- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

Cheap fame

“Is Paris Hilton glamorous? She meets all the criteria. She’s young, shiny, obscenely rich and reckless. She does precisely as she likes. She’s an heiress. …

“Once upon a time, a life like Paris Hilton’s (pre-fame) was just the sort of fantasy life the movies sought to re-create for our amusement. With the rise of the glamour industry, no one, not even Paris Hilton, is immune to the lure of mass-media glamour. …

“With $300 million in disposable income, she might have purchased anything her little heart desired. And what she bought was the cheapest kind of fame. The only way up for the celebrity is to pretend she’s moving on down.”

— Carina Chocano, writing on “The allure of illusion,” May 21 in the Los Angeles Times

Academic facts

“One of the professors profiled in my recent book [‘The Professors’] is Cornel West, a man who confuses attitudinizing with thought, whose intellectual output the liberal New Republic assessed and found ‘worthless,’ who is one of the academic world’s most honored and distinguished figures and yet hasn’t written a scholarly paper or book in 20 years (if ever).

“The left-wing journal Alternet is outraged by these facts. Here is its entire argument against my description of the unbearable lightness of Cornel West’s being: ‘In the nation’s top universities, African-American representation goes from offensive to paltry. Anywhere from less than 1 percent of tenured faculty are black to a high of 4.3 percent. In other words, you’d need to go out of your way to pluck a black professor for your rant about the nature of academia.’

“In other words, Cornel West is a black airhead, so don’t hurt his feelings by pointing this out. Actually, my book … features portraits of several bloviating dummies like West who are white. Professors Michael Vocino and Grover Furr for example. However, neither Vocino nor Furr have 20 honorary degrees, a professorship at Princeton, a $35,000 academic speaking fee, a several hundred thousand dollar academic salary, or a lucrative book racket. …

“Cornel West is blessed with these unearned and undeserved perks solely because he’s black — there is no other explanation.”

— David Horowitz, writing on “The predictable stupidity of the racist left,” May 28 in FrontPage at www.frontpagemag.com

TV trap

“Kids aren’t just gravitating to the tube; the one-eyed monster is being used as a babysitter by parents who think they’re too busy for them and by folks who see giving a child his own tube as a way of allowing them to gorge on TV. …

“Some of those kids are watching ‘Sesame Street’ and other educational shows. But in the ratings game, Big Bird is getting the rotisserie treatment from SpongeBob SquarePants. Only a fourth of parents surveyed even claimed their children watched mostly educational shows. …

“New Zealand researchers found early TV exposure even affected 26-year-olds, concluding: ‘Excessive television viewing in childhood may have long-lasting adverse consequences for educational achievement and subsequent socioeconomic status and well-being.’

“That means television is helping to keep those on the bottom of the socio-economic ladder right there on the bottom. …

“It’s the ultimate cop-out for parents to give kids their own tube just so they can be lounge lizards.”

— Michael Fumento, writing on “TV and Tykes Don’t Mix,” Friday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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