- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

The anti-museum

“Last week’s opening of the National Museum of the American Indian is shaping up to be the museum world’s gaudiest belly flop since the disastrous 1964 debut of Huntington Hartford’s antimodernist Gallery of Modern Art. …

“The mere fact that Washington, D.C., persists in calling its favorite sports team the Redskins is reason enough to put a National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall. The case becomes overwhelming when you note further that the monuments and museums of Washington, collectively, presume to tell a reasonably complete story about this country; that the Native Americans settled this continent long before anyone else; that they were subjected by later arrivals to mistreatment that we can plausibly label genocide; and that most Americans today have little or no familiarity with the various Native American cultures. I’m glad we finally have a National Museum of the American Indian. But why did it have to be this one?

“The new museum stubbornly refuses to impose any recognizable standard of scholarship, or even value, on the items in its galleries. … This isn’t a museum; it’s a public service announcement.”

Timothy Noah, writing on “The National Museum of Ben Nighthorse Campbell,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Terror rationale

“Who are we allowed to seize as hostage? Who are we allowed to kill?

“For the past few weeks these questions have prompted much debate throughout the Muslim world. The emerging answer to both questions is: Anyone you like!

“Triggered by the atrocity at a school in Beslan, in southern Russia, last month, the debate has been further fueled by kidnappings and ‘exhibition killings’ in Iraq. Non-Muslims may find it strange that such practices are debated rather than condemned as despicable crimes. But the fact is that the seizure of hostages and ‘exhibition killing’ go back to the early stages of Islamic history. …

“The assumption that only Americans and Israelis are targeted has proved false as Islamists have murdered hundreds of peoples from all faiths, including Islam, in a dozen countries in the past three years. Today, it is enough for anyone to designate himself as an Islamic ‘mujahid,’ fighting for Palestine and opposing the ‘occupation’ in Iraq, to get carte blanche from millions of Muslims, including many in authority, for kidnapping and ‘exhibition killing.’”

Amir Taheri, writing on “Exhibition Killing,” Sunday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

Going downhill

“Last month … the Federal Communications Commission spanked CBS with a $550,000 fine for broadcasting Mr. Justin Timberlake and Ms. Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime flash-dance routine. It was just one of many raunchy interludes during a remarkable broadcast. …

“The great irony is that the same principles that allowed the West its unprecedented wealth and freedoms — of speech, of the press, of religion — may very well be instigating its decline. Irony is usually good for a chuckle. So why isn’t anyone laughing?

“The symptoms, it must be obvious, are all around us and especially pronounced in our popular culture.”

Christopher Orlet, writing on “Triumph of the Swill,” Friday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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