- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

Fighting spirit

“Most American fighting men subscribe to the view put into words by John Stuart Mill: ‘War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest thing. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.’ …

“It’s easy for critics on both the left and the right to convince themselves that the United States is a decadent society, that our young people have all gone soft, that we will never have another generation like the men who climbed the cliffs at Normandy on D-Day. That judgment, I’m here to report, is utterly and completely wrong. We have soldiers in uniform today whom Americans can trust with any responsibility, any difficulty, any mortal challenge.”

Karl Zinsmeister, author of “Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq,” writing on “Giving Thanks for America’s Warrior Class,” in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise

Sanitized Christmas

“In one generation — I was born in 1964 — Christmas has gone from being a widespread and joyous public celebration to the holiday that dare not speak its name. We now have ‘holiday trees,’ ‘holiday cards,’ ‘holiday parties,’ ‘holiday songs.’ …

“A hallmark of this war is an aggressive multiculturalism that has elevated a variety of formerly obscure or even nonexistent festivals into faux-Christmases. … The reason for the elevation of these holidays is their proximity to Christmas, not their cultural significance or intrinsic worth. Indeed, Kwanzaa was invented in 1966, Hanukkah is traditionally a minor holiday (with no basis in the canonical Hebrew Bible), and Ramadan was virtually unknown in America until a few short years ago. …

“The result of sanitizing Christmas is now within sight: an undistinguished, uninspiring public celebration, devoid of religious or cultural significance or indeed of beauty, with nothing left but multiculturalist pap and tawdry commercialism.”

Tom Piatak, writing on “How the Left Stole Christmas,” in the Jan. 19 issue of the American Conservative

Still insatiable

“The appeal of his life story is obvious, and [Hugh] Hefner readily admits that he’s lived a disgustingly full life — and seen naked just about every woman he desired. But he still has a wish list: ‘I would like [to see] exactly the ones that the readers would like to see: [Catherine] Zeta-Jones, Britney Spears. …’ He adds, mischievously, ‘We have our celebrity-wranglers out there.’

“In the end … Mr. Hefner has kept an admirable view of himself and his accomplishments. He takes nothing for granted, and there are still wispy traces of the man of whom Gay Talese wrote: ‘He was a sex junkie with an insatiable habit.’

“‘One of the reasons that Playboy has prevailed,’ said Mr. Hefner, ‘and that I have continued to be popular, and that my lifestyle continues to fuel fantasies, is because, you know, there really is a serious, redeeming social value going on here. In other words, I really have lived a wonderful adventure of a life, but done it with a pure heart. I’m still very much — and I’m 77 years old — the boy who dreamed the dream. I wake up every day marveling at what it’s all about, pinching myself. There’s a certain kind of innocence about it.’”

Elon R. Green, writing on “Hef’s Black Books,” in the Dec. 15 issue of the New York Observer

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