- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003

Losing their shirts

“The 2003 Christmas shopping season may be only a few weeks old, but it’s already pretty clear who the big loser is: Abercrombie & Fitch. In November, in the face of a boycott … the company recalled its racy catalog, the A&F Quarterly. … The ‘Christmas Field Guide’ featured cover language promising ‘group sex and more.’ …

“But all the controversy masks a problem much more basic than a cynical willingness to distribute borderline pornography in an effort to stimulate sales or a warped sense of what constitutes an all-American look. Abercrombie & Fitch has failed to master the essentials of Retailing 101. The untitillating truth is that the chain’s numbers stink and its breakneck expansion efforts have been expensive flops. …

“Abercrombie & Fitch’s monthly sales releases … spin a tale of economic decline. In November 2003, same-store sales were down 13 percent compared to the previous November’s sales. …

“Abercrombie nonetheless maintains the illusion of growth by opening new stores at a furious pace.”

Daniel Gross, writing on “Abercrombie & Fitch’s Blue Christmas,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Leaving the left

“Watching the towers fall in New York [on September 11, 2001], with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn’t analyze at first and didn’t fully grasp … until the day itself was nearly over. I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration. Here we are then, I was thinking, in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate. Fine. We will win and they will lose. …

“As to the Left, I’ll say briefly why this was the finish for me. Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than it has yet been able to treat us. …

“Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead, the near-majority of ‘Left’ intellectuals started … bleating that the main problem was Bush’s legitimacy.”

Christopher Hitchens, interviewed by Jamie Glazov, Wednesday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

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