- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Pagan Bowl XXXVIII

“The 38th Super Bowl is over and the Carolina Panthers should have followed Justin Timberlake’s lead and settled for one extra point. As hard as it might be … to admit it, winning is actually a small part of the Super Bowl. The event has moved beyond status as a mere American secular holiday and firmly into pagan festival mode. …

“So the pagan festival rolls on with its libations, ritual battles and damsels in distress. It is somehow fitting that a country so young has raided the classics for its own unique expression of a winter festival … without the burning Viking ship.

“Like it or not, American civilization is reflected in the Super Bowl, everything always bigger and louder and better than the year before. It is a bizarre, pointless promise that we buy every year because the hope and optimism that is infused in American culture demands it.”

Jeffrey Taylor, writing on “America Goes Bowling,” Monday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Secularism unveiled

“France has painted itself into a corner. … With the Declaration of Human Rights to its back and a swelling tide of Islamic immigration at its front, the fiercely secular nation can be seen these days flailing desperately, her paintbrush still dripping with the blood of the 1789 Revolution.

“Who would have thought it would finally come to blows over little girls’ head scarves? President Jacques Chirac, stating that ‘secularism is not negotiable,’ appointed a blue-ribbon commission to draw up a law, now headed to the National Assembly, that will ban the wearing of the Muslim veil in public. The statute would also prohibit Jewish skullcaps and ‘conspicuous’ crosses, in the name of egality. …

“We have been saying all along that France has no religion. But that is not altogether fair. As she is increasingly backed to the wall, expect to find the true colors of tolerance revealed, and the velvet glove removed to bare an iron fist. As the striptease of liberties continues, it will become clear, for all the world to see, just how zealous a religion Secularism can be.”

Andree Seu, writing on “France’s veil,” in this Saturday’s issue of World

Faded star

“I can no longer hear Jesse Jackson’s name without thinking of Norma Desmond, the great and ruined silent film star in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ who, after killing her lover, descends a marble staircase as if for her next scene when in fact only the police await. Norma is a figure of chilling pathos because she insists on living in the past, laboring maniacally yet in vain to once more wield the sort of beauty that stops and starts the lives of others. But it was really the mystery that silent films imparted to beauty that had made her special. Now that movies talk, she is not only older, she is a living anachronism. …

“By the late 1960s, protest represented a permanent vision of authenticity in black America. Not only did it carry glamour and authority, it also became the core of the new black identity.

“The young Jesse Jackson was made glamorous by protest just as the young Norma Desmond was made mysterious by silence. … Today … black protest has essentially ceased to be instructive.”

Shelby Steele, writing on “Civil Rights Boulevard,” in the winter issue of Hoover Digest

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