- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

Arab bizarre
"By any modern standard of civilization, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a bizarre place. In an age of spreading consensual government, the House of Saud resembles an Ottoman sultanate staffed by some 7,000 privileged royal cousins. The more favored are ensconced in plush multimillion dollar palaces and maintain luxury estates abroad in Paris, Geneva, Marbella and Aspen.
"Polygamy is legal, and practiced, among the Saudi elite. Everywhere in the kingdom, women are veiled, secluded and subject to the harsh protocols of a sexual apartheid. Women who have traveled to the West remain under the constant surveillance of the Committee for the Advancement of Virtue and Elimination of Sin, a Taliban-like government watchdog group of clerics and whip-bearing fanatics.
"There is no religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia for creeds other than Islam; in our State Department's own muted nomenclature, 'Freedom of religion does not exist' there. The Saudi Constitution is defined officially by governmental decree as the Koran, and the legal system is the domain of clerics who adjudicate by an array of medieval codes and punishments. Presently, the UN Committee Against Torture is asking the Saudis to curtail flogging and amputations; so far, they have answered that such punishments have been an integral part of Islamic law 'for 1,400 years' and so simply 'cannot be changed.'"
Victor Davis Hanson, writing on "Our Enemies, the Saudis," in the July/August issue of Commentary"

Almost fit to print
"The new executive editor of the New York Times, Howell Raines, took over last September and was immediately embroiled in the biggest New York story in decades. The coverage of the [September 11] massacre was superb, detailed and thorough exactly what the American elite demands of its paper of record. The new editor got off to a flying start.
"And then the rot began to set in. A year later, the New York Times has gone from being America's most reliable (if sometimes p.c.) compendium of news to being one of the most suspect media entities around. In the last month, critic after critic has piled on.
"Why, one has to wonder, would the Times risk its long-standing reputation as a liberal-but-fair paper of record in order to lurch to the left? Since Raines won't speak to the general press it's hard to know for sure.
"Part of it, perhaps, is to do with his generation of liberals. They are still scarred by Vietnam. They see every war as a replay of that and assume war-critics always have the moral edge over any war supporters. It was therefore no surprise that the Times ran a front-page news analysis just before the fall of Afghanistan, predicting a 'quagmire.' And since there are almost no non-Democrats among the paper's reporters and columnists, they can get caught in an echo-chamber of liberal prejudices and assumptions."
Andrew Sullivan, writing on "The Opposition," in Sunday's London Times

Feminine Ms.-take
"What if they tried to revive feminism's official media mouthpiece and nobody cared? That's what's been happening with Ms. magazine, which says something about the general state of organized feminism today.
"Last fall, Ms. was sold to the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), which announced plans to hire a new editor and move the faded publication from New York to the group's Los Angeles home base. But even as the 30th-anniversary spring issue, featuring founder Gloria Steinem on the cover, was hitting the stands in March, the group was still advertising for an editor-in-chief.
"At its peak, in 1976, Ms. had a circulation of 500,000; it now limps along at an unaudited figure of around 110,000.
"If Ms. hadn't been technically dead before the FMF took it over it ceased publication entirely for a while in 1998 before Steinem revived it as a nonprofit you could be forgiven for not realizing it was still around."
Catherine Seipp, writing on "You've Lost Your Way, Baby," in the October issue of Reason

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