- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Enduring horror

“As far as I’m concerned, Hollywood can remake ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Herbie’ movies all it wants. It can produce endless ‘Batman’ and other comic-book movies, and seven Narnia flicks to accompany the seven ‘Harry Potter’ films to which we’re already committed.

“All of this, I can tolerate. But I’m tired of preachy retreads of the Frankenstein myth, first laid out in Mary Shelley’s 19th-century classic and recycled by Hollywood constantly in films from ‘Godsend’ to ‘Jurassic Park.’ I’m sick of gross caricatures of mad-scientist megalomaniacs out to accrue for themselves powers reserved only for God.

“I’m fed up with the insinuation … that there’s a taboo against the pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge and that certain technological achievements — especially those with the potential to affect life itself — are inherently ‘unnatural.’ …

“Granted, I agree that certain lines shouldn’t be crossed. We shouldn’t, for instance, clone fully grown human beings. But not because it’s taboo; because it’s unethical. The point is, we need to use philosophical arguments, not preaching, to determine where the lines ought to be drawn.”

Chris Mooney, writing on “The Monster That Wouldn’t Die,” Aug. 7 in the American Prospect Online at www.prospect.org

Arab failure

“Conceptually and politically, the Iraqi situation has shown the Arab world and its intellectuals at their stalemated worse. …

“Arab societies, specifically liberals, failed to see the advantages in the removal of Saddam, regardless of their antipathy to the Bush administration. Here was an opportunity to cheer on the emergence of an Arab democracy, with deep implications for democracy at home, and it was missed. …

“Saddam’s fall was welcomed by shamefully few Arabs (I recall how, on the day of his capture, a liberal Arab intellectual living in the U.S. mainly regretted that this would bolster George W. Bush’s popularity ratings): The ‘humiliation’ of seeing an Arab leader toppled by Western armies far outweighed that of seeing one of the most talented of Arab societies … subjected to a ferocious despotism responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Nor was there much interest regionally in the discovery of the Ba’ath’s mass graves.”

Michael Young, writing on “Indifferent to Democracy,” Friday in the Wall Street Journal

Royal decline

“Charles, the Prince of Wales … has turned his tragedy into farce. The latest of his bumbles was to book a shabby civil wedding. …

“Celebrity has replaced noblesse oblige as the nearest surviving thing to an aristocratic ideal. …

“The next generation — the duo of Wills and Harry — has no appetite for the job. Both take after their mother. The shallow, meretricious egocentrism of Diana’s life and times represents the only future these postmodern princes can hope to enjoy. Deracination, anomie, and future-shock separate them from the traditions to which they are supposedly heirs. Neither of them is very clever. …

“Yet both princes surely have enough sense to realize that the job of king is now utterly unappealing. After what their parents have suffered from the public and the press — the obloquy, the derision, the intolerable intrusions into their private lives — they can only face their fate with dismay.”

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, writing on “The King of England,” in the September issue of Foreign Policy

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