- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

Synagogue & state

“A test I regularly perform is to ask Christian acquaintances to list the 25 most important Christian leaders in America. Almost without exception, they name 25 pastors or priests. Furthermore, there is considerable congruence between their lists. That is what made it possible for Time Magazine in January 2005, to run a cover story entitled ‘The 25 Most Powerful Evangelicals.’ My regular test continues with me asking fellow Jews to list the 25 most important Jewish leaders in the country. Almost without exception, their list contains no rabbis. Their lists also offer little by way of congruence other than movie director Steven Spielberg. …

“During the lead up to the November 2000 presidential election, hundreds of rabbis and Jewish community activists implored Jewish voters to vote for the Gore/Lieberman ticket because it would be ‘so wonderful to have a Jew as vice president.’ Exactly the same voices can regularly be heard sputtering in indignation whenever Christian voters are asked to vote for a particular candidate on account of him being a deeply committed Christian. …

“Voting for Lieberman, as they saw it, was not a vote for any set of religious values. It was an expression of ethnic pride. However, voting for a Christian candidate would violate the separation of church and state.”

—Rabbi Daniel Lapin, writing on “Why the World Hates the Jews,” posted Aug. 16 on www.towardtradition.org

French roots

“The term ‘Islamofascism’ was introduced by the French writer Maxine Rodinson … to describe the Iranian Revolution of 1978. Rodinson was a Marxist, who described as ‘fascist’ any movement of which he disapproved. But we should be grateful to him for coining a word that enables people on the left to denounce our common enemy. After all, other French leftists — Michel Foucault, for example — had welcomed the revolution as an amusing threat to Western interests. It is only now that people on the left can acknowledge that they are just as much a target as the rest of us, in a war that has global chaos as its goal.

“The word has therefore caught on, not least because it provides a convenient way of announcing that you are not against Islam but only against its perversion by the terrorists.”

—Roger Scruton, writing on “Islamofascism,” yesterday in OpinionJournal at www.opinionjournal.com

Country icon

“These days, it’s hard to find anyone who isn’t a Johnny Cash fan. Three years after his death, he’s become one of those rare musicians held in near-universal esteem. Everyone knows he’s great, and his music is touched with such timeless and ineffable cool that hipsters still love him despite his embrace by the unhip. Cash’s posthumous career, needless to say, is going very well. A best-of CD landed in the Billboard Top 10 last year, and a new album, ‘American V: A Hundred Highways,’ arrived on July 4 and promptly hit No. 1. It’s the first Cash album to top the pop charts since ‘Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison’ (1968) — proof positive that as much as we esteem our ‘living legends,’ we prefer them recently dead and deified in Hollywood biopics. …

“Cash was an icon of authenticity, whose mixture of bad-boy attitude and down-home piety excited a rocker dude’s romantic imagination.”

—Jody Rosen writing on “Johnny Cash, Cornball,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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