Sunday, January 23, 2011


Tonight I watched one of the most disturbing and thought provoking movies I possibly have ever seen.  First off I want to be clear that, in case you have not noticed, I am firmly entrenched in the ideology of the left.  I am an unapologetic liberal in my social, religious and political views.  I am a firm dissenter of some of the more stringent policies that the right condones, promotes and defends.  Practices such as torture and water boarding for the purpose of information are practices that in theory I oppose. I believe such practices are brutal and are in humane and should be avoided.

I am, however, also a realist.  First I know that there are people out there with no regard for innocents.  I am also aware that these people look at the youngest of us, the most innocent amongst us as a means to an end and they do not hesitate in exploiting that means, they do not hesitate threatening and destroying those innocents in order to get in our heads and destroy us.  Not only am I a realist, but also I am an open minded, and I hope, an intelligent person.  I am neither closed minded nor am I naive.  I am well aware that there are dark sides to liberty.  That the red white and blue, stars and stripes, have a dark side crimson red as blood and black as night.  I know that behind the scenes of liberty are men, amoral at best, that are the muscle that keeps our liberties available to us.

I am also aware that no amount of protests, no amount of legislation and no amount of conventions will ever completely remove this dark side, this brutal, violent and hideous alter ego of lady liberty.  For every intelligent man that proudly and eloquently espouses the moralities and ideology of freedom there is a dark, mad and even somewhat unhinged being that must do the nasty, evil and cruel things that keep the beast at bay and it is a naive fool that thinks any amount of protests will eliminate that madman that makes those decisions in dark, blood stained warehouses and cellars.  The more people protest the more silent that madman becomes, the more the legislators legislate against his behavior, the deeper down the rabbit hole he must go.  The reason is simple...there is no amount of reasoning, there are no levels of logic and no amount of restraint and evolution that will eliminate the need for those madmen.

The point I am making is that, while in theory I oppose such policies and practices, I am not naive enough to believe that it will ever go away, I am not foolish enough to believe that the NEED for such madmen will ever go away and I am not close minded enough to completely disallow the validity or justification of such circumstances.

Such a situation unfolds in the movie "Unthinkable". In it is a man, willing to sacrifice his life, his freedom and his comfort in order to commit a horrid and hideous act of terrorism.  He plants three nuclear weapons in three cities across the nation and should they detonate, the casualties would be in the double digit millions.  Men, women and children would be brutally killed in a massive act of terrorism, innocent lives relegated to collateral damage in a war with terrorism.  As the movie unfolds "H" (played by Samuel L Jackson in what is quite possibly his most intense and most powerful role ever) is called in to...extract...information, for lack of a better word, from the terrorist.  All forms of brutal torture are used and the movie itself is not designed for those that have a weak stomach.  The man's wife is brutally murdered in front of him, all in an attempt to break him down.

Finally, the man's children are brought in.  Sweet innocent children.  And "H" will not hesitate to torture these precious innocents in front of him.  It is, as the movie title suggests, unthinkable. But is it? If your children would be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust.  If not only yours, but literally millions of other innocent children, including that terrorist's children, were going to be destroyed (he had attempted to get them out of the country and thought they were gone but they had been taken into custody first).  Would it be better to use them against him to save millions of others, even if the unthinkable must be done?  Do we preserve our own humanity by allowing their brutality to destroy us?  What use is our civility if we do not survive to continue our society?

The questions are numerous and the movie far from answers them.  But it is very thought provoking.  I am not surprised that this movie was made direct to DVD.  I am not surprised that it never made it to the theaters.  I am surprised the government did not ax this movie and actually allowed it to be produced and released.  What I wonder is, how many of my liberal friends could watch this movie with an open mind and for a moment allow their minds to consider the moral and social implications in it.  I am not changing your mind, I am not changing mine.  I still abhor violence.  I still abhor torture.  I am still not completely convinced that it does any good and I am still not willing to agree with the axiom that the ends justify the means.  But in the final analysis, the argument is a valid one.  And is one that, while I may not totally agree with it, I can agree that it has its merits.

And in the end I can be thankful that I do not have to be part of the dark side of Lady Liberty.  I can be thankful for those that do what must be done to keep us free and alive.  I can avoid judging them too harshly from the relative safety of my comfortable home.  And I can allow, that just maybe, there are moral and social questions, decisions and dilemmas that I may not have a black and white, cut and dry answer for.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this movie, but another thought-provoking movie about terrorism in the wake of the patriot act is Rendition. Definitely worth checking out.


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