Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The Furnace of Our Resolve

Peter Suderman writes a moving criticism of movie criticism in National Review Online.

He notes the objections to the making of Flight 93, even the neutrality and “just the facts” treatment of this watershed-of-watershed events in critics such as Ron Rosenbaum, Dana Stevens, Matt Zoller-Seitz, Stephanie Zacharek, and Manohla Dargis. Suderman considers this reaction, and thinks he knows from whence this criticism comes:

Part of this reaction might be chalked up to simple critical contrarianism. There is a tendency amongst critics to want to make bold, standoffish statements, as few critics make names for themselves by falling in line with the consensus.

But I wonder if there might be something else at work, a frustration that many left-leaning critics rarely face: how to deal with a well-made film that is also deeply conservative in its values. United 93 doesn’t follow the rules of the politically correct playbook: The heroes are ordinary Americans, mostly white, who say prayers and love their families. They are lead by strong, quick-thinking males who understand that it is their duty as men to take violent, physical action against foreign attackers. The villains are religiously motivated Islamic terrorists who unabashedly celebrate news of the World Trade Center’s destruction and cry “In the name of God!” while slitting a flight attendant’s throat. A European-accented passenger who insists on negotiating is tackled when he tries to warn the terrorists of the other passengers’ plan to storm the cabin. 

But for once, there can be no complaints about diversity, about male dominance, about “unbalanced” portrayals of foreign terrorists or any of the left’s other pet causes, because what the film shows is exactly what happened.

Who could mistake the left’s abhorrence of all things patriotic, righteously angry, or morally absolute, as a deep desire to find a more perfect truth? What they can’t handle is precisely that which is true, to paraphrase a famous Jack Nicholson film character. Thye don’t want to sit uncomfortably in their seats, while acts of pure and unmitigated evil are dramatized, and make so much of their notions of moral relativity, for the lies and self-deceptions they are.

Once upon a time the search for truth, even deeper and complex ones, was highly praised and even revered, as the most noblest of pursuits by those higher educated and wiser souls.

Not so in Post-9/11 America. There are those who fervently desire that we fall back to sleep. As the twilight gathers, and many nod off, I am deeply afraid that they will yet achieve their heart’s desire. It is long past time for us to revisit the carnage, retell the stories, build the memorials, and restoke the furnace of our resolve.

Suderman concludes:

Asking why this film was made is like asking why we go to funerals, why we visit gravesites, why we build monuments. We do it because we need to remember. We do it as a public expression of grief. We do it to honor the dead. We do it because we must.

The strength of our enemies may wane, but their fury will not be quenched until they achieve their violent aims, or meet a violent end. The passengers of Flight 93 learned this lesson, perhaps first of any of us, on the morning of September 11, 2001.

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