- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2005

Who to blame

“Shortly after September 11, [University of Colorado professor Ward] Churchill authored an essay … in which, among other things, he suggested that everyone who died in the Twin Towers that day were ‘little Eichmanns’ — mindless capitalist functionaries somehow deserving of their fate. …

“And suddenly, Ward Churchill is a household name. … Churchill deliberately taunted both Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, who’s called for his termination, and the school’s board of regents, who have opened an emergency 30-day review period in which to determine whether he can legally be fired.

“But fired for what, exactly? …

“For making Bill O’Reilly mad? For irking the Wall Street Journal’s editorial writers? For embarrassing the governor of Colorado? …

“One hundred percent of the blame for the Churchill debacle rests with the University of Colorado’s board of regents that hired, granted tenure to, and promoted an individual whose scholarship and personal qualifications are now, and must always have been, in serious question.

“Churchill’s silly notions have been in the public domain for years. Firing him only now suggests that Bill O’Reilly, as opposed to his faculty peers, gets the deciding vote on who is allowed to teach our young people.”

Dahlia Lithwick, writing on “Stupidity as a Firing Offense,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.co

‘Misty with age’

“There we were, at the annual CBS holiday press party … when Dan Rather … appeared in the room. …

“One of our circle, another card-carrying member of the liberal media establishment, said, helpfully, ‘Lots of people still hear the name Richard Nixon when you say Dan Rather.’ I flashed on the old silent majority — and its remarkable, modern media ascendancy.

” ‘Civil rights,’ said Rather. ‘Vietnam. Watergate. These were the stories we told. We’re now being blamed for them.’

“That we were back in the ‘60s was certainly pathetic. That we were blaming all our troubles on the great right-wing conspiracy was equally weak. Recalling all this was another way of saying that Rather, at 73, was not just a screwup, but misty with age.”

Michael Wolff, writing on “Twilight of the News,” in the March issue of Vanity Fair

Oscar irony

“In late January, Martin Scorsese’s film about the young Howard Hughes, ‘The Aviator’ … received 11 Oscar nominations. …

“Old-line Scorsese aficionados might consider ‘The Aviator’ a sign of the director’s decline. Devoid of true intimacy, introducing characters that go nowhere, overambitious, the film often consciously sidesteps Hughes’ repulsiveness, because, in the guise of Leonardo Di Caprio, that would have meant bad box office. …

“The highbrows may not like it but ‘The Aviator’ will probably be remembered more fondly than the infinitely superior ‘Raging Bull.’ …

“If Scorsese wins the Oscar for best director this year, it will mostly be because Hollywood feels legitimately guilty for having ignored him in the past, but also can’t miss an opportunity to reimburse someone who, thanks to his latest endeavor, appears to be making the industry more money than he usually does. The irony, some would say, is that Scorsese had to stop being Scorsese for a moment to gain this recognition.”

Michael Young, writing on “The Aviator,” Thursday in Reason Online www.reason.com

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