- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2002

'Sex' changes

"'Sex and the City' sashayed into public consciousness in the summer of 1998, when sex had become, if not the national pastime, the reigning political story. The Clinton-Lewinsky affair had made lewd gossip an acceptable form of political commentary, and 'Sex and the City' quickly became part of the pundit glossary.

"The show became an instant hit, and not just in New York, though the city became an essential character, an otherworldly backdrop of glamorous hedonism and larger-than-life yearning.

"After September 11, however, Manhattan acquired a terrible new symbolism, and economic uncertainty has taken a toll on hedonism, at least of the expense-account kind.

"'Sex and the City' begins its fifth season in a world solemnized by terrorism and, apparently, newly appreciative of the joys of marriage. What does this mean for a show that has relied on an unending sense of youth and blitheness?"

Julie Salamon, writing on "The Relevance of 'Sex' in a City That's Changed," Sunday in the New York Times

Clueless media

"At a dinner party in Los Angeles recently, our hostess was about to say some grudgingly kind words about President Bush and the way he was handling the war on terror. She prefaced her remarks by saying, 'Now I know everyone at this table voted for Al Gore, but .' Well, she knew no such thing. She just presumed it. It's what 'right-thinking' people did. This 'false reality' is a phenomenon that permeates media circles.

"It's the phenomenon that allows the media to 'rediscover' patriotism and heroism in the wake of September 11, when those of you in Hillsdale and a thousand other cities and small towns know that those traits never went away.

"You see, they are for the most part clueless. Clueless about this country and its people. Clueless about you. They are important. Who do you people out here the ones they fly over on their way to the other coast for meetings who do you think you are?"

Pat Sajak, in a speech at Hillsdale College, reprinted in the July issue of Imprimis

Marxist mullahs?

"To understand the sort of war that militant Islam is waging, look not to the Far Right but the Far Left. This new adversary resembles an enemy America knows well: Marxism.

"Of course, militant Islam differs from Marxism in many, many ways. Marxism comes from Europe, militant Islam from Arabia. The one is rooted in the Industrial Revolution, the other in the Middle Ages. The differences are too many and obvious to belabor. The very starkness of those differences, however, is what makes the movements' similarities so striking.

"Both Marxism and Islamism are utopian, promising a future in which harmony, equity and altruism will replace conflict, unfairness and corruption. Both embrace historicism, the doctrine that ineluctable historical laws make eventual triumph inevitable. Though these movements regard seizing and using state power as essential, they do not want control of any particular government; they want control of the world.

"Where they rule, Marxism and Islamism resemble fascism in their absolutist style. But they see state power not, in the fascistic way, as an end, but instead, as a means: a steppingstone toward a stateless future ruled directly by the masses or by God. Thus, Marxism and militant Islam have little interest in joining coalitions and playing politics; where they cannot rule, they prefer to destabilize. Instability, in their view, can only help release the historical forces that operate in their favor. After all, capitalism (they believe) is fatally weak. Its strong exterior masks decadence and contradiction. All it needs is a hard push, and down it will go."

Jonathan Rauch, writing on "Osama bin Laden Meet Your Closest Kin: Karl Marx," Friday in National Journal online at nationaljournal.com

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