Thursday, April 27, 2006

The "United 93" premiere: not too soon for some

Some say it's too soon for a movie about Flight 93. I don't understand that argument; how can nearly five years from the event be too soon? After all, this is not an in-depth exploration of the event's historical ramifications. It's a movie depicting the event itself, in real time.

It seems to me that those who say we're not ready yet are really saying they don't want to face the truth--not then, not now, not ever.

Some people who had to face the truth were present at the movie's NY premiere. They were ninety family members of those who died on Flight 93.

It sounds as though viewing the movie was a deeply emotional experience, both for those family members, and for many others in the audience:

The sobbing at the back of the auditorium was not the sentimental sniffling you normally hear at the cinema. It was the full-throated grief more typically heard in a hospital or a funeral home.

On Tuesday night anguished families wailed as they watched the last moments of their loved ones’ lives unfold on screen at the world premiere of United 93...

“It’s horrific to see my brother, Edward, on the screen, knowing what is going to happen,” Gordon Felt said. “It’s shattering, but it needs to be. This is a violent story.”

Despite the ornate surroundings of the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan, the event was almost certainly the most sombre film premiere in the history of New York. The audience gave the victims’ families a standing ovation before the screening but were overwhelmed towards the end by the open weeping of the relatives and left the auditorium in stunned silence.

The article mentions that the film was made with the cooperation of the victims' families, in addition to the surprising--at least to me--fact that some air controllers and Federal Aviation Authority officials played themselves in it. I wonder if that was therapeutic for them, or difficult. Or both.

The movie's British writer/director Paul Greengrass gives some perspective that sounds more realistic than the usual facile Hollywood cliches:

The writer-director, whose features include Bloody Sunday, said that he was chastened by his experience of working in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland is one of the few examples of where political violence has been negotiated away, thanks to the political engagement of all the parties in a peace agreement,” he said. “My time making films there has shown me it takes a long time.”

Greengrass seems like an interesting figure, with a background primarily in documentary filmmaking. Here are a few quotes from an interview with him:

I think in the end that movies are the principal means of mass-communication. They’re the principal way that we tell stories about the way we’re living to each other. We tell stories to entertain ourselves, and to divert ourselves, and we tell stories that are wonderful pieces of escapism, to give us a nice time on a rainy day. There are all sorts of reasons why we like to tell stories to tell each other. But one of the things we do is tell stories about the way the world is. I believe in a movie industry that operates across the board – it makes all sorts of different types of films. Including films about the big stuff facing us. Hollywood has always done that, throughout it’s history. It’s always done that, as well as all the other things. And it will have to grapple with 9/11 because it’s the single most important event that’s occurred in our lifetime... had forty people – or slightly less, as some had been killed – essentially you had a small number of people on an airplane who were the first people to inhabit the post-9/11 world. For all the rest of us, whether we were in civilian air traffic control, Presidential bunkers, or just ordinary folks like us watching on TV, we knew something terrible was happening, but we didn’t really know what. We maybe knew it was terrorism, but we didn’t know what. But for those people on the airplane they knew exactly what it was, they could see what was facing them, and here’s the thing – they faced a terrible, terrible dilemma. The dilemma was: what do we do? Do we sit here and hope for the best? Or do we strike back at them before they do what we think they might be about to do? In the course of action of whatever those two choices we make, what are the chances of a good outcome from either of those two choices?

That dilemma is the post-9/11 dilemma. It’s the dilemma we have all faced since then. The things we face in our world – whether it’s Afghanistan or Iraq or Abu Ghraib, issues of world peace, issues of national security, it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter where you are on the political spectrum and how you view those issues. I would submit that all of us, whatever our persuasions are, all of us understand that that is the dilemma. What do we do? How do we deal with this thing?

To answer your question, we know from the fragments that we can we know from the airplane – the phone calls, the cockpit voice recorders, the evidence we can deduce from the other planes – we know they weighed, they debated the issue. They voted on it. In the end they acted, and there were consequences. I think that if you build this film up on a strong foundation of fact, that by the time you get to the last minutes of that airplane journey you’ll be inhabiting a debate that, whilst we cannot know exactly what it was, we know broadly how it goes – because it’s our debate now.

And what of Greengrass's politics? One might think he's a neocon. But if one thought that, one would be wrong.

He doesn't discuss his political opinions in any recent interviews I've read of his that promote "United 93." But, from this article written in 2004, it's clear that he's against the Iraq War; he calls it "the most calamitous decision of our generation."

Interesting, interesting, interesting. Greengrass doesn't seem to have let his politics interfere with his desire to make this movie. He really does appear to be interested in just presenting the facts, and letting the viewer decide. And that seems both refreshing and unusual to me.


At 12:31 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger goesh said...

It has been difficult for me to concede that the Left is willing to fight, i.e. their lack of condemnation and vitriol over Afghanistan, so hope further floats when a production can be purportedly factual and objective yet asymetrical to the producer's political views. That is refreshing. Regarding the real drama itself that unfolded on that black day, I suppose many of us, men and women alike, would at least want to think we would have been able to rush the cockpit and bring it down. That's what counts. Hopefully this movie can help with some closure for the families, and maybe to a lesser extent our nation as well.

At 12:47 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be joking.
Closure is to close the door and move on. Move on to what, as a nation?
This is a time for Old Testament responses, not closure.

At 12:49 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger nyomythus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:52 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger nyomythus said...

I have no doubt about our resolve toward the Islamo-fascist threat, yet I don’t want to see the movie. I have become much more emotional since that tragic time, and I don’t want to cry – though I may watch it. Refusing myself of ‘what I want’ or ‘don’t want’ … for ‘something I need’ or ‘not needing anything’, has always been meet by my conscious with at least some strange delight – I guess it’s a way for diverting the will of fate.

At 1:13 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Jack Trainor said...

It has been fascinating to watch Hollywood avoid dealing directly with 9-11.

The simple facts of that day cannot be sugarcoated. Our country was horrifically attacked killing thousands of our citizens, destroying two of the most famous symbols of our country's vitality, and doing serious damage to our economy.

It's impossible to look back to that day and not realize that we are at war.

So for many Americans, especially in Hollywood, the solution is to avoid remembering that day and to complain should 9-11 be invoked.

At 1:14 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not too soon for me, and for millions of others. Way, way overdue, in fact. You know what the America haters, domestic and foreign, are concerned about....that many people may see this movie and feel the clear sense of purpose of September 2001. My God, if leftie weenies could feel one percent of the rage concerning the islamofascisti that slowly saw a woman's head off and proudly show the video to the world as they chant Allah is great along with her screams.....that they feel toward their fellow Americans and their president.....if they could have one percent of the anger about good people having to say I love you and the kids, just calling to say goodbye before I decide whether to jump 80 stories to my death or burn to death because some filthy degenerates in urine soaked nightshirts huddled in a cave thought that incinerating the world trade towers would make a groovy media, all their rage is focused on the fact that American military personnel spoke harshly to some mass murderers in Abu Ghraib and didn't serve them orange glazed gourmet chicken in a Koranic manner...........and I haven't even seen the movie yet! Also, I like anonymous's idea of "old testament responses."

At 1:28 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1:47 , Eddie:
No sh*t! We were served bucketfuls of weepings and mournings but not even a drop of righteous rage.
I don't want no stinkin' closure. I want vengeance.

At 1:41 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"hope further floats when a production can be purportedly factual and objective yet asymetrical to the producer's political views."

Do you honestly believe that a person on the left's politics put them at odds with portraying an act of terrorism realistically?

"if leftie weenies could feel one percent of the rage concerning the islamofascisti [as they do towards] American military personnel..."

This I will never fail to find remarkable. You know what I find remarkable? The idea that if you don't constantly explain why you find X to be bad, that you must somehow support X, or that if X is worse than Y, there is no need to ever criticise Y, since X is worse, or that people somehow need to be reminded that terrorism is evil.

For me, what happened on September 11 is burned into my mind. I remember exactly where I was, and what I saw. I don't need to be reminded that bad people did a bad thing.

So I suppose it works both ways: the Right thinks the Left doesn't care about terrorism, and the Left can't figure out why the Right is so worried they're going to forget that murder is bad.

Imagine if every news story about a murder, or a robbery, or a train derailment had to be prefaced by a disclaimer that murder, and theft, and trian derailments were bad.

At 1:44 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, "train".

At 1:51 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Already saw the 9/11 A and E docum-drama. It's about the same, except you don't hear dramatic questions like "What if the plane hits the Capital Building" or "Who's going to order the planes shot down".

A bit more spartan, which is how I like it, the a & e version.

At 1:59 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger goesh said...

The release of the movie is coinciding with the start of contruction on the new Freedom tower. #93 still hangs in the air so to speak for many people. It was headed for the White House IMHO and a portrayal of the drama will be good for many people with no slant to either side regarding the heroes/victims aboard. No John Waynes, no deserving victims as the Michael M.s and Ward Churchills would have them portrayed, just average people caught up in a nightmare and making a choice. Yep, it will give some closure to some people and steady the resolve to continue to deal with terrorism in the best ways possible, including force of arms. Spanky, I have a steady list of repondents that I read. I read one of your previous posts and did not add your name to the list. Freedom of choice as they say. Ain't it grand? Another great post, Neo!

At 2:18 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geoffrey Ashe, in his "Land to The West" examines evidence for early pre-Columbian European contacts with the New World.

He uses myths, explaining that one should never take a myth literally, but always take it seriously.

The story of Horatius at the bridge might be entirely fiction. Taking it literally is meaningless, unless you happen to be a distant relative of Horatius.
But the Romans told each other the story for a thousand years.

IMO, the story of Flight 93 will join other stories of valor and sacrifice.

At 2:47 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Refreshing, maybe, but not as unusual as you may think:

Coincidentally, I saw Capote on DVD last night. I paid special attention to Smith's recounting of the moment of the murders, because I remembered you had complained about that scene as having been shamelessly and libelously altered by the filmmakers to fit some leftist "class issue" agenda.

You included the caveat that you were working from memory, and well, you were wrong. You remembered Smith as saying something to the effect of, "he killed Mr. Clutter because the latter looked at him as though he were nothing, as though he were looking down at him."

Smith in fact says nothing of the sort. He says he felt bad because this nice man kept looking in his eyes, and "this nice man was afraid I might kill him." Then came the famous, "I always thought he was a nice man, right up until the moment I slit his throat."

Just thought I would clear that up, I know how much you like to keep your facts straight.

At 2:48 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Fascinating that an anti-war "artist" could make an eyes-wide-open film that the families embrace. Maybe there IS hope for our species after all. Tuck and I are planning to go see it at Assembly Square tomorrow p.m.

At 2:51 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Smith in fact says nothing of the sort. He says he felt bad because this nice man kept looking in his eyes, and "this nice man was afraid I might kill him." Then came the famous, "I always thought he was a nice man, right up until the moment I slit his throat."

When someone thinks you're out to kill him, that's societally the same as thinking they (you the killer) don't fit in and are worth nothing.

At 3:01 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goesh, I don't know if I am still on your reading list but you really should take a moment to consider how absurd the idea is that being against the Iraq War is somehow "asymetrical" to one's capacity to be factual and objective about Flight 93.

It implies all sorts of things, for example, that people who are against the Iraq War were unaffected by 9/11, or are somehow devoid of their faculties, and I know you don't really think that.

At 5:14 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure I'll see this. Hollywood does 9/11? Sounds like pearls before swine to me.

If the director is simply telling us his version of the 9/11 story using his favorite medium of communication, fine. If he thinks he's doing us some kind of wonderful, humanitarian service - screw him for a presumptious idiot.

Under no circumstances do I need an "artist" to somehow process the events of that day and present them to me with Hollywood's stamp of approval.

At 5:26 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger snowonpine said...

I was working right across the street from the Capitol building on 9/11 and we didn't get evacuated till late in the sequence of attacks. But for the heroic actions of the passengers on Flight 93, which I believe was probably aimed at the Capitol, I and a lot of other people might be dead or in a bed in rehab hospital somewhere right now. Next day, my train took me past the still smoking Pentagon; it made a big impression.

The terrorists tried again the next month with the Capitol Hill Anthrax attack and had I not been on the other side of Capitol Hill that day, I, like several of my co-workers who were on the Senate side, would have had to take Cipro, waiting to see what my fate was to be. We were lucky, others weren't. So, for me, this is real personal.

Five years it's taken for this film about 9/11 to be seen. I'd like to know who made the decision to shield our eyes, all these five years, from the reality of 9/11 and why. Who decided that we shouldn't see images of the destruction fo the two towers, the jumpers, the damage to the Pentagon, the crash site at Shanksville, PA because, these images just disappeared. From what I've seen, with a few rare exceptions, they haven't been on TV in these five years. There may be some privately published posters but, there are no posters of the towers falling captioned, "This Is Why We Fight!" at my local Borders or plastered on every wall in town and, I think there should be. The Islamic terrorists have plastered their boastful posters of the towers crashing down in every two bit town in the Muslim world but, the American public shouldn't be reminded of the "unpleasantnesses of 9/11?"

Apparently they, whoever "they" are, have decided that we would get too worked up, too angry, if we were to be reminded of those days. In WWII pictures of an atrocity like 9/11 would have been everywhere as a reminder of what happened--a great motivator. Why not this time?

At 5:32 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Fat Man said...

Too soon for me.

At 6:54 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not this time?
I believe we can look to the '60s, that great incubator out of which hatched the anti-any-war Left, and which is anti-BigOil, anti-for profits, anti- so many things. The antis have torn the Union nearly asunder. 9/11 was just not cataclysmic enough for them in their Euro mindset to see the light as neo-neocon has. I am not sure that even a nuclear terror strike will bring them around.

At 6:57 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why not this time?"

Because the AP now takes orders from anyone who holds a journalist hostage... which, by some bizarre, unthinkable coincidence, always seems to be Muslim "freedom fighters."

At 10:02 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an excellent article from Evil Lefty Slate about the movie:

"Could it be that the three films are a symptom of our addiction to fables of redemptive uplift that shield us from the true dimensions of the tragedy? Redemptive uplift: It's the official religion of the media, anyway. There must be a silver lining; it's always darkest before the dawn; the human spirit will triumph over evil; there must be a pony...

But is it possible to separate it out from the other events of the day? In three out of four cases savage mass murderers prevailed. A "war on terror" has ensued; a war in Iraq followed. In neither case is it clear that the outcome is going to be favorable. The story of 9/11 as a whole increasingly seems a portent that Flight 93 was an aberration, and that those intent on suicidal martyrdom may well prevail over those who value human life over holy books. This possibility is something no one likes to dwell on, and in that sense the "triumphant" fable of Flight 93, genuinely heroic as it is, represents a comforting diversion. "

Evil Lefty also points out, for everyone who thinks that the Evil Lefty media has kept mum about this, that this is the third Flight 93 movie to be made.

At 10:11 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I can see how the left thinks the Iraq war was a diversion from the GWOT without agreeing with them, but how can you oppose wire tapping identified foreign terrorists talking to "Americans" residing in this country?

I dont buy the "civil liberties" argument from the left.'

Could it be that the Left is actually upset because it appears that Bush broke the law in issuing the wiretaps, when a legal framework for issuing them (FISA) was already in position?

Speaking as A DREADED EVIL LEFTY, I can tell you that if Bush had gone to the FISA court and gotten a warrant, there really wouldn't be a question.

It has less to do with issues of civil liberties (though that obviously comes into play when Americans are spied upon without warrants) and more to do with holding the president accountable to the rule of law.

At 10:53 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The name of the movie is United 93 not Flight 93.

At 11:00 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Speaking as A DREADED EVIL LEFTY, I can tell you that if Bush had gone to the FISA court and gotten a warrant, there really wouldn't be a question."

Yes there would. The question would be, "Why didn't Bush get a warrant from the UN International Criminal Court first? The calls were international, after all, and Bush is not above international law."

At 11:31 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Spanky, I wish it were true. I acknowledge that it is true for some percentage of the people on the left, that it was the principle that bothered them. But I think it would be more accurate to describe it as "disturbed by the principle, as they explained to themselves."

There was a counter-argument, that the president has this authority constitutionally, whether the congress specifically grants it or not. You might reject the argument as insufficient or unconvincing, but it is not a bizarre argument, and it is not nothing. For the President's opponents to go into screaming outrage suggests that they desired to get themselves worked up into a black-and-white frenzy, irrespective of the facts. That smacks of hiding behind principle rather than honoring it.

At 11:43 PM, April 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy! We get to see the real heroes as they really were. The camera pans as our lads rush to cockpit - of course Mahmood and Muhammed are guarding the door with their boxcutters - the action freezes and a Buddy Ebson type voice with a bit of twang to it tells the audience that people who aren't trained with edged weapons lock onto the eyes of advancing opponents and focus the attack on the eyes usually with downward slashing motions, sometimes just stabbing motions - the camera rolls and we get to see Joe from Jersey have his face slashed to the bone and blood spurts all over - he was one of the lead men in the charge forward - and we get to see the exposed teeth of mohammed, spittle starting to fly from his mouth - the actions continues and Bill the silent type in sales who never said where he was from has his teeth locked onto the face of Mahmood and as a hunk of flesh is ripped out the camera freezes and the Buddy Ebson type voice with a twang tells the audience that teeth are often used in hand-to-hand-to-the-death combat and the action starts again this time with sound and we hoarse screams of rage as Muhammed manages to slash the chest of Terry from Ohio who had played 2 years of college football - the camera flashes to the front seats where 61 year old Mary Williams lies crumpled on the floor covered in blood from when the initial assault by the terrorists took place and in order to shock and disrupt and to numb the passengers into compliance her face was repeatedly slashed with a boxcutter - the camera flashes to the back of the plane where an unidentified woman has broken off her fingernails in sheer terror clutching and grabbing at the seat in front of her totally unaware of what she has just done and where she is even at - in front of her an elderly man is vomiting and moaning in total shock unaware that the plane is about to soon nose dive - Tom from California in the assualt group to retake the cockpit has slipped and landed on top of old dead Mary Williams while a young man 3 rows back is pulling his hair rocking back and forth moaning - the camera freezes and the Buddy voice apologizes for not being able to convey the smells of vomit and reflexive bowel and bladder movements - the action starts and terrorists in the cockpit are slashing and screaming and Al from South Dakota has his finger jammed halfways into the eye socket of one terrorist but with only one eye of Al visible as the eyebrow of the other eye is hanging down - there is a crush of bodies in the cockpit and the plane starts its nose dive and we hear screams and more screams and the camera freezes on a large, orange ball of fire on the ground - Peanuts! Popcorn! Cold soda! Get it here! and audience shuffles out singing God Bless America on its way to Wal-Mart for a sale on lawnmowers.

Best Regards - Sparky and His Gang

At 12:04 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

I thought it interesting that, during Sunday night's West Wing episode, a softer commercial ran for "United 93." The Director spoke, very softly and soberly, about honoring the memory of the passengers. Kind of amazing we have come to a point where a soft-sell - "we won't make political points" - commercial is needed.

Separately: I am determined to counter the misinformation being put out(accidentally - I'm sure) about the FISA kerfluffle.

Spanky said:
"Bush broke the law in issuing the wiretaps, when a legal framework for issuing them (FISA) was already in position?"

The White House has stated - repeatedly and on the record - that they have not wiretapped w/o a warrant. The NSA passed leads to the FBI about the American parties to targeted international calls. Before 9/11, these leads about American parties were thrown out. The FBI would investigate, then ask FISC for warrants in some(less than 12 per year) cases. FISC was trying to protect the exixtence of the Gorelick Wall, and would turn down the FBI's requests in such instances. The FISC leaker/judges were complaining that they were being asked to breach the Gorelick Wall. They WERE NOT complaining the Bush/NSA were going around FISA, or that Bush/NSA was evading FISA in any way.
has done tremendous work researching this matter, along with many others, such as Captain's Quarters, and Protein Wisdom.

Spanky said:
"I can tell you that if Bush had gone to the FISA court and gotten a warrant, there really wouldn't be a question."

Bush/NSA went to the FISA court, and were turned down, due to the FISC's protecting the Gorelick Wall even after 9/11.

Spanky said:
"It has less to do with issues of civil liberties (though that obviously comes into play when Americans are spied upon without warrants) and more to do with holding the president accountable to the rule of law."

NO ONE who has been involved with FISA or NSA, and no Congressperson or Senator who has been briefed, is alleging Americans were spied upon without a warrant. The persons alleging this are ignorant of the facts. Some of them are willfully ignorant, allowing them to posture in public. I put Sen. Russ Feingold in this category.

At 12:10 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger gcotharn said...

Further, re FISA:

Assis Vill Id has it correct: this matter is far from black and white. What is happening now is elbowing amongst the Executive and the Legislative about who has what power. The Constitution was set up to allow such elbowing to decide such matters. That this area is somehow "settled law" is laughable demagoguery. Some very respected legal minds believe Bush has acted with circumspection, and could actually flex his Executive Branch muscle far more than he has. Note how Congresspersons - as they become familiar with the actual facts of the kerfluffle - almost uniformly stop criticism of it. It is an astounding dynamic, for those who have paid attention to such minutae.

At 12:41 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"o you honestly believe that a person on the left's politics put them at odds with portraying an act of terrorism realistically?"

Yes. Have you noticed how Hollywood assidously avoids having arab/islamic terrorist in fictional movies? They've even changed arab/muslim characters in the book into generic right wing fascists in the movie "The Sum of All Fears". It's not a matter of belief, it's demonstrable fact. Try it sometime.

At 7:09 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way Hollywood operates odds are that the director had publically state he is against the Iraq war in order for him to get Flight 93 made.

At 8:50 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder why Spanky hates the passengers of Flight 93 so?

Is it because they gave his beloved Jihadis a hard time?

At 9:13 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Tom Grey said...

It's late, certainly not too soon.

Hollywood is a disgrace; the change in the Sum of All Fears is a clear example.

Every internet beheading murder that Islamofascists have done should be a movie. There should be more movies with honest translations of Islamic mullahs and imams full of hate speech (which should not be illegal). There should be movies of the anti-Jewish cartoons that are so common in Muslim communities that riot over the Danish Mohammed cartoons (that were no more offensive than piss Christ or dung on Mary).

Despite Spanky the ignorant not knowing the legality or not of the President's actions, it didn't stop him from stating, as fact, that the President did something illegal. Willful ignorance if not a deliberate lie -- the type of Bush-hate falsehood that most objective folk see so often in Bush criticisms.

I'd be glad if Greengrass really was against the Iraq war, for some good reasons, to have a little bit more honest debate about it vs. the alternatives. Spanky neo-Leftist's dishonesty on Bush and wiretapping means it's unlikely he'll be available for honest criticism.

There should also be a movie about Darfur, with murder and rape scenes intermingled with Amnesty complaining about America in Iraq. The Left's near silence on Sudan is an indication that they really don't want to save Black Muslim lives enough to support WAR for that salvation -- and they don't have another reasonable way to stop genocide.

At 9:29 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:43 Anon,
That's some piece of writing there! Hate to admit it, you have a grain of hard truth. Many such movies were made during WW2, but back then we didn't go to WalMart afterwards. We went on night shift at the bomber plant.
But hard times are acoming, and we'll get our chance to measure up. Or not.

At 9:59 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like it or not folks, a big part of Hollywood's problem is not that it is anti-american, but rather that it is ULTRA-American, and by that I mean as American as capitalism. Hollywood movies today are rarely anything more than a barely-disguised attempt to maximize a return on an investment.

If you were putting up millions for a fictional movie about terrorism and hoping to get as big a bang for your buck as possible on the opening weekend, who would you rather make the terrorists? Thankfully, anonymous right-wing fascists groups haven't mounted many succesful boycotts lately.

On the other hand, Flight 93 is based on an actual event, so many (not all) of the facts about it are well known. There's not much tinkering they can do to the script without pissing somebody off, and God knows nobody wants "The Families of the Flight 93 victims" picketing their investment on opening weekend.

The problem that I have with things like this is that for me, a movie tends to trivialize the horror of the real event and turn it into something too close to a rousing Bruce Willis action vehicle for my tastes.

But for many people nowadays, it seems a thing just isn't real unless it's been represented somehow on film or video.

At 10:14 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Harvey, how could we have forgotten that?

The right-wing, redneck, Nascar loving audience all drive their gas-guzzling SUV's to the local Wal-Mart, where they bought cheap appliances and tacky clothes, rather than elegant and beautiful things, such as are sold at upscale places such as Restoration Hardware and Neiman Marcus.

Then they drove home and watched Fox News, while eating McDonald's hamburgers, planning a trip to Disneyland and enganging in Islamophobic thoughts as they gleefully reminisced about Amerikkka's history of racism, sexism, homphobism, murder of the Indians and overall badism.

(Whew, have I left anything out?)

At 10:21 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let's see if I understand Talin.

Stereotypes about conservatives lacking class because they like NASCAR and fast food: bad.

Stereotypes about liberals loving terrorists and hating their victims: ok.

And I was criticized as a troll?

At 10:38 AM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Grey,

Have you seen The Constant Gardner? That has a long set piece in Darfur. Also, on ER just the other night, a doctor goes to Darfur to try to help and sees all the badness.

But that doesn't matter to you; every damn Leftie on the planet could be jumping up and down, screaming about Darfur, while Bush continues to do or say nothing about Darfur, and all we'd hear from you is "those darn lefties, why don't they do anything about Darfur?"

I want to know why Republicans, who control all three branches of government and are at least in a position to try and enact legislation, don't really seem to be saying too much about Darfur either.

And seriously, what the hell is a "neo-leftist"?

At 11:05 AM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Jack Trainor said...

Further evidence on the Hollywood left's inability to deal with post 9-11 reality or the reality of Islam. This is from Universal's website for the film United 93. Note the "Why Do They Hate America?" frame for the web section explaining the context of the film:

The Crusades are a violent episode between Europe and the East. They begin in the eleventh century and last for several hundred years. One notable purpose of the Crusades was to take back the Holy Land (Jerusalem) from the Muslims. Europe succeeded in this endeavor in the first crusade. In the end, history has not looked kindly on this exposition that Pope Innocent II had declared a holy war against the infidels.
Islam rebounded and expanded with the creation of the Ottoman Empire...

Why Do They Hate America?

According to this passage Muslims appear to the be innocent victims of the Christian Crusades, who later "rebound" to create the Ottoman Empire. There is no mention of the brutal Islamic jihad that conquered, massacred, enslaved, and deported the Jews and Christians who had been living in the Middle East before Muhammad.

At 12:34 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Crusades are a violent episode between Europe and the East."


"They begin in the eleventh century and last for several hundred years."


"One notable purpose of the Crusades was to take back the Holy Land (Jerusalem) from the Muslims."


"Europe succeeded in this endeavor in the first crusade."

Does the America-hating Left know no bounds?

"In the end, history has not looked kindly on this exposition that Pope Innocent II had declared a holy war against the infidels."

Don't these terrorist lovers know that only Muslims can declare holy war?

"Islam rebounded and expanded with the creation of the Ottoman Empire..."

How dare they report historical fact!

Honestly, if this is the best you have as proof...

Muslims are portrayed as victims? In which sentence? The first one? The second? The third, that explains that the Crusades were (at least at first) meant to take the Holy Land back from the Muslims?

This is what happens when a) you become so hypersensitive to imaginary perfidy that you find everywhere you look, and b) when your historical understanding is so limited that everything must be viewed through the lends of the immediate present.

So we end up with Islam that is monolithically and eternally evil, Christianity that is monolithically and eternally good, just, and preyed upon by external enemies, Kamikaze pilots who were really Shintofascist suicide bombers, blah blah blah.

At 12:35 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, please! This has turned into exactly what Neo wrote about five posts ago. Can we address the topic rather than the other commenters, for a change?

"Greengrass doesn't seem to have let his politics interfere with his desire to make this movie. He really does appear to be interested in just presenting the facts, and letting the viewer decide. And that seems both refreshing and unusual to me."

At first, it was to me too. I have to admit, I'm sort of reflexively distrustful of someone willing to spout off what on the surface appears to be a pithy statement on such a complex situation. But then, I stepped back and thought about it (Yes, it's possible to do so!). Objectively, murder is murder, and horror is horror; the left and right may differ as to the methods of dealing with such, but in the end, pretty much everyone except psycopaths and criminals agree with that assesment. We share a lot more in common with each other in this country than we'd like to believe, you know.

Neo, the more I think about it, the more I'm not sure Greengrass or anyone else can even be at the point of thinking politics should interfere with the telling of such a story. United 93 was a story of innocent people being murdered by psycopaths with a delusional agenda. That cuts across any political boundary; it's a sheer human story. Yes, I'm aware that the narrative can be swung to either political wing, or even so far as to idiocies like "we had it coming", or "kill 'em all, let God sort them out". But if a film maker honestly approaches the story for its inherent values, then the final work can transcend any political feelings the individual film maker has. This, BTW, is a criticism I apply to journalists, too: More need to let the details of the story shape their conclusions, rather than the other way around. And that includes the right side of the news spectrum as well as the left. But back to the point: It's possible for a person to tease out the story behind the event, and let what happened affect the viewers according to their worldviews as opposed to stamping the work with one, single assesment. Not that there's nothing wrong with that -- it's a legitimate way of presenting a narrative, not to mention celebrated; look at Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky as one example out of the thousands. It's just that there's also value in not slathering a work with obvious emotional or political signatures. And one measure of the accomplished storyteller is the ability to present a story that cuts across differences and presents the qualities of the story on their own, to let the audience/viewer/news consumer draw conclusions of their own.

In short, it's possible for someone to fairly present this kind of story without personal political baggage. I'll admit, it's not a common thing to do so -- which is probably the source of your "refreshed" surprise, Neo -- but it is possible.


On a broader topic: Just how different are all of us, really? As another blogger has said:

"By historical terms, there's nothing "conservative" about my beliefs. And there's very little that's "conservative" about America (when was the last time you heard an American politician arguing that we should restore the old monarchy?) We are liberal democrats living in a liberal democracy with a liberal-democratic Constitution that's one of the world's finest and most ingenious political documents ever written. America was born out of liberal principles."

That from a blogger that no one would mistake for being a Democrat or a left-wing writer. Is it really accurate to call someone "conservative" or "Neocon", or "left wing" or "liberal" on the thin basis of short posts or comments on a small handful of topics? Or is that just our prejudice, as well as our reflex to label, talking?

Here's something from one of my favorite editorials, ever:

"Their (the terrorists' and their militant Islamic supporter's) constant refrain is that America is a country with wealth and power but "no values." The Islamic terrorists think our wealth and power is unrelated to anything in the soul of this country — that we are basically a godless nation, indeed the enemies of God. And if you are an enemy of God you deserve to die. These terrorists believe that wealth and power can be achieved only by giving up your values, because they look at places such as Saudi Arabia and see that many of the wealthy and powerful there lead lives disconnected from their faith.

Of course, what this view of America completely misses is that American power and wealth flow directly from a deep spiritual source — a spirit of respect for the individual, a spirit of tolerance for differences of faith or politics, a respect for freedom of thought as the necessary foundation for all creativity and a spirit of unity that encompasses all kinds of differences. Only a society with a deep spiritual energy, that welcomes immigrants and worships freedom, could constantly renew itself and its sources of power and wealth."

That happens to be from a liberal -- Tom Friedman -- who writes for a liberal source -- the New York Times. God knows I've wanted to fisk many of his articles many a time before, but fell back, wincing, due to the sheer size of the task. But, it's a mistake to accuse him of not understanding what our country faces in these times. It's certainly a mistake to apply any of the standard catch-all criticisms we on the right all too often apply to those on the left. Some of our differences are a matter of degree, not fundamental viewpoint.

Plus, we have in Friedman a liberal who supports the goals of the US in Iraq. Is it fair to tar all liberals with the "anti-war" tag?

Look, my point is that we're all too often attacking caricatures (<-- God bless spell check!), making comments on the surface appearance of a statement, making assumptions about someone based on "Well, you said this, so you must be that". Maybe Friedman's not a good example, since he's overall been supportive of the US goals in Iraq, if not necessarily the execution of such, and he's got a very free-market stance on the issue of Globalization (someone with a Times Select subscription can probably provide more context, as I've stopped reading him since he's gone behind the wall). But the point is, he's not a Neocon, he's not a Republican, but in that one column he wrote something that cuts across political boundaries and can appeal to any American, regardless of party, and he fearlessly tackles another topic -- Globalism -- that many don't view as a liberal cause. Is it really good mental excercise to repeatedly fall back on the same old canards with each other, as too many of us have been doing in this thread?

Neo's theme across almost all the posts in her blog -- with occasional deviations just for fun, of course -- is the topic of change, and seeing how an event has changed her worldview and forced her to reasses long held beliefs. And she's displayed an obvious interest in the process of change for other folks; look at some of her "changers" posts for what I mean. Right now, we have someone -- Greengrass -- who may or may not be a changer, but has displayed an ability to lay across what others would consider to be different political zones, at least as far as this movie is concerned. But no one ever sees individual components of their own worldview as being contradictory, so he almost certainly sees a consistency in opposing the Iraq war, but also accepting the worldviews of those affected by the Flight 93 tragedy, some of whom may be against the war too, and others of whom probably don't accept Iraq as enough (yes, I know Saddam was not responsible for 9/11; I'm talking about other people's potential viewpoints regarding the overall WOT, not individual reprisals for Flight 93). In short, we see in this film maker someone who appears to straddles disparate points and likely doesn't see any contradiction in doing so. The question that arises from that is, "why?". Possibly those differences are a lot more illusionary than we think? Or maybe he's simply mentally agile? Possibly, the subject itself doesn't truly lend itself to such simplification and sweeping generalities? Who knows? The point here is that there's a topic totally in the spirit of what Neo's blog is all about, which is the process of change, or at least re-examining one's own worldviews. Maybe we should be addressing that instead of throwing the standard, rehashed talking points at each other.

At 2:43 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only relevance the Crusades have to the current situation is that some of the Islamic radicals are using them as an excuse for their actions - as revengs for their past humiliations and/or to take back land that is rightfully theirs.

Arguing that we shouldn't condemn Islamist head-choppers today because some Christians chopped heads eight hundred years ago is asinine. If we don't hold a grudge against them for brutally attacking and occupying almost two-thirds of Europe, they shouldn't hold a grudge against us for retaliating in kind.

That was then, this is now.

At 3:01 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Saladin chopped off the Templar's heads, that he captured, because the Templars made a Holy Oath not to accept ransom for their lives.

Chopping off heads if you don't wanna play the hostage/ransom game is a very old and valued Arabic custom.

At 3:12 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...

Good thoughts, ElMondoHummus. (Great name, by the way!)

It has occurred to me before that, in fact, memories of 9/11 are not inherently political; what's political about them is how we use those memories to say other things.

It is extremely unfortunate -- especially to the families of the victims -- that 9/11 has become a political football. That someone who opposes the Iraq war could make a solidly affirmative movie about 9/11, and about United 93 in particular, gives me a great deal of hope: perhaps it's not yet too late to reclaim 9/11 as the property and history of all Americans, not just those who vote a particular way.

I have not seen the movie yet, but I plan to do so. Among other reasons, I believe that we live in an age that has spurned heroes... and that we do ourselves a tremendous disservice by doing so.

I believe that, as human beings, we need to be inspired to greatness... and part of the way we've always done that has been through stories of heroes, doing great things that we want to believe we could have done in their place.

(As the Billy Dean song says: "That's why they call them heroes / And the best thing they ever do / Is point to the best in us all / And say: "If I can, you can too.")

We already have far more fictional heroes than we could possibly need. I don't want to go see another movie with James Bond or Indiana Jones or Spiderman; I don't want to see Bruce Willis or Antonio Banderas or Keifer Sutherland playing yet another fictional hero, forcing me to suspend disbelief yet again in the world around me.

We have heroes, real heroes, who really have faced death knowingly and unflinchingly, to serve a cause bigger than themselves and people they would never meet. Some have lived to tell the tale themselves; some died for us, and need the help of other people to get their story told.

Either way, these are stories that we need to hear.

Daniel in Brookline

At 3:14 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For verily, no Christian has ever chopped off the head of anyone!

Again, this is the problem when you don't know enough history, so you try to understand everything through a framework of the immediate present. Evil Muslims chop off heads now. A Muslim chopped off heads almost a thousand years ago. Looks like nothing has changed in a thousand years!

This, of course, relies on the premise that Islam is unitary, monolithic, and unchangeing. The circumstances of Salidan's actions are as different as modern-day jihadi terrorist violence as the atrocities of Cortez are to modern day Spaniards.

But I guess if you're looking for a simple explanation to complex issues, then it's really easy to say "Islam is bad, this is why Muslims do bad things." It's wrong, of course, to deny that billions of people aren't and haven't been chopping off heads while being Muslim, just as it would be wrong to deny that lots of people eat bread without becoming serial killers, but it's certainly easy.

At 3:30 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush continues to do or say nothing about Darfur

Hey Spanky, looks like Bush is coming through for you. You have to surf over to the Whitehouse site to read all about it. Shall I loan you an “I Like Bush” pin; I’ve got a couple of extras?

At 3:40 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bully for him. Now, check to see if the Democrats are saying anything. If they're not, I owe Tom a cookie. If they are, he owes me shutting up.

At 3:43 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, but that's really beside the point. Tom can't stop harping on the notion that the lack of action on Darfur is really the Democrat's fault. I'm sorry, the Republicans control all three branches of government. If they really cared about this then they'd at least try to get something through, but they don't. The problem is that nobody cares about Darfur, really. Unfortunately, there's not really a whole lot that we can do.

But none of that matters to Tom, whom I'm pretty sure is insane. Tom believes not only that the Democrats don't care about Darfur, but that they're somehow using their dark magic to stop Bush from doing or saying things about Darfur. Crazy old coot.

At 5:18 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I got no problem with your argument against characterizing Muslims as head-choppers and Islam as a naturally head-chopping religion. I agree with it because Mo down at the 7-11 doesn't chop my head off when I stop by for a Slurpee after work. He is not monolithic, nor is he unitary. I'm not sure whether he's homogeneous. Frankly, that's none of my business. He is letting his beard grow, though - so I'm keeping an eye on him.

Maybe I misunderstood your original point, or you missed mine. What I have a problem with is people pointing to the Crusades as an example of Christian barbarity when we're discussing Muslim barbarity - as if to say "Well, we're just as bad." To me, that's just a non-argument. The same statements you make about Islam can also be made about Christianity - namely that Christianity is not monolithic (it wasn't in the Middle Ages, either, although Roman Catholicism was certainly dominant), and that more Christians *didn't* participate in the Crusades, inquisitions, and witch burnings than did.

You could also say that the Old Testament contains at least as many exhortions to slaughter unbelievers as the Koran does, but that despite this people of both faiths have - at certain times and in certain places - managed to live in peace with each other.

I would suggest that the violence that appears to be a part of Islamic culture comes from its long association with warlike desert nomads, not from any characteristic of Islam itself. Christianity + Knights in Shining Armor = Crusades. Difference is, our knights went away a long time ago. The nomads are still alive - in spirit, anyway. And they like it that way.

Does that make any sense at all?

At 6:02 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


That really was my point - that the Crusades contained many examples of Christian barbarity - and that this doesn't mean that you and I have any culpability as the heirs to that culture, and more than anyone is responsible for what anyone did hundreds of years ago.

It really irks me, to no end, when people try to do this - to argue that because Muslims did bad things then, that this explains why other Muslims do bad things now, or that Christians alive today bear some sort of stain for what was done then. But what really, really gets me is the notion that unless you portray history according to rigid, Manichean terms, rather than historical fact, then you're somehow excusing or justifying terrorism.

Heaven forbid you commit the heresy of pointing out that Christians have commited terrorism, and that Muslims have done good things. Saying these things isn't an attack on good people or support for bad people - it's a simple statement of fact. Admitting that the Crusades weren't an example of Islam's unrelenting attempts to destroy all that is good and pure in Western Civilization isn't a statement of anti-American hatred or blah blah blah.

The result of this is the sort of hypervigilance we're seeing here: if someone has the audacity to portray historical Muslims as anything but slavering monsters out for the blood of innocents, then they're out to destroy America, or something like that.

"the violence that appears to be a part of Islamic culture"

SB, we're going to part ways here. There is no such thing as Islamic culture, anymore than there is such a thing as "Christian culture", except in a way that is so general as to be useless. Violence isn't a Muslim thing, it's a human thing, and Islam's long association with desert nomads ended as soon as it started - the first conquests of Islam rapidly transformed it into an urban civilization. Of course there are still nomads in parts of the Muslim world, just as there are still nomadic Lapps in Finland and Sweden.

Look, if you're trying to understand terrorist violence, it's certainly easy to run off ideas like this, but they're going to be wrong.

At 6:06 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than obessing endlessly about the Crusades (by the way---good post, SB), I think it would be more productive to take a look at more recent Middle-Eastern history: the break up of the old Ottoman empire after WWI, the attempt of the gentlemen behind the Treaty of Versailles to create new nations there where none had existed before, Ibn Qtub, founder of the Moslem Brotherhood, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and his alliance with Hitler, and Communist Russia's actions in helping terrorist groups throughout the region.

I think the current agression and dysfunction rampant in the Arab world today is far more connected to what happened in the 19th-20th Centuries, than it is to the Crusades.

P.S. I've always thought it ridiculous to equate modern American Baptists, Islamophilic British Anglicans and the world-weary, not-very-religous French with fighting Crusader Knights of the 11th-12th Centuries. We moderns possess few of their vices----and few of their virtues, too.

P.P.S. Also, here's a question I've been dying to ask for a long time: how many Americans fought in the Crusades? How many Crusaders did the United States send to the aid of, say, Richard the Lionheart, Frederick Barbarossa, St. Louis or any of the 6 kings of Jerusalem who ruled before the Battle of Hattin?

(The answer, of course, is absolutely none. This, by itself, should be enough to shut up those who want to blame the current war on terror to the Crusades, but, unfortunately, it never does).

P.S. I'm also curious

At 6:10 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I would also think the fact that America saved Moslems in the chaos that was formerly Yugoslavia; that they assisted them against the Russians when the latter invaded Afghanistan; that it has poured billions of aid dollars into places such as Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, etc.,; that it sent help to Moslem victims of the tsunammi, and that it done many other favors for the Islamic world, should be enough to wipe out the supposedly horrid memory of the Crusades, which has supposedly haunted Islam all these centuries.

At 6:23 PM, April 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A gentle reminder to please stop feeding the trolls.

This film even though realistic qualifies as propaganda, war propaganda. It's the kind of film that people can watch and identify the good guys and bad guys without any problem. And they want to kill the bad guys and keep the good guys from dying. It's reality filming and everybody dies and it's a bummer. Then you realize, hey I'm still alive. People I love are still alive. We really owe those people on that plane.

It's real, it's good, it's propaganda. No contradiction.

At 9:54 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

ElMondoHummus: Thoughtful comment with much food for thought.

At 11:45 AM, April 29, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

I've corrected the title of the movie in the title of this post. It seems it was the A&E version that was called "Flight 93."

At 5:37 AM, April 30, 2006, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Going in, I was sure I was ready for this ... I'm glad I saw it, but I have to admit I found several moments of the final act, knowing how it would all end, simply unwatchable ... That said, but not tacking any over politics onto this harrowing tale, Greengrass was able to simply drive home the message that we are constantly at war with terror

At 11:15 AM, April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think we need part ways on the issue of Islamic culture. And I think the Camel's way of analyzing the current situation is more productive than talking about the Clash of Civilizations.

(BTW - I think Spanky & The Talkin Camel would be a great name for a sitcom.)

I have to ask, though, what your response would be if someone pointed out that about the first thing Muhammad did after receiving the Holy Koran from God was take up the sword and use it on unbelievers? If the Prophet himself engaged in holy war (not "jihad = self-improvement" but actual blood and conquest), wouldn't that seem to place religious violence somewhere near the center of Islam's belief systems? And that, in turn, must have some effect on its practitioners regardless of which of the many "Islamic cultures" they live in?

I guess this is in connection with the "Islam is a religion of peace" line we were endlessly fed after 9/11. One of my pet peeves, actually. If Islam is not monolithic, and you can't characterize it as a violent religion, then neither can you characterize it as a "religion of peace." It's whatever its practitioners make it.

Asking respectfully to continue the discussion - not spanking Spanky.

At 5:19 PM, April 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Spanky & the Talkin' Kamel?"

Heh, heh, heh. . .

Seriously, just to add a few more things---the Crusades cannot be reasonably blamed for modern Moslem hostilities against Christians in Indonesia, Nigeria, Black Christians and Animists in the Sudan, Christian Filipinos, Hindus or the Chinese. None of these groups were ever been involved in any sort of Crusading army, or have any connection whatsoever with the noble French houses of the Middle-Ages, who were the ones primarily responsible for organizing the Crusades. Many of these nations didn't even exist in their modern day form at the time. They certainly did nothing to help the Crusaders in their wars against the Saracens, at any time.

To try and blame the oppression and terrorism they're subjected to by contemporary Islam, or to excuse it as being an understandable reaction to the actions of European Knights and nobleman hundreds of years ago, is simply absurd.

At 8:36 AM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine that for every American who believes that Muslims are terrorists now because they are heirs to a civilization that once tried to conquer Vienna, there is someone in the Middle East who believes that the US is an imperialist aggressor there because we are the heirs of the civilization of the Crusaders.

Apparently, a dim understanding of history isn't a problem unique to any part of the world.

At 12:08 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spankylopithecus Africanus,

I'm not a ME expert (as you know), but I seem to recall reading somewhere that Arabs still enjoy hearing songs and stories about their "legendary" past - the exploits of Saladin, etc. That is, they have an active oral history that keeps the past alive for them in a way Europeans are no longer familiar with. Our history is relegated to books - theirs is recited and sung every day in coffee houses and other public places.

How many of us sit around reading "El Cid?" out loud for pleasure?

I know this may be a generalization (and you hate those!), but it seems possible for this reason that the Crusades are more relevant to people in the Middle East than they are for Europeans and Americans. Not sure how this applies to more prosperous or "westernized" Arabs and Muslims, though.

I guess what we really need is a Muslim to help us sort out all this info and mis-info.

Volunteers? Anybody?

At 12:10 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Camel - sorry, that last comment was addressed to you as well.

Not trying to argue, just trying to understand.

At 12:13 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine that for every American who believes that Muslims are terrorists now because they are heirs to a civilization that once tried to conquer Vienna, there is someone in the Middle East who believes that the US is an imperialist aggressor there because we are the heirs of the civilization of the Crusaders.

...or it might have something to do with all those American soldiers tromping around in their countries...

At 12:59 PM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Heirs of the Roman Empire and their Centurion Legions. People g0t to get their pocking history straight.

Do you people remember that the US has a Senate. Let me spell it out for you.


Senatus Populus Quirites Romanus

Crusader bs. The Crusaders were a bunch of military illterate barbarians and ignoramuses, with no military training and a bunch of retarded stupid thugs as foot soldiers. The Muslims and Americans know better than to compare the US to the crusaders.

America is known for our superior infantry, called the US Marines. Let me translate that as the Roman Legion for you Crusader fans.

There is no such thing as Islamic culture, anymore than there is such a thing as "Christian culture",

Anyone ever see Joel broadcasted on tv?


Joel Osteen is in front of a big group of people, big. Stadium.

Btw, when I say Kamel. I pronounce it Camille. Before, I didn't pronounce it at all, because I can recognize words just by looking at the first 4 letters. So Talkin satisfies the requirements, no need to do the rest (Ymar Sakar works the same way)

Sounds mediterranean, Camille. Not the crusaders though.

We could go all the way back to the Parthians, when they jacked and surrounded Caesar's triumverate partner and crushed his Legion with massed horse archery fire.

Those Parthians were hard to crack for the Romans, because the terrain was not very good on the infantry and hell on heavy cataphracts.

cataphract sounds like an eye problem, but it's just knights.

It's funny. Cause the "Persian dehgans" were like the only people (descended from the Parthains obviously) the Romans had lots and lots of trouble conquering. West and East. 0 Ad or 500 AD.

Now fast foward, The United States Senate is talking about Amannie and how it is hard to deal with him. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

At 1:52 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes! Of course! A situation from thousands of years ago bears superficial resemblance, in a vague and contrived way, to a situation of the present! What can't we learn from apeing this situation?

And herein lies the uselessness of trying to apply to history the lense of the immediate present. All Muslims throughout history become terrorists. All interaction with our enemies short of killing them all becomes "appeasement," because apparently people's knowledge of the Second World War is limited to a few months in 1938. Our Senate, because we use a similar word, becomes just like the Roman Senate, so of course we should do exactly what they did! Badgers' snouts, anyone?

"Anyone ever see Joel broadcasted on tv? Christian. Joel Osteen is in front of a big group of people, big. Stadium."

I love this. In Yammer's stilted English, he is declaring that Joel Osteen is an icon of "Christian" culture because he speaks in front of a big group of people, big. Stadium.

Considering that the vast majority of people in Western civilization do not attend religious services in big. Stadium. I can only wonder why Yammer thinks this is in someway representative of, say, the varieties of "Christian civilization" as varied as urbanized, secular Americans and rural peasant farmers in Ethiopia. They probably have about as much in common as, say, a Somali suffi, a pious Saudi, a Malay businessman, and a secular, urban Bosnian.

Hence the difficulty and uselessness of speaking in grand, sweeping terms like "Islam" and "Christianity."

On a side note, Yammer, it was the Parthians, not the Romans, who made use of cataphracts. Cataphracts did not become the mainstay of the Roman military until after the fall of Rome, when every Roman spoke Greek instead of Latin. The Romans of the time of the Parthian wars relied on heavy infantry.

At 2:06 PM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

No, the Romans used them as well. I wasn't refering only to the Western Roman Empire.

One of th reasons the Romans adopted heavy cataphracts is because only heavy horse can unseat another heavy horse. The logistics however, remained unchanged. You would have to water and feed the horse as it rode across the sun bleached lands, with the armor soaking up the heat and the thirst. While the Parthians or those who were descended from them, knew all the oasis and secret routes.

They could get to a place of decisive battle the firstest with the mostest. Which is why the land the Parthians had was brutal one cataphracts, of the Roman version, but not the cataphracs the Parthians used.

The Romans didn't use cataphracts early on precisely because of the logistics and the amount of terrain that had to be traversed.

The Allies in WWI didn't use tanks either, cause it couldn't go very far. War changes very many strategic calculations.

If you look closely, I didn't claim Caesar's buddy used cataphracts when he got ambushed by Parthian horsemen.

At 2:12 PM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Flight 93 reminded me of this bit of poem/prose.

What was the start of all this?
When did the cogs of fate begin to turn?

Perhaps it is impossible to grasp that answer now,
From deep within the flow of time.

But, for a certainty, back then,
We loved so many, yet hated so much.
We hurt others and were hurt ourselves...

Yet, even then we ran like the wind.
Whilst our laughter echoed,
Under cerulean skies...

At 2:40 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


To be honest, I think we do need an unbiased, honest Moslem historian to clear this one up, or, at least one better-versed in modern Middle-Eastern folklore, and its transmission.

My understanding, reading western historians such as Bernard Hamilton, et al, is that Saladin was actually a rather mediocre general, and actually less admired than other, more ruthless and successful Islamic generals, such as Baybars; that Saladin was actually more popular with 14th Century Christian minstrels, who helped created the image of the perfect, Saracen Paladin; an image that Sir Walter Scott burnished in his novels about the Crusades.

Certainly, his tomb had fallen into ruin, and he seemed to be barely remembered when Kaiser Wilhelm traveled to the Middle-East, and had it refurbished. (It must be remembered that Saladin was a Kurd, a minority group that was looked down on in the Middle-East back then, the same as now---which makes it so hilarious when somebody like Saddam Hussein, who gassed Kurds, tries to pass himself off as a "Second Saladin.")

So, some historians have traced Saladin's Islamic popularity to the 19th Century, rather than the time of the Crusades; however, I don't speak Arabic, I haven't been in any Islamic coffee houses recently, it's quite possible they are telling stories about him. For that, we'd need a friendly Arab folklorist---we'd also need his help on determining how old these tales are; if they really date from the time of the Crusades, or if they're later inventions, created to boost Islamic self-esteem in the wake of the Arab-Israeli wars, the collapse of the caliphate and the Ottoman empire and other events which Moslems have seen as disastrous.

Just two last points---the real Saladin, as opposed to his legend, is difficult to pin down, and it's hard to get a picture of the man he really was. When something does come through, it can be rather shocking for those of raised on the image of him as a courtly and merciful Paladin. He did have a cruel strike, and his piety seems almost as rigid as that of, say, the Ayatollah Khomeini's.

And, lastly, if it is indeed true that Moslems are keeping their history, their heritage alive in stories and popular culture, then it's time we started to do the same---and not with idiot movies such as, "Kingdom of Heaven" (in fact, it'd probably be better to leave Hollywood completely out of such a revival).

At 2:44 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One of th reasons the Romans adopted heavy cataphracts is because only heavy horse can unseat another heavy horse."

Excuse me? This is news to me, as well as to every light cavalry that ever defeated heavy European cavalry, whether it by the Mongols or the Turks or the Arabs or...

"The Allies in WWI didn't use tanks either, cause it couldn't go very far."

WHAT????????!!!!?????? What are you smoking? The Allies developed and deployed the first tanks ever used during the First World War.

"Those Parthians were hard to crack for the Romans, because the terrain was not very good on the infantry and hell on heavy cataphracts."

So, the Romans found it difficult to defeat the Parthians because they couldn't use, presumeably, their heavy calvarly, of which the Romans didn't make use of for centuries. This sentence doesn't make any sense unless you are talking about Roman heavy calvary.

And this is where everyone left should stop taking anything Yammer says seriously at all.

At 3:16 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, my last comment seems to be lost. So I'll just offer this:

"The Allies in WWI didn't use tanks either, cause it couldn't go very far."

Yammer, the Allies invented and deployed the first tanks during the First World War One. Here's a brief list of engagements in that war in which the Allies used tanks:

The Somme
The Nivelle Offensive
Spring Offensives, 1918

And so on. Your credibility is now at: zero.

At 5:19 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TC - Very interesting! That's why I come to this blog - some actual, useful info actually filters through the bile once in a while. Or is that spleen? I always get those mixed up...


At 6:59 PM, May 01, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The Allies in WWI didn't use tanks either, cause it couldn't go very far. War changes very many strategic calculations.

If you look closely, I didn't claim Caesar's buddy used cataphracts when he got ambushed by Parthian horsemen.

If you look closely, I said war changes strategic calculations. The strategic calculation that tanks that don't move far should not be used.

If Spank actually started thinking instead of being the untrained attack dog that he is, it would be rather simple to realize the logic connections between cataphracts and tanks, and why they were not used and when they were.

But that's too much to ask, of course. Spank will continue to believe nobody has credibility, Spank will continue to believe everyone is less smart and wise than he is, and Spank will continue to be what is called an immature person.

Personally, I don't need Spank's version of credibility, I fear it is rather contagious and very bad.

At 7:46 PM, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words, SB.

And a few last words of mine, on the subject.

I would like to see the West start regaining, and loving, its own culture again: not just rock and roll, or popular T.V., like American Idol, but our entire cultural history: our literature, our science, our art, all of it, even if that means reading "El Cid" out loud for the fun of it again.

One problem is that so much of it is seen as "politically incorrect" we've been discouraged from studying it more deeply.

At 11:00 AM, May 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TC - Amen.

To get back on the subject, I still have no intention of seeing United 93, nor will I purchase the United 93 coffee-table book, wear a United 93 t-shirt, buy United 93 Action Figures with Smoking Hole Carrying Case, attend the Broadway musical production of United 93, listen to the disco version of the United 93 theme song, or ask for a United 93 Happy Meal at McDonalds.

But I will read the book...

At 12:03 PM, May 02, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I really don't know why people get emotion by seeing the ending. Maybe it is because I saw Flight 93 the A and E version, and it was more accurate, more historical, less dramatic, so...

Or, it could be because I didn't get that feeling of helplessness from watching the end. The philosophy of the warrior and the way of the sword, holds many soothing balmes when you see people meet death fighting instead of cowering.

It's like religion. You know God's behind you, so resurrection and good stuff is no big deal.

I can perhaps understand why people may feel strong debilitating emotions. But I'm one of the few that will that my emotions are just as powerful, yet slightly different in harmonics.

To me, Flight 93's beginning and ending was both fortuitous and by providence. In the end, it was glorious, not sad.

I heard on Fox that some audience member said he wasn't going to see this because it was the story of a plane crash. No sir, it is a story of a band of brothers and sisters doing their duty to protect their countrymen, and the deaths that they could not avoid when they did their duty. It is not the story of a plane crash.

I salute them, as they richly deserved, for theirs is the honor and the glory, and the power.

The military gives out Medals of Honor for such acts of bravery and the success in saving the lives of their brethren. They do not give out the Medal of Honor for those who succeded in saving themselves, but no others.

Courage isn't enough. The terroists were scared in the end, yet they did what they saw as their duty, to crash the plane. Courage is not enough, to be a hero.

To me, the people and leaders on Flight 93 deserved the Medal of Honor. Surprise, indeed, is a state of mind.

At 10:10 AM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The philosophy of the warrior and the way of the sword, holds many soothing balmes when you see people meet death fighting instead of cowering."

HA! Yammer, reading about imaginary warriors fighting imaginary wars and following an imaginary philosophy does not, in any way, mean that you follow a philosophy of the warrior. Chances are you have never fought, are not fighting, and will never fight. The very idea of you following "the way of the sword" is just so rediculous I can't help but laugh.

You follow a simulacrum of an image of a fantasy. Sorry, chum. I know you derive lots of satisfaction from imagining what you would do if you were on that plane and had a lightsaber and all that, but you weren't and didn't.

At 10:56 AM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish this discussion were "live."

Then we might witness the thrilling spectacle of Spanky vs. Ymarsakar in a gut-wrenching, bone-crunching, fat-rendering test of super x-treme ninja skillz!

Well, I can dream, can't I?

At 11:02 AM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. - My old man was a Warrior. He defined his mission as "Dropping bombs on little yellow people" and his philosophy as "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

At 11:16 AM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I learned my x-treme ninja skillz from reading "WarTech 7: The Way of the X-Treme Ninja."

This is where I learned my mad counterinsurgency skillz.

At 11:38 AM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's "super x-treme ninja skillz."

Don't sell youself short. False modesty is an insult to the true nature that exists within the inner being of the Super X-Treme Ninja warrior.

For what it's worth, I think Ymar makes some good comments here. Not sure the warrior-ethos stuff doesn't sometimes obscure what he's really trying to say, though.

I can tell he types a lot faster than I do, though. My skillz must be rusty.

At 1:41 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The philosophy of the warrior, not a philosophy. It's not morally relevant based.

One person's warrior is the same as another, regardless of skin tone or what defense industry he works for.

I think people might want to help Spank get off his addiction on games and game terminology. Is there a Gamers Anonymous we can send SPank to perhaps?

The warrior ethos isn't followed much. But scientifically it's the philosophy that men are expendable and women are not. Or as Bookworm calls it, manly men.

I tend to think if people don't get it, it doesn't help much if I try to explain. How do you explain virtue and courage? Other than the usual cliches of course.

I think Spank has taken the "projection" thing to an entirely new psychological level.

At 3:16 PM, May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But scientifically it's the philosophy that men are expendable and women are not."

Oh, I see. Scientifically, it's a philosophy.

Are you even aware of what you type, or do you just apply your fingers to a keyboard and see what comes out?

But I wonder, Yammer, since you take comfort from following The Way of the Pretend Warrior, or Nerdshido. What have you done to exemplify these qualities, such as courage and virtue?

Bravely standing up to liberals who were making fun of you on an online forum does not count as courage. Sorry, Yammer.

At 11:34 PM, May 03, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Why do people have problems with courage and discipline, that they try to tear down other people?

I'm not a mean person, but that's just because it doesn't make sense to me to apply violence and not intend to kill people. Don't start fights cause it is fun, and don't kill people just cause you like it.

It's not courage to stand up to Spank, that's just common sense. It takes rather something else, at times in contrast with courage, which is discipline. It takes discipline to deal with children, people who persist in behaving immaturely and insist on personally attacking and tearing down people they don't like. As a way to show their beer muscles. People get angry when they get targeted like that.

Disciplined people don't get angry, they get calmer, and that's what makes them dangerous. They're not hotheads, they aren't going to do things cause you make them angry and hurt their feelings.

At 2:16 AM, May 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Violence isn't a Muslim thing, it's a human thing"

Violence isn't a human thing, it's a nature thing. Animals are violent. The real inanity of that statement is that it equates Islam and all other cultures in terms of violence. As if there were no difference between Imperial Japan, or The Romans, or the Aztecs for that matter, and we here in the United States who won't even execute Mossaoui. Go pick up a book on the history of Islam, it's a nearly continuous string of warfare and intersectarian violence- the violence 'of christianity' pales in comparison. I put it as 'of christianity' because many of the violent episodes that are attributed to christianity are almost completely political and not religious at the root. Ireland is a perfect example. It's not Protestants vs. Catholics really, it's loyalists vs. nationalists, plain and simple. The rest is just convenience labeling.

At 1:22 PM, May 05, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Douglass, it's not about reading history books, contrary to what Spank says all the time. I term the conflict as one of interpretation, not one of learning facts. Spank has all the facts that I do, and he knows about Islamic culture as well. It is the interpretation that is so different, and one of the ways to cover that up, is to talk about facts. I'm not saying you're doing it, but that you should not return the favor to Spank, because it really isn't about reading, it is about comprehension. Spank's comprehension is wrong, regardless of what he historical facts he digs up.

At 3:02 AM, May 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the sentiments expressed by the neo neocon. I stumbled across the following free songs that further reflect my sentiments as it concerns the profoundly influential events of 9/11. They are by that young new artist some are referring to as a modern-day neocon's Bob Dylan. Most of you have probably already heard these songs on the radio, but for those who haven't, I'd like to share them with you:

United 93 (the unofficial movie theme)
words and music by Dr. BLT (c)2006

One September Mournin'
words and music by Dr. BLT (c)2006

Autumn's Castaway
words and music by Dr. BLT & DJ EJ


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