- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2002

'Normalizing barbarism'
"'Islamikazes': How's that for a new name for suicide bombers? A reader suggested it. Meanwhile, in the Toronto Star, a gripping piece explaining why the Islamikaze is a coward. In most Islamikaze massacres, the perpetrator is instantly vaporized a painless death before he greets his beloved Allah. For his victims, the following:
"'A person sitting nearby would feel, momentarily, a shock wave slamming into his or her body, with an 'overpressure' of 300,000 pounds. Such a blast would crush the chest, rupture liver, spleen, heart and lungs, melt eyes, pull organs away from surrounding tissue, separate hands from arms and feet from legs. Bodies would fly through the air or be impaled on the jagged edges of crumpled metal and broken glass.'
"What I fear is that the sheer number of these atrocities is numbing us to their evil. These young Islamikazes and their disgusting mob bosses are evil personified. There is nothing noble, despairing or admirable about them. Somehow we have to resist the insidious way in which they are normalizing barbarism."
Andrew Sullivan, writing in the "Daily Dish," Thursday at www.andrewsullivan.com

Has-been bully
"Mike Tyson was gracious in defeat, but he was soundly beaten. His apparent conversion in the face of Lennox Lewis' persistent right hand, however, causes those folks who like their sports to adhere more closely to the hero-vs.-villain story line to seize up in fright. Tyson had gone to such lengths, after all, to make himself a cartoon character.
"But now? He's a good second-tier heavyweight boxer with occasional temper management issues.
"As for those fans who for whatever pathological reason needed Tyson in character, though, the simple act of his kissing Lewis' mother after the fight cost them their souvenir hate key chain
"And that's where Tyson is today. He had three big fights after Buster Douglas, and he lost them all. He is now Sonny Liston after [his second fight against Muhammad] Ali, and he has no place to go. He has shown his gentler side in defeat, he has been hailed as noble for, of all things, taking his beating like a man, and while it is never smart to say never, the heavy betting is that he can never stimulate our national anathema gland in quite the same way again."
Ray Ratto, writing on "Tyson's Loss Leaves Us Without a Villain," June 10 on the ESPN Web site at www.espn.com

Patriotic outlet
"Outside the stadium that day, soccer mania had gripped the nation and it is a mistake to imagine that only the hooligans temporarily turn into chauvinistic nationalists on the day of an England match. Germany jokes, usually involving the Nazis, were all the rage. One was attributed to [former Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher, who upon being told that Germany had defeated England (which they did, of course) had allegedly replied, 'They may have beat us at our national game, but we beat them twice at their national game in the 20th century.'
"And everyone laughed. In the context of soccer, flag-waving nationalism even chauvinistic, anti-foreigner, flag-waving nationalism is acceptable in Britain. Which is odd, given that it isn't acceptable in other contexts, not in Britain and not anywhere in Western Europe, where most countries' political elites, at least, are ideologically dedicated to diluting their national identities into the broader European Union as quickly as possible.
"In Britain, even what Americans would consider to be ordinary patriotism is often suspect. It may also be that high national emotions are permissible when a soccer team is playing precisely because they are impermissible at most other times. There aren't, simply, many other places where you can sing your national anthem until you lose your voice without causing a riot."
Anne Applebaum, writing on "Flag on the Field," on Tuesday, at www.slate.com



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