Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hotel Rwanda And Lessons Not Learned

Over the weekend Mrs. P and I finally were able to sit down and watch Hotel Rwanda. This was not something we were looking forward to, since movies about genocide do not typically top our list for "entertainment". I have yet to see Schindler's List, much less make out during it, for example. So, after we rented the movie four weeks ago, it took us some time to work up the gumption to sit down and watch it. Thank goodness Blockbuster doesn't charge late fees anymore.

Well, we saw it, and I couldn't be more pleased that we did. Hotel Rwanda is an excellent film. Admittedly there are difficult moments to get through, but as the director Terry George explains, a conscious decision was made to tell the story by relating the horror without focusing on the gore. Mr. George also did a remarkable job with his basic craft in constructing a film that builds a sense of desperation that ebbs back and forth between hope and despair. This was a wise move as it allows the viewer to experience the film on a deeper level. Absent the revulsion that a gory picture would have elicited from the viewer, one is able to feel the tension, and wonder at the seeming quickness with which societies can descend into insanity.

The message of the film is clear. When the west could have done something we didn't. When government officials were clearly aware of genocide, they ignored it, tried to deny both their knowledge of the facts, and their responsibility for action. The film also shows the courage and strength of one man, whose principles wouldn't let him forsake his family, friends and employees. I cannot imagine a person that could see this film and not walk away vowing to fight evil when it inevitably shows its face again.

The problem with this vow is that it is ultimately a cheap oath, uttered in response to an emotional experience. "Doing something" requires action. To fight evil we must have courage, and sacrifice, and commitment to a higher cause. Most of all, to fight evil we must be able to recognize it.

This, I think, is a problem in the world today.

Evil is alive and on the move. It has declared war on the west and attacked at every opportunity. Thousands of innocent lives have ended, many have been ruined and even more have been injured. Yet inspite of all this carnage, huge cross sections of our society have failed to recognize the challenge.

As I watched Hotel Rwanda, it occurred to me that a mob is comprised mainly of people too frightened to do anything other than join in the killing for fear that if they don't, theirs will be the heads that are severed. In a sense it is not insanity that has taken over, but instead a very rational desire to just get to another day, and avoid the wrath of the killers, even if that means one must join them.

This caused me to think about the war on terror, and more importantly Europe's and some American's response to the ongoing war that Radical Islam, evil by another name, has declared on the west. It seems to me, that up to now Europe is behaving very much like the cowardly Hutus in Rwanda. They know that evil is on the march, and they think they know how to stay out of the cross-hairs. As long as evil focuses it's efforts on "The Great Satan" Europe views it's own fortunes as separate from ours. Notice I said the Hutus, which is no mistake. Europe in it's non- action is complicit with evil, if not actually doing the killing themselves.

How else can one explain their continued absence in Iraq, their silence in the larger war on terror, and there complicity with Saddam in the oil for food scandal. As I've said before, one can argue that the Iraq invasion was the correct next move in the war on terror, but now that we're there, there can be no doubt that all of us must win.

Yet Europe cowers on the sideline, hoping that evil will not look her way. They have a well documented history of this approach. Cowardly denial led directly to the conflagrations that were WWI and WWII. Indeed, Islam's initial advance into Europe 600 years ago was met with little or no resistance.

The only real flaw to Hotel Rwanda was its ending. The director clearly felt he needed to deliver a happy ending to his audience after subjecting it to the horrors of genocide. This is understandable, since Mr. George's goal was to educate the public about what happened in the hope that it won't happen again.

If know one for certain, it is that evil will walk again. Indeed, we hear its march today. This is why Hotel Rwanda is ultimately flawed. We can't hope to prevent evil, but we can prepare ourselves for the necessary course of action to stop it. In the film we learned, almost incidentally, that the only thing that stopped the carnage was the infliction of the greater more organized force of Tutsi rebels against the Hutu killers. The carnage stopped once the Tutsis drove the killers out of the country into the Congo.

So it is with the war on terror. We can idle away our freedom as the Europeans will, sipping lattes in the public square and scolding the barbarians that refuse to give the UN time. This feckless, cowardly approach will make some of us feel good as we bask in the aire of our common sense of moral superiority, but it will ultimately lead to our ruin.

Our only real choice is to kill the bastards.

There are those that say London 7/7 was the European wake up call. This is the cry of the truly desperate. While I understand the hopefulness underlying that statement, the truth is Europe is done. If it is to continue as we know it, then it will be only because America saved it's sorry behind one more time. Either way the message is the same. It is up to us and the Brits.

Kill the bastards.

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