- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

Sound of youth

“It may be impossible for anyone who wasn’t living at the time to grasp how much the country changed 40 years ago. … On Feb. 9, 1964, … the Beatles appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ …

“To a degree that young Americans couldn’t comprehend today, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was American popular culture. More than 50 million Americans — over half of the TV-viewing audience at the time — tuned in to it on CBS every Sunday night. …

“From the moment they strummed those electric chords, wagged their mops of hair and smiled those beaming, ironic, isn’t-this-cool-but-also-a-bit-absurd smiles, we all knew it was something from a different galaxy. …

“The Beatles were the young and the new. … That night, at least to every kid I knew, the future looked clear, happy, and ours.”

Fred Kaplan, writing on “Teen Spirit,” Friday in slate at www.slate.com

Bad messages

“[L]ast summer … a Newsweek article on the ‘fetal rights’ movement pointed out that the latest reproductive technologies — providing, as they do, the ability to see embryos sooner and cultivating, as they do, an atmosphere in which pregnant women happily scrapbook those early ultrasounds — have created a real image problem for the pro-choice movement. As Kirsten Moore, the president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, put it, the piece ‘kind of prompted us to realize, oh my God, our movement’s messages [are bad].’

“This realization led to a series of quiet conversations in the reproductive-rights community. As more and more women find themselves in fertility clinics, veteran pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood are reconsidering the old paradigms. What does it mean for their approach, their pitch, and their priorities that a woman desperately hoping for a positive pregnancy test has a whole new attitude toward the embryo? … Consultants were called in, who urged abortion rights groups to ‘reframe the debate’ and ‘take back’ words like ‘baby’ and ‘mother.’”

Liza Mundy, writing on “Hazy Conceptions,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Calculating souls

“The fact that anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism, and a general hostility to the West often overlap is surely no coincidence. …

“Karl Marx, himself the grandson of a rabbi, called the Jews greedy parasites whose souls were made of money. The same kind of thing was often said by 19th-century Europeans about the British. The great Prussian novelist Theodor Fontane … was convinced that English society would be destroyed by ‘this yellow fever of gold, this sellout of all souls to the devil of Mammon.’ And much the same is said today about the Americans.

“Calculation — the accounting of money, interests, scientific evidence and so on —is regarded as soulless. Authenticity lies in poetry, intuition and blind faith. … As a Taliban fighter once put it during the war in Afghanistan, the Americans would never win, because they love Pepsi-Cola, whereas the holy warriors love death. This was also the language of Spanish fascists during the civil war, and of Nazi ideologues, and Japanese kamikaze pilots.

“The hero is one who acts without calculating his interests. He jumps into action without regard for his own safety, ever ready to sacrifice himself for the cause.”

Ian Buruma, writing on “The Origins of Occidentalism,” in the Feb. 6 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

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