Monday, June 20, 2005
OUR FRIENDLY UNCLES. I watched 24 this year for the first time. In many ways it's a silly show, but all its sound and fury does reinforce an elementary imperative that too many people forget: REMEMBER THE MISSION. That's what distinguishes the Jack Bauer character from all his supposed allies in the government and the counter-terrorism organization he works for. The bad guys don't forget their mission, but the good guys keep getting distracted by their romantic relationships, their egos, and most alarmingly, by their inability to imagine that prospective mass tragedy far outweighs the ugliness of what must be done right now, right here, to prevent it. In 24, only Jack Bauer has the vision and the discipline to remain focused on the reality of the situation. He's the one who's willing to torture his lover's husband to find the perpetrator of a nuclear terror plot, the one who will sacrifice the life of someone who saved his own to keep a bad guy with important information alive, the one who will defy a timid President to extract information from a suspect through extra-constitutional means, the one who will repeatedly risk his own life to keep the bad thing from happening. The others remember the mission sometimes, or partially, or up to a point, but at critical junctures they get tricked by their own emotions or the cynical maneuverings of the enemy into disastrous cul de sacs where their prideful, civilized virtues make them accomplices of evil. Somehow, they just can't seem to remember that the right thing to do under ordinary circumstances can be the completely wrong thing to do when 10 million lives are at stake. The horror of the current moment blinds them to the unutterably greater horror of the likely death of 10 million strangers.
The TV show makes this point so often and in so many ways that it becomes almost tiresome. But when I think they're overdoing it, I need only look at the headlines to see that there's no such thing as overdoing it. So-called civlized societies absolutely insist on forgetting the mission.
The most recent example is the Durbin affair. The blogosphere has been saturated with anti-Durbin rhetoric, but the most important part of the story has been forgotten in the rush to pillory one idiot senator. There will always be idiots in the Senate. That's not news, and it's not very important. It doesn't really matter whether he apologizes or not or whether he can be made to recognize his own reckless irresponsibility or not. What does matter is that the mainstream media and the American people can't seem to REMEMBER THE MISSION, which is to win a war against ruthless barbarians who are absolutely set on killing us. The real plotline of the Durbin remarks is that only a handful of conservatives are outraged by what he said. The majority of average Americans are indifferent, the media elites are embarrassed but intent on covering for him, and the spotlight remains fixed on the irrelevant idiot senator rather than the suicidal apathy of the nation he has betrayed at a level which amounts to treason.
So I'm having a Jack Bauer moment. Here's my call to action for the bloggers: forget Durbin. Apply your wit and eloquence to the far more difficult objective of waking up the American people. We are at war, and the mainstream media are the accomplices of our enemies. That's the plotline of our story. You want to be a hero? Expose and defeat the villains who are doing the most harm, not the pitiful dupes and foils they use to distract us from their poisonous ongoing machinations.