- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2001

A 'treasure trove'

"It was a good day for American music when the soundtrack to the movie 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' became one of the biggest-selling albums in the country, hitting No. 2 at Amazon.com, No. 14 on Billboard's Top 200, and No. 1 on the country music chart… .

"The album includes old but timeless songs like 'You Are My Sunshine,' 'Big Rock Candy Mountain,' and 'Keep on the Sunny Side.' …

"The central song of the movie and the soundtrack is 'I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,' a pilgrimage song about the troubles of life until sorrow gives way to joy on the 'golden shores' of heaven… .

"The success of the 'O Brother' soundtrack may spur imitators and help music buyers discover a whole treasure trove of music and performers they never knew existed… .

'When medieval Christianity fell into corruption, the Reformation went back to the Bible. By the same token, repairing America as a nation means returning to the Constitution and the republican virtues that gave our nation its greatness. And part of that cultural greatness can be heard in its music."

Gene Edward Veith, writing on "Americana, the beautiful," in the March 24 issue of World

Sports sleaze

"In 1960, four-letter words were still unknown in public discourse. Among the elites, they were used sparingly, even in private. Free use of vulgar language among adults was declasse. Now switch to the fall of 2000 and a Sports Illustrated article about the Oakland Raiders, in which the author conveys the reason for the new coach's success by quoting the apercu of one of Oakland's star players: 'He don't take no s-, and he knows his s-.' …

"The editors of Sports Illustrated, a glossy, upscale magazine, had no reason to think they would offend their readership. Everyone does it as indeed everyone does… . At issue is the cultural significance of choosing to approve the vulgar and the illiterate, both of which used to be classic indicators of the underclass… .

I find the intriguing element here to be the respectfulness extended toward the underclass appearance. No one in the public eye calls any kind of dress 'cheap' or 'sleazy' anymore.

"Sexual behavior? As late as 1960, sleeping with one's boyfriend was still a lower-class thing to do. Except in a few sophisticated circles, a woman of the elites did it furtively and usually with the person she expected to marry. Behavior that is now considered absolutely normal was considered sluttish in 1960."

Charles Murray in "Prole Models: America's Elites Take Their Cues from the Underclass" in the March issue of "On the Issues" from the American Enterprise Institute

'Limb from limb'

"Teddy Kennedy, the famed moral exemplar, read his former senatorial colleague John Ashcroft the riot act during confirmation hearings.

"Ashcroft was extreme; his constitutional understanding of gun control was 'radical.' The senatorial face grew flush presumably with anger, since it was a bit early in the day for more potent stuff.

"Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware was likewise ticked. Why, this man this Ashcroft had given an interview to Southern Partisan, the very existence of which was offensive to '20 million African-Americans.' He was assuming 20 million African-Americans so much as knew the interview existed a questionable point, to say the least.

"And there was Sen. Barbara Boxer. She wasn't going to vote for 'someone … so far out of the mainstream that divides the country' the mainstream as defined, evidently, by Senator Boxer… .

"Confirm the guy? You had to wonder, toward the end of the hearings, how Ashcroft's erstwhile Democratic colleagues had managed all these years not to rend him limb from limb."

William Murchison, writing on "Cultural Revolutions," in the April issue of Chronicles


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