Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Departed dignity

“The grandeur and mystery of the English monarchy departed long ago, blasted away by familiarity and by television’s greed for fake intimacy. … Its dignity was ruptured by the mad soap opera of Princess Diana’s vengeance, a revenge that continued to rage beyond the grave and that still fills the breasts of the princess’s partisans with righteous fury against Prince Charles and the Wicked Woman he preferred all along, Camilla Parker Bowles. —

“The absurd, bureaucratic nuptials of Charles and Camilla had become a source of merriment in Britain long before they took place. … It was partly because of the unending technical problems. The queen wouldn’t attend, the location had to be changed, and then the whole thing had to be put off so as not to coincide with the pope’s funeral. But it is really because he has broken rules that he is obliged to keep.

“When the existence of your future post depends entirely upon ancient custom, precedents, and tradition, you cannot really dispense with such things because it suits you personally.”

—Peter Hitchens, writing on “Courting Disaster,” in the May 9 issue of the American Conservative

Not perfect, but good

“Just three-and-a-half years after America’s abrupt entry into [World War II] the Nazis were not only merely checked or defeated — but rather annihilated in one of the most brutal and extraordinary achievements in history. …

“How did our forefathers pull it off, and are there any wartime lessons that we can distill from their accomplishments? …

“Once the Axis declared war, the U.S. did not have much patience with arguments that Hitler had legitimate grievances arising out of World War I or that clumsy American diplomacy had incited the fascists in Tokyo. Naivete and the appearance of weakness in the face of bullies … were agreed to have prompted attack.

“The generation that was forced to ignite enemy cities, send billions in aid to a mass-murdering Stalin, bomb French rail yards, and deploy soldiers who sometimes fought with obsolete equipment, felt that they did not have to be perfect to know that they were good — and far better than the enemy.”

—Victor Davis Hanson, writing on “How the ‘Cowboys’ of the West Defeated the Nazis,” Monday in the Wall Street Journal

Two kings

“Elvis Presley … was not just a good ol’ boy; he seemed like a pretty good guy. He loved his mama, gave millions of dollars to charity, was a God-fearing Christian, and doesn’t seem to have hurt a fly. …

“Michael Jackson, on the other hand, has turned himself into a macabre inversion of American hybridity. His mixtures and blendings are not organic; they’re Frankenstein creations — or, rather, he’s a cubist painting gone awry. His whiteness is an attempt to cancel out his blackness; his blackness is like a shameful secret; his femininity is cruel; his masculinity is injured.

“He is the pathological underside of America’s historically unique fusions and conjunctions; such a creation is what would happen if America’s original experiment became an absolute failure. … Jackson, the face of a dysfunctional American future, keeps me awake. He’s not even a hound dog.”

—Lee Siegel, writing on “Hound Dog Hybrid,” Monday in the New Republic Online at

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