Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Thinner beauty
“In preparing for her role as an obese woman in ‘Shallow Hal’ [Gwyneth] Paltrow donned a fat suit that made her appear 200 pounds heavier. The actress, who displayed her nude body in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, spoke sympathetically on television of the ‘obscene discrimination’ against fat people in America.
“She described wearing the extra padding in a Manhattan hotel lobby and finding no one willing to help her when she asked questions. Yet even as she expressed her horror about the treatment of fat people, no one asked her the fundamental question raised by the movie: Why is inner beauty a size 6?
“[The movie] opens at a moment when Hollywood seems to have made a kind of vogue out of obesity, featuring many actors in fat suits in recent seasons, including Eddie Murphy in ‘The Nutty Professor’ series, Julia Roberts in ‘America’s Sweethearts,’ Martin Short in Comedy Central’s ‘Primetime Glick.’
“The real Ms. Paltrow, of course, is very thin in a country where 18 percent of the population is morbidly obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Alex Kuczynski, writing on “Charting the Outer Limits of Inner Beauty,” in Sunday’s New York Times

Unflinching figure
“In our current trial by fire, the unflinching figure in many people’s imaginations is Winston Churchill, the British Lionheart on the ramparts of civilization. He had nothing to offer but ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat.’ And words. ‘We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight on the beaches we shall fight in the fields and in the streets we shall never surrender.’ ‘Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”’
“Those embattled days have been evoked in hundreds of memoirs and histories, scores of films the mythic icon of Churchill surviving endless parodies of his rhetoric, his V-sign, his bulldog growl. It is hardly surprising that most of the millions of words written about him have focused on this, his finest hour.”
Harold Evans, writing on “His Finest Hour,” in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review

Deadly strategy
“On September 11, agents of the al Qaeda terrorist network hijacked four planes and used three of them to kill 5,000 Americans. The fourth plane crashed short of its target. Afterward, U.S. officials disclosed that if the fourth plane had made it to Washington, D.C., they would have shot it down. They were prepared to kill some civilians, if necessary, in order to prevent the terrorists from killing many more.
“A similar scenario is now unfolding in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda and its Taliban agents have hijacked a nation, making it a base of operations for mass murder and terror. They’re using the civilian inhabitants of this base as human shields. If we refuse to attack the terrorists, many more civilians around the world will die. So we have attacked, and some of our bombs have killed innocent people. But we’re no more responsible for them than we would have been for shooting down that plane full of innocent Americans. We didn’t put the lives of Afghan civilians at risk. Afghanistan’s hijackers did.
“The killing of Afghan civilians, followed by worldwide outrage against the United States for those killings, is central to Osama Bin Laden’s long-term strategy.
“So far, Bin Laden’s strategy is working. Pictures of dead civilians are pouring across TV screens and newspapers, turning Muslims and Europeans against the bombing.”
William Saletan, writing on “Afghanistan Hijacked,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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