One thing about this summer, there was no so-called silly season. There was too much menace, from Iraq to Indonesia to northern Virginia, for the media to muster the enthusiasm to obsessively tally shark attacks, assiduously track global warming, or chronicle even the most vapid celebrity breakups as if they mattered.
But if there was no silly season, there may have been a summertime spike in the ludicrous, from California recall reports of Arianna Huffington's measly $771 two-year federal tax bill (but what did she pay the accountant?) to a Washington Post front-pager parsing the finer points of identity politics -- as in why no self-respecting "Latino" wants to be known as "Hispanic."
Then there were outrages du jour that barely broke the media haze. Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, an advisor to French president Jacques Chirac, offered up this bit of Frenchery about the Bush push for the European Union to outlaw Islamic Jihad and Hamas, two terror groups behind last week's bus bombing in Jerusalem: "If we find that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are indeed terror groups opposed to peace, we may have to change the EU's stand. However, we must not limit ourselves to one, clear-cut, position."
If they are terror groups? If they are opposed to peace? After all the many innocent people Hamas-murdered and Hamas-maimed (ditto for Islamic Jihad) in the name of eradicating Israel from the world map, a bout of sputtering might be the first line of response to such amoral prattle.
Better to sputter, though, than to dodge behind a figleafy distinction between the "military" and "political" wings of Hamas and Co., which the French have done, shunning the former and tolerating the latter.
This week, The Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memri.com) posted an article by Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi, "The False Holocaust -- the greatest of lies funded by the Zionists," that gives us all a gander at the world according to "political" Hamas. "It is no longer a secret that the Zionists were behind the Nazi's murder of many Jews, and agreed to it, with the aim of intimidating (the Jews) and forcing them to immigrate to Palestine," Al-Rantisi writes -- I mean raves. "Every time they failed to persuade a group of Jews to immigrate to Palestine, they unhesitatingly sentenced them to death." Al-Rantisi also believes the gas chambers of the Third Reich were a myth, but never mind. "When we compare the Zionists to the Nazis," he concludes, "we insult the Nazis."