- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002

One way or another
"Brooke Shields was one of the most recognizable women in America in the 1980s and was often lampooned as a dumb, socially awkward fashion model turned actress. [David] Letterman put that presumption to the test, famously praising her firm handshake and asking whether, with a grip like that, she did a lot of yard work. Brooke smiled politely and told him no. Then he began to pepper her with questions about her income, suggesting that she must have cash 'piled up in the garage' back home:
"Shields: I get an allowance, 10 or 15 dollars a week.
"Letterman: Oh, come on now, Brooke, you don't expect us to believe that.
"When such a target was polite, the joke always worked, in large part because the guest was too stuck in the showbiz culture of fake sincerity to respond by telling Letterman off. Cher, Shirley MacLaine, and Madonna all tried the opposite tack, responding in anger like normal human beings, and each of the three ended up looking like boors. Play along with the joke and look stupid, or fight it and look like a jerk either way, the audience sympathized with Letterman because he was willing to deflate the egos of exceedingly pretentious people."
Michael Long, writing on "Letterman's Last Laugh," in the fall issue of American Outlook

Lost tribe
"The YMCA has just announced that it is changing its 76-year-old Indian Guides program that brings parents and their children together for hiking, fishing, and crafts. The reason? The Indian-inspired headdresses and feathers and face-paints the Guides use have been deemed offensive by professional Indians, those plastic medicine-men who have selected themselves as the official purveyors of 'Indian' culture and sensibility to whites.
"The Guides were started in 1926 by a YMCA official and his Ojibway Indian fishing buddy, who obviously wasn't aware of the pernicious insensitivity of the program.
"It's tempting to shrug off such actions like the YMCA's as unimportant. But larger issues are involved that should make us all concerned.
"The first is our therapeutic obsessions with sensitivity and making people feel bad.
"The second problem with the YMCA's capitulation is that the 'Indian' culture it supposedly is insulting is a noble-savage fiction concocted mainly by romantic whites, what Mark Twain called the 'lost tribe that never existed.' The fact is, most of what passes for 'Indian' culture today is no more authentic and historically truthful than the headdresses and face-paint of the Indian Guides."
Bruce Thornton, writing on "The Lost Tribe That Never Existed," Monday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

War of ideas
"You win wars not just by bombing but by argument. Churchill understood this; he characterized the enemy as evil, not only because they were but also because the British people needed to be convinced of the fact if they were to muster the will to see the war through. This time round, the very name of the conflict was the first evasion. It's not a 'war on terror', it's a war on radical Islamism, a worldwide scourge operating on five continents. But you can't say so. You can't say whom we're at war with, even though, for their part, the other side is admirably straightforward
"George W. Bush had a rare opportunity after September 11. He could have attempted to reverse the most toxic tide in the Western world: the sappy multiculturalism that insists all cultures are equally valid, even as they're trying to kill us. He could have argued that Western self-loathing is a psychosis we can no longer afford.
"The Islamists are militarily weak but culturally secure. A year on, the West is just the opposite. There's more than one way to lose a war."
Mark Steyn, writing on "The War Bush Is Losing," in the Aug. 24 issue of the Spectator

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