- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Really big show

“There is no equivalent today of cultural institutions such as ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ and Life magazine, which made conscious efforts to combine highbrow and middlebrow offerings — Ed Sullivan introducing his audience to opera singers and dog acts, Life magazine offering profiles of Picasso and Marilyn Monroe. All this made for a very broad cultural conversation. The Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan, which everybody watched, reverberated throughout North America.

“By contrast, we are now in an age when people are encouraged to ‘personalize their use of the media’ and to join ‘virtual communities.’ … The coherence of cultural conversations, and the general sense of meaningfulness, is breaking down. It is unthinkable now that any audience could care as much, or believe that religiously in its music, as the audience members at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival that booed Bob Dylan for going electric.

— Philip Marchand, writing on “The In-Betweeners,” June 4 in the Toronto Star

Short eyes

“It’s not every day my neck of the prairie registers on the national sonar, but one and a half hours from where I write this a district court judge issued a sentence that’s still pinging loudly and clearly. …

“Judge Kristine Cecava put Sidney [Neb.] on the map for something besides its claim to fame as the world headquarters of outdoor outfitting giant Cabela’s when she decided a 5-foot-1 child molester was too short for prison. Richard Thompson, 50, had been found guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl over a couple of months. …

“Cecava sentenced the diminutive degenerate to 10 years probation. …

“Some people, Flannery O’Connor said, are so open-minded their brains plop out. I think the judge’s common sense has long since floated down the Platte River.”

— R. Andrew Newman, writing on “Big Time Opportunities for Small Perverts,” June 2 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

‘Anti-ism’

“Arab society has been tormented for hundreds of years by the loss of strategic and cultural pre-eminence, a crisis compounded by the forcible intrusion of the West in the guise of France, Britain, Israel and America (more or less in that order). At the root of misery lies the failure of modernization in Arab lands. But it is so much easier to focus rage and resentment not on a hidebound culture or on oppressive rule, but on the ‘Great’ and ‘Little Satan.’ …

“Anti-ism is also a response to seduction. After all, why would people freely flock into McDonald’s, wear Levi’s, drive SUVs and watch Hollywood shlock? The problem with America’s enormous ‘soft power’ is that we hate the seducer as we hate ourselves for yielding to temptation. From there it is but a short step to the unconscious remedy of projection and displacement: Blame the source of all these attractions that demote your own time-honored achievements. Hence, any anti-ism comes with the demonization of the ‘Other’ as a way of revalidating oneself.”

— Josef Joffe, writing on “Dissecting Anti-isms,” in the summer issue of the American Interest


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