- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pop narcissism

“Future generations will wonder what possessed people whose professional lives involve reading sentiments written by other people to regale the public with their own political views. (E.g., Cameron Diaz: ‘If you think rape should be legal, then don’t vote!’) They will question exactly when comedians — people paid not to take matters seriously — became respected news pundits. … And what they will make of rapper P. Diddy’s ‘Vote or Die!’ campaign? …

“Celebrities gain stature through show-biz popularity — to take that popularity into the political realm is an act of bad faith with their audiences: We pay them to entertain us, not to shoot their mouths off about issues they know nothing about. … Alas, intoxicated by mass adoration, some stars apparently believe they are smarter than their fans. … When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt issue press statements calling for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, it’s clear the harmless narcissism of Celebrityland is morphing into something grandiose, self-righteous and just plain awful.”

Steven Vincent, writing on “Would You Buy a Car From Michael Moore?” Wednesday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Unreal philosophy

“When the French philosopher Jacques Derrida died last month at 74, the response was loud, passionate, and predictably divided. … If the response came from outside the academy, it tended to be bemused or critical. If a response came from the purlieus of the professoriate, however, it was likely to be sorrowful, eulogistic, even starry-eyed.

“There was nothing surprising about this. ‘Deconstruction’ — the movement that Derrida created in the mid-1960s and over which he presided with tireless attention until his demise — was always a hothouse phenomenon, ill-equipped to thrive in the rough-and-tumble of what Derrida would have scorned to call the real world.

“Again, this was hardly surprising. It was a central tenet of deconstruction … that ‘there is nothing outside the text.’ … Think about that. You can see why we have always thought that Gertrude Stein admirably summarized the essential tendency of Derrida’s philosophy when she observed about the city of Oakland that ‘there is no there there.’ Unfair to Oakland, possibly, but not, we think, to deconstruction.”

— from “Derrida declawed,” in the November issue of the New Criterion

Define ‘divisive’

“When a Republican says he is pro-life, that is divisive, but when a Democrat says he is for abortion rights, that is not at all divisive. When Rush Limbaugh rips into John Kerry, that is an exercise in divisiveness and hate, but when Michael Moore produces a documentary attacking President Bush with every sort of libel, that’s merely a filmmaker doing his job.

“Divisiveness is a two-way street, and politicians only reflect divisions that already exist. The country is divided on values, politics and many other things. So any time any candidate of any party takes any position of any substance, he is being divisive.

“Politics is about taking positions and about winning and losing. It is division in action.

“That’s why the less politics, the better. That’s why the founders wanted government to be limited to a few functions — mainly those protecting our God-given liberties.”

— Steven Greenhut, writing on “Kerry crashed in flyover country,” Monday in the Orange County Register

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