Black and White Reigns

Andrew Klavan, an award-winning author of mystery novels, wrote a brilliant op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal (7/25/08) in which he stated exactly what I believe. 

He pointed out that liberal Hollywood films about the war on terror (In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, and Redacted) have all failed, largely because they propose to make the actions and philosophies of terrorists and coalition forces moral “equivalents,” because they disrespect the military, and “seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism.”  These films depict “good” guys as indistinguishable from “bad” guys, ultimately “denigrating the very heroes who defend us.”

Klavan points out that the big blockbuster The Dark Knight, is a conservative movie about the war, like 300 before it, and these films value morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right.  Liberal, ultimately anti-American, films are realistic and direct, while conservative, pro-values films are usually fantasies using comic-inspired heroes (Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Spiderman 3).

What makes the real world difficult is that “good” guys must defend values in a world that does not universally embrace them, and that puts “good” guys in the awful position of sometimes having to be intolerant, unkind, and brutal in order to ultimately defend the “good” values we love.

As a psychotherapist, I talk to people on the air every day who try to keep out of the way of conflict, confrontation, and judgment, so they will be liked and seen as “good” guys.  I remind them that “good” guys risk, and sometimes cross the line, to stand between evil and the innocent who need protection from the few.

Instead, as Klavan points out, “When heroes arise who take those difficulties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness.  We prosecute and execute the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve.”

That means that sometimes good men have to kill (“murder” is to kill an innocent) to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate values in order to maintain those values.  That’s just a fact of real life in which good and evil have always co-existed.