Obama has said, of “torture”, that it isn’t what we do, that it isn’t what we are. And yet, looking at the plethora of action hero movies, I see no hesitation by the good guys to beat the intel out of bad guys so they can rescue victims or stop a catastrophe. And Hollywood keeps making such movies, so it can only mean they make money, and that means the people of the United States enjoy them enough to pay high admission prices to watch them, or maybe to buy copies for home viewing. I haven’t noticed any movies where the hero successfully gets intel by bribing or reasoning with a bad guy. The important point here is not that Hollywood makes realistic movies, for it generally doesn’t, but that they make movies that appeal to our real values so we go to see them.
Obama and others may not like the use of torture, but regardless of the reasons for their objections, torture sells. And it sells because, even if the bad guy won’t talk, at least he gets punished for the evil in which he is participating. And the punishment isn’t subject to a court of law or legal cleverness, or flat out non-enforcement of the law; punishment is here and now, in the context of the movie. The hero almost never beats up the wrong person, so we lack that reason for guilt over it. Should not evil be punished? And in the context of the movie plot, it is.
So Obama is wrong about human nature, particularly the nature of human beings in the United States. It is unfortunate that he is so out of touch with the soul of America. I suspect the reason is that, as Robert Kennedy put it, he sees things that never were and wonders, why not? Well, here’s why not: because we value our freedom enough to fight. We protect what is ours rather than negotiate it away, and we believe the best defense is a committed offense. As we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we have feared no evil, for we have been strong enough and confident enough to conquer it. Negotiation, which Obama and his ilk prefer, always involves compromise, which means that we decide to tolerate some amount of evil. And evil keeps returning to the negotiating table to move the point of compromise further toward having more evil in the world.
We were never goodness incarnate, but we are sliding gradually into the abyss. Meanwhile, our leaders keep throwing around the words “peace” and “compromise”, as though both good and evil just want to peacefully coexist. The only way for that coexistence to occur is for one side to take over the land, and the other to be buried six feet below it.