On terror, hate, humor, LOTR, conflict, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Mar 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Comments on items recently in the news.

Having missed Hamas' dialectician Ahmed Yassin in September, the Israelis now have picked him off - as they vowed they would. The mastermind of hundreds of attacks against Israel, resulting in the murder of at least 377, Yassin vowed in January: "We do not fear the threat of death. We will not bow to pressure, and resistance will continue until the occupation is destroyed." That Israel has killed him should come as no surprise. Nor should the double-standard outrage reserved for Israeli and American actions against terrorists.

Yassin's successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, is an equally committed terrorist. In his "acceptance speech," he ripped Israel and (of course) the United States. Having narrowly escaped with his life in an earlier Israeli assault, Rantisi soon may suffer Yassin's fate as well - in what Israel's army chief Moshe Yaalon terms the "decapitation of the (Palestinian) terrorist infrastructure."

In response to its own Islamist terror bombings, Spain has caved. Its prime minister-elect, a socialist, has (1) vowed to withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq, (2) ripped the Bush administration, and (3) joined Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, North Korea's Kim Jong-Il, and other distinguished moderates in gushing about John Kerry.

And speaking of terrorists, the snipers who terrorized the Washington, D.C., area 18 months ago have been sentenced - John Muhammad to death, his accomplice (a minor at the time) Lee Malvo to a lifelong stay in prison. Since their capture, Muhammad has remained close to mute. But Malvo has talked and drawn pictures, from which it is clear - though not widely reported - that these two sleeper terrorists bear no less hate for whites than Islamist terrorists bear for Christians and Jews.

How could Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" (LOTR) be more appropriate for this hour, with quotes such as these from the Oscar-sweeping "Return of the King" - marking the end of Middle Earth's Third Age? (1) "(There will be) a day when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day, oh men of the West." And (2) "Let us together rebuild this world, so that we may share in the days of peace."

And could LOTR possibly be any less religious than Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" - with quotes from the final installment such as this: "The age of men is over; the time of The One has come"?

From a March 13 Associated Press dispatch - suggesting once again the need for something akin to compulsory universal service with a front-end military component: The Army is spread so thin around the globe that when it needs fresh combat troops for Iraq this fall, it will have little choice but to call on the same soldiers who led the charge into Baghdad last spring. The Third Infantry Division has been given an official "warning order" to prepare to return to Iraq as soon as Thanksgiving. ... (Its troops) are not alone in facing back-to-back deployments to Iraq. Some of the same Marines who teamed up with the Third Infantry to topple Baghdad are already assembling again in Kuwait, only a matter of months after returning home, and more Marines will go next year. Other Army units that recently returned to the United States or are preparing to come home this spring ... are candidates for a quick turnaround.

If Antonin Scalia has a conflict of interest in casting a vote in a case affecting Vice President Cheney because the two once hunted ducks together, didn't Ruth Bader Ginsburg - as the American Civil Liberties Union's former general counsel - have a worse conflict of interest in casting a vote in the VMI gender-integration case in which the ACLU joined as a litigant on appeal? Indeed, will la belle Ginsburg not have a worse conflict than Scalia's if she hears any appeal of the VMI prayer case brought on behalf of several offended cadets by ... the ACLU?

Regarding education: (a) The Bush administration has recommended giving public school districts new regulatory freedom to create single-gender schools and classes - a good thing. (b) In New York City, a year in kindergarten at posh private schools costs $27,000 (that's in after-tax dollars). And (c) with kindergarten and even pre-kindergarten going all-day in public school systems almost everywhere, the next dubious step is the abolition of naps. For pre-kindergartners, "nap time needs to go away," says (for instance) the school superintendent in Prince George's County, Md. "We need to get rid of all the baby school stuff they used to do."

Washington Post columnist Donna Britt - among others - doesn't have much nice to say about the notion - dubbing it so head-slappingly, hold-my-Starbucks-while-I-recoil in disbelief dumb that your only response is: "Huh?" She quotes a pediatrician as saying about 4-year-old pre-kindergartners: "When you look at brain growth, the critical years extend to age 5. (Far from time wasted, nap time is actually when) kids incorporate lessons they've learned, solidify their knowledge. ... Mandating not sleeping for a large percentage of 4-year-olds will mean that they will not learn as well...,which almost flies in the face of what (educators) are trying to do."

Conservatives have dominated talk-radio for nearly 20 years. Liberal talk-radio? Except for the nakedly liberal, government-funded National Public Radio - largely a leftie talk-radio equivalent - it couldn't get any traction, couldn't get a grip. But now, in the post-Florida polarized era, something rather new under the sun called Air America Network thinks it's time.

Maybe. The Post's media writer Howard Kurtz wonders: Is there really a market for say-it-loud, say-it-proud liberal radio? Are there enough Bush-bashing, Cheney-chiding, Fox-hating lefties out there - or at least folks willing to laugh along with left-wing humorists? Insistence on humor may prove key - precisely the rapier humor pioneered by William Buckley in National Review, yet long so shorted among ideologies of the left.

Homosexuality has riven Roman Catholicism and key Protestant denominations, such as the Presbyterians and Episcopalians. Now it's the Methodists' turn. A jury of fellow ministers has found a practicing Washington state lesbian - living with another woman for eight years and "married" this month - not guilty of violating the church's ban on "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" in the clergy. So, in yet another mainline denomination, Scriptural admonition yields once more to a phony inclusiveness and right reason takes a gadarene plunge.