Monday, January 23, 2006

"Munich" extremists and the Moderate Shift 

"Should you leave the debate to the great over-simplifiers? The extreme Jews and extreme Palestinians who consider any kind of negotiated settlement to be a kind of treason?"

Steven Spielberg was discussing his latest epic work of equivocation and non-postured moral posturing on Sunday when he unleashed on straw man "extremists" who decry his film, demonstrating one of the most frustrating trends in leftist ideology today: the moderate shift. Now, this isn't something new on the left, as Ted Kennedy and the gang of congressional soap-box mongers will tell you. In the abortion debate, for example, the pro-abortion tactic has been for decades to denounce the "extremists" who would outlaw any medicine developed after the discovery of America, do away with abortion, birth control, pregnancy pain-relief, MRIs, epi-pens, flu shots, and tylenol and demand everyone walk around with a Bible strapped to their crotch, and then claim moderation and compromise by asking only that abortion be kept out of the clutches of some phantom Christo-maniacs. Of course, as most pro-life people outside the imagination of Barbara Boxer will tell you, few people actually prescribe to the extreme ideology described. The effect is to shift the debate, by staking out an opposing idea so far flung and extreme, that whatever is suggested as an alternative will appear moderate by comparison.

Spielberg would have us believe that it isn't he who is extreme, but critics of his film. It seems those who disagree with his film must be too ideologically bullheaded to identify the Palestinian terrorists as human beings at all. His message is simple: if you don't buy my message, you are an ignorant savage. But most complaints about Munich are about Spielberg's surprising willingness to bend or distort facts to further his message. I, for one, am more inclined to believe the agents who were there, who point out a surprising number of inaccurate and down right false assertions in the film. In the Reuters interview, former agents of Mossad question the bungling of the agents, and lack of females in the contingents (including females was standard), the length of time spent in the field, and more. Spielberg is more than willing to paint a picture of a barren, lonely, wasteland of low lighting and dark hallways, where agents sit for weeks and ponder their purpose before screwing up another booby trap.

Spielberg seems enraged that critics are too "black and white", that those who don't like his film deny the humanity of the terrorists. But he fails to see that the humanity of the terrorists is not the issue, and never was. Serial killers, rapists, child molesters: all of them undeniably human. Yet there is something about the decisions they make that outweighs their simple existence as humans. One of the terrorists is shown to have children: yet are we to believe the Israeli victims had no families? The humanity of the terrorists was never the question: the barbarity of their acts is the grounds on which they should be judged. Its easy to pretend that there was another way, that a "negotiated settlement" could have ended it all peacefully. What negotiated settlement does Spielberg have in mind? He must be aware that the PLO at the time was in no mood to negotiate, and that their demands during the hostage crisis were as unreasonable as they were unlikely. And caving to the demands would only have insured more terrorist act by a desperate and plainly violent Palestinian movement. Many on the Right are upset with the film because it focuses so much on the reasons for committing an act of terror, yet so little on the nature of justice that compels a civilization to extract punishment on those who choose terror. Spielberg, a Jew, knows that Judaism provides a rich religious background for understanding, and the Old Testament is rife with examples of, and reasoning for, the balance being set aright, and enemies being smitten by the forces of right. Even Jason and I have gotten into the discussion of the necessarily reciprocal nature of Justice. Spielberg, grasping, appeals to the motives of the perpetrators, but shows the Israelis as vengeance hungry and brutal. He even goes so far as to suggest that the policy of brining terrorist to justice is the problem, not the solution, by way of his cute juxtaposition of the World Trade Center at the films end. What motives, I have to ask, could he possibly believe justify such acts, or even validate them enough to be discussed as valid rather than dismissed and condemned outright? At the risk of sounding extreme, I have to venture none.

Right on, Mr. Hypocrite. Conservatives are so intellectually honest and pure of heart that they would never resort to your so-called "moderate-shift",i.e., liberals want to ban all guns, enviromentalists want to ban all industry, liberals question the war in Iraq, so they're traitors who hate America.

You might have some good points to make regarding the philosophical and moral equations Spielberg sets forth in his latest film. But you have to start out with a bogus, ridiculous, hypocritically and intellectually indefensible assertion about liberal reasoning that, anyone with two goddam working brain cells knows, cuts equally both ways- it called "poisoning the well". So, as I have become increasingly sick and tried of this kind of moronic postuering on both sides, all I can say is F.U.!

Sincerely yours,
"[A]re we to believe the Israeli victims had no families?"

Talk about "moderate shifting" - my irony meter just broke. Spielberg, of course, lead no one to believe any such thing. Nor did Spielberg suggest that terrorist demands during the hostage crisis could or should have been negotiated. Nor does Spielberg imply or suggest that 9/11 is or could be justified - to understand the context of such barbarity is in no way equivalent to justification of it.

People who complain about "moderate shifting" shouldn't live in glass houses.
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I saw the movie this weekend. It was clear that the Palestinians were terrorists and that the Israelis were exacting revenge. Yes, there were about seven minutes of film that showed the terrorists acting as ordinary people, but what do we expect? That's how successful terrorists manage to do what they do, otherwise they’d get caught.

The movie’s primary message is that killing people exacts a price with the killer (or justice-bringer if you prefer). Even if it is 100% clear that someone deserves to die, the one doing the killing is affected in negative ways. Is that a surprise? All of us know WWII vets. Few of them liked killing even if they felt is were necessary. It was an awful experience, killing Germans and losing friends in battle.

It was pretty clear that the Israelis carefully deliberated the response to Munich and that they had ample justification. The athletes didn’t deserve to die at all. The terrorists did as they had killed innocents. Wasn’t that clear?

I don’t think it is aiding the Palestinian cause to say that they were treated like animals so they acted like animals. This explanation, by the way, came from the mouth of a terrorist. How often do we rant when a serial killer in a film talks about how his daddy beat him? Yep, you got messed up when you were a kid and now you kill innocent people. Justification or explanation? Don’t get the meanings mixed up.

I’d say it is a stretch to interpret from the movie that Spielberg offers another solution. Maybe the Israeli response was the best one at the time, maybe not. The movie doesn’t say. What is pretty clear today is that both sides’ tactics have not led to a solution. Isn’t there a saying that insanity is defined as trying the same thing again and again that doesn’t work?

- Fountain
The "moderate shift" is a variant on using a straw-man---for example, claiming that one is moderate on reproductive rights because one is NOT one of those '..."extremists" who would outlaw any medicine developed after the discovery of America....', when in truth I've not heard pro-abortion/choice advocates use it. I _have_, seen them bring up the very real and significantly-supported stance (at least on Salem's Lot Radio) of being against all birth control pills and rings, since they kill a fully-ensouled blastula ("Scream, Blastula, Scream!") or even a gastrocyst!

As for it being a given that terrorists are human, I'm not sure I'd say anything like that on "Free""Republic" using any e-mail address I'd like to continue to be able to use.....
I saw the movie over the weekend. I found it overlong and dictactic, but the complaints about it are ridiculous. As far as I can tell, the primary objection is that it doesn't depict the terrorists as strangling kittens in their spare time. There is one scene in which we here a terrorist making typical justifications for terrorism, but it seems to be a fairly accurate depiction of what such guys believe, basesd upon their public pronouncements. The complaints about accuracy seem like extreme nitpicking over the type of changes often made for dramatic emphasis in stories based on historical events, loke Golda Meir personally meeting with an agent. The film does not pretend to be a documentary, after all. And I found it interesting that the movie avoided depicting a historical mistaken identity incident in which an Israeli squad killed the wrong person, substituting a presumably fictional sequence in which the team goes after a Dutch assassin who had killed one of their own. While the film certainly questions the validity of assassination, there is no attempt whatsoever to draw any kind of moral equivalence with the terrorists, and the Israeli team is even shown going to great lengths to try to avoid innocent casualties.
"As far as I can tell, the primary objection is that it doesn't depict the terrorists as strangling kittens in their spare time."

I think it doesn't matter what they do in their spare time. That's my objection, that it acts like that matters at all. They killed 11 innocent people, that's what matters.

God forbids that anyone would introduce a shade of grey in the Bushies' black and white world.

The political discourse in this country has degenerated into pure idiocy.

I am sick and tired of this "us vs. them" view of the world. If one is not to the right of Attila-the-Hun these days, one is labelled a "terrorist", a "traitor", a "commie". Dissent is greeted with insults and threats. What is the matter with you people? Did you forget that we live in a democracy?
"I think it doesn't matter what they do in their spare time. That's my objection, that it acts like that matters at all. They killed 11 innocent people, that's what matters."


In pre-Independence era Israel Zionist terrorist gangs "IZL [Irgun] and LHI [the Stern Gang] introduced into the arena... what is now the standard equipment of modern terrorism, the camouflaged bomb in the market place and bus station, the car- and truck- bomb, the drive by shooting with automatic weapons (though not the suicide bomber)."

- Benny Morris "Righteous Victims - A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001"
So, the movie shows terrorists going about their daily lives. Duh!

Ted Bundy, the BTK killer, Jeffrey Dahmers, and other assorted sickos also went about their daily lives in between murdering people. Why is it that the right-wingers think that it is O.K. to make movies showing these malevolent creatures going about their daily lives, but that it is not O.K. to show terrorists going about their daily lives?
What the hell are you gon on about?

Honestly, your elocution and writing are almost unfathomable.

See people, this is what happens when you let conservatives have input into the educational system of a country.
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