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First they came for the communists,
but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists
and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they
came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they
came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
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|Roman Polanski as Arbiter of Morality? - Thursday, February 25, 2010
Roman Polanski as Arbiter of Morality?
Ghost Writer or Poison Pen
David C. Stolinsky, MD
If you are going to see Roman Polanski’s latest film “The Ghost Writer,” don’t read this until after you see it. Or better still, read this and don’t see it.
Not that the film is poorly made − it isn’t. Yes, it’s at least 15 minutes too long. But in general, it is competently directed and well acted. Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams and Tom Wilkinson put in engaging performances. No, my complaints are not cinematic − they are moral and factual. My complaints concern who made the film, and what he is trying to tell his audience.
The story involves a ghost writer who is hired to complete the autobiography of a former British prime minister, a thinly disguised Tony Blair character. The ex-politician is pursued by a mob of war protestors, who look like stale leftovers from a 1960s anti-war rally. He is being investigated for “war crimes” by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because of accusations that he transferred three suspected terrorists to the CIA to be “tortured.”
You can see where this is going. As the court is mentioned, a character notes that America does not recognize it, nor do Russia, China, North Korea and other undemocratic regimes. Here some in the theater audience laughed derisively, as Polanski intends.
Of course, the liberal laughers would never subject themselves to a foreign court that enforces vague laws without benefit of our constitutional guarantees. The Heritage Foundation states, “Americans who appear before the court would be denied such basic constitutional rights as trial by a jury of one’s peers, protection from double jeopardy, and the right to confront one’s accusers.” But no matter − to a liberal, anything called “international” must be good.
Nor do the liberal laughers stop to consider whether it is a good idea to criminalize politics. They want to prosecute George W. Bush for conducting a war repeatedly authorized by Congress, and they want to prosecute Tony Blair for conducting a war repeatedly authorized by Parliament, because they call the war “illegal.” To the liberal critics, “illegal” is defined as, “I really don’t like this.”
But what if the tables were turned? What if Bill Clinton were prosecuted for bombing Serbia without U.N. or Congressional approval? What if Barack Obama were prosecuted for drone attacks in Pakistan without U.N. or Congressional approval? How would liberals like “their” presidents hauled off to face a foreign court? No, that wouldn’t please them at all. But to consider that possibility would require something more than parroting leftist mantras.
Even worse, as the “CIA torture” is mentioned, a brief cut shows a prisoner on his back, with water being poured into his mouth − which is forcibly held open. This is a lie. In fact, the CIA waterboarded exactly three high-value unlawful combatants, one of whom − Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or KSM − revealed information that led to forestalling terrorist attacks, including attacks on airliners and Los Angeles.
Waterboarding was nothing like the scene portrayed by Polanski. Read “Courting Disaster” if you want to discover what really went on, and the attacks that were prevented.
· In fact, the interrogation techniques were no worse, and sometimes milder, than what is endured by basic trainees in the armed services, and surely milder than that undergone by prospective Special Forces soldiers, Force Recon Marines or Navy SEALS.
· In fact, the death rate for enemy prisoners during the War on Terror is only one-eighth of the death rate for German prisoners of war in Allied hands during World War II. (See “Courting Disaster,” pages 181-182.)
· In fact, during World War II the German SS massacred at least 86 captured Americans at Malmédy. After this, and after we began liberating concentration camps run by the SS, we took very few SS prisoners. A typical order states, “No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoners but will be shot on sight.” This was not rough interrogation to obtain lifesaving information. It was vengeance − entirely understandable, but vengeance nonetheless.
Rather than treating enemy prisoners worse than in former times, in general we are treating them better. What is worse is the criticism. Those who spread anti-American slander are − intentionally or not − aiding our enemies and making future terrorist attacks more likely.
In their professed concern for the comfort of terrorists like KSM, the critics are spitting on the graves of the terrorists’ victims. Among his other charming actions, KSM was a planner of 9/11, as well as taking time off to behead American journalist Daniel Pearl. This is a striking illustration of the proverb that he who is merciful to the cruel will in the end be cruel to the merciful. The more mercy we squander on terrorists and criminals, the less we have for their victims − until we have none at all.
As a result of his pending prosecution by the International Criminal Court, the Tony Blair character in the film dares not go home to Britain and must remain in America. The irony here is so thick you could choke on it:
· We have Polanski, for many years a fugitive from justice who dares not come to America, depicting a British fugitive from justice who dares not leave America.
· We have a character who saved many lives by his courageous anti-terrorist actions, and we must sit and see him defamed by a director who enjoys drugging and raping 13-year-old girls. Talk about an inverted moral compass!
But it gets even worse. The Tony Blair character is not really responsible for his “war crimes.” You see, unknown to him, his wife is a covert CIA agent. She influenced him to act in the interests of America − which are assumed to be evil. This is an example of the “devil” theory of world events. To Nazis and other anti-Semites, “the Jews” are responsible for all the ills of the world. To leftists, “the Americans” are responsible. But otherwise, the same irrational world-view applies.
One need not examine problems to find the real causes. One need only blame them. No deep thought. No honest examination of the facts. Just prejudice laced with ignorance and bitterness. Just contempt for America specifically, and for ordinary people in general.
A reason leftists dislike America is that it honors and empowers the ordinary people whom the “elite” look down upon as too ignorant to know what is good for them, and who therefore need to be ruled by − surprise! − the “elite.” Is nationalized health care unpopular? No matter. President Obama and the Democratic leadership intend to shove it down the throats the poor, ignorant masses.
European leftists, and those who imitate them, are made uncomfortable by our respect for ordinary people. They are accustomed to being ruled − first by kings, then by dictators, then by central committees, and now by bureaucrats. They are accustomed to looking down on ordinary people, using them and − in the extreme − abusing them. They are clearly not accustomed to standing up for the abused. Which brings us back to Polanski.
I wanted to see Polanski’s film, but I did not want to support him financially. I hoped to buy a ticket to another film in the multiplex, then sneak into “The Ghost Writer.” But this theater checks tickets, so I was forced to buy the correct one. Whether you wish to support child molesters who make anti-American films is your decision.
The praise the film has already garnered, and the support for Polanski in his legal troubles, make it all too clear that the leftist “elite” view child rape with the same benign tolerance with which they view terrorism. They reserve their condemnation for those who prosecute the molesters and fight the terrorists. I am proud to be a citizen of the nation that earns their hostility.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.