- The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2005

‘Clear replies’

“Multiculturalism has always been an embattled idea but the battle has grown fiercer of late. In this, it is terrorism that is setting the agenda, goading us to respond: terrorism, whose goal it is to turn the differences between us into divisions and then to use those divisions as justifications. …

“I have spent much of my writing life celebrating the potential for creativity and renewal of the cultural encounters and frictions that have become commonplace in our much-transplanted world. Then again … I have a second axe to grind, because the ‘Satanic Verses’ controversy was a pivotal moment in the forging of a British Muslim identity and political agenda. I did not fail to note the ironies: a secular work of art energized powerful communalist, anti-secularist forces. …

“[T]he questions of core freedoms and primary loyalties can’t be ducked. No society, no matter how tolerant, can expect to thrive if its citizens don’t prize what their citizenship means — if, when asked what they stand for as Frenchmen, as Indians, as Britons, they cannot give clear replies.”

— Salman Rushdie, writing on “What this cultural debate needs is more dirt, less pure stupidity,” Dec. 10 in the Times of London

New York hero

“In New York, Times columnist Frank Rich is a local hero. If he lacks the national profile of Times stars Maureen Dowd and David Brooks, and the liberal bloodlust of Paul Krugman, then his column is nonetheless a beloved Manhattan institution. Part of it is that Rich is a genuine New York celebrity, dating from when he was the Times’ chief drama critic, the celebrated ‘Butcher of Broadway.’ And part of it is that the critical voice Rich honed on the theater beat, and now uses in his column, is perfectly tuned to the voice of Manhattan liberalism. In Rich’s column you hear the mantra of the Upper West Side: a despair at the current liberal predicament, leavened by self-righteousness. …

“Since returning to the op-ed page in April, Rich has transformed himself into a more conventional left-wing animal. …

“Rarely does he offer much more than illuminating rage. It’s the kind of close-minded liberalism that, at its heart, is the antithesis of liberalism.”

— Bryan Curtis, writing on “Frank Rich,” Dec. 12 in Slate at www.slate.com

Pretty hateful

“Remember this maxim: when a liberal says something outrageous, it’s a courageous embrace of First Amendment freedoms, intended to catalyze discussion; when a conservative does the same, it is hate speech. This is the lesson liberals at the University of Connecticut (UConn) were attempting to teach students until [Dec. 7], when they went too far by repeatedly interrupting Ann Coulter’s remarks. …

“Once news hit that Coulter would be coming to campus, a group called ‘Students Against Hate’ was immediately formed by Eric Knudson, a sophomore … who said of her previous comments, ‘we encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech.’

“Tom Gaffey, editor-in-chief of the Daily Campus student newspaper, agreed that she promoted vile ideas. ‘It’s not that she’s a Republican. It’s her reputation as a hate promoter,’ Gaffey said. …

” ‘Liberals cried and cursed and stomped their feet and we had a lot of laughs at their expense,’ smirked Coulter.”

— J. Peter Freire, writing on “An Astonishing Lack of Coulter,” Dec. 13 in the American Spectator online at www.spectator.org



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