Hollywood Jahilliya

Democracy, whiskey, sexy.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I'm an old-school liberal, like FDR or, heck, even Trotsky if I'm feeling generous. That is, I recognize a fascist enemy when I see one, and I treat it like an enemy. It's my mission (self-appointed, of course) to convince other Hollywood liberals to do the same.

11 March 2006

False Consciousness Watch: "Sorry, Haters"

I may have spoken too soon in my last post. There's a positive buzz going around town about Sorry, Haters, the indie film starring Robin Wright Penn. Word has it that it's shades of Taxi Driver for the post-9/11 world. I haven't seen the flick yet -- it's over in Pasadena, and I'm not free for a couple of days, so I might actually miss it -- but writer-director Jeff Stanzler had some very interesting remarks about it in the Global Mail review posted on the film's website (here and here). On the second page, he's quoted as follows:
I do think part of what was disappointing about Sept. 11 was, directly afterwards, very very little of the discussion was about, What’s wrong with us, to bring it upon us?”
This is called blaming the victim. And the subtext of Stanzler's further remarks are basically a broken record we've heard before: we brought this on ourselves somehow; it was the result of our sins, be they moral (as they often are to voices from the extreme right), political (from the extreme "left"), or both.

Far too much of the artistic response to 9/11 has been to look at ourselves, to call America the Great Satan (or, in secular leftist terms, an empire). To a degree, that's only natural; humans always wonder, when attacked, what we did to deserve it. But there comes a point when introspection turns to masochism. Those who continue to insist we blame ourselves passed that point long ago.

Al-Qaeda has made it perfectly clear what we did to make them mad:
America is the head of heresy in our modern world, and it leads an infidel democratic regime that is based upon separation of religion and state and on ruling the people by the people via legislating laws that contradict the way of Allah and permit what Allah has prohibited. This compels the other countries to act in accordance with the same laws in the same ways… and punishes any country [that rebels against these laws] by besieging it, and then by boycotting it. By so doing, [America] seeks to impose on the world a religion that is not Allah's.
That's the first greivance listed in Why We Fight America, an Al-Qaeda manifesto circulated on the Internet a few months after 9/11. It also contained a pre-amble stating that Islam was intended by God to be "the center of leadership, the center of hegemony and rule" and that "the entire earth must be subject to the religion of Allah."

Greivance number two was this zinger:
America, with the collaboration of the Jews, is the leader of corruption and the breakdown [of values], whether moral, ideological, political, or economic corruption. It disseminates abomination and licentiousness among the people via the cheap media and the vile curricula.
In other words, we promote secular democracy around the world as part of a morally wicked Jewish conspiracy. It was our moral – not to mention our political – liberalism that brought punishment down upon us.

According to Al-Qaeda, the U.S. is a hotbed of hebes, homos, harridans and heretics, a modern Babylon where people are free to disobey, to make their own rules, and to live undisciplined lives. It fields a “Jewish” media and military corps that stands in the way of the Master Faith.

Radical Islam -- the new fascism, the Muslim Religious Right -- sees us as a cauldron of decadent liberals and loose women, that dares to tell others that such a life is worth living. 9/11 was an assault on secular liberalism (“Jewish,” of course) by a right-wing death squad under the influence of a supremacist ideology.

There's an icon over here on the left by the name of Chomsky, who's only sensible statement after 9/11 was that if you want to understand why it happened, you should take the terrorists at their word. For once, I agree with him.

What about these words do Hollywood liberals not understand? What about events since then -- the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the targeting of intellectuals and liberals by the "resistance" in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cartoon riots -- aren't we getting? Is there anything we're actually willing to fight for?

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