Sunday, August 31, 2008

All the Difference in the World

I recently watched The Kingdom, the movie about American investigators who go to Saudi Arabia to catch terrorists who attacked an American civilian compound.

I'm late on commenting on this, so forgive me for revisiting old material.

The movie was pretty good with the good guys (that would be us, for the confused) nailing the bad guys (that would be the terrorists, for the same confused lot) with lots of good explosions and gun battles. I didn't see how this was a statement against the United States. This was perplexing given early reports that the movie people were disturbed that the audience cheered the Americans when we killed the terrorists.

What bothered me a great deal and explained the angst of the movie producers was the part at the end. The main terrorist, before he died, whispered something to a little boy who witnessed the final gun battle. Later, a woman asked what the man had said to the boy. The boy said, "He told me not to be afraid of them--we'll kill them all."

A little bit later, as the Americans are wrapping up, one American agent asks another about what he said to the female agent (Jennifer Garner?) who was crying, before they left for Saudi Arabia to begin the investigation. He said, "Don't worry, we'll kill them all."

There you go! Moral equivalence! They want to kill "them all" and so do we! Who are we to call them evil?

I wanted to take the clue bat to the entire production team.

There are two tiny differences in regard to the Americans and the jihadis in the movie.

The major difference is who each side consider "them all."

The Americans wanted to kill "them all," meaning the actual killers who slaughtered American men, woman, and children.

The Jihadis considered "them all" to mean Americans.

Further, the American wanted to kill "them all" because "they" murdered innocent civilians in a vicious attack. And we'd stop killing them if they left us alone. When our agents killed "them all" they went home.

The jihadis wanted to kill "them all" because "they" are Americans. Actually, the jihadis want to kill "them all" all because "they" are not jihadi-inspired Moslems. Which encompasses the majority of Moslems, of course. So when they killed scores of American civilians, that was just a "good start" and not the end of their killing. And their reasons to kill mean they prefer it if we don't try to kill them in response to their killing of our people--it makes it easier to kill us.

But other than those small differences, we're just the same.

[I made two small spelling edits--a decade later!--since publication.]