- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2003

Snobs vs. America

“The essence of the modern Left … is a contempt for ordinary people. …

“Lenin: ‘It is true that liberty is precious so precious that it must be rationed.’ And who is to do the rationing? Why, we, the enlightened ones, the anointed ones the elite! Mrs. Clinton: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ God forbid the task should be left to ugh! a family. You need a community … with leaders. … And who will those leaders be? Guess who. …

“What gets lefty juices flowing is those crazy Christian fruitcakes down in the Bible Belt, with … their reflexive patriotism, their dogged hostility to such obviously healthful and liberating practices as fornication, abortion, and homosexuality, and their obscurantism about evolution.

“Ah, evolution! The touchstone of redneck religiosity! … Do you believe in the theory of evolution? No? … Don’t you know that only hicks and rubes and knuckle-dragging primitives deny the truth of evolution? Haven’t you seen ‘Inherit the Wind?’ What brand of tobacco do you chew, in your shabby trailer parked back there in the hollow?”

John Derbyshire, writing on “Pseudoscience vs. Snobbery,” Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Memory hole

“Last spring, a Brooklyn mother named Jeanne Heifetz noticed something fishy on New York state’s standardized high-school English exam: an excerpt from a book she’d once read had been altered. Her curiosity piqued, she gathered 10 exams … and discovered that most of the literary passages had been expurgated. References to race, religion, sex and other hot topics had been removed or softened.

“A ‘fat’ boy had become ‘heavy,’ a ‘gringo’ was now an ‘American,’ and a childhood memoir about visiting ‘the Negro section of town’ had been stripped of racial content. Elie Wiesel’s declaration that ‘Man, who was created in God’s image, wants to be free as God is free’ had been reduced to the lifeless slogan: ‘Man wants to be free.’

“Faced with public outrage and mocking headlines (‘The Elderly Man and the Sea?’), state officials quickly promised to end the practice. But nothing about the episode surprised Diane Ravitch. As she notes in [her new book,] ‘The Language Police,’ the educrats in Albany were just following the rules of their trade. Like test-makers and textbook publishers everywhere, they had subjected their exams to the scrutiny of professional ‘sensitivity reviewers.’ …

“On the theory that a proper K-12 education should upset no one and affirm all, elaborate protocols now exist for the content of classroom materials. …

“Anything even remotely sexist is verboten. … As for race and ethnicity, perish the stereotypical thought that Asians are studious and hardworking, that blacks excel in sports and music, or that Jews ever lived in tenements. … Nor should innocent minds be exposed to such retrograde expressions as barbarian, egghead, geezer, gimp, heathen, mulatto, Oriental, sissy, spastic, squaw, swarthy, Third World or tribe.”

Gary Rosen, writing on “Red Pencils, Low Marks,” Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal

Creep show

“No! Now is just too soon for Monica Lewinsky to play the duenna! Lewinsky, once our glad ingenue, cannot already have become the stout matron of ‘Mr. Personality.’ … Monica of the Oval Office, Monica of the long public silence, Monica of the front page, is now merely Monica the bulky chaperone, shoved stage left in favor of a forgettable redhead named Hayley Arp. …

“‘Mr. Personality,’ the reality dating show that premiered Monday night, is unexpectedly sinister. Arp, a fatuous stockbroker, is presented with 20 masked men, and … she will choose one as her own. … Lewinsky made only fleeting appearances in an underdefined role. … Viewers, apparently, had to be disciplined to focus on boring Arp and the upsetting knightlike masks, with nasal guards and slits for eyes. To a one, they seem to be dangerous creeps.”

Virginia Heffernan, “Monica the Chaperone,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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