- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Going ape

“Tarzan was invented by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, and the first Tarzan film was made in 1914. As an American, Burroughs was geographically and philosophically at a distance from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Shelley and Jules Verne, but he inhaled both their love of the primitive and their suspicion of science. Growing with unabated power, that wariness of the mechanical continued to expand and take on an ever more intoxicating force with the dread following the unprecedented carnage of World War I and the smokestack lightning of industrialization.

“Burroughs was essential to the popularization of the idea that technology could be terrible and that man was the inevitable target of increasingly restrictive and ominous inventions. His Tarzan, like James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, lived in a Neverland where one did not have to grow up and feel his soul eaten away by the responsibilities and rituals of the middle and upper classes. Had Burroughs been a writer of Westerns, his central character would have been an Indian or a white woodsman who had been raised in the natural world and was wary of civilized gentility. Instead, he reversed Joseph Conrad and created a white African ape man who was more primitive and, therefore, more ‘naturally’ sane than those from outside the bush.”

— Stanley Crouch, writing on “Swing That Vine, White Boy!” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Left behind

“History, science and the arts are being de-emphasized by most schools in order to make room for teaching basic reading and math skills, according to a recent study. Who’s to blame for this? Critics of reform point to the No Child Left Behind law. …

“NCLB mandates that schools boost achievement in reading and math — only reading and math — or face tough consequences. To the surprise of some, the incentive has worked, but so, too, has the law of unintended consequences.

“NCLB puts pressure on educators to get all students to a low level of proficiency, so schools ignore kids at the top of the class. The law leaves the standards-setting to the states but ties sanctions to the results, so the states ‘race to the bottom’ and lower their standards.”

— Michael J. Petrilli, writing on “The Narrowing of the American Curriculum,” Tuesday in National Review Online

No choice

“Linda Hirshman thinks housework is boring. And not just that — in ‘Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of The World,’ she argues that women’s propensity to assume this drudgery hinders their advancement in the workplace and society. Her complaint is nothing new: Feminists from Betty Friedan to the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) Kim Gandy have been saying it for decades.

“Yet Hirshman breaks with much of the modern feminist movement by explicitly condemning women who assume the role of traditional housewife. Most mainstream feminists have at least sought publicly … to project a moderate face for their movement by advocating respect for women’s choices, whether that means employment inside or outside the home. Such ‘choice feminism,’ in Hirshman’s account, has undermined women’s true advancement; she instead wants women to work together to change that core unit of patriarchy, the family. …

“The problem for Hirshman, and the feminist movement generally, is that most women (and men for that matter) don’t love to work and don’t see maximizing a paycheck as life’s highest ambition. Young women sold on the idea of an exciting career often find actual office life dull. The majority of people tend to derive greater satisfaction from their families than from their jobs, so it’s no surprise that many women allocate their time accordingly.”

— Carrie Lukas, writing on “To the Workforce with You,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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