- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

Fashion victims

“If Fashion Week is about reinforcing hierarchies, skinniness has always been a way to compete. … [F]or observers of the catwalk, there remains the nagging question: Why this skinny? Why now? …

“The truth is, no one really has a good explanation for the change. The sophisticated fashion observer notes that this is just how fashion works: The Gibson girl gives way to the flapper, then to the big-shouldered forties girl and her busty fifties counterpart, and on to Twiggy, the eighties Amazons, Kate Moss, the waifs, and heroin chic — and for the past 10 years, thinner and thinner, younger and younger, in what can feel like some sort of terrifying endgame.

“Celebrity culture has added its own catalyst, that parade of starlets dwindling competitively in US Weekly. Women’s bodies have always been theater, and this is just another act.

“Fashion historian Valerie Steele wonders if this isn’t the flip side of the obesity crisis: ‘As everyone is blimping up, we’re idealizing thinness. It can’t be separated.’ ”

— Emily Nussbaum, writing on “The Incredible Shrinking Model,” in the Feb. 26 issue of New York magazine

Sign of the Times

“As liberal politicians pose at churches, salt their speeches with Scripture, and insist that their aggressive drive for more government is pious obedience to the Almighty, they are getting powerful cover from the mainstream media.

“The biggest help they are getting, apart from credulous acceptance of their sudden spiritual enthusiasm, is the media’s demonizing of conservative Christians. Religion’s OK only if it mirrors liberal opinion.

“The New York Times has been in the forefront of the conservative Christian-bashing, running voluminous pieces that accuse churches of avoiding taxes and warning darkly that the Christian Right is on the verge of turning the United States into a Talibanesque theocracy.”

— Robert Knight, writing on “The New York Times and the Gospel Truth,” Thursday for the Culture and Media Institute at www.cultureand mediainstitute.org

Hitler’s mind

“Though it is tempting to think of him as illiterate, Hitler could quote Schopenhauer from memory. His love of music was passionate. … Hitler the would-be painter never lost interest in the plastic arts. His projected art gallery in his hometown of Linz was one of his most dearly cherished dreams for Nazi Europe after the inevitable victory.

“Above all, Hitler was moved by architecture, which brings us to the central point, because he wasn’t just moved by it, he was mad about it. He had no sense of proportion in any of his ostensibly civilized enthusiasms. His interests lacked the human element, so they could never have amounted to a true humanism. …

“The finest minds in Europe devoted their best efforts to proving that their mortal enemy had no mind at all. But nothing they said was of any avail. Hitler could be defeated only by armed might: i.e., on his own terms. … This ugly fact should be kept in view when we catch ourselves nursing the comforting illusion that there is a natural order to which politics would revert if all contests of belief could be eliminated. There is such a natural order, but it is not benevolent.”

Clive James, writing on “Adolf Hitler: How the intellectual climate in Germany shaped the future Führer,” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

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