This opinion piece in the WSJ totally blows my mind. George Bush is a hero because, like Batman, he does what needs to be done and takes the vilification for it while liberals whine about moral relativity and hold namby-pamby sentiments like “torture is bad.” Andrew Klavan, who writes thrillers, including a forthcoming one on the “war on terror,” thinks one day Bush will be recognized as the hero he is, and artists will be able to tell the tale.
When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. As Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, “He has to run away — because we have to chase him.”
That’s real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised — then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.
Like the message of the television hit, 24 – torture is something a real man’s gotta do. That is neither good nor true, nor is it a terribly profound or daring thing for an artist to propose. It’s appealing to a base and simple-minded idea of justice.
And it makes me think, once again, that it is in genre fiction and in popular culture generally that our ideas of goodness and truth are worked out, and the ways they are worked out matter a great deal.
I think Batman should sue this guy for defamation.