Saddam Shame

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movie was released in 1984,
the year George Orwell projected for the mature totalitarian state
of Big Brother, maintained by the universally ingrained use of "doublespeak,"
a propaganda device best illustrated by contradictory slogans such
as "War is Peace" and "Freedom is Compliance."

movie? Why, "Red
," of course. You'll remember it with a subtle tug
at your heartstrings: a group of plucky kids, led by young Jed Eckert
(played perfectly by Patrick Swayze), takes to the hills as their
All-American hometown is invaded by Soviets and Cubans. There they
metamorphose from a bunch of scared kids into a guerrilla force
that kicks serious butt and helps to defeat the invaders. At the
end, you desperately need a hanky and a slice of apple pie.

leave it to the U.S. military (and/or the Bush Administration) to
hijack this beautiful icon of the indomitable American spirit and
turn it into a vivid, albeit unintentional, self-parody.

probably noticed it. When the announcement came today of Saddam's
capture, you heard the name of the operation that snagged him: Red
Dawn. There may have been a glimmer of recognition … or not. Then
you heard about the two groups for the operation, named "Wolverine
One" and "Wolverine Two."

glimmer of recognition? There should be. "Wolverines"
was the name young Jeb and his squad adopted, in tribute to their
High School mascot.

Yeah … right.

here's the $64 question.

kind of mind, firing both neurons at once and working with hints
from his "Lifeline," could equate (1) a bunch of kids
defending their home against invaders with (2) a bunch of invaders
fighting against home defenders? Huh? Oh. The kind of mind wearing
dust-free desert camos with stars (or birds or leaves) adorning
collar and cap? Or the kind of mind whose buttoned-down conception
of geography is "The Beltway, and then everything else around
it"? Well, OK – maybe both of these, with an extra ingredient
thrown in: the transformation of the attitude "My country,
right or wrong," into "My country is always right!"

How else could the Red-Dawnish concept, "Defending America
good!" be equated with the Smack-Iraq concept, "American
invaders good!"?

time. I'm glad Saddam was caught. He needs to face justice for all
the crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. Was it our job
to catch him? Hell, no. Check the Constitution, for Pete's sake.
No declaration of war, yadda, yadda…. Our troops should be home
right now, making babies and money. Instead, they're off on an extra-Constitutional
jag, making enemies and a hike in the national debt. And corpses,
widows, and orphans.

I'm happy to see Saddam in custody. But I hate the way it happened.
The ends don't justify the means.

"Red Dawn" didn't deserve this treatment.

a damned shame.

16, 2003

Van Cleave is a philosopher finishing his doctorate at Indiana University,
Bloomington. He also commits libertarian activism at


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