Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Villains in Disguise

Part of the reasoning behind my post "Sometimes You Just Can't Side With the Hero" came from another example of something I wanted to side with but couldn't. What I'm referring to is the film An American Carol, which came out some time last year.

When I first heard about the premise I thought it had a ton of potential. Between Kelsey
Grammer's sophisticated intellectual humor sensibilities and David Zucker's silly slapstick it seemed like this film would have a little something for everyone. That is of course until it served to remind me precisely why the association between Objectivists and conservatives goes only so far.

The plot was a retelling of Dickens' A Christmas Carol with Michael "Malone" (Moore) in Scrooge's place and abolition of the Fourth of July as his goal. It starts out interestingly enough with Malone painting Cuba as an island paradise but it starts to fall apart quicker than you'd think. There's a lot of extremely vague Anti-American sentiment coming from Malone which, if someone were critiquing this (and I guess that I am), they could say that it plays right into Moore's regular statements that his view of America is the valid one and he's the real patriot while all the
Conservatives are the fascist bastards. Granted, you could say that this is just a comedy and I shouldn't think too deeply, but I don't like package deals and I refuse to laugh at someone if you try to lump in the (microscopically few) things he's right about with the (astronomically large) things he's wrong about.

The truth is that the film falls apart at this level and specifically on its treatment of Jihad. There's a common thread among a lot of conservative parodies of who we are at war with. The most common one is the whole idea that the suicide bombers aren't sincere in their motives or dedication; look at just about any parody of the modern
Jihadist movement and you'll see a scene where everyone is passing the buck on the suicide mission.

You do it!
No you do it!

corollary to this is the idea that "Radical Christianity isn't as bad as radical Islam." There is a scene in the movie where Rosie O'Donnell makes a statement about this and it's supposed to prove how stupid she is (so much so that the Moore analog distances himself from her after she says this). Meanwhile, just last week I saw a news story on ABC News Nightline discussing a sect of Christianity in Congo which convinces parents that their children are witches who require a costly, as well as painful and violent, exorcism procedure to be done. This isn't Salem in the 1700's; it's happening now, in 2009.

There are sections of the Bible which would condone and perhaps even encourage this practice, much the same way most if not all of the Koran supports violent Jihad to convert or destroy the infidel. The problem in the American/Western conservative movement is that they take the highly hypocritical practice of
American Christianity, which relies on modern people to bring a goodness to it which is not actually there.

These same people often complain about the hypocrisy of a Michael Moore or Noam
Chomskey for stopping short of supporting bread lines and Gulags, while their own hypocrisy stops them short of witch trials, inquisitions, and other draconian practices... when it actually does.

Moore tacitly tries to undercut capitalism, yet lives very comfortably because of it. And Sean
Hannity, Bill O'Reily and Michael Savage and their ilk praise capitalism and the concept of rights which are beyond a majority vote as outlined in the constitution, yet they support majority rule to rob individuals of their personal rights when it fits their particular standards (and they'll sell out capitalism any time one of their pet groups seems to suffer because of it.)

The film wasn't the cause of all this, only a symptom. It sometimes brilliantly and sometimes foolishly points out Liberal hypocrisy whilst wallowing in conservative hypocrisy. Sadly, after expecting to see some heroes worth rallying behind, I just see another set of villains.