- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Triumph of evil

“This time the rumors are real: Castro is dying of stomach cancer. … The Cuban government has been summoning to Havana representatives of the major international media. …

“The foreign media are being told that the model for Castro’s funeral is that of Pope John Paul II a year ago. The Cubans actually believe — or pretend — that the death of a tyrant deserves the same attention as that of the world’s great men of peace.

“This is one of Castro’s lasting legacies to his countrymen: moral disorientation. The Cuban ruling class has been so isolated from reality for so long … that they equate the burial of a mass murderer with that of a prince of the Church. No doubt there will be ‘dignitaries’ at the funeral: fellow revolutionary leaders from the last repressive regimes on Earth: Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan, for example; and leaders of failed states like Zimbabwe and Bolivia; and representatives of the world’s resentful Left and the Hollywood Left (pardon the redundancy). …

“A wise man once said that ‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ The history of Cuba in the past 50 years proves him right.”

— Otto J. Reich, writing on “Funeral for a Tyrant,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Culture divide

“The year 1969 was one of the bloodiest for Americans in Vietnam, with the weekly death toll averaging about 225. At home, it was the year of Woodstock, the takeover of the Harvard administration building by student radicals, the trial of the Chicago Eight, and the huge National Moratorium anti-war protest. …

“When [James H.] Webb [Jr.], debilitated by shrapnel wounds received in an action that earned him the Navy Cross, was forced to retire from the military, he enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center and stepped directly into the culture divide. He hated his time at Georgetown, largely because of his encounter with an attitude that caught him wholly unaware. It seemed to him that many of his classmates had been untouched by Vietnam. … Webb concluded that they not only had figured out ways to avoid the risk and sacrifice of military service but had convinced themselves, as they proceeded along their education and career tracks, that theirs was the true heroism of the time.”

— Peter J. Boyer, writing on “Southern Discomfort,” in the Oct. 30 issue of the New Yorker

Anti-war theme

“For 61 years, Americans have believed that the flag-raising on Iwo Jima was our country captured in its finest moment of teamwork, courage, triumph. For the next 61 years, thanks to Clint Eastwood’s new film ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ many Americans will think of it as a symbol of crass salesmanship, sleazy opportunism and even racism.

“That summary isn’t quite fair to Mr. Eastwood since the film is more complex than that, and it does pay its respects to the more than 25,000 U.S. troops killed or wounded in the battle. But their sacrifice isn’t his central theme. Purporting to balance the real-life Iwo Jima story against the near-mythic story of the story that came after, he puts his thumb on the scales in a way that suggests that his film isn’t really about World War II. It’s about that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln when President Bush flew in to address the troops on May 1, 2003. There are anti-war activists who seem more enraged by that day than by any since, and ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ which places equal emphasis on the invasion of Iwo Jima and the PR blitz it inspired, is the film for them.”

— Kyle Smith, writing on “Propaganda Then and Now,” Friday in the Wall Street Journal

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