- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Cultural trail

"The culture has lost its moral bearings. Society can no longer tell right from wrong. The civilization itself is becoming something less than civil.

"It's the culture, stupid. For those who are old enough to remember the Vietnam war, here's an analogy: The culture is the Ho Chi Minh trail to political power. And the culture has been deliberately used and abused to transform our political system, to change the way Americans think, to attack our values, to demean our faith in God, to reduce that shining city on a hill to the status of a drab public housing project.

"Think of the way movies have changed in the last generation from 'Beach Blanket Bingo' to 'Natural Born Killers.' Think of the way television has changed from 'Father Knows Best' to 'Temptation Island.' The popular culture has become a moral cesspool overflowing with toxic sludge that seeps into the souls of innocent kids. There's no protecting them if they have any contact with their peers.

"It's painful even to think about the effect of the popular culture on kids, and even more difficult to imagine it's the same story in every city and town across America every day, every week, for years. There's no escape."

Joseph Farah, from his forthcoming book, "Taking America Back: A Radical Plan to Revive Freedom, Morality and Justice"

Dumb dialogue

"Of all major religions, Islam is the least amenable to dialogue with other faiths. Among non-Muslims it seeks converts or obedient subjects, not partners in a dialogue. Nevertheless, among some misguided Western social conservatives there exists an a priori desire to forge an alliance of believers against the moral and spiritual decay of a sinful world, an 'ecumenical jihad,' a war of all religions against unbelief:

"'If we will work and fight and love in action side by side with our Protestant and Catholic and Orthodox and Jewish and Muslim neighbors, we will come to perceive something we did not understand before. If we did not balk at having Stalin's followers as our allies against Hitler, we should not balk at having Muhammad's followers as our allies against Stalin.'

"The historical analogy here overlooks one thing: Stalin's anti-Nazism did not make him cease being a villain equal to Hitler. A political marriage of convenience to fight Marxism during the Cold War is one thing, but seeking common ground with Islam for an ecumenical jihad is one of the dumbest ideas in decades."

Serge Trifkovic, writing on "The Stupidity of Dialogue With Islam," Monday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Generic holidays

"The mother of all anti-PC holiday fare is the Christmas episode of 'South Park,' the cheerfully vulgar cartoon program on Comedy Central. As one chuckling religious-liberties activist put it, 'Everything you want is right there in that episode.'

"In the program, the townspeople go at one another's throats over what symbols can and can't be used in the children's Christmas play. In order to pacify quarreling Jews, Catholics, and tree-huggers, the mayor orders his people to come up with 'the most non-offensive Christmas ever.'

"The actual pageant, billed 'The Happy Non-Offensive, Non-Denominational Christmas Play,' ends up featuring minimalist composer Philip Glass playing hideous avant-garde music. The audience erupts in rage until they are calmed by the advent of a sprightly Yuletide figure called Mr. Hankey, who tells them to get over themselves, to quit focusing on what's wrong with Christmas, and instead celebrate the joy and fellowship of the season."

Rod Dreher, writing on "Christmas Bombing," in the Dec. 31 issue of National Review

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