Saturday, August 12, 2006

World Trade Center

The Reddess and I saw World Trade Center tonight. Not a review, but a few observations.

1. To be reminded of the gallantry of the police and fire services in New York that day is to wonder why you wasted your life sitting behind a desk. The story of McLoughlin, Jimeno and their families is hopeful, but what is really hopeful (as the movie makes explicit) is the heroism of hundreds of mostly nameless men and women who gave a damn.

2. I can't believe Oliver Stone made this movie. Arianna Huffington tried to dispel the obvious implications of the film by referring to a sequence in which people around the world see what happened in dismay. I do recall the global horror, but this is one false note in the film. We all know that there was one part of the world that cheered the 9-11 attacks and they are missing from Stone's montage. The absence is so evident - really as to make me wonder whether Stone was trying to make a subtle point and marvel at how Arianna could be that obtuse.

3. What really impressed me was Stone's quite accurate depiction of retired Marine David Karnes. Arianna is right to note he could never be depicted in a movie if he weren't true. But she thinks that Karnes who, after locating the trapped cops, says he's not going into work that morning because it's going to "take some good men to avenge this", is ultimately portrayed as an ironic figure because he goes on to serve two tours in Iraq which has nothing to do with the carnage we see in the movie. (She recognizes others may seem him as iconic; I do.)

4. As to Arianna's point about the unrelatedness of Iraq and 9-11, this has always struck me as willfully reductionist and singleminded. In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, I had a conversation with local Democrat attorney Matt Flynn. I don't agree much with Matt, but he said something insightful that day. Osama bin Laden, he said, was almost a metaphor. Kill him and there would be hundreds more crawling out of the desert. What is really ironic about the left's take on Iraq (it was about WMDs; Saddam had nothing to do with terror), is that old simple-minded George W. Bush grasped that. Although we mostly refuse to say so, the enemy here is not some discrete force called "terrorists", but an Islamic fascist movement that consists of discrete manifestations such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. Sometimes they work together and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they are supported by opportunistic secular Baathists - as Saddam did and as Syria is now doing in Lebanon. Eliminating them means eliminating the movement within Islam (present in the mideast and, sadly, now in much of Europe)that hates and seeks to overthrow western culture and modernity.

5. The movie brings tears (again people leave a movie in utter silence), but like United 93, it provokes anger. I could not help to think that civilian deaths in Lebanon provoke anger as well. War is an awful thing and the way in which modern warfare too often involves noncombatants is a tragedy. But to respond to that with an assumption of moral equivalence is just to ensure that it will continue. The "cycle of violence" idea is a real one and sometimes the best way to end it is to simply stop. But when one side doesn't want to stop - when they actually welcome it as Hezbollah certainly does - that won't work.

As Tony Blair says "defeat it we must."


Anonymous said...

I rarely leave a movie theater with dry eyes and World Trade Center was no different (ironically one of the movies that did not make me cry was United 93-I was too angry).Although WTC focuses on the experience of two families, I found myself repeatedly asking the question "but what about the others"? Where did they go? How much did they suffer? Stone somehow made them all present throughout the can't forget them.
The falling of the towers was terrifying. It took me back to the horrors of that day and wondered how those who survived (in the WTC and the Pentagon) live with the memories.
To my surprise, Christianity made an obvious appearance in the movie. Those who hate us may attempt to (or successfully) take our lives,but they can never take away our faith and beliefs.
Finally, WTC (as United 93) reminded me of why we fight. And made me thank God for the brave men and women willing to take great risks to protect us...our military, police officers, fire fighters.
Although WTC made me cry, it also brought my anger back. Leaving the theater I wanted to get a gun and join those who fight this war. But alas, I am too old.

Anonymous said...

1. You misunderstand the thing you fight and so you can't figure out why things get worse rather than better. It isn't fascism but you want to see it as fascism so that your response will be purely military. You want it to be WWII but it ain't.

2. Eliminating them means eliminating the movement within Islam ... that hates and seeks to overthrow western culture and modernity. Clueless again. This movement attacks you because you are occupying its lands, killing its women and children ("unintentionally"), and dictating to its people how they should live. If you want peace, go home. You won't have peace until you do.

Rick Esenberg said...

What would "going home" entail? We know it can't be withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, because those are, rightly or wrongly, a response to attacks and not the response to it. I suppose it could be abandonment of Israel to the tender mercies of the religion of peace as practiced by Hamas and Hezbollah. That'd be a bloody bit of business, but I doubt that would be enough. Indifference toward Israel has not immunized western Europe.

Abandoning our support for secular dictators in the middle east, so that they can be replaced by fundamentalist Islamic dictators might be another way to go, but that didn't work so well for Carter with the Shah, so I'm still not convinced.

Western Europe, in fact, suggests that the problem is modernity itself. Cartoons in a Danish newspaper and a movie made by a Dutch artist didn't "occupy" a foot of anyone else's land.

Jihadi suggests that we should not take the Islamic fascists seriously. When they say they want to destroy the west and establish an Islamic hegemony, we are supposed to understand that they don't really mean it. They are just Jeffersonians with 5 or 6 wives. I don't think so.

Anonymous said...


Unfortunately, you are the one who has it wrong. The U.S. was attacked on 9/11 because of hatred by a group of radicals. Planes crashed into buildings and a field having been taken over by Islamic extremists. Killed 3,000 of our people (actually people from 80 countries) doing nothing except going to work or school. Why? Because Islamic fascists hate us and want to kill all of western society. I will never forget young muslim children dancing in the streets when the towers collapsed. These children are being raised to hate us so the violence can continue. The attacks started way before 9/11 and would continue even if we withdrew (and perhaps with greater intensity) Don't even try to feed us that bull that the attacks happened because we "occupy". Right.

Anonymous said...

An otherwise interesting post, except for Matt Flynn showing up as quotable. How many elections has he lost? How irrelevant is he? Does he have any foreign policy credentials at all? Does anyone else in town other than Mark Belling think Matt's opinions on political issues count for anything?

This would be like writing a fairly informed essay on, say, international banking reform, and then bringing in Hank Williams Jr. to comment.

Illogical. Totally.

The Badgerland Conservative said...

Jihadi's point about going home is correct in the wrong way.

He wants worldwide jihad and the victory of the Islamonazis over the West.

If we go home from Iraq, from Afghanistan, from anywhere, the evil that jihadi loves and embraces will follow us home and defeat us on our own soil.

Anonymous said...


Very well stated.

Rick Esenberg said...

The value of Matt's statement is not that he is an expert, but that is a pretty good way of summing up what is almost self evident. Mentioning it is not an appeal to authority, but the reptition of a well turned phrase.