V for Vendetta, the latest film from the brothers who brought The Matrix to the big screen, hit theatres this past Friday. The movie has generated hyper-hype from both the left and the right. I had the occasion to view this film on Friday, and I’ll have to say that the film did not live up to the hype on either side. This is a good thing - because of this, I found it to be a very entertaining film.
The plot can be spun to sound like the most rabid anti-Bush conspiracy theory out there. The scene is 20 years after 9/11, where the U. S. has collapsed, and Britain has been overtaken by a Christian government whose iron fist looks similar to that of the former U. S. S. R. The state-run television station spins the news the way the government wants, and their city-wide surveillance and announcement system makes Britain’s current CCTV setup look amateur. The government has imposed a militant Christian law, in the mold of some of today’s current militant Islamic countries. Of course, though, the entire government is corrupt - their Christian beliefs are only used to keep the people in fear. (I’ll stop there so as not to give up the plot for those of you who may wish to see it.)
Enter “V”. He is inspired by Guy Fawkes, a 16th-century man who was arrested while trying to blow up Parliament. Throughout the film, we come to understand V’s motivation for planning to do what Guy Fawkes could not. The government consistently refers to V as a “terrorist,” which is a term he embraces as well. This does not deter him from his goal, however; it only emboldens him as he goes on not only the populist “vendetta” of blowing up Parliament, but a personal vendetta against those who are responsible for his motivation.
Given what I’ve laid out above, it’s not a stretch to think that it’s a commentary on the Bush administration. (As a matter of fact, the original book could not have been - it was written in the late 70’s about Margaret Thatcher’s administration in Britain.) But, as a Republican and a fan of the Bush administration, I wasn’t offended by the plot line. Apart from the “conservative” label of the oppressive government, there was no resemblance to the Bush administration (or the Clinton, Bush, or Reagan administrations). Maybe, if you believe every one of the paranoid conspiracy theories, and if you assume that anyone with an ® beside their name hates everyone except heterosexual white people - just maybe you might be able to see some of our country’s leadership in the ficticious British government. Personally, I don’t think that our country would ever get to this point - the people would rise up long before that and squash the totalitarian regime.
Again, if you haven’t seen this film yet, be careful about following these links - some contain spoilers…
On the left, the commentary has been just atrocious. In particular, I sam an MTV News special called “Unmasked” (link is near the top of the first page), in which Gideon Yago and Natalie Portman interviewed some young people about the film. These kids had swallowed the liberal ideology hook, line, and sinker; and Hugo Weaving’s (Agent Smith from The Matrix and Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) views were even worse. In Natalie Portman’s defense, she said that she didn’t think the film, even with it’s updated screenplay, was necessarily a commentary on any particular administration; rather, it was an illustration that unscrupulous people on either side of the political aisle could create problems. On the right, we’ve got lots of hyperbole as well. I remember hearing about this movie over 3 months ago, as a “here they go again, glorifying terrorists” type of report. More recently, Townhall.com’s Megan Basham (who, by the way, I normally agree with - and, I love the fact that she’s a movie critic whose last name sounds like “bash 'em”) has a scathing review of the film, where she decries the glorification of a “terrorist”.
One review I’ve read that pretty much gets it right is the one from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In online magazine. Their review of V for Vendetta gives a plot synopsis, and lists both positive elements (which he does pick up on) and content that parents may find objectionable (this being a somewhat intense R-rated movie, there is some of that for them to chroincle.) The reviewer also brings up some good points about both the implications in the film, and the questions that it raises. My kudos to Adam Holz for a great open-minded review of this film.
For me, what I took away from the film was… well, … nothing new. The story was interesting, the movie was well-done, and the special effects were pretty cool. But, as I said, the government was such a caricature of any conservative government that I would support that I didn’t identify myself (or my political beliefs) as being part of the villainous government. This government really looked like the U. S. S. R. to me; and who wouldn’t support someone who was fighting for the overthrow of that type of oppressive government? Yes, V (the character) has some issues, especially with his personal vendetta against those people who had abused him. Their murders were little more than vengeance killings, and aren’t right at all.
To say something along the lines of “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is flat-out wrong. You’re only a freedom fighter if you’re on the side freedom. The terrorists that attacked our country on 9/11 were not fighting for their freedom - they were attempting to instill terror in us. The colonists in this country who threw the Boston Tea Party were considered terrorists by the British empire - were they wrong to stage this demonstration of their belief that taxation without representation is wrong? V certainly doesn’t have all the answers - but the questions it raises are important ones, and ones that we all should ponder - especially in our current world. Do we have the fortitude to stand up against a government like that? Should we?
Karl Rove – Allegations are flying about Karl Rove revealing a CIA agent’s name to a reporter. As is standard procedure for the left, facts don’t particularly matter. Rove did not reveal a name, only that Joe Wilson’s wife was an employee at the CIA. Even if he had, she is not a covert agent, so laws against naming her identity do not apply. However, none of these facts are keeping the Democrats (and their more-than-willing accomplices in the press) from mounting what can only be described as a feeding frenzy, calling for Karl Rove to be fired.
The media is behaving particularly despicably in this. Check out the transcript of a recent press briefing at the White House. This is nothing short of desperation, and they know it. If Karl Rove were guilty, they would just be quiet and wait for the indictment - the longer Rove is around, the better for them. Of course, this is the way Democrats work. Remember, when George W. Bush ® was certified as the winner of Florida’s Presidential election, it was the Supreme Court enforcing existing law; when Christine Gregoire (D) was declared governor of Washington, the Washington Supreme Court invented new law.
Iraq - If the Democrats had to donate $1 to the Federal government every time they said something like “everyone knows there’s no link between Iraq and Al-qaeda,” we wouldn’t have a budget deficit. This technique is called the “Big Lie” - repeat it often enough, and people start to believe it. However, saying it three times does not make it so (unlike certain TV shows). The Weekly Standard published an article this past week called “The Mother of All Connections,” that details the links between the administration of Saddam Hussein and the terror network of Osama bin Laden. It’s quite lengthy, but well-researched, and demonstrates conclusively that Iraq was the next stop in the war on terror, and not just for the benefits of introducing freedom to the Middle East.
"Support the Troops" - This is another fave from the anti-Bush left. Even John Kerry got in on this when he was running for president. The logic is basically summed up like this - “Support the troops - bring them home.” This sounds good, all nice and touchy-feely (once again, the left’s preference for feelings over facts is evident), but would actually be the worst possible thing to do at this point. Our nation’s troops have worked hard to get Iraq and Afghanistan free, and we’re still working to get them trained on maintaining their freedom. Pulling out now would be very disrespectful to the over 1,000 folks who have died in this war to date. (Again, why should that surprise me?) Think about it this way [ when a player on a sports team becomes injured, do they tell the other players “Hey man, we just need to quit - this is too dangerous!”? Of course not. We’ve seen, time and time again, these guys saying “You guys stay in it!” Seeing this through to its successful completion is the only way to honor and, yes, support, our troops.
(This one’s long, but I hope you take the time to read it and think…)
Three years ago, our country was attacked. It was not the first terrorist attack on our interests, or even the first attack on our own soil. But three years ago was, by far, the most successful (from the terrorists’ point of view) attack on us yet. Over 2,500 innocent Americans lost their lives over the span of a few hours. Looking back, the fact that this number is so much lower than it could be (around 100,000 people were employed in the two WTC towers) is due to the grace of God, and the heroic efforts of firemen and policemen who helped thousands of folks flee to safety after the towers and the Pentagon were hit. Still, the fact remains that we were attacked on our own soil, and that attack resulted in a large loss of life.
Sit back from the computer for a minute or two and think back to where you were, and the thoughts that went through your mind that Tuesday morning. I remember very vividly where I was. A co-worker said “someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center!” It clicked for me right away, although it took some time to accept it - with all the talk about it being an accident, I didn’t buy that. Moments later, as we all watched on our IPTV windows, we saw the second plane hit. All the talk of an accident evaporated in an instant - we were under attack. More bad news - another one hit the Pentagon - was there an explosion outside the State Department? - a plane went down in Pennsylvania - FAA grounds all flights - international flights are turned back. We went to FPCON Delta, the post-attack posture under which every vehicle coming on and off base is searched, and, for a time, no traffic is allowed on or off base.
I also remember clearly that all these things weren’t what was foremost in my mind. My oldest child was going to school only during the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so they weren’t gone when it happened. I live on base, so I knew that I wouldn’t have to leave the base, and neither would my family. I was still concerned for them, though - what if our base is on the target list? At this point, we didn’t know nearly as much about al-Qaeda as we do now. I came home and just held my wife, then my kids. My second child was barely over 1, so he was pretty much oblivious; but my 2 1/2-year-old (who even then was very bright) couldn’t understand why they would fly those planes into those buildings. He also didn’t understand why mom and dad were crying, or near tears, the whole time.
I’m going to link that amazing site that’s linked at the bottom of the page - never forget what happened that day. Since that day, we’ve engaged in two major theater wars - one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Despite warnings of quagmires the likes of which we haven’t seen since Vietnam, we have been successful in both these operations, installing democracy and freedom into two areas of the world that desperately need it. During that time, we’ve lost 1,000 combined in those two theaters. In Vietnam, that number was over 58,000. (source: DoD) It’s a tribute to our men and women in uniform who have shown ceaseless dedication to their country, and to the development and use of the best tools of war on the planet. Although some may classify me in that category, as stateside support, the only thing I’ve sacrificed for this war is a few longer hours. I am deeply grateful to my comrades in arms who are out there in the desert, on the lines, loading bombs, driving patrols, doing everything they can to keep us free and return home to their families.
This is the reason it is so important to have a leader in this country who is not afraid to stand up to terrorists. When the WTC was attacked the first time in 1993, we did nothing. When the Kenyan embassies were bombed, we did nothing. When the USS Cole was bombed, we did nothing. Could we not see this coming? When I was in school, I was told that studying history was important, because “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” I believe that. We’ve seen what inaction brings, and we cannot afford inaction any more, not even if it’s cloaked in the term “diplomacy.” Since 9/11/01, al-Qaeda has struck in Bali, Madrid, and most recently, in Russia, as well as cooperating with Hezbollah in bringing terrorism to Israel.
Americans are, collectively, the most kind-hearted people in the world. We recognize the true threat that lies before us, and we are choosing to take the fight to them. I have a really hard time not questioning the intelligence of someone who thinks we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a dictator who used instant execution, limb removal, and rape as methods of governmental punishment. He used WMD on his own people in the north, and was completely uncooperative with United Nations inspectors who were verifying that he had stopped production. And the “there were no WMDs” crowd doesn’t seem to consider enough Sarin gas to kill 60,000, or a large stash of low-enriched unranium, to be weapons of mass destruction. I say to those folks, how would like for what we’ve found to be detonated or released in your neighborhood? Would it become a WMD then?
So, we’ve got a dictator, who rapes, mutilates, and kills his own people, who has taken a hit out on a sitting United States President, and who is sympathetic to terrorists. Even the most obtuse among us should be able to see that we do not need that man in possession of WMDs, or even parts that can be made into such. Russia is our ally, and even they have some suitcase nukes they can’t find. How much more easily would it be for nuclear or chemical weapons to find their way into terrorists’ hands if the leadership of the country just hands it to them?
During the Republican National Convention, just after President Bush’s speech, I listed to the talking heads dissect it. (I think the channel was on CBS.) The folks there said that the parts of the speech that dealt with domestic issues got applause, but with nowhere near the passion of the applause in the national defense portion. I think that’s because the vast majority of Republicans (and a lot of Democrats, which is why I predict Bush will roll in November) know that without a secure national defense, domestic programs are meaningless. You may have seen this, but I’m posting it here in case you haven’t. Stephen Ambrose said “It is the soldier, not the poet, who gives us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the reporter, who gives us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us freedom to protest. It is the soldier who serves beneath the flag, who salutes the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives the demonstrator the right to burn the flag.”
So, on this Patriot Day 2004, remember the lives of those whose crime was only that they got to work early that morning. Remember the 1,000+ defenders of freedom who have lost their lives while ensuring that anything like 9/11 never happens again. Remember the sons and daughters who will be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, for the first time, without their mom or dad. Remember the spouses, who have lost a life partner and best friend. Thank the Lord that you live in a country that does not let these acts of aggression stand, and thank the Lord that George W. Bush made the tough decision to defend our nation. May God bless this great nation.