I like David Brin’s writing, and many of his novels and short stories sit on my bookshelf to be read and reread. The first of Brin’s novels that I read was The Postman, a post-apocalyptic story of a wanderer who found a postman’s uniform, and how that uniform changed the people he met. The book is a fast read, and I recommend it highly.
The movie version of this story, however, stinks like yesterday’s diapers. I do understand that movies and novels are different media, and while an author may have hundreds of pages in which to tell his story, the film director has only 90 to 180 minutes. However, it never ceases to amaze me when a screenwriter rewrites a million-copy-selling novel to “make the story better.”
*movie spoiler warning*
The 1997 movie The Postman stars Kevin Costner. It shares the character of a postman, some names, and the post-apocalyptic setting with the book. Pretty much everything else comes from the brain of someone other than David Brin.
At the end of the movie, there is a major mounted attack by postmen (not in the book) against General Bethlehem (not in the book) and his survivalist troops. It ends with a one-on-one fight between the Postman and the General (not in the book) for command of the troops, ending with the Postman choking the General (not in the book – I think you get the point). Rather than finishing the General and gaining control of the troops, thus stopping the attacks on the remaining people, the Postman stops and declares, “The killing stops here.” While this sounds good and “touchy-feely,” it bears no resemblance to reality. You can’t attack a vicious killer and, after hitting him a few times, tell him that his reign of power and slaying is over – particularly when your enemy doesn’t believe in peace. The people of Oregon didn’t have peace by giving up to the survivalist troops. They didn’t have peace by negotiating with the survivalist troops. They had peace when the troops were defeated and when General Bethlehem was killed. That is what you must do when you are at war.
And we are at war.
We didn’t realize it for years, but a group of Muslim fanatics had declared war on the United States. During the many attacks on America preceding the events on September 11th, 2001, we ignored what these zealots were doing, but seeing the World Trade Towers collapse was hard to ignore.
So here we are at war – the War on Terror – and there are three basic reactions to these attacks:
We Should Give Up
Osama bin Laden has said that America could avoid any further bloodshed if we were to give up our evil ways, renounce Israel, and become good Muslims. There’s just one problem with surrendering to a bully: once you have given in to him, what will stop you from giving up when the next bully comes around? Once a band of thugs realize that you are willing to roll over and piddle on yourself whenever they threaten you, just how much respect will you have in their eyes? And what will stop them from raining down all the horrors they choose upon you? Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation, but al-Qaeda doesn’t have a problem with killing Saudis. Indonesia has a very large and faithful Muslim population, but this didn’t stop al-Qaeda from detonating a bomb in Bali.
But as much as al-Qaeda would like to see America give up, surrendering just isn’t part of our nature.
We Should Negotiate
“They attacked us! We must start some negotiations with them right away! If we could just talk with them and understand why they are so upset, we could get down to the root of the problem and make everything OK again. Why, with just a bit of work at the negotiation table, we could have peace in our time!”
The Democrat party is a leading proponent of going all Neville Chamberlain on these terrorists. The Democrats are as eager to solve things diplomatically as the former Prime Minister of England was to negotiate with Hitler, and they will have as much success. After all, how can you find common ground with people who want you dead? Do you think you could successfully negotiate them down to only a light maiming? Do you seriously think you can negotiate with evil people? I can just imagine the discussion:
Liberals: We must have done something terrible to make you hate us so. What was it?
Evil: We will kill you.
Liberals: I’m sure you suffered from a poor childhood. Let’s get you on
Oprah so you can talk about it.
Evil: We will kill you.
Liberals: Even though you have lots of oil money, I’m sure poverty is the root problem. Have some money.
Evil: We will kill you.
Oh, yeah, negotiating is the way to go here.
We Must Defeat Them
The only way to stop evil is to defeat it. If you must negotiate, do so after you have removed the evil from power. While the threat and use of violence can be powerful in overthrowing evil, there is something better: the word of God. When the Lamanite people were under attack by the al-Qaeda of their day, they “did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.”[link] Isn’t it interesting that preaching the word of God has a stronger effect on people than the sword, and that this type of proselyting is specifically forbidden in Muslim countries? Since we are blocked from using the word of God, we are left with the less-powerful tool of defeat – the sword – and it is with the sword that we must now defeat the evil that is in the Earth.
The War on Terror is a war against evil. Too many liberals deny that we can or should look at the world in terms of black and white – but when your opponents are willing to behead innocent people whose only fault was being alive, non-Muslim, and available, what else can you call it? Can you really consider the beheading of Paul Johnson, Nicholas Berg, and now Kim Sun-il as anything but deliberately evil acts?
So after September 11th, President Bush looked over the world and saw the greatest threat of evil to the U.S. came from al-Qaeda, and Afghanistan was guilty of harboring Osama bin Laden and his organization. President Bush realized it was time to deny this evil the nation-state that protected it, and so he launched an offensive to remove the Taliban from power. Thanks to his vision, 24 million people are no longer under that oppressive government, and they are working toward a lasting freedom they have not known for years.
Once the Taliban had been overthrown and al-Qaeda scattered to the hills, what was the next place to go in our War on Terror? President Bush had identified an Axis of Evil that actively supported terrorism, and Iraq was specifically mentioned as part of this Axis. Liberals claim that President Bush led a “rush to war,” but this “rush” took over a year to gather up and execute. Thanks to his vision, 26 million people are no longer under that oppressive government, and they are working toward a lasting freedom they have not known for years.
Iraq had ties with al-Qaeda and funded other terrorists. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that after September 11th, 2001, the Russian intelligence agency passed information to the United States that Iraq was “preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations.”
So let’s review what we know about Iraq, folks:
- Iraq certainly had weapons of mass destruction; it used them against its own people and Iran.
- Iraq had twice launched major wars against its neighbors in recent history.
- Iraq was funding terrorism and training terrorists.
- Iraq had plans to attack America and Americans.
It’s pretty clear that removing Saddam was a fundamental part of the War on Terror. Twice now President Bush has been successful in major operations in this war. Notwithstanding these successes, the liberal left is certainly fully capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory if they have their way. Their continual harping on President Bush and the War on Terror can succeed in distracting us and sapping from this nation the resolve we need to win against this evil. As they keep demanding that we either give up or negotiate, they are pulling us away from the only option that will truly give us peace in our time: defeating the terrorists completely.
Addendum (6/27/2004): I added the discussion about The Postman to the beginning of this editorial. And speaking of the movie, I threw it out after watching it.