In 98, about 3 years from 9/11, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Benning and Tony Shalhoub starred in a movie called The Siege. I saw it at the movies when it came out and enjoyed, then went on with life. A few nights ago REEL channel played the movie and I was struck by, and stuck on, how predictive and prophetic the movie was.
“Stuck” on the idea that there are important points to be made about some of the most important differences between what happened after 9/11, compared to the plot of a pre-9/11 movie where NYC was hit by terrorists several times…
Terrorists attack New York, in the case of the movie only a bit more vaguely Mideastern: very much in many ways like who did attack us. Rights stripped away. Pols and talking heads wanted to blame Saddam, the same folks who wanted us to attack him. Terrorist watch lists. Torture of people who look Mideastern and may or may not be connected at all. Corralling the inconvenient. A lot of folks in power jumping on board the protect New York and America no matter what the costs to our liberty and our Constitution express.
In both cases: 2001 historical fact and 1998 fiction, the true threat to our freedom was by no means limited to terrorists, but far, far, more our reaction to terrorism.
I told Millie, my wife, the movie, like Enemy of the State, was yet one more not so fictional foreshadow: another warning ignored of what was about to come. In fact during a speech given by Bruce Willis as the out of control General, or was it Denzel as an FBI agent? …behind the podium you see the twin towers as if they were standing there crying out, “Don’t you remember the first terrorist who attempted to hit us predicted they’d be back?”
“No one could have predicted” my ass.
Now what was inaccurate was even more frightening. The people revolting against the rights of others being stripped away. Jews, Blacks, Muslims objecting in large protests: together… didn’t happen. An FBI agent fighting the militarization of America, and attempting to treat it as a crime instead of creating more terrorists. The FBI willing to back him up… didn’t happen.
Where were the agencies and agents rebelling against a huge grab at raw power post 9/11? Where were all the repressed minorities of our past, and why weren’t they willing to defend the rights of yet another minority authorities were willing to lock away, even torture, sans due process?
Where were they? Joining the “raghead” hating masses; grateful the Muslim bashing meant the focus was off them. Unable to get beyond their personal takes on the Palestinian/Israel divide, and unable to see internment in camps for the horrible idea that it was and still is. “Horrible idea” whether they have the classic ovens of, say, an Auschwitz, or trailers baking in an Iraqi sun turning those unwilling to admit what they are told to admit, say what they are told to say, tell when there may have been nothing to tell, into well roasted corpses. So unable to understand that Romans nailing the populace to crosses to scare them into behaving, or whippings ordered by one’s supposed “Master” to scare the slaves into behaving, or the rack and screw for heretics, are not all that far from drowning those on a board who have been simply accused of maybe, possibly knowing something.
In The Siege Denzel and many in the FBI saw rights being stripped away and acted.
After 9/11 where were most of our heroes amongst those in power? Greedily gulping up dots of “more power,” like Pac-men and Pac-women gone insane… or cowering under their beds in fear of being political incorrect after an admittedly horrific moment in time.
Cheney and his fellow Project for a New American Century slimeballs were right: all that was needed was Pearl Harbor like event for America to begin to willingly throw away freedom for the promise of security: the security of an increasingly fascist state.
Added irony: Bush’s grandfather enabled the worst fascistic state in history; Nazi Germany.
None dare call it treason, indeed. And according to Barack Obama none dare expose it either, or hold anyone accountable. Let’s more forward. Move on. Move on… without paying attention to all the Move on dot orgs, please. We have more important: Birther, things to discuss. Ain’t you glad that, once again, you’re “rewarded” for being accommodating Mr. Obama?
The speech Denzel gave at the end of The Siege was one never spoken post 9/11 by anyone with the power to stop the march into limitless power autocracy. A government out of control to this day is still out of control when it comes to basic rights.
It was a great speech. A speech I wish to God someone had been brave enough to give who would have been listened to. Someone with enough stage presence on the political scene willing to do and say whatever they had to do to protect rights our forefathers fought and died for, like Denzel and his all too fictional FBI. I wish to God that we had had far less sheep-like leaders far too eager to lead sheep into thinking that the most important thing was crack down on the politically and theologically incorrect: anyone we might be suspicious of.
All this from a party in power at the time with supposed libertarian leanings? Where government was supposed to be the problem, not the solution?
In yet another sense there has been a “siege” since the at least the 50s: say anything, do anything, to drive America over that cliff. Every group in society has a right to push their demands and issues, to a certain extent. The shame here is not that the extreme Right does such: they have that right. The shame is on the other side our leaders cower and compromise so much that the center has moved far to the right we are left with two options: a government completely controlled by fundamentalist fascists sooner? ….or later?
The siege started long ago. From the quite un-American activities of Joseph McCarthy and the House of Un-American Activities, to plumbers attempting to shut off free flow of information, to those willing to doing anything to distract an administration they disagree with from protecting the country: like make the national discourse all about sex; or whether a president answered a prosecutor’s question as if he had asked “was” there a relationship rather than “is” if you wish, or an imaginary lack of a birth certificate, imaginary lack of college cred… the siege is never ending.
Sometimes I think the Pelosis and the Reids out might be so tired of fighting, or secretly wishing for it to be over, they’re more on their side than the side of their country.
What am I describing?
A siege minus even a general like Willis played that supported all this but, at the end, was willing to back down.
I promise you: the goths, the Huns: these immoral, unethical barbarians will not back down.
So, yes, we are at war.
But it’s not with Muslims,.
Not even with al Qaeda.
But it is with terrorists: American hating terrorists. Unfortunately, while they are traitors, and they are also our neighbors.
Meanwhile, the siege continues…
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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