- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Soviet legacy

“Paul McCartney delivered an encore of ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ at a concert in Moscow’s Red Square last Saturday evening attended by none other than Vladimir Putin. …

“[T]he Russian president told Sir Paul that the Beatles were a ‘breath of fresh air’ to Russian teens such as himself back in the 1960s. Of course, the liberating influence of the Beatles was apparently insufficient to spur Mr. Putin to take up music or become a dissident. To the contrary … Mr. Putin enlisted with the KGB. …

“At the same time that an aging Beatle is brought in to illustrate Russia’s opening, the mayor of Moscow is angling to have a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky — founding father of the Soviet secret police — restored to the Moscow square from which it was toppled in 1991. …

“Far from bringing about the end of history, it appears that the collapse of communism has only set off a mad scramble for who’s going to appropriate it.”

from “A City on the Edge,” an editorial Friday in the Wall Street Journal

Aristocratic duty

“America began with a charter, in fact with a series of charters. These charters were rather dry legal documents … that a king would grant to a small number of people who wanted a better chance or a greater challenge than they could find back home in England doing the same, run-of-the-mill, expected things. The charter was a contract, then, full of promise, but wholly without spirit and life. It took courageous men and women, sometimes children, to give the document spirit and life. …

“American principles of freedom and self-government became the model for how a people ought to live together. Yet it took a foreign visitor to understand the magnitude of what the Americans had accomplished. That foreign visitor was Alexis de Tocqueville. Not only did Tocqueville explain the greatness of what the Americans had done, he also warned them of how their great achievements might be lost and undone by future generations. …

“What Tocqueville most feared about Americans was that their similarity, their equality … their sometimes attachment to the practical over the theoretical, their seeming indifference to higher things of the mind, that all these and many other aspects of their character might lead to a stultifying mediocrity in their thought, a growing ignorance of their founding principles, and eventually a tyranny of the majority in their politics. He feared that Americans, lacking an aristocracy, would lose their taste for the good and the beautiful and the true that aristocracies had always upheld.”

Terrence Moore, principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, Colo., writing on “The Good and the Beautiful and the True,” for the Ashbrook Center at www.ashbrook.org

High school nightmare

“I don’t have nightmares about college, or any job I’ve had. It’s always the last day of high school. …

“I did have some great times in high school, but it was always on weekends. School itself was a sentence to be served. … I was bored silly and sometimes fell asleep in class. It’s a feat to fall asleep sitting up, but I managed it. … Some couldn’t quite pull it off with panache, and instead looked like the almost-passed-out kids in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ when Mr. Monotone himself (Ben Stein) was unwittingly torturing them with his lecture. …

“The public schools shove kids together who in life would have nothing to do with each other. The kids get around this by forming cliques. Sometimes the whole school turns into pool of piranhas. It wasn’t for nothing that Stephen King’s first novel, ‘Carrie,’ was a best-seller, and turned into a hit movie. And what was it about? Public high school. …

“‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ [is] about a kid who has outsmarted the system and is free of it. And what does his nemesis — the high school principal — want more than anything else? To make sure Ferris doesn’t graduate so he has to spend another year in school. My nightmare on film.”

—Bob Wallace, writing on “Post-Traumatic School Disorder,” Monday at www.lewrockwell.com


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