April 29, 2006
Pessimism of the Moment
"I did not come away from watching United 93 feeling optimistic about the triumph of the human spirit and the superior resilience of enlightenment values. Quite the opposite. I came away with a feeling that history has been hijacked by a cult of the undead, or the wannabe dead, suicidal mass murderers driven by theocratic savagery."
--Ron Rosenbaum in this downer of a movie(s) review.
I think he's a bit too pessimistic, I think the eternal vigilence the endless "War Against Terror" requires is going to be a pain in the ass, and there may well be tremendous acts of destruction in the future, but I don't see it as the "end of enlightenment civilization".
The article draws a parallel between "Day of the Dead", with its images of people in TV control rooms watching helplessly as the world they knew gets torn apart by undead zombies and our present situation with its risk from death-worshipping "We Love Death while You Love Life" assholes.
Damn, actually, that makes me scared and angry about religion in general. When you get in the habit of faith over "show me" skepticism, there might not BE a particularly strong reason for a culture to prefer life-affirming, positive belief over martyrdom-seeking "this world is nothing compared to the next" fantasylands. Maybe Dawkins was right, "To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns."
After writing the above the other day, I read this Atlantic piece about how badly the administration has played Iran. It's a difficult situation that needed a much defter touch than our president and crew has ever displayed. Iran pretty much has us by the economic balls.
Another note.... how many more hardline hardcore Islamic fundamentalist governments have to get elected before we realize that widespread democracy might not be our friend in the Middle East? By coincidence, I added an old political pin to my courier bag from a collection my dad had made... "President Nixon / Now More Than Ever". I like it because it can both be used as a sly-ish commentary on the people currently in office, but it also kind of reflects my belief that we would have been better served by a Kissinger-esque sense of "realpolitik" post-9-11 than what we ended up with.
I recently heard an interpretation that states Islam has been in kind of a dark ages for centuries now. It seems to me that there's an inverse relationship between fundamentalism and human advancement. I suspect a balance between faith and science is useful to a society, but looking at how the secularist enlightenment brought Europe out of its Dark Ages.... of course the trouble is that there's not much stopping the fundamentalists from co-opting the technology and other forms of progress a more balanced approach applies... this has been going on for a long time in the Middle East and I think can be applied to some of the political situation here and now.