- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Unique America
"To get to the essence of America's secret culture, one must pass beyond … caricature, then vault over a razor-wire-topped fence of homegrown cliche. We are too big and complicated to be encapsulated in a sketch of Uncle Sam. … We are Disney and we are National Public Radio, Las Vegas and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harvard Square and Birmingham, 10th-generation WASP investment bankers and first-generation Somalian nursing home aides. …
"Clumsy, corny, well-meaning, adolescent, brainy, aggressive and tough, sentimental and gracious, overly proud, guilty of sin and preaching redemption, we are the people who drop 5,000-pound bombs and food packages on Afghanistan at the same time. …
"Show me another country that could produce Colin Powell a Harlem-born Republican with African, Irish, Scottish, Jewish and Arawak Indian blood and send him on behalf of the descendants of slaveholders to negotiate with sheiks, tribal elders and dictators. … We are exactly the kind of people who drive the religious zealot and the political iconoclast absolutely mad."
Roland Merullo, writing on "America's Secret Culture," in the March 1 Chronicle of Higher Education

'Real threat'
"It was nearly 7 p.m. on a chilly night in Manhattan. 'Patriot Games,' a panel discussion about the war and civil liberties, was scheduled to start momentarily at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. …
"Even the balcony was standing room only at this star-studded Feb. 27 conference, sponsored by the Nation magazine's nonprofit offshoot, the Nation Institute. …
"At this Nation shindig, the object of ire is … a religious fanatic whose narrow-minded vision of the world threatens the liberties we all cherish. Osama bin Laden? Nope. Try John Ashcroft.
"Sure, Osama's whereabouts aren't known, Iraq may have chemical weapons and just the other month a terrorist operative almost managed to blow up an airliner with a bomb hidden in his shoes. But if you believe the panelists, the only thing we have to fear is the United States government itself. …
"[T]he war on terrorism was somehow connected to an assault on abortion rights, and 'Zionist fundamentalists' were denounced, along with 'Christian fundamentalists.' (They're the real threat to our freedoms, in case we'd forgotten.)"
Evan Gahr, writing on "Waiting for Lefty," March 7 in the American Prowler at www.american-prowler.org

Not soccer moms
"Is anyone else bored with soccer moms, picture-perfect women news anchors and supermodels? … Thankfully, human nature has given us bad girls.
"Two recent examples make the point. Tonya Harding, a fairly good skater, turned out to be a really good skunk. She had her lunkhead boyfriend beat up a rival, whined to Olympic judges about her skates not fitting and saw her wedding night turned into an X-rated video. Next week, she will take part in a 'celebrity' boxing match to pay the bills. She is world class in the shameless department.
"Then there's Anna Nicole Smith. She was a stripper … who managed to find true love in the arms of a 90-year-old Texas oil millionaire.
"He died a year after the lovebirds married, and she wanted his $475 million estate. Last week, she won an $89 million judgment.
"Moral exemplars they aren't. … But imagine how dull the world would be without such people to watch."
From "In praise of bad girls," an editorial Monday in the San Francisco Chronicle


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