Crock o' shite
The nation needs more gung-ho, patriotic war movies that celebrate our fight against Islamo-fascists.
By Andrew Klavan, Andrew Klavan's crime novels include "Don't Say a Word," "True Crime" and "Shotgun Alley." His newest book, "Damnation Street," is due out in September. He can be reached at www.AndrewKlavan.com.
May 7, 2006
Klavan can kiss my ass with this ignorant bullshit.
It's sweet to forget this and therefore difficult to keep it in mind. "It is hard for those who live near a Police Station to believe in the triumph of violence," as T.S. Eliot wrote. That's us — we Americans, protected by a mighty military that by and large obeys the rules of our republic — safe enough, and keeping much of the world safe enough, so that we find it hard to believe in what would happen if that protection failed.
But these fighters do keep us safe. And because keeping us safe is harsh, dangerous work, we should glorify them, exalt them in story and song by way of appreciation.
"United 93" — the film celebrating the heroic civilian attempt to retake a hijacked plane on 9/11 — opened last week. That's great. Well done and about time. But now, let's have some war movies.
We need some films celebrating the war against Islamo-fascism in Afghanistan and Iraq — and in Iran as well, if and when that becomes necessary. We need films like those that were made during World War II, films such as 1943's "Sahara" and "Action in the North Atlantic," or "The Fighting Seabees" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," which were released in 1944.
Every roll call of Hollywood's U.S. troops seems to include a Ragazzi and a Donovan, a Hellenopolis, a Novasky, and a wisecracking Roth. "Sahara" even throws in the black "Mohammedan" Tabul, a Sudanese ally. This may have been corny, but it was also more or less realistic, and it depicted the war as a conflict between our lovably mongrel melting pot and the despicable Axis ideal of racial purity.
For all their epithets and stereotypes, then, these pictures sent the distinctly American message that it's not bloodlines but national creeds that make a people, and that while even so great a creed as ours can't guarantee the decency of individuals, evil creeds surely sweep them up into destructive madness and therefore must be opposed.
Today we face an enemy in the grip of a belief system just as evil, just as destructive in its intent, as the system we fought back then. We were attacked at home in this war as we were in World War II. The outcome of the struggle is just as much in doubt. Worse, because Islamic fundamentalism supersedes nationhood, the danger it poses is more protean and diffuse. It's easier to pretend it isn't there, more tempting for the war-weary and the fatally foolish to waver and sound retreat.
In short, we need war movies now even more than in the '40s. So why aren't we getting them? ...................
As early as 1947, we had "Crossfire," about an American GI who commits an anti-Semitic murder. In 1949, "Home of the Brave" depicted a heroic African American soldier dealing with prejudice. And by 1955, there was the classic "Bad Day at Black Rock," in which a veteran uncovers homicidal anti-Japanese bigotry when he tries to deliver a medal to the father of a Japanese American killed on the battlefields of Italy.
Such self-examination and reform are part of the measure of our greatness. But there's a difference between a humble nation confessing its sins and a country of flagellants whipping themselves for every impure thought. Since the '60s, we have had, it seems, an endless string of war movies, from "Dr. Strangelove" to "Syriana," in which the United States is depicted as wildly aggressive and endlessly corrupt — which, in fact, it's not; which, in fact, it never has been.
Not only have we lost this kind of wisdom, but I think that a handful of elites — really only a handful of academics, journalists and artists — has raised up a golden counterfeit in its stead. With this counterfeit wisdom, they imagine themselves above the need for patriotism; they fantasize they grasp a truth beyond good and evil, and they preen themselves on a higher calling than the protection of our way of life. And all the while they forget that they imagine and fantasize and preen only by the grace of those who fight and die and stand guard to secure those freedoms that our system alone guarantees.
When war comes, as it always will, and when it is justified, as it is now, some nuances and shades of gray have to be set aside. It is time, instead, for faith and for ferocity. Our enemies have these weapons, after all. Our movies should inspire us to have them too.
Veterans, as a rule, detest war movies as a pack of lies.
But how many of his friends and family are eating one meal a day, begging for food from Iraqis and walking point in Ramadi. Any of his family had a recruiter visit their school? Of course not, that's for the kids from East LA.
Has he seen Over There, cancelled by FX or the Unit? They don't have happy lies about the fun of killing for a reason: it's bullshit.
Klavan should read Charles Moskos and Russell Weigley before opening his mouth about a subject he has absolutely no fucking clue about.
Those movies, with the integrated Army, were lies. US policy prohibited racially mixed units until 1944, when a destroyer got 13 black officers, and crew who were not cooks and stewards. It wasn't until 1945 that the Army integrated black platoons into white infantry companies.
Not only that. Many of the national guard units, like the 32nd Infantry Div, was from the Midwest, the 45th was from Oklahoma, the 42nd, 27th and 77th from New York and the 29th Infantry from Virginia and Maryland. These men came from the same towns and the same schools. When, on June 6th, 1944, the men of the 29th Division landed on Omaha Beach and were slaughtered. They died as neighbors and friends.
The few units which had a cross-section of America until the end of WWII, were the elite airborne and Marine divisions and the late war draftee units. Units like the 442nd RCT and the 10th Mountain Division were made up of Westerners, Japanese-American city kids and farm boys and high mountain skiiers from the Mountain States.
The Navy and Air Corps were different, but there were real class differences in who served. The fact was that Jews and Mexicans were a minority and infantry units were as likely to have 40 Audie Murphys as not. Rural farm boys, as likely Scotch-Irish or Swedish or German. The movies created a myth of a multi-ethnic army to appeal to the homefront. They left out the race riots at home and in the UK.
American troops were so racist, that black soldiers would be joined by Brits in beating down their white comrades. Unlike the US forces, the British military was integrated, with West Indians, Canadians and Africans flying for the RAF and serving in the British Army.
Those movies were fantasies about an America which didn't exist on the battlefield.
Until they proved their competence, black pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group were routinely called nigger and other units didn't want them to provide cover.
Jews faced open anti-semitism in the ranks, unles Norman Mailer, James Jones and Neil Simon are liars.
The average infantry platoon of the pre-Normandy period were mostly working class, some with an 8th grade education. Those of means chose the air corps or the Navy. After Normandy, when casualities were 90 percent in front line infantry units, thousands of air corps cadets and ASTP students (Army Specialized Training Program) were tossed into the infantry, which is how Kurt Vonnegut wound up in the battle of the Bulge and Mel Brooks freezing in Lorraine.
The idea that reality reflected the wartime movies is just utterly ridiculous. It was the postwar movies which began to tell the truth and sometimes not even then. The Sands of Iwo Jima comes to mind.
We've already made our Arab bashing movies, and even the dimmest kid knows war is where people shoot at you and doesn't end up like a movie. A new spate of lies is not what we need, either from the WH or from Hollywood.
Mr. Klavan should save his energies towards helping the victims of this war and not a false call to patriotism.
posted by Steve @ 3:13:00 AM