- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Osama’s inspiration

“The revival of the martyrdom tradition of the assassins had begun during Iran’s war with Iraq, when the Ayatollah Khomeini deliberately sent hundreds of thousands of Iranian youths to their deaths in human waves to be sacrifices for the cause. …

“Another stage of its revival occurred in Lebanon, when the Iranian-sponsored Islamic terrorist organization Hizbollah carried out a suicide bombing on a U.S. barracks that killed 243 U.S. Marines in Beirut [in 1983]. The subsequent withdrawal of the Marines without retaliation inspired Osama bin Laden to regard America as a weak adversary. In a 1998 interview, bin Laden told ABC News reporter John Miller, ‘We have seen … the weakness of the American soldier, who is prepared to fight cold wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia [in 1993].’”

David Horowitz, from his new book, “Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left”

Movies and ‘art’

“Once upon a time, the sensation of the movies was so intense and widespread that no one saw a need for mediation or commentary. The audience of the 1920s, the 1930s, and most of the 1940s was so steadfast in its habit of going to the movies that no one saw much need for persuasion or elucidation. At the same time, few places in American society were impressed with the European notion that the movies might be a medium capable of art. In Hollywood, earnest talk of ‘art’ was a more serious handicap than ‘Red ties.’

“The years between 1930 and 1950 … were rich hours for the American moviegoer. There were more movies per week then than there are now, and with half the population. But the ‘literature’ on movies consisted of a handful of true critics … and of course the dreams and din of fan magazines and movie gossip, the smokescreen that has made movie history so uncertain.”

David Thomson, writing on “Follow the Money,” in the Oct. 4 issue of the New Republic

Nixonian legacy

“Times have changed when it comes to the mocking of presidential candidates. During the 1960 election, Art Buchwald found himself on the same podium with then-Vice President Richard Nixon and proceeded to poke fun at the Republican presidential candidate. Later the humor columnist received an irate phone call from his father. ‘He couldn’t believe that I would make fun of the vice president of the United States,’ Mr. Buchwald recalls with a chuckle.

“By contrast, today many voters get much of their political news from the gusher of late-night jokes ridiculing President Bush and John Kerry. The change can be traced to the night of June 17, 1972, when five men with links to President Nixon’s re-election campaign against George McGovern were caught breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate office complex and bugging the phones. Watergate ‘was a turning point’ for political humor, says Elaina Newport, co-founder of the Capitol Steps comedy troupe. ‘The gloves came off.’…

“Political humor became sharper and nastier as the combination of Vietnam and Watergate increased public cynicism toward politicians. ‘A lot of baby boomers decided to go into standup comedy or news because Nixon ruined politics,’ says comedian Argus Hamilton.”

Ronald G. Shafer, writing on “President Punch Line,” Sunday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com

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