A Movie Not Made
Let’s imagine it’s November, 1944. Allied troops are bogged down in Northern Europe and Italy. A film maker, disgusted by the progress of the war in Europe, American war strategy (“Europe first”) and American culture in general decides to make a movie to “speak truth to power” and counteract the propaganda coming from Hollywood.
Let’s call his movie Celsius 127, a scathing documentary suggesting that President Roosevelt lied about keeping America out of the European conflict and withheld vital intelligence from commanders in Hawaii in order that the Japanese attack would be all the more devastating. With that, he could do what he always wanted to do: commit American troops and America’s fortune against Germany.
Celsius 127 would relentlessly focus on every shortcoming of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Corps. It would show that American troops were ill-trained, ill-equipped and ill-supplied, slaughtered in pointless attacks, guilty of atrocities against unarmed enemy troops that surrendered.
This piece makes the point perfectly that in this war, as in every war, bad things happen. How you see it is very much up to the people who produce our media.
Cathy Siepp has a related piece up on NRO that should also be read (via Instapundit). Hers is about the upcoming A&E movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day and its co-executive producer Lionel Chetwynd. Money quote:
Now in his early 60s, Chetwynd is a longtime naturalized American citizen who was born in England and raised in Montreal. He’d remembered from Canadian regimental history that of the 4,400-odd Canadians sent to Dieppe, about 3,600 were killed. Although they knew it was basically a suicide mission, not one man failed to report for duty. Chetwynd asked one of the old soldiers in his regiment, Sgt. Gordon Betts, why.
“My generation had to figure out what we were ready to die for,” Chetwynd recalled Betts telling him. “You kids don’t even know what to live for.”
Many years later, when Chetwynd was a successful Hollywood writer specializing in historical dramas, he told the Dieppe story during a Malibu dinner party — as a sort of tribute to the men who died there so people could sit around debating politics at Malibu dinner parties. One of the guests was a network head who asked Chetwynd to come in and pitch the story.
“So I went in,” Chetwynd told me, “and someone there said, ‘So these bloodthirsty generals sent these men to a certain death?’
“And I said, ‘Well, they weren’t bloodthirsty; they wept. But how else were we to know how Hitler could be toppled from Europe?’ And she said, ‘Well, who’s the enemy?’ I said, ‘Hitler. The Nazis.’ And she said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. I mean, who’s the real enemy?'”
“It was the first time I realized,” Chetwynd continued, “that for many people evil such as Nazism can only be understood as a cipher for evil within ourselves. They’ve become so persuaded of the essential ugliness of our society and its military, that to tell a war story is to tell the story of evil people.”
These people are not only producing our entertainment, they are producing our news.
Each evening on CNN we’re seeing – if not to the same intensity – Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11. It’s in the New York Times, the AP, Reuters, ABCNBCCBSMSNBCPBS et al. People in the news media wants us to lose, and they report the news in such a way as to convince us, as they did in Vietnam, that we cannot win. That we cannot define “winning.” That there is nothing good going on in Iraq. In early February there was a piece on ABC’s news blog The Note that I saved for posterity. From it comes this:
Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.
They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are “conservative positions.”
They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation’s problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don’t have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.
More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.
The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush’s justifications for the Iraq war — in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.
It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.
It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.
It believes President Bush is “walking a fine line” with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between “tolerance” and his “right-wing base.”
It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush’s base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him — and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.
They’re not looking to find cracks in the base, they’re out there with hammers and chisels. And it’s not just the Washington press corps. If you believe, as I do, that political cartoonists reflect the general attitude of the press, go read the daily political cartoons on Slate, like this one, or this one, or this one, or this one. I find this one particularly disgusting.
Trust me, there are plenty more.
Now they’re hooking up jackhammers.
I’ve said it before, our opponent cannot win. But we can beat ourselves. And our media is hellbent, for whatever reason, to see that we do. If the media in 1943 had the same attitude it has now, we’d have lost WWII. This conflict is no less important. Are we destined, as a nation, to die with a whimper? Are we what the Russians accused us of, what the jihadis accuse us of? Weak-willed, soft, corrupt and unwilling to fight?
What the fuck happened to us?
UPDATE 5/27: Ann Coulter has a related piece up, Tit for Tet. Recommended.