In my commentary of September 14th, I quoted from Ayn Rand’s essay, “What is Romanticism?” from The Romantic Manifesto:
“… Naturalism lost the attempted universality of Shakespeare or Tolstoy, descending from metaphysics to photography with a rapidly shrinking lens directed at the range of the immediate moment – until the final remnants of Naturalism became a superficial, meaningless, “unserious” school that had nothing to say about human existence.”
I then remarked:
“That essentially describes ‘The Path to 9/11’: a shrunken, myopic lens focused on moment-by-moment actions and incidents, examining endless minutiae adding up to non-judgmental conclusions.”
I try to limit my commentaries to 2,000 words or less, and so omitted other points I wished to make. So, let’s pull back the lens and take in the context that surrounds “The Path to 9/11.”
At no point in the film did one hear a single critical comment about Islam. The focus was almost entirely on finding Osama bin Laden. Of course, the director, Cyrus Nowrasten, may have chosen to stress the obsession the Clinton and Bush administrations had with bin Laden over any wider conflict. In Clinton’s case, however, it was with his and his appointees’ collective, expedient dismissal of the seriousness of bin Laden’s threat; in Bush’s case, it was with his fallacious notion that bin Laden and his underlings hijacked a “peaceful” religion.
Then again, Nowrasten may have been following ABC’s playbook of political correctness and refrained from painting Islam and its fundamentalist followers in the least negative light. But, jihadists had been waging war on the West long before the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Apart from of the murderous depredations of the IRA, Basque separatists, Tamil Tigers, and other non-Muslim terrorist groups, Islamic jihadists have racked up the biggest body count and the most property and economic destruction in the past thirty years. Therefore, it is logical to assume that Nowrasten would feel tempted to cast at least one aspersion on Islam and its ideology of conquest and destruction as a driving force.
But, he didn’t. So, I am fairly certain that Nowrasten succumbed to political correctness and repressed any critical portrayal of Islam. Islam is too big and active a venomous hydra not to notice – except to those burdened with self-induced myopia.
Much of the cinematography of the Afghanistan scenes was gorgeous. But, heeding Leonard Peikoff’s dictum that “a picture is not an argument,” I was of two minds about what was shown in that locale. The dominant one was: But for all the SUVs, trucks, automatic weapons and cell phones, what viewers saw was the appallingly barbarous, primitive living conditions in that part of the world, whether in the areas controlled by the Taliban or the ones controlled by the Northern Alliance, conditions that had not changed in over a thousand years. Worse yet, I had the sense that those conditions are what both sides wished to preserve – as a “culture,” as a “way of life” — including the “good guy” Northern Alliance chief who was assassinated in the end.
The lesser of my two minds was: What an education! Those conditions are what, in the end, submission to Islam (or to any totalitarianism) would ultimately reduce the entire world to! That is the root motive and end of the jihadists and their state-sponsors, in the Mideast, in Asia, and in the West, the vision of a Hobbesian “leviathan,” a global caliphate in which men are reduced to living in tents, caves, and shacks assembled from the debris of a destroyed world, lorded over by tribal chiefs who swear allegiance to a hierarchy of ayatollahs and muftis.
My last point is that “The Path to 9/11” failed utterly to convincingly project the evil of our enemies and of their ideology. Why? Because, focusing as it did on the touchy bull-headedness, obstructive foot-dragging and venality of especially the Clinton gang, it could not project an efficacious good. Aside from the frustrated diligence of John O’Neill and a few other characters, there was no powerful counterpoint. O’Neill and his allies were lost in a swamp of moral grayness that often melded into the black villainy of political turf conflicts and outright cowardice.
The current bull-headed, “stay the course” policy of President Bush concerning the “democratization” of Iraq is simply another path to tragedy and defeat. Pakistan, a dubious “ally” from the very beginning, has already shown its true colors in the “war on terrorism”: by signing a truce with terrorists to create a “sanctuary” for them in a western province, and by the recent release thousands of Taliban fighters taken prisoner by coalition forces in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, Congress is proposing to abolish torture as a means of extracting information from Muslim combatants taken prisoner in Afghanistan and Iraq. Presumably, they, like the prisoners released by President Pervez Musharraf’s government, are represented by lawyers, as well, and will possibly be released at the urging of our “humanitarian” Congress.
That would be an interesting subject of another “docudrama,” as the wind stirs the radioactive ashes of Boston or San Francisco, and as America counts its thousands of dead. Will there be anyone around to watch it? Will there be anyone to film it?