- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

A royal pain
"The Windsors are a parody of a family, of alternately brutal and distant fathers and neglectful mothers.
"Adultery is to this family as swing sets are to 6-year-olds. The dissolute Edward abdicated in 1936 when his inamorata, the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, was deemed not of queenly material, but later royals have made Edward and Wallis look like a match made in Eden.
"The infamous Diana Spencer had no more respect for the marriage vow than did Wallis Simpson, but, unlike Wallis, Diana was feminine and spoke with the upper-class English accent that reduces American newsmen to uncharted depths of obsequiousness.
"Diana could barely be bothered with her sons, kenneling them at early ages in the bleak boarding schools which produce the British upper class. When she died in a car crash with a spoiled rich kid, she hadn't seen her precious boys in five weeks."
Bill Kauffman, writing on "Royal Mess," in the December issue of the American Enterprise

Holiday history
"Halloween has been creeping up on Christmas to become the second-biggest annual bonanza for U.S. retailers, a Grim Reaper that harvests $6.8 billion per year in exchange for candy, costumes, cards and party supplies. [T]he seemingly ancient customs of Halloween turn out to be recent embellishments to a holiday that used to be a pretty low-key affair. And forget those Transylvanian villagers and superstitious medieval peasants Halloween is as American as the Fourth of July.
"It was really only in the 1960s and '70s that macabre stories and films became firmly attached to Halloween. Until then, for example, movie studios didn't make a point of releasing their horror or monster films around Oct. 31. By the early 1960s, Universal had learned the advantage of tying in their franchised characters Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy and the Wolf Man to Halloween, but the holiday itself didn't appear very often in films until John Carpenter's groundbreaking 'Halloween' initiated the slasher-film genre."
Laura Miller, writing on "Primeval terror (since 1929)," Monday in Salon at www.salon.com

Out of one, many
"It can't be good that most Americans have entered their own little worlds of self-validation and know very little about their countrymen outside.
"Consider how little a New York television-news producer probably knows about people who are active in Willow Creek and other megachurches. Or how little a Texas rancher probably knows about people who care whether Cornel West teaches at Harvard or Princeton. Not long ago these different people would have had Life magazine in common, or [CBS-TV newsman] Walter Cronkite. A generation ago, compulsory military service threw diverse people together. But none of this is the case any longer.
"[P]luralism of this sort encourages an easygoing relativism: I feel good about the code of honor in my little social set. Those people over there feel good about the code of honor in their social set. As long as we don't try to impose our values on anybody else, we will all live in harmony. That sounds like a recipe for moral mediocrity.
"But now the civil-rights activist becomes a talk-show host on Black Entertainment Television, and the Jewish intellectual becomes the president of the Modern Language Association. Successful in their own worlds, they feel little compunction about not even speaking the language of those outside. Each segment of society becomes a purer version of itself as the nation as a whole becomes more static."
David Brooks, writing on "Superiority Complex," in the November 2002 issue of the Atlantic

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