- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2003

Disdaining vulgarity

“The great classical teacher of rhetoric, Quintilian, placed an enormous premium on the way adults speak to children. ‘Above all see that the child’s nurse speak correctly. … Do not … allow the boy to become accustomed even in infancy to a style of speech which he will subsequently have to unlearn.’ …

“The reason is simple. Children are, according to Quintilian, emulative beings. … It is therefore the greatest mistake to talk down to children. …

“A former colleague of mine, a professor, and his wife, a Ph.D. student in classics, home school their children, ages 10, 8, and 5. While I was eating dinner with the family the eldest daughter told me that I was lucky to be sitting in the best seat since ‘we all vie for that place each morning.’ That’s right, ‘vie,’ a word that we do not hear many high school or college students use. …

“As we speak, so our children will speak. Should we lay the groundwork of proper speech in childhood, youths in their teenage years will disdain to express themselves in the savage vulgarity of an Eminem.”

Terrence Moore, writing “Children Follow Adults’ Lead in Speaking,” for the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at www.ashbrook.org

Red revisionists

“It has only been a little more than a decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the meltdown of the Communist world it once led. Communist regimes survived for much longer than Nazi Germany, and their combined victims vastly outnumbered those murdered by European fascism. Yet the enormous human cost of communism barely registers in American intellectual life. … How is it possible that the memory of Communist crimes could have vanished so swiftly while the memory of Nazi crimes remains so fresh?

“The Cold War was not only a struggle between nations but also an ideological struggle within nations. … [T]he United States … harbored a significant Communist movement that drew support disproportionately from intellectuals. Thus the nostalgic afterlife of communism in the United States has outlived most of the real Communist regimes around the world. … By their determined effort to rehabilitate communism, a number of writers and professors are seeking to transform Americans’ memories of their own national experience, what will be remembered and what will be forgotten, and the lesson of that history that will shape our understanding of the challenges of the 21st century.”

John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, from their new book, “In Denial: Historians, Communism and Espionage”

Lo and behold

“Katie Couric couldn’t believe it.

“Bowing to public pressure, CBS had just pulled the plug on ‘The Reagans,’ its $9 million doomed foray into non-reality TV. … NBC’s sprightly ‘Today’ hostess pronounced herself simply astonished by ‘all this brouhaha.’

” ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this,’ she sniffed, echoing a sentiment expressed widely throughout much of the media. …

“Paul Begala of CNN’s ‘Crossfire’ was the most direct. ‘The right wing has a new favorite weapon: censorship,’ Begala thundered. …

“[C]ontrary to claims that CBS succumbed to ‘right-wing pressure,’ it was a broad population that took offense at the program. … The shock that hit CBS was the realization that, lo and behold, the values, prejudices, and attitudes of TV producers aren’t held by the majority of the American people.”

Chris Weinkopf, writing on “The People Speak,” in the January/February issue of the American Enterprise

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