- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Criminal culture

"Rap music is hugely successful, but it has been tainted by the gang-style murder of some of its biggest stars (Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.), the imprisonment of one of its biggest impressarios (Marion 'Suge' Knight, head of Death Row Records), and arrests after arrests… . What we have, very specifically, is the culture of crime. And this criminal culture has now gone mainstream.

"This is not to be confused with black culture… .

"The music actually is being churned out primarily by large, white-owned corporations such as Time-Warner that have bought up most of the small recording labels once associated with hip-hop music. And the most significant fact about the popularity of this kind of music is that its biggest customers are white, suburban, affluent, middle-class teen-agers. This means that the values and thought-forms of the criminal underclass are now the rage among a wide spectrum of America's children.

"Today, the biggest hard-core rapper and the meanest, most violent, most lawless of them all is the white Eminem… . This summer he divorced his suicidal wife, his mother sued him for slander, and he was arrested for attacking someone with a gun."

Gene Edward Veith, writing on "The gansta next door," in the Sept. 23 issue of World

'What envy has done'

"The legend of our times, it has been suggested, might be 'The Revenge of Failure.' This is what envy has done for us. If we cannot paint well, we will destroy the canons of painting and pass ourselves off as painters. If we will not take the trouble to write poetry, we will destroy the rules of prosody and pass ourselves off as poets. If we are not inclined to the rigors of an academic discipline, we will destroy the standards of that discipline and pass ourselves off as graduates… .

"The gossip column is the symbol of an envious age, and so is the contemporary form of the interview, which seems designed to ensure, in the same manner as the gossip column, that virtue and talent and achievement will be reduced to the level at which we can feel that we are their equals. They are 'just like us,' even a little lower than us. Nothing is allowed to seem out of the ordinary, beyond our own abilities and even beyond our understanding …

"To criticize a public figure from deeply held political or religious, moral or aesthetic convictions is one thing. To chip away at his or her reputation from no public belief at all is another. But our society is riddled with this kind of envy."

From an essay by Henry Fairlie in the new book, "Steering Through Chaos," edited by Os Guinness

Estrogen election

"From 'waitress moms' to 'blue-collar dads" to 'the kiss,' this year's presidential race is bursting with all things gender-related.

"Call it the 'Year of Mars and Venus.' …

"Consider these signs of the times: Both major-party men appeared on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' Republican nominee George W. Bush did 'Live with Regis.' …

"But it hasn't always been this way. Women first got the vote in 1920. By 1964, greater numbers of women than men voted, though there weren't big differences in who they chose.

"Then, the 'gender gap' of 1980 gave way to women singlehandedly reelecting President Clinton in 1996. That year, women backed Mr. Clinton over Republican Bob Dole, 54 percent to 38 percent. Men backed Mr. Dole over Clinton, 44 percent to 43 percent. More women voted, so Clinton won."

Abraham McLaughlin, writing on "White House race takes a feminine feel," in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor

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