- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Self-definition

“The discussion of a relatively rare phenomenon as a ‘great evil’ of our age shows that child abuse in Catholic churches has been turned into a morality tale - about the dangers of belief and of hierarchical institutions and the need for more state and other forms of intervention into religious institutions and even religious families.

“The first contemporary trend that has turned incidences of sexual abuse into a powerful symbol of evil is the cult of the victim, where today individuals are invited not only to reveal every misfortune that has befallen them - which of course is a sensible thing to do if you have been raped - but also to define themselves by those misfortunes, to look upon themselves as the end-products of having being emotionally, physically or sexually abused.

“This is why very public revelations of Catholic abuse started in America and Ireland before more recently spreading to other parts of Western Europe: because the politics of victimhood, the cult of revelation and redefinition of the self as survivor, is more pronounced and developed in America and Ireland than it is in continental Europe.”

- Brendan O’Neill, writing on “Why humanists shouldn’t join in this Catholic-bashing,” on March 29 at Spiked Online

Real war film

“Sebastian Junger’s and Tim Hertherington’s new movie, named after KIA medic Private First Class Juan S. Restrepo, captures in gritty detail what no Hollywood production ever could … ‘Restrepo‘ deserves twice the attention that the Rolling Stone article garnered yet I fear it will be lucky if it receives half, despite winning the Sundance Film Festival Best Documentary award.

“Based on my experience in Afghanistan I have no doubt that ‘Restrepo‘ is 100% accurate. This film, though, is also art, capturing the range of human emotions soldiers face in combat. We get homemade video of [soldiers] in Italy joking around with no admission or sign of the dangers that lay ahead. Suddenly, the film shows a patrol in the Korengal Valley hit by an improvised explosive device and the fresh platoon’s reaction to contact. Later warriors break down into tears when a scout, Staff Sergeant Rougle, is killed. Then there is palpable fear on each soldier’s face when they get the word that they are going to push further south into the valley where no Americans had ever ventured and where some Afghans still believed the Russians were occupying their country.

“The constant 1,000 yard stares on the faces of the Afghan elders will convince viewers that winning hearts and minds is harder than the granite walls of the mountains the men of 2nd platoon climb on their daily patrols.

- Retired Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata, writing on “Restrepo: Required Viewing for All Americans,” on July 6 at the Andrew Breitbart blog Big Peace

Bad Pixar … Bad

“Toy Story 3 is sexist? Natalie Wilson of the Ms Magazine blog thinks so. As a mom who takes very seriously the media messages being sent to my daughters, I have to say: Did we watch the same movie? Gimme a break, Ms. Here’s Wilson’s “evidence” of Pixar misogyny, along with my commentary …

” ‘Only one out of the seven new characters is female.’ This count actually misses the most important and sweetest new female character - Bonnie. She’s a wise, fun, and loving female protagonist. If Pixar made a ‘Toy Story 4’ starring Bonnie, I would pay to see it. …

” ‘When Barbie says something smart … it’s funny.’ Barbie is played as a ditzy character, just as Ken is. If either of these characters said something deeply intellectual, it would be ironic. It’s not because she’s a girl. I’m actually glad there is a message here that being overly concerned with looks and material possessions is ‘stupid.’ Because it is.

” ‘Jessie falls in love with the macho Latin lover, Buzz.’ First of all, Jessie is still a great round-em-up, take-charge kind of cow girl. And second of all, since when is it sexist for a female to fall in love with a manly man? The ‘concern’ with this particular plot line speaks volumes about a feminist anti-male agenda.”

- Danielle Bean, writing on “Toy Story 3 is Sexist?” on July 7 at her National Catholic Register blog