- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Forgotten celebrity

“In February of 1793, a lapsed Presbyterian minister named William Godwin published his ‘Enquiry Concerning Political Justice,’ an answer — so he believed — to the hitherto intractable problem of human happiness. Overnight, this plump compendium of Enlightened opinion transformed Godwin, then in his late 30s, from an obscure scribbler of atheistic leanings into an international celebrity. Wherever advanced thinking flourished, there Godwin and his wife, the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, were celebrated. …

“Published when the public’s infatuation with the French revolutionary ‘experiment’ was at high tide, Godwin’s ‘Enquiry’ formed a perfect obbligato to the incessant clamorings for liberty, equality, fraternity. … Within a couple of years, the Terror had translated the famous slogan into tyranny, usurpation, and panic. … Godwin’s flame guttered as suddenly as it had ignited. …

“It is easy to smile at the musings of a Godwin or a Condorcet. But it is worth recalling how many progeny they have spawned — not only Marx, Lenin, Stalin and other such thoroughgoing Friends of Humanity, but also myriad contemporary well-wishers who, though less rigorous, nevertheless combine the emotion of benevolence with imperative moralism.”

Roger Kimball, writing on “Friends of humanity?” in the November issue of the New Criterion

Hegel a.m.

“To sleep, perchance to dream — but either way not to worry about having something to tune into when you wake up. The first network morning show — the prototype of ‘The Today Show’ and ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘The Early Show’ — appeared in 1952 on NBC, with Dave Garroway as host and with a clown covering the weather. … At the moment, 11 million Americans roll out of bed and flip on the three networks combined. …

“It may be that Katie and Matt, Diane and Charles, Harry and Julie and Rene and Hannah have proved Hegel right. Yes, Hegel. He said that the modern person’s daily prayer was reading the newspaper. Nowadays it’s the well-scrubbed, early rising, up-to-the-minute, endlessly knowing and smiling anchorpeople who preside over matins and lead you, if you so desire, through the crosses and contradictions you may meet in the course of the day, and out of the dangers and the perils of the night before.”

Lee Siegel, writing on “Rise and Shine” in Monday’s issue of the New Republic

No sweat

“We don’t mean to be obvious, but presumably among the criteria defining a ‘sweatshop’ is that its workers actually, uh, sweat. So when hip-hop impresario Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs found himself accused of exploiting Honduran workers who … turn out his Sean John line of designer clothing, we called the factory ourselves. Turns out that among the things that distinguish the Southeast Textiles factory (Setisa) from competitors around the world is this: It’s air-conditioned.

“This tale … turns out to be about a lot more than one celebrity and his fashion line. It is the latest example of American union activists trying to shake down a celebrity to become a recruit for their anti-free trade agenda. The people who suffer as a result are the Hondurans for whom textile jobs are a rare opportunity up from poverty.”

From “In Defense of P. Diddy,” a Tuesday editorial in the Wall Street Journal

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