- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

Changes of war
"If you asked Americans during World War II how that war would 'change everything,' chances are that they wouldn't have guessed that Germany was destined to be our ally or that, two decades later, we'd be yucking it up over the antics of 'Hogan's Heroes' in a Nazi prison camp. Wars may change everything, but how is a mystery that can be unraveled only well after the truce.
"Since September 11, there have been so many misguided predictions about our new war's impact that just one thing is certain: The cultural-prognostication biz is kaput. Gossip didn't vanish, and neither did violent movies or award shows. While some critics were correct that 'reality' television would take a hit when forced to compete with actual reality, no one guessed that [a special starring] Carol Burnett would hit the Nielsen jackpot. What the unexpected appeal of old Burnett outtakes says about the life, death or resurrection of irony, the Taliban or anything else is unclear. It serves as a cultural predictor only in that CBS will soon be ransacking its vaults for skits from 'The Garry Moore Show.'"
Frank Rich, writing on "Close Reading: On the Cultural Battlefields," in the Dec. 23 issue of the New York Times Magazine

Christian confidence
"One of this century's key Islamist thinkers, who resided in the West in the late 1940s, was Sayyid Qutb. He argues the West is inherently weak not because it is Christian but because it has lost its Christianity and become a land of idolaters. Qutb wrote in his book 'The America I Saw' that 'No one builds as many churches as Americans do. Notwithstanding this, there is no one as removed from feeling the spirituality, respect and sacredness of religion than the Americans.'
"To the likes of Osama bin Laden, our tolerance and lack of confidence in asserting our faith openly are taken as emptiness of the soul, and thus vulnerability. We would gain more respect, cause bin Laden's followers more fear, and create theological reservations about using terror if we were unapologetically and openly Christian.
"Our apparent irreligiousness also lifts restrictions on the means Muslims may employ in a fight. The Koran allows much harsher tactics if the enemy is linked with Satan. Western women with their short dresses are certainly considered efforts to tempt Muslims away from their faith, and Americans look like Satanic unbelievers in tempting Muslims to worship idols like money and materialism. Therefore we can be attacked without restraint."
David Wurmser in "Islamic Militancy is on the Rise" in the December issue of American Enterprise

Radical journey
"For me, it was a progression. My folks came from Scarborough, Maine. They were deep Republicans, to the extent that during the '30s, nobody in my mother's family would say Roosevelt's name; he was just 'that man in the White House.' I worked for Barry Goldwater in his campaign in 1964. The first thing my wife tells people we meet: 'In 1968, Steve voted for Richard Nixon.'
"When I came to campus [at the University of Maine] in 1966 my roommate was Harold Crosby of Whiting, Maine. By January 1967, he had decided that we were wrong to be in Vietnam. To this day, I am mad that Harold beat me to that [realization].
"There was a tremendous amount of excitement about being involved with the anti-war protests. And there were a lot of other things involved, boiled down to three or four strong points protest the war, protest poverty, protest discrimination against women. It was tremendously exhilarating to be part of it."
novelist Stephen King, quoted in the December/January issue of UMaine Today

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