- - Sunday, July 4, 2010

Old July 4th

“The first Fourth of July after we moved back from California … there were some thunderstorms, and we were inside for some TV watching. I happened upon ‘The Best Years of Our Lives,’ a film by William Wyler. To say its the kind of film that Hollywood doesnt make anymore is the mother of all understatements.

“Made in 1946, the film follows the lives of three American servicemen who are returning from ‘The War.’ They are viewed heroically by the filmmaker and the other characters. In two shorts scenes … where minor characters try to say that the war was wrong or that the country was duped, those same characters are strongly and quickly rebuked.

“To show how much Hollywood has changed in 54 years, ‘The Best Years of Our Lives,’ this ‘glorification’ of the American fighting man, won eight Oscars, including one special for Harold Russell, a veteran who had lost both of his hands during a training accident in the service. I try to watch the movie every year around the Fourth to remind myself of how uplifting and inspiring film can be. I also love watching the scene where Dana Andrews chews out the haughty lady and loses his job. If you have never seen the film, make it part of your Independence Day weekend.”

Jeffrey Jena, writing on “Hollywood Sticks Up For America and the Men Who Protect Her” on July 4 at the Andrew Breitbart blog Big Hollywood

Praying for atheists

Christopher Hitchens, as Goldblog readers undoubtedly know, has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. I’ve been e-mailing a bit with him over the past couple of days, and he sounds like the same old Hitchens, which is good, because our civilization (not to mention our magazine) needs the same old Hitchens around for a while.

“In one e-mail to him, I wrote, ‘I’m thinking of you and (insert prayer joke here).’ Hitchens, who is America’s most famous and pugnacious atheist, has by now received several dozen variants of this same line, undoubtedly doesn’t want my prayers …

“This matter of theology brought to mind one of my favorite theologians, our mutual friend Rabbi David Wolpe, who has debated Hitch on innumerable occasions on the question of God’s existence or non-existence. I asked David what sort of intercessory praying a believer should do on behalf of a declared non-believer, or if one should pray at all, and he wrote back with some very wise words: ‘I would say it is appropriate and even mandatory to do what one can for another who is sick; and if you believe that praying helps, to pray. It is in any case an expression of one’s deep hopes. So yes, I will pray for him, but I will not insult him by asking or implying that he should be grateful for my prayers.’”

Jeffrey Goldberg, writing on “Should We Pray for Christopher Hitchens?” on July 2 at his Atlantic blog

‘Don’t let her win’

“The president of the University of Ottawa wanted to invite Ann Coulter … back to campus after her scheduled speech last March was shut down amid fierce protests. But Allan Rock’s advisers talked him out of it, warning that Coulter’s appearance would only turn into another media circus, newly disclosed documents show.

“‘An invitation to Ms. Coulter to return to the campus would demonstrate good faith on the part of the university and an unqualified commitment to freedom of expression,’ Rock wrote in an email to senior university officials on March 24.

“That was the day after the speech was canceled because of raucous anti-Coulter protests outside the auditorium. But several advisers, including Elly Alboim of the consulting firm Earnscliffe Strategy Group, strongly advised against the move. … ‘Should she decide to take you up on the offer, her appearance will become a live news event that she will cynically use to personal advantage to extend her sense of grievance and victimization and amplify her profile. … It will be her win, not about your gesture.’”

Dean Beeby, writing on “Ottawa university prez wanted to invite Coulter back after appearance aborted” in June 29 in the Toronto Star