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The US, Europe, "High Noon" and the Axis of Evil



Movies have replaced books as a source of knowledge of history. What I wrote on Jezabel was based on book knowledge. Then I come across an announcement of a movie on AandE: "Jezebel: Queen of Infamy. The story of the infamous ancient queen of Israel whose independence and desire for power earned her many enemies. She finally met her match in the prophet Elijah and was ultimately murdered. But the question remains: Was Jezebel truly an evil despot or a misunderstood woman ahead of her time?" Well, the movie will give the world the answer to that question. Or you can read Peter J. Van Vigl, Baal: A Study of Texts in Connection with Baal in the Ugaritic Epics (1972). The Jewish prophets seem to have been right to denounce it. However, she was a Phoenician, of a civilization maligned in the Old Testament, as the word "Philistine" indicates. I would be grateful if some WAISer would tell me what conclusion the film comes to so that I may know the truth.

That takes us to the sheriff of "High Noon", where my ignorance was again apparent. Once more I was floored when John Heelan of the UK suggested a better Hollywood comparison with Bush: "Possibly "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" would have provided a better analogy, with the two heroes(?), aka Bush and Rumsfeld, showing their machismo by leaping off into the unknown for lack of a better plan? Is it true that "Rumsfeld of Arabia II" is being produced to take advantage of the currently high electoral box-office returns?"

Groveling in ignorance, I asked John to explain. He did: ""Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid" is a film, famous world-wide not so many years ago, about two western desperadoes on the run, who on being trapped, decide to escape by jumping down a ravine into the river some hundreds of feet below, not knowing how to swim. At that decision point, they do not know if they will live or die- but they have no other strategy left to pursue. The film eventually ends with their apparently being killed, bravely (or stupidly) charging the enemy that hopelessly outnumbers them. It is an epic of bravery and outstanding stupidity".

My comment: Much as I admire John Heelan's knowledge about almost anything, I disagree with him on politics. He despises Tony Blair as a lackey of the US, I admire him as the most intelligent and persuasive leader in the world today. At the same time, I agree with John that the Europeans are better informed than the US on the world situation, and in particular hold a more balanced attitude on the Middle East, where US support for Sharon and his military machine must be explained by the desire to have a military strike force close to the oilfields. The American South today is much more emphatically patriotic than the North, and the Bush team comes largely from the South.

Back to Hollywood movies and their influence on opinion. Last night, President Bush made a great show of holding in the White House the premiere of a new movie exalting the US soldier, with Rumsfeld and Colin Powell prominently in attendance. How do Americans view history? Look at the History Channel. It is largely about military blood and glory, victory over great odds. The important humdrum peace activities, including all the work of UN affiliated organizations, get scarcely a mention. It has been said that a novel, Uncle Tom`s Cabin, stimulated the Civil War. Will Hollywood movies have a similar international effect? The postings about "High Noon" show scorn for European timorousness, but we wonder how deep this is? Before World War II the Oxford Union passed a resolution against fighting for King and Country, but that turned out to be hot air. The US must lead. Resolution by all means, but prudence too.

Ronald Hilton - 2/27/02


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