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November 5, 2003

Hard Times In The Culture Wars

The day started with news that the Supreme Court had weakened the search-and-seizure laws, and Democratic Senator Bob Graham would not be running for re-election in Florida (the fourth Southern Democratic senator to announce his retirement). The day ended with news that the Republicans had picked up governorships in Kentucky and Mississippi, and CBS had caved in to right wing pressure and canceled an unflattering miniseries on the Reagan’s.

Well, that does it. The only solution is to throw more BAGnews at the bad news.

In some respects, the CBS story says more about the mercenary nature of today’s television networks than it does about politics. At first, CBS had a romanticized treatment of the Reagan’s on the drawing board. Then, seeking to capitalize on controversy, they swung the project too far in the other direction. Certainly, they have set a very damaging precedent by allowing the right wing to sink the show. On the other hand, it sounds like the show was pandering to the lowest common denominator. (Of course, that’s network TV.)

The Enola Gay controversy has actually been going on since 1994, ever since World War II veterans started fighting with the Smithsonian over the portrayal of the Japanese as “war victims.” The issue has picked up steam recently because the plane (yes, the one that dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima) is scheduled to be unveiled this December in its new home at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington.

To give you an idea how far the institution has descended in placating the right-wing, the new exhibition reportedly doesn’t even mention the A-bomb attack. In fact, a Smithsonian placard in the exhibition in Dallas (where the plane was most recently on view) simply noted that, while the aircraft was originally built for use in Europe, it found “its niche on the other side of the globe.”



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