- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

Fighting back
"Those who blame Americans for not foreseeing [the September 11 attacks] have an obvious point. In the 1990s, we were warned again and again of the possibility of mass terrorist destruction in the homeland. We preferred not to listen.
"Yet blaming ourselves for naivete misses an essential point. Part of what makes a civilization civilized is a natural reluctance to believe unconscionable evil until it is realized in front of us. This is not a failing. It is an achievement.
"If our response to September 11 shows anything the heroism of the rescue workers, the patriotism of millions, the prosecution of a tenacious and unrelenting war on terrorism it is that civilization, though wounded, is far from over. In fact, the one incontrovertible fact of post-September 11 America is that civilization can clearly, ruthlessly defend itself. Call that the reverse idea of the World Trade Center massacre: the idea that, when mortally threatened, freedom can fight back. And that's an idea that will last much longer than the dark 'brilliance' of Osama bin Laden."
Andrew Sullivan, on "The Dumb Idea of September 11," in the Dec. 9 issue of the New York Times Magazine

Jihad mandate
"Holy war is holy war, and the deaths of civilians are to be received just as sanguinely as they were meted out on September 11. But no. Somehow, the Islamist suicide bomber's jaundiced moral code does not apply to himself. When it comes to the deaths of his own kin and countrymen at the hands of the infidel, that is something altogether different. Then suddenly, 'Western values' apply and are decried without a hint of irony.
"The posture of victimhood may be exploited in the West, but consider for a moment what things might be like if the shoe were on the other foot. If Israel were a Palestinian state, complete with superior firepower and all the privileges of internationally recognized statehood, and the West Bank were a Palestinian occupied Jewish enclave, do you really suppose there would be any Jews left to protest?
"What's more, do you imagine that Palestine, like the vast majority of the rest of the Arab world, would be anything other than a repressive dictatorship bent on crushing its God-given enemies? Would it really be any different from Iraq, where Saddam Hussein gassed hordes of his own people, simply for the crime of being Kurds? Or would it more resemble Pakistan and Afghanistan, where vigilante mobs beat and murder neutral journalists just as remorselessly as they burn their detested white devil in effigy? And all in the name of Allah.
"Given the jihad mandate of Islam, would peace talks even be an option if the Palestinians were in a position of power? Peace is clearly a concept utterly foreign to these people, who, even when offered their own state, still will not be satisfied until they possess the whole of Israel and have driven every Jew from its soil."
Norah Vincent, writing on "It's not just Hamas," Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Space dynasty
"George 'Sulu' Takei thought it was over in 1969, when the USS Enterprise, her warp drive sapped by lackluster ratings, docked two years short of her five-year TV mission. He couldn't have been more wrong. Ten years later, 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' set a course for the pop-cultural cosmos.
"[F]ew properties have gotten the opportunities afforded 'Trek,' which built most of its phenomenal fan base after cancellation. Then, in 1977, the 'Star Wars' supernova made a 'Star Trek' reprise nearly inevitable.
"When the film was released, critics let loose with phasers set on 'harsh,' but the fans buoyed it to solvency and an $82 million gross. A dynasty was born."
Scott Brown, writing on "A 'Star' Is Born," in the Dec. 7 issue of Entertainment Weekly

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