- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 27, 2005

Radical legacy

“John Brown was a violent charismatic anti-slavery terrorist and traitor, capable of cruelty to his family as well as to his foes. Every one of his murderous ventures failed to achieve its larger goals. His most famous exploit, the attack on Harpers Ferry in October 1859, actually backfired. … [H]e actually damaged the mainstream campaign against slavery, which by the late 1850s was a serious mass political movement contending for national power. …

“Brown’s legacy … was revived amid the angrier, pessimistic black nationalist vogue of the late 1960s, when Malcolm X, H. Rap Brown, and others hailed Brown as the only white American in history worthy of respect. And this time the esteem for Brown appeared among white radicals and liberals as well, sometimes wracked with ambivalence … and sometimes not (as in the terrorist Weather Underground’s slogan, ‘John Brown, Live Like Him/Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win.’).

“It would appear, then, that Brown’s reputation … has varied with the times as well as along the racial line, peaking when political frustration on the left boils over into rage against American politics as hopelessly corrupt, and finally against America itself as irredeemably racist.”

Sean Wilentz, writing on “Homegrown Terrorist,” in the Oct. 24 issue of the New Republic

Anti-male ideology

“The Larry Summers fiasco … showed that while feminism may have entered its Brezhnev Era intellectually, it still commands the institutional equivalent of Brezhnev’s thousands of tanks and nuclear missiles. After just a few days, Harvard President Lawrence Summers caved in to critics of his off-hand comment that nature, not invidious discriminations alone, might be to blame for the lower percentage of women who study math and science. In short order, he propitiated the feminists by promising, in effect, to spend $50 million taking teaching and research opportunities at Harvard away from male job seekers and giving them to less talented women. …

“We’ve now achieved the worst of both worlds: the educational authorities are committed to anti-male social constructionist ideology, but the pop culture market delivers the crudest, most sexualized imagery. The irony is that when the adult world imposes gender egalitarianism on young people in the name of progressive ideologies, it just makes the young people even more cognizant of their primordial differences.”

Steve Sailer, writing on “Boys Will Be Boys,” in the fall issue of the Claremont Review of Books

Rosa’s spirit

“My favorite image of Rosa Parks … is of the confrontation between her and a policeman on that auspicious afternoon of Dec. 1, 1955, when she refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala. … She asked him, ‘Why do you push us around?’ And he [gave] an honest answer: ‘I don’t know.’ But then he explained that he had to arrest her anyway. … And so was born what is still known as the modern civil rights movement. …

“We all act upon, and are acted upon by, forces we don’t understand. And then suddenly those forces crystallize in an event or person that ‘de-randomizes’ all that has come before. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. … Rosa Parks ‘had been tracked down by the zeitgeist — the spirit of the time.’ ”

Diane McWhorter, writing on “Rosa Parks,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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