As John Miller noted in The Corner, Washington Post writer Philip Kennicott – a man who routinely defines the Post Style section as a second Op-Ed page – has a snotty piece on the Victims of Communism Memorial today. It starts out by praising the memorial’s modesty and adding a surprising anti-communist flourish: “If one were to build monuments commensurate in size to the atrocities they memorialize, the victims of communism would require perhaps the entirety of the federal city.”
He then mourns other memorials for being too huge and mocks the “fascistic” World War II Memorial. You can tell the Post copy editors know they’re hiding a bomb by their choice of when to switch the article to page C-4: “In a city where the more than 400,000 Americans killed in the [off the front page now!] Second World War merit a huge plaza of fascistic grandiloquence…” You can think that memorial’s too big, but I don’t think “fascistic” is the adjective most people would use.
Predictably, Kennicott complained repeatedly at the comparisons of communism and Islamic radicalism by President Bush and Congressman Lantos. Stifle a giggle as Kennicott writes, “There is almost always a contentious claim as well, in this case, ‘the left failed to adequately oppose communism’ that is coded into the rhetoric surrounding the monument.” This claim is “contentious” only to those who don’t want people to remember how soft on communism they were.
In Kennicott’s case, it’s contentions because he sees the communism/Islamism comparisons as underlining his liberalism: he’s certainly failed to adequately oppose Islamism. Last week at this time, Kennicott was using his perch on the front page of the Style section admiring the professionalism of terrorist internet propaganda from the Islamic State of Iraq:
The intercutting is a devastating bit of message tailoring: Bush, whose conducting is set against a roiling screen of red flames, is presented as remote from the action, not quite real — dangerous and ridiculous at the same time.
Never mind what it says about the attention with which insurgents and their propagandists are following American media and gathering imagery to use in their own cause. The more discomfiting lesson is the pitch-perfect sense of humor, drama and pacing that these images demonstrate.