- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ein Mann

“Perhaps the most celebrated turning point in the history of the German language is the work of another rebel against Rome, Martin Luther. His belief in salvation through personal faith alone, not the intermediation of the Church, led him to violate a longstanding prohibition on translating the Bible into vernacular languages. Luther had to compromise between the many different ‘Germans’ that filled the German lands in those days, hundreds of years before there was a single German state … Luther borrowed an emerging standard used by the Holy Roman Empire, ‘chancellery German,’ as a base with some currency in different regions.

Luther’s genius was to infuse his translation with the words he heard on the street in his bit of Saxony, in east-central Germany. He obsessively asked friends and fellow scholars which dialectal words would be most widely understood. The common touch was so successful that a Catholic opponent complained that ‘even tailors and shoemakers … read it with great eagerness.’ It was the bestseller of the century and remains the most popular German translation. Rarely has a single man had such a mark on a language. The German of Luther’s Bible was nobody’s native language in his day. Today it is so universal that it threatens Germany’s once-vibrant dialects with death by standardisation.”

- From “Das Lied der Deutschen,” on Aug. 5 at the Economist

Freedom bad

“And you thought that a libtalker declaring a public space too sacred for God would be the dumbest quote from the Left on the Restoring Honor rally hosted by Glenn Beck. Michael Graham from Boston’s WTKK posts a clip of Governor Deval Patrick responding to a question about the rally by noting first that it’s a free country - and then that he’s not terribly happy about that, either. …

“Graham calls it a Kinsleyan gaffe, noting that if anyone asked Patrick if he liked that the US was a free country, he’d almost certainly say ‘Yes!’ But do Patrick’s policy choices and that of his party actually stand for freedom - or something else?”

- Ed Morrissey, writing on “Deval Patrick on Beck rally: ‘It’s a free country. I wish it weren’t,’ ” on Sept. 1 at Hot Air

Can’t tell?

“Given the subject matter and his own influence, [Markos] Moulitsas is sure to find a large audience for American Taliban … another entry in the tired genre of ‘my political opponents are monsters.’ Indeed, Moulitsas begins the book with … ‘in their tactics and on the issues, our homegrown American Taliban are almost indistinguishable from the Afghan Taliban.’ And he fills the remaining 200-plus pages with similar accusations. …

“Now, it’s true that certain tendencies on the American right have analogues in fundamentalist Islam; for example, and as Moulitsas points out in his chapter on sex, right-wing conservatives share a hatred of pornography with fundamentalist Iranian authorities. Of course the similarities end there; conservatives boycott pornography, Iran punishes it with death.

“But, this gets to the huge, glaring problem with American Taliban; ultimately, any similarities are vastly outweighed by incredibly important distinctions and vast differences of degree. I’m no fan of the right wing, but the only possible way it can be ‘indistinguishable’ from the Taliban is if conservatives are stoning women for adultery, stalking elementary schools to throw acid in girls’ faces. … The chapter on women becomes a joke when you realize that Moulitsas can’t distinguish between the odiousness of right-wing sexism and the vicious amorality of permanently disfiguring ‘immodest’ women. Likewise, there are magnitudes of difference between executing gays (the Taliban) and opposing a hate-crimes bill (Republicans).”

- Jamelle Bouie, writing on “Homegrown Mujahideen,” on Sept. 1 at the American Prospect

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