- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

Decadent freedom
"True, Americans are probably more religious and socially conservative than Europeans, but that is not saying much, considering how decadent the Europeans are.
"America is a country where the traditional family seems to have irretrievably broken down: The typical marriage ends in divorce, and illegitimacy is now common across racial and socioeconomic lines.
"Newcomers are often shocked by the vulgarity and shamelessness of American popular culture that, even as entertainment, shapes the general tone of society. Perhaps one should not be surprised at the barbarism and weirdness of many American teen-agers their role models are people like Howard Stern, Dennis Rodman, Madonna and the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, formally known as Prince.
"The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a moral revolution in the United States in which the idea of freedom was extended beyond anything the American founders envisioned.
"The change was brought about by the 'counterculture,' the melange of antiwar activists, feminists, sexual revolutionaries, freedom riders, hippies, druggies, nudists and vegetarians."
Dinesh D'Souza, writing on "Freedom and Its Abuses," in the May/June issue of the American Spectator magazine

The red boroughs
"A theme that [David] Halberstam flirts with [in his new book, 'Firehouse,] without fully engaging is the gulf between the largely outer-borough, working-class culture of the Fire Department and the increasingly wealthy, overwhelmingly white-collar, arguably frivolous culture of Manhattan. It's the kind of divide that's produced no shortage of bitterness among the firefighters toward the city, the department's leadership, even the tourists.
"[Fireman Kevin] Shea's doubts about how he performed on [September 11] were the subject of an article by David Grann in the New York Times Magazine asking the question, 'Was the firefighter a hero or a coward?' on the cover.
"The word 'coward' understandably had explosive consequences in the firehouse, ones it would be very much the point to explore, but Halberstam distills a different kind of lesson. 'The incident seemed to underline a cultural conflict in the city itself between those who always sought to emphasize what was new and exciting and those who abided by more traditional codes.'"
John Homans, writing on "Halberstam's Heroes," in the May 20 issue of New York magazine

Sen. Clouseau
"For Sen. [Hillary Rodham] Clinton to flourish a copy of the New York Post the paper that has called her pretty much everything from Satanic to Sapphist merely because it had the pungent headline 'Bush Knew' is not yet her height of opportunism. (The height so far was reached last fall, when she said she could understand the rage and hatred behind the attacks on the World Trade Center because, after all, she had been attacked herself in her time.) But the failure of her husband's regime to take al Qaeda seriously is the clue to the same failure on the part of the Bush gang.
"Clinton's only 'serious' move against Osama bin Laden came in 1998, with his wag-the-dog missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan. Those attacks, which followed the blowing up of two U.S. embassies in Africa, had Inspector Clouseau-like consequences for the 'war on terror.' The supposed nerve-gas facility in Khartoum proved to be a pharmaceutical plant, while the cruise missiles fired at Afghanistan managed to kill some Pakistani intelligence officers who were training al Qaeda forces to infiltrate Kashmir. In that moment, a whole nexus between Islamabad, the Taliban and bin Laden was accidentally exposed. And the political establishment in this country decided to look away."
Christopher Hitchens, writing on "Knowledge (and Power)," in the June 10 issue of the Nation

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