Friday, September 28, 2007

Random Thoughts

By Mitchell

From yesterday’s NRO, Jay Nordlinger has this wonderful description of the liberal elite and their unwavering support for “freedom fighters” such as – oh, let’s say, Robert Mugabe (Jay’s example) or Nelson Mandela (my example, although it’s always dangerous to take on a living saint). Jay’s take:

In places like my dear hometown of Ann Arbor [home of the University of Michigan] they have, for decades, been celebrating African “liberation” leaders like Mugabe. And the only thing they have succeeded in liberating is people from their money, hope, and very lives.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Boy, I admire people who can right like that, whether I agree with them or not. In this case, I do.

Also at NRO, David Frum, with whom I disagree almost as often as I agree (but I still read him; see above for why) has this to say about one of the (many) areas in which the Bush administration failed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11:

It is the party in power - the party with responsibility for management of the nation's foreign affairs - that also bears the responsibility for sustaining national unity behind those affairs. Sustaining that unity often requires sacrifices of party doctrines and sharing of national offices. Over the years, I have offered some suggestions about some of the things Republicans and conservatives should have done to maintain the support of moderate Democrats and liberals.

To this I would add: the administration did little, beyond appealing to the terrorist attack itself, to unite the American people. Now, one might think that a vicious, evil attack on home soil just might be enough to unite a country, but in these days we should know better than that. But think about it – the message was consistent: go about business as normal (just be careful and keep your eyes open), don’t let the economy suffer by curtailing spending, get right out there as if nothing had happened; in other words, don’t let the terrorists win by changing our lifestyle.

And yet, as anyone who is watching Ken Burns’ magnificent “The War” can attest, war is all about suffering and sacrifice. Not just in a political sense, as Frum points out, but on a personal level as well. Bond drives, rationing, doing without – all of it during World War II, all of it designed in some way not just for practical benefit, but to unite Americans with the suffering of their troops abroad, to give everyone a sense of shared mission. There’s nobody who would argue that World War II didn’t change our lifestyle – as, indeed, wars ought to, considering how much they change the lives of those who fight in them. It’s hard to get that same sense when our soldiers are eating rations and ducking to avoid bombs, while we’re pulling out a charge card and trying to avoid crowds at the latest sale.

Speaking of nothing in particular, you recall our piece last week about the religious symbolism present in the sci-fi series Doctor Who. Well, as we continue to work our way through the season, we came last week to a two-part episode, “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood” (good, wholesome names there). I won’t get too bogged down in the plot – suffice it to say that the Doctor and his companion Martha are on the run from yet another group of murderous aliens intent on taking over the universe, this time by possessing the body of a Time Lord (i.e., the Doctor). Naturally, the Doctor and Martha take flight, and for the bulk of the story we’re led to believe that the Doctor is trying to escape from the aliens, fearing for his life. The aliens have a limited lifespan, and if the Doctor can successfully avoid detection they will simply die away. It is only at the end – after the inevitable mayhem, death and destruction resulting in the showdown that we knew and anticipated – that we find out the truth of the matter. The Doctor ran not because he feared the aliens, but because he wanted to protect them. From himself.

Remember, if they didn’t catch him in time, they would die off. Instead, they forced the issue (as the bad guys generally do), and the Doctor was forced to act. Which he did in a ruthless, cold-blodded way (spoiler alert!) – one to be captured as a fleeting image in a mirror, one to be chained with steel forged from a dwarf planet, one to exist in an eternal vortex, and one to serve as a scarecrow, warding off other evildoers (remember, this is sci-fi). As the Doctor said, they wanted immortality – they got it.

And to me this seems to combine elements of both the Old and New Testaments, if you want to go in this direction. Old, in that the Doctor appears as the vengeful Old Testament God of Sodom and Gomorrah, delivering justice with a swift sword. New, in that, as Jesus suggests, we all wind up sentencing ourselves. We get what we deserve. The aliens chose immortality, as the fallen angels chose power. So be it. Their sentence was an eternal damnation, much as it would be for those of us who, offered salvation, turned our backs on it in pursuit of our earthly desires. We choose it, we receive it. I'd love to chew this over with Fr. Atkins!

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