Jewish World Review July 31, 2003 / 2 Menachem-Av, 5763

Bob Tyrrell

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Why no ‘holy cities ’ in America? | The other day, Paul Gigot, the editorial page editor of the invaluable Wall Street Journal, wrote a very informative report from Iraq's holy city of Najaf.

He wrote in part that things are not going as badly over there for us as most of the other journalists seem to think. He wrote that not as many Iraqis hate us for liberating them from killers, torturers and thieves as is reported in the rest of the press. He wrote that a particularly pungent piece in The Washington Post headlined "Rumors Spark Iraqi Protests As Pentagon Official Stops By" was based on the protest of a single cleric, residing in the holy city of Najaf. Most of the rest of the Najafians -- if that is the term for the indigenes -- did not share the excitable cleric's sour humor.

Gigot's piece got me to thinking. One of my thoughts was: Why in all of America, a country many times the size of Iraq, do we not have any holy cities? Not even the Southern Baptists have been able to create a holy city. I suppose the Mormons believe they have at least one holy city, but the rest of the country appears not to share their enthusiasm. If America did have a holy city, which would we settle on?

I suspect New York would win the liberals' nod, at least prior to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's crackdown on squeegee men. Or possibly Hollywood, Calif., would get their accolade. It is, after all, their present cultural capital, their Florence, their Athens.

I am told the liberals love those Hollywood "action movies" showing busty women in tight-fitting military garb, pistols on their hips, grenades hanging from the bodices, as they beat the living daylights out of flabby white men and various creatures from outer space.

The creatures are so bizarre in their physiological components that Darwin if he saw them would laugh -- and Darwin was not a very giggly fellow. They have eyes and ears that serve no imaginable purpose, and appendages that seem useless, and warts, and tails and skin might make any dermatologist a millionaire.

There are other cities that come to mind. For decades now, Americans have been listening to rock and roll, or is it rock & roll? Some Americans become very intellectual about this art form, and I would not want to betray an ignorance here that might encourage some 55-year lifetime subscriber to Rolling Stone into thinking me musically illiterate.

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At any rate, rock is a major element in American culture, and so a good prospect for the appellation holy city might be Cleveland. The rock cognoscenti will tell you that Cleveland is home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. In fact, the building in which rock has been enthroned is an architectural masterpiece. Moreover, it boasts many facilities for the elderly and disabled, for rock stars age earlier than the rest of us and the rigors of their lifestyle have a lot of them hobbling around on walkers.

Being a native of Chicago, I would like to see this Midwestern colossus termed a holy city, but in all honesty not even many Chicagoans would relish their town being raised to the eminence of "holy city." There is its mafia past. Two generations of the Daley Machine in city hall make the sanctification of Chicago unlikely. And the Rev. Jesse Jackson claims to live there, complete with mistresses and his funny money operations. Then, too, Chicagoans relish the reputation of their city as being a "tough town." If we were to raise it to the level of holy city, we might get beaten up.

So deciding on an American holy city is not an easy task. Yet looking back on American history, I think we can all agree that America's best candidate for the designation "holy city" is Washington, D.C. Liberals have since FDR's day seen Washington as the great magic wand capable of righting all wrongs and succoring the nation's teeming masses of indigents. Quite possibly liberals admire Washington even more than they admire Hollywood, in all of its intellectual splendor.

Conservatives of a patriotic stripe remember Washington for the monuments and for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. Among the politically alive, only Americans of strict libertarian rigor are without reverence for our nation's capital, but then one cannot imagine a libertarian accepting any city as holy.

So here is my recommendation. Henceforth let us consider Washington our holy city. If we are insistent enough, journalists from such prestigious Arab media outlets as al-Jazeera will have to speak of "the holy city of Washington."

Imagine the headlines: "Bush Returns to the Holy City of Washington." Or an al-Jazeera reporter might begin an on-the-scene television report with "I traveled into the holy city of Washington last night to ..."

This holy city business can cut both ways.

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JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

07/25/03:They underestimate not only the president, but the American people
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07/04/03: In search of anti-Americanism and the perfect bullfight
06/26/03: Calling on London
06/20/03: Too upsetting for the evening news?
06/12/03: Rain(es)ing Clintoon myths
06/05/03: Hillary-ous is pathetic
05/29/03: Shakedown
05/22/03: End of the last great persecution of the 20th century?
05/15/03 :‘Grey’ turns to grim at Times
05/08/03: The only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong
05/01/03: Dinning with Tom Wolfe: More lessons in nusual aspects of American life, hitherto ignored
04/28/03: Ambuscade at scholarly frontier
04/21/03: Stars in search of a galaxy
04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
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09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and
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08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
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08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
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02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies . Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
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01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
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08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The G-dphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate