- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

True variety

“I have a special place in my heart for ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ … ‘Carol Burnett’ was the last of its kind — a true variety show. …

“Carol’s humor was amazing, not just for what it was, but also for what it wasn’t. While great movie characters were ripe for parody, Carol and her cast never stooped to malicious impersonation or lampooning the real-life excesses of celebrities. Topical or political jokes were nowhere to be found.

“Essentially, Carol played on 60 percent of the field that ‘Saturday Night Live’ used, but with greater consistency and considerably less meanness. Of course, the rise of ‘SNL’ as the country’s favorite sketch show led within a few years to the end of ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ Somehow, a relatable everywoman who frequently obliged her studio audience’s petitions for her ‘Tarzan’ yell was suddenly out of synch with America in the age of [John] Belushi, [Dan] Aykroyd, and [Gilda] Radner. Were we better for it?”

— Warren Bell, writing on “Have a Laugh and Sing a Song,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Farewell, Freud

“Forty-five years ago … Freudian ideas were everywhere, championed by the country’s most visible sociologists (Talcott Parsons), literary critics (Lionel Trilling), and cultural radicals (including Susan Sontag). …

“But today Freud — and, for that matter, the entire mode of grand social theorizing in the key of Marx, Weber, and Freud — has fallen from favor. In fact, there is no longer much of a niche for large-scale theory in sociology. …

“‘The question “What can Freud teach us about the relation between our impulses and civilization?” ceases to be interesting if it transpires that Freud didn’t actually make the discoveries he claimed to have made about the psyche,’ says Frederick C. Crews … a leading Freud skeptic.”

— David Glenn, writing on “Prophet of the ‘Anti-Culture,’” in the Nov. 11 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

French farce

“Even as the French authorities downplay the role of Islam in the riots, they tacitly acknowledge it by calling on imams to issue fatwas against the rioters. …

“The reliance of the French authorities on a stable of feckless Muslim mediators is an acknowledgment of the Other France — a population of seething Muslims who now refer to themselves as living in ‘occupied territory.’ … Speaks grandly of ‘the Republic,’ but it is fast eroding if it exists at all, as evident in the fact that he has to address members of his own population through Muslim negotiators.

“France’s self-congratulatory campaign to reconcile differences between Islam and the West, undertaken in recent years to avoid ‘a clash of civilizations,’ has accelerated one. An obtuse and vain assumption had launched the campaign; namely, that the only possible clash of civilizations would be Christianity versus Islam. It didn’t occur to the French secularists that another clash of civilizations was possible: their own secularism versus Islam. …

“French politicians are making all the right PC noises about the riots being the result of ‘discrimination.’ But they are very vague about the source of the discrimination, and for good reason: the source is French secularism itself. French Muslims say that they can’t rise in a state in which secularists alone hold the privileged positions.”

— George Neumayr, writing on “The Vichy Solution,” Wednesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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