- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Crackpot ‘Code’

“If you’ve read ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ you may remember a double-crossing Holy Grail expert named Leigh. As unlikely as it may sound, just such a character is now at the center of the current plot twist in Dan Brown’s real life. Last week, Brown was in an English court, defending his best-selling book against a copyright lawsuit brought by a self-appointed grail expert named [Richard] Leigh. Leigh and two friends are the authors of the 1982 best seller ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail,’ a nonfiction work that lays out the same claims that make ‘The Da Vinci Code’ memorable. … Leigh and his co-authors … are suing Brown for stealing 15 ‘theme points’ from their book and for ripping off its ‘architecture.’ …

“How can dueling authors ever have a meaningful public discussion of who Mary Magdalene was, if, for example, one side claims exclusive ownership of the theory that she was a lowly prostitute? Progress in science and scholarship requires the freedom to examine and expose claims to the truth, even crazy ones.”

— Tim Wu, writing on “Holy Grail Wars,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Anti-baby bias

“Watch how the announcement of a pregnancy among women is followed within minutes by the ‘What are you going to do?’ question. —

“How is it that in cultures all over the world pregnancies prompt congratulations rather than anxious questions about childcare? How is it that in a culture equipped, materially and medically, to ease child-rearing, we are so reluctant to enjoy new life?

“The answer, I would argue, is that a bias against having babies has permeated our culture. This phenomenon needs a new word — anti-natalism — and it is this that prompts a good part of that pregnancy trepidation. …

“The anti-natalist bias is implicit in many of the influences that shape our sense of self and purpose, our identity, our aspirations and our understanding of success and the good life. …

“Motherhood hits most women like a car crash: they have absolutely no idea of what is coming. Nothing in our culture recognizes, let alone encourages, the characteristics you will need once a bawling infant has been tenderly placed in your arms. So the debate about the baby gap is about far more than tweaking parental leave; it’s about what a culture values and promotes.”

— Madeline Bunting, writing on “Behind the baby gap lies a culture of contempt for parenthood,” March 7 in the Guardian

U.S. ‘atrocities’

“The unenlightened might consider Nelson Mandela an ingrate when a week after President Bush awarded him America’s highest governmental award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he bellowed: ‘If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.’ …

“No mention by any of the networks of the following however: ‘Nelson Mandela participated in planning acts of sabotage and inciting violence, so that he could no longer fulfill the criteria for the classification of political prisoners.’ That’s from Amnesty International. …

“In addition, ‘The preparation, manufacture and use of explosives, including 210,000 hand grenades, 48,000 anti-personnel mines, 1,500 time devices, 144 tons of ammonium nitrate, 21.6 tons of aluminum powder and a ton of black powder. 193 counts of terrorism committed between 1961 and 1963,’ is what got Saint Mandela [arrested] in the first place.”

— Humberto Fontova, writing on “Black History Month — and the Black Heroes it Ignores,” Monday in Front Page at www.FrontPageMag.com

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