- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Design vandals

“Nothing is more precious in the Western heritage, therefore, than the cities of Europe, recording the triumph of civilized humanity not only in their orderly streets, majestic facades, and public monuments, but also in their smallest architectural details and the intricate play of light on their cornices and apertures.”

“American visitors to Paris, Rome, Prague, or Barcelona, comparing what they see with what is familiar from their own continent, will recognize how careless their countrymen often have been in their attempts to create cities.

“But the American who leaves the routes prescribed by the Ministries of Tourism will quickly see that Paris is miraculous in no small measure because modern architects have not been able to get their hands on it. Elsewhere, European cities are going the way of cities in America: high-rise offices in the center, surrounded first by a ring of lawless dereliction, and then by the suburbs, to which those who work in the city flee at the end of the day.”

-Roger Scruton, writing on “Cities for Living” in the Spring issue of City Journal

History vandals

“The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago has a new permanent exhibit of savagery and barbarism, ‘The Ancient Americas.’ … The savages and barbarians are the museum’s curators. …

“The wall inscription proceeds: ‘Here, we reflect on the magnitude of loss inflicted on America’s Indigenous peoples by European invasion.’ The European inflictions are grimly illustrated. The first one upon which we are expected to reflect is the only decent thing (not counting the wheel, iron, cigarette papers, etc.) that Europeans brought to America’s Indigenous peoples, ‘Religious Conversion.’

“Second is ‘Disease,’ which should stir our sympathy but hardly our guilt. The exhibit points out that disease was the chief cause of suffering after European contact. Therefore, the horrors that beset The Ancient Americas following 1492 would have happened if the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria had been manned by Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, and Bono. …

“Give the ‘Ancient Americas’ exhibit back to the ancient Americans, and the Field Museum along with it. If any of the heirs and assigns of the Aztec, Inca, or Maya feel inclined to practice a little human sacrifice on anthropologists, sociologists, moral relativists, neo-Marxists, and other conquistadors of modern academia, call it ‘maintaining the natural order of the world.’”

-P.J. O’Rourke, writing on “When Worlds Collide” in the June 9 issue of the Weekly Standard

Bo knows …

“According to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, the influence that Bo Diddley’s records have had is immeasurable, but that’s not the most amazing part of his legacy.

“‘But how heavy is it that a person has a beat named after him?’ he asks. Indeed, the ‘Bo Diddley Beat’ has left an indelible mark on the rock landscape, and according to Gibbons, it will be immortal.

“‘You can play Bo Diddley for three year olds and yet they start gyrating,’ he says. ‘I think we must be wired to respond to it, and he just happened to tap into it and deliver it in such a masterful way.’”

-from “Billy Gibbons, Buddy Guy and George Thorogood Remember Bo Diddley” on June 4 at the Rolling Stone Web site

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