OVER THERE RIGHT WING?Complications Ensue
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

It's a mark of how polarized politics are that the Times's critic thinks Over There is right wing:
Although the soldiers in "Over There" take on distinct personalities, earnestness and patriotism are their most distinguishing features. They encounter Iraqis who are innocent, but many others who barbarically use children as decoys when setting off bombs. There are ugly Americans imposing their culture on Iraq, but many more American heroes who never question why they are at war. In the final episode, a soldier disillusioned with his unfaithful wife is reminded that he believes in two things, his young stepson and his country, a belief presented as the equivalent of prayer. Such unquestioning reverence carries "Over There" beyond support for the soldiers into flag-waving patriotism.
That's unquestioning reverence? Showing both sides of the issue? 'Cause the reality that OT shows matches what I read in the papers. Most Iraqis are innocent. Some are ruthless fanatics. Most soldiers don't spend a lot of time debating why they've been sent to war because they're in it now, anyway, and what's the point? And my God, if you don't believe in your kid and your country, what the hell do you believe in?

I believe in America. I just weep for it. I weep for a nation that has stood for two centuries as a beacon of freedom now has an administration that openly advocates torturing suspects. And won't admit that it went to war for bogus reasons. And behaves as if it has a sweeping mandate when, in fact, most Americans disapprove of it, after an election that was a major squeaker, to put it politely.

I wonder if the Bushies made a deal with McCain in 2004 -- his endorsement in exchange for the nomination next time. I hope so. Because I'd like to see McCain run. I don't agree with most of his politics. He's pretty conservative. But he's an honest conservative, and he actually stands for a political philosophy, rather than saying whatever suits the moment. An election in which McCain was running might actually be a debate about what direction the country needs to go, rather than about wedge issues.

As for Caryn James, she ought to remember that TV and movies are about characters. OT is attempting to show how people live through war -- what it's like to be a soldier in a confused war where the lines aren't clear cut. The kind of war we're going to be in from now on, because we can still easily win any war where the lines are clear cut. I think that's an admirable attempt, and I think it's silly to call it right wing or left wing.

And I think it's appalling to suggest that believing in America is right wing flag waving. Does that mean that Caryn James doesn't believe in America? And if so, what does she believe in?


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