Saturday, July 26, 2008

What Bush and Batman Have in Common

Writer Andrew Klavan says that "the film "The Dark Knight" is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergencies have passed. And like Batman understands there is no moral equivalence between a free society-in which people sometimes make the wrong choices-and a criminal bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in it's moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nontheless.

The TRUE complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them-when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend ourselves, or unkind in order to defend unkindness, or hateful to defend what we love.

When heroes arise who take those difficulties on themselves, it is tempting to turn our backs on them, to vilify in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. Commissioner Gordon says of the hated Batman, "He has to run away--because we have to chase him."

That's the real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes man must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be be heroes, true heroes must often slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised--then and only then will we be able to pay our President Bush his due and make good TRUE films about the war on terror.

Perhaps that's when Hollywood conservatives will be able to take off their masks and speak plainly in the light of day."

And I add politicians, pacifists and "chatterers".

My Grandson is serving in Iraq as an armed protector of the Iraqi citizen. He says he has "his boots on the ground" and is tolerating the intense heat even with all the extra weight he has to carry to protect himself, his comrades and the peace loving Iraqis citizenry. He has a dislike for those among us who would like to further embarrass the administration and give solace to those who would like to see all of us dead, including the pacifists among us.

All our related families support his position.

Mr. Klaven has a new novel, "Empire of Lies" about an ordinary man confronting the war on terror.


Anonymous said...

Awesome post Merle...full of insight and wisdom.

Merle Widmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Merle, you can't take a compliment?

Laurel Anne Hill said...

“Holy W, Batman! You’re like Bush?”

I read the Wall Street Journal’s piece comparing the trials and tribulations of Batman to those of President Bush. Wow! Was that a bat signal in the sky, or the letter “W?” I found the comparison interesting but have my own opinions about heroes and battles against evil.

On the rope of life, heroes climb above their weakest point, putting themselves at risk for the benefit of others. Love, compassion, duty and honor call them forth and they respond. Still, even heroes on a worthwhile quest against evil must search their own hearts for smoldering embers of hate or vengeance that could influence their actions and bring dishonor and disaster. We are only human. Heroes or not, we often fight our deadliest battles against ourselves and the best way to tame our dark, snarling inner desires is to flood those beasts with light.

We live in the real world, one with presidents and CEO’s but no superheroes of fantasy fame. Public awareness and debate about all sides of political and social issues must comprise the beams of light in our darkened skies. And we should all vote according to the signals in which we believe. That “W” stands for “We, the people,” if we let it.

Laurel Anne Hill
Author of “Heroes Arise,” a parable about the necessity and complexity of breaking the cycle of vengeance. (KOMENAR Publishing, October 2007)

Merle Widmer said...

Sorry Anny,

I get an anonymous who generally sends me sarcasm and I thought you were "putting me on".

I'll delete my comment.

Merle Widmer said...

To Laurel Anne Hill,

I am honored that you chose to quote yourself on my rather lowly blog site.

I respect your comments and will find and read your book.

Thank you for your comments and in a perfect world I would totally agree.

Anonymous said...

Merle, I fervently disagree with you on one issue, but generally find valuable insights in your posts and agree with you 95% of the time.