- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Little lessons

“In truth, American politics has frequently been gripped by moral issues. It is one of the aspects of our history and culture that makes us different from most European democracies. …

“The ritualistic condemnation of Christian fundamentalists neglects two things. The first: Secularists are just as likely to provoke moral outrage as are religious believers, yet we rarely read stories about the secular left. The second: Research shows that organizations of Christian fundamentalists are hardly made up of fire-breathers but rather are organizations whose members practice consensual politics and rely on appeals to widely shared constitutional principles. …

“I draw lessons from the election, but not very deep ones. One is that the profound liberal bias among many big-city newspapers and most TV stations did not determine the outcome.”

James Q. Wilson, writing on “Why Did Kerry Lose?” Sunday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Real on wheels

“Detroit-bred West Coast rapper Xzibit (a.k.a. ‘X to the Z,’ a.k.a. ‘X,’ a.k.a. ‘Alvin Nathaniel Joiner’) … hosts … the popular MTV reality-television show ‘Pimp My Ride.’ In rap, of course, the blind following the blind is nothing new. But what sets X and his show apart are their honest admissions about their enterprises. …

“‘Pimp My Ride’ … offers a big nod in the direction of the hotrod modding hits ‘American Chopper’ and ‘Monster Garage,’ but with a hip, youthful twist. Its opening titles flaunt kitsch 1970s graphics, a funky Isaac Hayes-like theme song, and the enjoyable high-low notion that the word ‘pimp’ has meandered out of the gutter and into the acceptable vernacular of all young people. …

“X isn’t trying to depict himself as other rappers in his position have — a hard-core thug or untouchable CEO-humanitarian. …

“The result is an important admission: not just that hip-hop thug life, as defined by MTV and the big record labels, is a put-on, but that it’s finally common practice to admit to the put-on and hence use it for profit. … Admitting to the silliness and reality of the enterprise … is truly ‘keeping it real.’”

Adam Baer, writing on “How to Truly Keep It Real,” Monday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

New orthodoxy

“A 2001 survey by CBS News and BET.com … found that 92 percent of African-American respondents agreed that absentee fathers are a serious problem. In black public discourse, personal responsibility talk, always encompassing family responsibility, has been crowding out the old orthodoxy of reparations and racism.

“Bill Cosby’s much debated remarks in June … calling on parents to take charge of their kids and for men to ‘stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job,’ set off an amen corner. Democratic National Convention keynote speaker Barack Obama, the black Illinois senatorial candidate, celebrated family, hard work, and the inner-city citizens who ‘know that parents have to parent.’ In a New York Times op-ed, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates added his blessing when he asked, ‘Are white racists forcing black teenagers to drop out of school or have babies?’ Even the wily Reverend Al [Sharpton] recently corrected one of the Times’s most fervent PC watchdogs, Deborah Solomon, that, no, Cosby wasn’t being racist, and that ‘we didn’t go through the civil rights movement only to end up as thugs and hoodlums.’”

Kay S. Hymowitz, writing on “Dads in the ‘Hood,” in the autumn issue of City Journal

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