- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Demonizing Christians

Democrats, in the name of tolerance, plan to demonize conservative Christians as being like the Taliban, according to an article in Newsweek.

Democrats "are planning a daring assault on the most critical turf in politics: the cultural mainstream," political correspondent Howard Fineman writes.

"The theory goes like this. Our enemy in Afghanistan is religious extremism and intolerance. It's therefore more important than ever to honor the ideals of tolerance religious, sexual, racial, reproductive at home. The GOP is out of the mainstream, some Democrats will argue [this] year, because it's too dependent upon an intolerant 'religious right,'" Mr. Fineman said.

"This is an incendiary battle plan essentially comparing the GOP right with the Taliban designed to draw an outraged response from the president. Then Democrats would have Bush just where they wanted him: in a firefight at home."


The 'religious right'

This probably won't come as a surprise to anyone, but the New York Times appears to be working off the same page as the Democratic Party. In a front-page story Thursday, the newspaper referred to Islamic radicals as "the religious right."

Foreign correspondent Douglas Jehl, in an article on how the Saudi royal family has dealt with radical Islam, said: "Choosing accommodation over confrontation, the government shied away from a crackdown on militant clerics or their followers, a move that would have inflamed the religious right, the disaffected returnees from other wars [besides the one in Afghanistan] and a growing number of the unemployed."


Punched in the nose

"Progressives spent much of 2001 getting punched in the nose again and again and again all the way from the crushing denouement of Bush-Gore-Nader to the collapse of a visible anti-war movement," Laura Conway writes in the Village Voice.

"We lost on tactics, principles and PR. The year opened with a few thousand protesters straining to be heard at the crowning of an illegitimate president and ended with 90 percent of the country and no small number of progressives backing that president's military machine," the writer said.

"Yet we still hold our vision of a better world, one where government protects the right to live and speak freely, where armies build up rather than tear down, where corporations are kept in check and the needs of the weakest come first

"The left can and must get up off the mat. The bell is ringing and the fight is now."


In the past tense

"At Ms. magazine's 30th birthday party in early December, Gloria Steinem in leopard print and we've-come-a-long-way-baby leather pants delivered some big news to the Manhattan attendees: Cash-starved Ms. is moving to Los Angeles and merging with the L.A.-based Feminist Majority Foundation, helmed by Second Wave icon and former NOW leader Eleanor Smeal," Lauren Sandler writes in the Nation.

"'Ms.'s new home is exactly the right one,' she said, adding to a knowing audience's suppressed chuckles, 'It's a perfect marriage.'

"Steinem is by now well practiced at such announcements. 'This will be a very important and helpful change for the magazine,' said Steinem in 1987, when Fairfax Publishing bought Ms. and undid its not-for-profit status. 'A necessary change,' she said two years later, when Lang Communications stepped in. In 1996, when MacDonald Communications bought Ms., she said, 'I hope things will take an upward turn'; and in 1998, when her own Liberty Media for Women took control, she acknowledged, 'as readers change, Ms. has to change' .

"Not surprisingly, the people who turned out for the birthday celebration in Manhattan looked closer in age to Elizabeth Cady Stanton than Sarah Jessica Parker. The contents of the giveaway goody bags were largely related to estrogen replacement. And the tone was nostalgic. In the testimonials to its enduring power, Ms. was often referred to in the past tense."


Bully for Bush

President Bush's interest in Teddy Roosevelt may be inspiring Mr. Bush to seek more power, the New York Times theorized in a front-page story yesterday.

"Some historians say Mr. Bush seems captivated by Theodore Roosevelt, who grabbed more power for his office than any other president since Abraham Lincoln," reporters Elisabeth Bumiller and David E. Sanger write.

"The week before his inauguration, Mr. Bush kept a book of Roosevelt speeches on the coffee table in his living room at the Texas ranch, where he was preparing his inaugural address. On Friday at his ranch, Mr. Bush said he had just finished reading 'Theodore Rex,' the second volume of Edmund Morris' biography of Roosevelt, this one focusing on the White House."

Yale historian John Morton Blum, who taught Mr. Bush 20th-century American politics in college, told the newspaper: "I see in Bush's performance to date the very large possibility that his model for the presidency is essentially that of Theodore Roosevelt . I think [Mr. Bush] has claimed powers, and tried to aggrandize the office."

However, William E. Leuchtenberg, a historian at the University of North Carolina, was skeptical.

"The story of Bush has been the aggregating of power over the last few months," he said, "but I doubt that it has an awful lot to do with Theodore Roosevelt."


Lowering the bar

"Courts and voters may have nixed racial preferences in college admissions, but that hasn't stopped university administrators from trying to figure out how to get around the law," the Wall Street Journal says.

"The latest efforts in color-coordinating student bodies come from Texas and California, where admitting the 'right' number of minority students apparently is a higher goal than achieving objective academic standards in university admissions," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"Earlier this month, Texas A&M University quietly decided to begin automatically admitting the top 20 percent of students from 250 low-performing and predominantly minority high schools in the state. At other high schools with mostly white students the bar for automatic admission will remain at 10 percent.

"We wonder exactly how far Texas is willing to lower the academic bar to produce the desired color scheme. Should 20 percent prove ineffective, will it stop at 30 percent? How about 50 percent?

"Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California, is having a similar problem. Low SAT scores have resulted in fewer black and Hispanic students matriculating at Berkeley and UCLA, the system's most competitive campuses. California already has a 4 percent plan in place similar to the one in Texas, but Mr. Atkinson isn't interested in playing that sort of numbers game. Instead, he's proposed that the University of California drop the SAT admissions requirement altogether."


Late-breaking news

The motto of the Massachusetts legislature apparently is "Better late than never."

"More than three centuries after they were accused, tried and hanged as unrepentant witches in Salem, Mass., five women have been officially cleared by the state," State Legislatures magazine reports.

"The act, approved by the legislature, cleared the names of Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Wilmot Redd and Margaret Scott. The five were among 20 men and women put to death during the witchcraft hysteria of 1692.

"The state has tried to make amends before. In 1711, all the accused were exonerated and their relatives offered retribution. But not all the families came forward to accept the apology. And in 1957, a state resolution cleared the name of Ann Pudeator and 'certain other persons' who were unlisted."


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