- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Achilles’ heel

“What’s so troubling about the crisis in France is not that Paris is burning. We know that France will continue to exist in one form or another. Its persistence, if only in capitulation to anarchic currents, is as reliable as man’s fallibility. In that spirit, the French are very much Western civilization’s Achilles’ heel; it’s easy to jest at their shortcomings, but we worry that what befalls them will come around to the rest of us. At the moment, France is a frontier nation in our poorly understood (perhaps even poorly conceived) War on Terror. …

“A Reuters story quotes [French Prime Minister Dominique de] Villepin’s promise to promote ‘measures to help young people in poor suburbs find jobs and to improve educational opportunities.’ … Judging by how the French government is dealing with it, this uprising is because youths are bored in unemployment and confused about the proper use of a Renault. Oh, and they’re Muslim or something.”

— J. Peter Freire, writing on “Of Francs and Failures,” Nov. 10 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Cultural assault

“[T]he assault on high culture and tradition that has transpired since the 1960s has paid great dividends, bringing long overdue attention to marginalized voices.

“Unfortunately, this new freedom has sucker punched the notion of the educated person who is esteemed not because of the size of his bank account or the extent of his fame but the depth of his knowledge. Instead of a mainstream reverence for those who produce or appreciate works that represent the summit of human achievement, we have a corporatized and commodified culture that hypes the latest trend, the next new thing. …

“In the here and now, get-the-job-done environment of modern America, the knowledge for knowledge’s sake ethos that is the foundation of a liberal arts education — and of a rich and satisfying life — has been shoved to the margins. Curiously, in a world where everything is worth knowing, nothing is.”

— J. Peder Zane, writing on “Lack of curiosity is curious,” Nov. 6 in the [Charlotte, N.C.] News & Observer

Right on

“It’s a clich because it’s true: Context is everything. Vulgarity may be one thing late at night on Hollywood Boulevard, but it’s quite another on prime-time television in our homes. And a gun in some hero’s hand may be one thing on prime-time television in our homes, but it’s quite another in a would-be hip-hop culture icon’s hand on a billboard in a demographically targeted part of the city.

“Paramount Pictures was promoting rapper 50 (We’re supposed to say ‘Fiddy’) Cent’s new movie, ‘Get Rich or Die Trying,’ with billboards depicting the rapper with his tattooed back toward us, arms outstretched, a microphone in one hand and a gun in the other. … Paramount has taken down about a half-dozen billboards near Los Angeles area schools ‘in response to parents’ complaints that they glorified gangs and violence.’ …

“[T]he pendulum has swung too far in favor of the libertine and the violent, so that decent local folks have to work very hard to take their streets back to being even near worthy of their children’s footsteps.

“The parents and community activists who achieved a measure of success for core decency in South Central Los Angeles are due a hearty ‘Right on’ for their efforts. Sometimes it does take a village — an aroused, aware and activist one.”

— Pat Boone, writing on “Quality of our cultural air: Noxious,” Nov. 12 in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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