March to the movies

Well, both left and right are telling you to go see United 93 (note that I wasn’t so presumptuous).

Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that George Will says you have to go because:

Going to see “United 93” is a civic duty because Samuel Johnson was right: People more often need to be reminded than informed. After an astonishing 56 months without a second terrorist attack, this nation perhaps has become dangerously immune to astonishment. …

The message of the movie is: We are all potential soldiers. And we all may be, at any moment, at the war’s front, because in this war the front can be anywhere.

The hinge on which the movie turns are 13 words that a passenger speaks, without histrionics, as he and others prepare to rush the cockpit, shortly before the plane plunges into a Pennsylvania field. The words are: “No one is going to help us. We’ve got to do it ourselves.” Those words not only summarize this nation’s situation in today’s war but also express a citizen’s general responsibilities in a free society.

Now from the other side of the pond and the political spectrum comes Mary Riddell in The Observer of London, who sees the same movie and comes away with the same imperative to go watch it but for, as n ear as I can tell, the opposite reason:

Like the passengers, we all sat that day in the departure lounge for another world.

That’s not what I would call British understatement. Anyway, I interrupt…

But, as the politicians and the generals flailed, the hijack victims were the only people who saw that the global order was shifting. Although they would not live to see its consequences, they spent their last minutes doing what they thought right.

And now, their gravestones are etched with the West’s variable tributes to their memory: Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo. George W Bush’s war on terror, ordained by their fates, has claimed many thousands more lives. Each day, 35 to 50 bodies pass through the Baghdad morgue, stacked up in freezer trucks when the storage rooms overflow. Other ordinary citizens, in Bali, Madrid or London, have suffered or died as al-Qaeda turned their normal routines into a theatre of barbarity….

See Paul Greengrass’s film. It will stop your breath with fear as it breaches the thin margin between power and vulnerability and between normality and carnage. But its message is not just of doom. In averting an attack on Washington’s seats of power, a handful of people shifted the course of history. And now, five years after they died, they are the ushers between their yesterdays and our tomorrows. For all their reason, optimism and courage, those who boarded United 93 had no chance to avert their fate. We do.

But only if the West is not paralysed by fear or drawn further into the clash of evil against virtue espoused by democrats and jihadists alike. The passengers of United 93 took a plainer view. They saw a universe where those of good faith must take all necessary risks to ensure that the earth keeps turning round the sun and that they are there to see it rise again.

I certainly do not get her metaphoric view of the movie and the world. The passengers fought back. They met violence with violence. They fought evil.