social science courses in oppression studies and demystification are generally required for graduation. Even if students escape these phenomena in their choice of study, though, they will meet them in freshmen orientations, residential programming and the very rules and regulations of their campuses.

“Those often kindly teachers, however, do have a sense of urgent mission. Even if we put them on truth-serum, the academics who dominate the humanities and social sciences on our campuses today would state that K-12 education essentially has been one long celebration of America and the West, as if our students were intimately familiar with the Federalist Papers and had never heard of slavery or empire.”

-Alan Charles Kors, writing “On the Sadness of Higher Education,” in the May issue of the New Criterion

Culture matters

Russia is a country in which culture matters, or at least that is how it thinks of itself. This is one reason why [Alexander] Solzhenitsyn railed against the infiltration into Russian life of all things American in his book ‘Rebuilding Russia,’ published in 1990. More to the point, it is why Soviet leaders paid such close attention to culture: They recognized its potential to reinforce or to undermine their grip on power and sought to reap the benefits while stifling any potential downside.

“For a while after the 1917 Revolution, avant-garde artists - revolutionary by nature - coexisted comfortably with the Bolshevik regime in a marriage of convenience. But Vladimir Lenin found that they were worthless in supplying a way out of the economic difficulties that soon engulfed the country, and thereafter the story is one of a steady lessening of artistic freedom, culminating in Josef Stalin’s famous Pravda editorial ‘Muddle Instead of Music,’ an attack on [Dmitri] Shostakovich’s opera ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.’”

-George Loomis, writing on “State of the Art,” in the June 6 issue of the Moscow Times magazine Context

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