- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

We knew her when
"Romantic comedies tend to present being lower class as one of life's petty obstacles, easily surmounted, like not having the right haircut. But whenever class becomes the central arc of a movie rather than a footnote, it can provide a necessary kick, electrifying the whole affair. Think of those two perennial guilty pleasures, 'Working Girl' (1988) and 'Pretty Woman' (1990). Melanie [Griffith] and Julia [Roberts] do actually live low in a halfway convincing Hollywood style before they get to live high. They may go uptown via their sex appeal and a snappily paced shopping montage, but we knew them when they were just a secretary and a prostitute.
"'Maid in Manhattan' starring Jennifer Lopez, aspires to follow in the tradition of these movies. It opens the same way that 'Working Girl' did, with a helicopter-eye view of the Financial District. Instead of sun-glinted skyscrapers, the director Wayne Wang plainly shows us a post-Sept. 11 skyline. Perhaps we're in for more than a dash of glossy realism. But as the camera slides toward the Bronx, the music begins: "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" by Paul Simon. Not exactly the block-rocking beats that light up the barrio. The movie hasn't entered the Bronx, it's already entered la-la land."
Michael Agger, writing on "J. Lo Cleans Up," Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

For the children
"It's called 'soft dictatorship' government's attempt to control every aspect of American life for your own good or for the good of the children. The ultimate issue is power.
"This week's example: government's assault (at all levels) on the homeschool movement, which now includes threats to send homeschool parents to jail. Government's great fear in this matter is not that the kids are being short-changed or abused it's that they might be getting a better education than the government-educrat de facto monopoly can provide and that the word might get out.
"Yes, government has an obligation to ensure that children receive an adequate education. But in several states, such as California and Illinois, educrats are threatening parents with court action if they don't allow officials to intrude into their homes and evaluate their programs beyond the authority of state law. The game gets rough. In Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune, truant officers arrive in police cars, bearing letters telling parents to come to 'pretrial hearings.' At least one officer told a parent 'we can take your children away.'"
Dr. Michael Arnold Glueck and Dr. Robert J. Cihak, writing on "The real reason the state opposes homeschooling," Thursday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Fatwa envy
"To be honest, I felt mildly envious when I saw Zulf M. Khalfan's letter on [Dec. 3]. Mr. Khalfan, of Nepean, Ontario, was responding to David Frum's defence of Isioma Daniel, the Nigerian journalist now in hiding after remarking that the Prophet Muhammad would have been happy to take the winner of Miss World for his wife. Mr. Khalfan replied that, as Muhammad's wives are accorded 'an honourable status,' it was obviously grossly objectionable to suggest that a woman who 'exposed herself' by wearing makeup and a bikini would be an appropriate spouse for the Prophet.
"Fair comment. But then: 'Mr. Frum has to understand that it is Muslims who determine what is objectionable to their religion, not he dictating it to them,' added Mr. Khalfan. 'And since he cites Salman Rushdie, he should know by now the fatal consequences resulting from ignoring this fact.'
"Can you believe it? [T]hat milquetoast Frum has been sitting in the White House, presumably cranking out all the president's dopey 'Islam is peace' speeches. He's back in the Post for barely a fortnight and already he's got his own fatwa?
"Well, Mr. Khalfan has now 'clarified' his original letter. He doesn't want to kill David Frum. He just wants David to be aware of how easy it is to provoke other people into killing him."
Mark Steyn, writing on "A fatwa of one's own," Dec. 5 in the National Post in Canada

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