Bin Laden = Hitler, 9/11 murderers = SS murderers. Got it so far?
: The other day, I had a proper fit over filmmaker Brian Grazer saying he hoped his upcoming network exploitationfest about the 9/11 terrorist attacks would do for Muslims what Das Boot did for Germans: humanize them. Now Britt Blaser has issued a strange response and I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, let’s get our analogies straight:
1. Bin Laden is our Hitler: the man who invents, justifies, and orders mass murder and recruits the murderers. Evil.
2. The 9/11 hijackers are his SS concentration-camp killers. Evil.
3. Continuing this analogy, then, Muslims are Germans: just people.
There is no equivalency in this for soldiers. Germans fought in their government’s army. The terrorists have no army and no nation and no legitimacy whatsoever. So they should not be treated as soldiers. The only analogy that works for them is members of Charles Manson’s death cult; that is why I used Manson in my headline on the earlier post.
Glazer gets it all screwed up thinking that humanizing Muslims has anything to do with humanizing 9/11 terrorists. That would be like saying that we want to make a movie humanizing SS concentration camp commandants to better understand Germans. That is wrong on three counts: First, it wants us to humanize murderers who are, yes, evil, and that would be misguided, pointless, and even dangerous; it tries to give sense to a senseless act, justification to an unjustifiable crime. Second, it judges a culture by its worst, which is unsulting to millions, blaming them all for the sins of a few. Third, this assumes that war criminals are merely soldiers, which they most certainly are not.
Glazer’s perspective is, of course, merely the reverse view of the dangerous notion that we need to understand our enemy, the terrorists: Bill Maher’s contention that we need to build a Why They Hate Us pavilion.
No, we need to build a memorial to their victims to remember why we hate them. We need to fear them. We need to understand them only insofar as is necessary to defeat them. To humanize them would be insane.
: Now to Britt’s strange post:
But Jeff and I have a fundamental disagreement on a core principle. I believe that you can be a warrior and put yourself in harm’s way without hating your enemy, but he seems committed to hate and revenge as a result of his near-death experience on 9/11. Every time he touches on his personal experience that day, the bile spills onto the page and, to my gentle sensibilities, poisons the dialogue that is the core of the give-and-take of blogging. Jeff seems to seek out opportunities to pick the scab of his near-death experience. Today’s example is his “dread” (Jeff’s word) of Brian Grazer’s NBC mini-series on 9/11, presenting the viewpoint of the perps, whereby Grazer hopes to portray the Muslims in the way that Das Boot humanized the German U-Boat crews….. [He then quotes the post and continues….]
Jeff, you got the shit scared out of you. It happens. Get over yourself. Please.
9/11 isn’t about you, and it’s beneath your dignity to take it so personally and viscerally. By over-personalizing your experience, you deprive us of the best of your wonderful gifts, which you bestow so freely when you treat every other subject. We get it that it affected you so personally and strongly. Hatred is a drug that’s addictive, energizing and pervasive. The problem with all that testosterone and adrenaline coursing through your system is that you can’t fly your plane as well….
Britt, let’s go back to the analogy above: Would you tell a survivor of a concentration camp not to hate the commandant? Would you tell a survivor of the killing fields not to hate Pol Pot? Would you tell the child of a 9/11 victim not to hate bin Laden? Would you tell them to just get over themselves?
Would you condescend to them the way you have to me: to say that by disagreeing with Grazer, I’m pouring bile and ruining blogs? I had an opinion about what he said and engaged in a dialogue. You are the one who tries to psychoanalyze and personalize that, to separate it from the substance of the discussion, Britt.
Britt then goes on to give a spiel he tried to give to me at e-Tech a year ago — and he’s no more successful getting me to drink his Kool-Aid now than he was then. Britt was a Vietnam pilot and he likes to talk about the cool and unemotional reserve of a warrior pilot. I wonder whether it’s some odd effort to bring together his Vietnam warrior days with his Deaniac peacenik days — but then, that would be psychoanalyzing him, wouldn’t it?
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we should model our behavior on poorly-trained, superstitious Muslim terrorists or on our own highly trained military aviators? Because hatred and revenge are the M.O. of terrorists, not cool-headed warriors, we lower ourselves to their standards by relying on their fuels of choice: hatred and revenge. I submit that the work we must do is too important to rely on passion as our fuel. Rather, we must adopt the smart attitudes that are effective, rather than the compelling, visceral passions that feel so good.
9/11 was a wake up call to a reality that we’ve been living in for forty years but have been unable to face. Devolving into ritualized, repetitious rants about how the enemy is evil and that there are no good enemies and no bad friendlies is worse than sophomoric. It’s simply ill-informed and stupid and has been proven to be so by so many wars and jihads that to misunderstand those learnings is a conscious choice to embrace the only dark side available to us: ignorance and superstition that’s been proven wrong.
Like our own Vietnam vets who’ve gone back and had tea with their former enemies and shared family photos and wept together, we too will some day sit down with former terrorists and meet the humans within. As will they. It has happened every time, with all the Gooks, Nips, Huns, Slopes and Ragheads that we’ve ever railed against as we firebombed their homes for no apparent military gain.
Once again, he messes up the analogy: We went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq and now we are sitting down with Afghans and Iraqis to help them build democracies — but we damned well should not be sitting down with the terrorists in either nation — including the murdering slime in the post below — anymore than we should have sat down with the SS after World War II. By this logic, we should have canceled the Nuremberg trials and held an ice cream social: “Whipped cream, Herr Goering? Cherry, Herr Streicher? Please share your feelings, Herr von Rippentrop.”
And I most certainly believe that hate is an important weapon. If we let down our guard now and think that the terrorists are merely misunderstood, then we open the door to their next attack on our children.
I’m not a soldier, Britt. Your analogies don’t work for me. I’m a civilian. And it was as a civilian on my way to work that I witnessed mass murder that day. So don’t tell me I have to follow your orders to be cool under fire. I’m not in your army. Scared? Well, as much as I also bristle at your macho-military attempt to belittle and demean that perfectly sane reaction, I will say that, of course, I was scared and I still am and so should you be, so should America be. Personal? You bet your ass it’s personal. But I wasn’t talking about that in the post you didn’t like. I was talking about the portrayal of mass murderers in network entertainment and wrote my opinion about that. You are the one who tried to make the discussion personal. And I am responding personally: I am insulted by your post.