- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Che chic

“Many of the early leaders of the Cuban revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che [Guevara] was a mainstay of the hard-line pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban revolution’s first firing squads. He founded Cuba’s ‘labor camp’ system — the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che’s imagination.

“In the famous essay in which he issued his ringing call for ‘two, three, many Vietnams,’ he also spoke about martyrdom and managed to compose a number of chilling phrases: ‘Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become. … ‘ — and so on. …

“Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a free-thinker and a rebel. And thus it is in [Walter] Salles’ [film] ‘Motorcycle Diaries.’”

Paul Berman, writing on “Don’t Applaud ‘The Motorcycle Diaries,’” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Lone man on campus

“In this election year, when the only thing a polarized American public seems to agree on is that the divide between right and left is greater than ever, some conservatives are waging a war over what they see as the lack of professors like them in the academy. Liberal dominance of higher education has gone on far too long, they say, and has curtailed the free exchange of ideas that colleges should foster. …

“James D. Miller, an economics professor at Smith College … who is running as a Republican for a state Senate seat in Massachusetts this fall [says] that the shortage of conservative professors shortchanges students.

“‘It’s sort of as if the students are taught in an obscure language’ and ‘not really exposed to views outside of a radical-leftist perspective,’ he says. ‘They’ve never heard an argument for why free trade might be good for poor people in Africa. They think the only reason people oppose affirmative action is because they don’t like black people. They have no idea that there are other views out there. So much of the left is based on feeling, not reason.’”

Jennifer Jacobson in “Conservatives in a Liberal Landscape” in the Sept. 24 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Dad: Fat and stupid

“All family sitcoms … are about a fat guy with a hot wife.

“And they’re not just fat. They’re lazy beer-and-TV slobs. … Somehow they’ve landed these hot wives who look great in jeans … and it’s been downhill ever since. …

“Whose fantasy of the American family is this: men’s, women’s or both? And does it bear any resemblance to reality? …

“On [CBS’s] ‘Listen Up’ … Jason Alexander’s fatness, shortness and baldness are the show’s comic backbone. That and his teenage daughter hating him. …

“Dr. Scott Haltzman, a psychiatrist … decoded the stereotypical sitcom scenario: ‘Men are foolish, and now they have to be taught by their wives … not just how to be a better husband and father, but how to be a better human being.’”

Rick Marin, writing on “Father Eats Best,” Sunday in the New York Times

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