- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Long legacy

“Nearly 50 years ago, the U.S. Senate voted to censure Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Within three years of his disgrace, McCarthy was dead, his health destroyed by heavy drinking. …

“The political movement to which McCarthy gave his name did not survive his political repudiation. By the mid-1950s, the fervent anti-communism that he symbolized was already fading. …

“But the term ‘McCarthyism’ has had a far longer afterlife. Leftists have used it to demonize any criticism of communists. Certain historians have blamed McCarthyism for every evil in modern American life, from lousy movies to the slow development of the civil rights movement. … The first version of the National Standards for History for high school students, released in 1994, mentions McCarthy and McCarthysim 20 times, lavishing more attention on him than any other politician in recent American history and suggesting that the entire anti-communist movement was guilty of violating fundamental American values.”

Harvey Klehr, writing on “Devils in America,” in Monday’s issue of the New Republic

An old idea

“[Terrorists] see the West as something less than human, to be destroyed, as though it were a cancer. This idea has historical roots that long precede any form of ‘U.S. imperialism.’ …

“[A] group of prominent Japanese intellectuals gathered for a conference in Kyoto in 1942. … [T]he underlying idea was to find an ideological justification for Japan’s mission to smash, and in effect replace, the Western empires in Asia. …

“All agreed that culture — that is, traditional Japanese culture — was spiritual and profound, whereas modern Western civilization was shallow, rootless and destructive of creative power. The West, particularly the United States, was coldly mechanical, a machine civilization without spirit or soul, a place where people mixed to produce mongrel races. … As one of the participants put it, the struggle was between Japanese blood and Western intellect.”

Ian Buruma, writing on “The Origins of Occidentalism,” in Friday’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Icons and ideas

“Our silver-screen icons celebrate fornication, adultery and blasphemy at nearly every turn, but the truth that God has written in their hearts remains, so that, in spite of themselves, they also occasionally celebrate mercy, justice, fidelity and faith. …

“One of the most striking examples of this disparity in recent years has got to be that between J.R.R. Tolkien, author of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the filmmakers who adapted his story. …

“Some of the actors, the screenwriters and director Peter Jackson begrudgingly paid lip service to Tolkien’s well-documented Christian worldview. However, deeper questioning revealed that they had little understanding of how that worldview manifested itself in Tolkien’s work. …

“[Q]uestioned about the religious themes in the trilogy, director Peter Jackson appealed to Tolkien’s well-known love of nature: ‘[Tolkien] hated the way the English countryside had been destroyed by the industrial revolution in the 1880s. The Shire represents what happened to the England that he loved. There was pollution, forests being cut down. …’

“[Jackson] demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of the trilogy’s defining struggle: ‘The ring is obviously a metaphor for the machines, the factories, that enslave you, that take away your free will.’”

Megan Basham, writing on “Tolkien v. Jackson,” Feb. 5 in Boundless at www.boundless.org

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