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Nov. 21 2001 11:35 AM

Slate Gives Hope to Taliban

By far the biggest topic for posters was the Gore recount story: many, many thousands of them taking the time to tell us, "It was all over a year ago." Bernard Lewis' views on the Middle East were the subject of much discussion in the "Assessment" and "Book Club" Frays. So Harry Potter made a welcome change from politics—oh, maybe not …

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Subject: It Doesn't Matter …

Re: "Kausfiles: Everything the New York Times Thinks About the Recount Is Wrong!"

From: Thrasymachus

Date: Mon Nov 12 11:39 a.m. PT

Yes, the Gore people were grossly outmaneuvered by their more cunning and rapacious counterparts among the Bushies, and maybe if they'd played their hand to perfection, they could have shoehorned a bitterly opposed Gore administration into place. … Would that have stopped the tragic events of 9/11? No way. Would Gore have dealt with the Taliban in a significantly different way than the one Bush has chosen to pursue? Almost certainly not. Would anything have been significantly different in American politics? Not really, because there are no American politics. At least, not this year …

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Subject: The Taliban Is Toast

Re: "Frame Game: The Incredible Shrinking Taliban"

From: Arthur Stock

Date: Wed Nov 14 2 5:31 p.m. PT

Deep in their caves, Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden find little reason for optimism. Out of ideas, they turn to the Internet for some kind of sign from Allah. Vindication at last! Slate columnist [William] Saletan is predicting the future, claiming that the Taliban is over, will never have any power again. Only once since the beginning of time has Saletan made a similar prediction, last year, when his topic was an obscure Texas governor with a presidential campaign in about the condition the Taliban is today. Two months later, the governor was president, and a year after that, he had a 90 percent approval rating from New York to Kandahar …

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Subject: Why We Listen

Re: "Assessment: Bernard Lewis"

From: ADAS

Date: Wed Nov 14  7:25 a.m. PT

Bernard Lewis is convinced … that Western culture must be defended from the enemies of freedom … [giving] carte blanche to the imperial politics of England and America. There will be many people here who agree with Lewis on this. That's fine: It's certainly their right to yearn for someone to provide the stamp of Princetonian authority for their prejudices. But let no one think that "The Islam Scholar U.S. Politicians Listen To" is listened to for any reason other than the fact that he says what many of them, in this second Bush administration, want to hear.

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Subject: Deconstructing Harry

Re: "Culturebox: When Harry Met Maggie"

From: Kassandra

Date: Sun Nov 18 12:55 p.m. PT

A critique of Thatcherism set in a public school that could have come out of the Boys' Own Paper—now there's an odd mix. Billy Bunter and the Iron Lady go head to head. The idea is quite plausible though, and the frankly rather ridiculous combination explains to me why I don't like Harry. Rowling seems to want to be bang up to date in some ways (girls, multiculturalism, witty magic) and cloyingly, tooth-achingly nostalgic in others. The result is a weird mélange of Enid Blyton, Star Wars, and a Benetton ad. We need a modern Orwell to deconstruct it all for us. Where is Christopher Hitchens when we need him?

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Fray Notes:

ADAS and Kassandra were awarded stars: See above for sample posts.

Election Frays were big this week: In Chatterbox, DBlatt applied voting rules to the World Series to great effect. And Slate writer Erik Tarloff, a frequent and welcome visitor to the Fray, made a controversial post  on the rights and wrongs of last November.

Various contests rumble on in "Best of the Fray." We've decided you enter them for the joy of reading the entries and don't much care about being mentioned here, so we'll just say that we've made a list of peer-recommended posters to check out; that we have given judgment in Bluto's Horrific Post contest ("Hot Slate Sluts Want You");  and that Wake's  "favorite poster" contest produced upward of 150 posts, with great entries from Rachel, WillV, and Baba O'Reilly.

Best Connection of the Week: A.G.Android read "Moneybox" on Victoria's Secret, then showed that buying thongs is patriotic here, and gave us the appealing slogan "Die in a cave with Osama, or watch writhing, barely-clad models."