Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Why is this so commendable?

NPR's TV critic, David Bianculli, gives an excellent review to a new Showtime miniseries called Sleeper Cell. According to the review, the show is about a Muslim terrorist group operating within America, and the government agent who infiltrates it in the hope of bringing it down. The cell has the usual charismatic leader, and a hodge-podge of foreign, native born, and converted terrorists. It sounds like a well done and interesting show. However, there was something Bianculli said that just struck me as wrong:

Commendably, the drama is careful to shatter stereotypes, and present varying extremes of commitment, compassion and competence on both sides of the battle line.
Perhaps this is commendable in an artistic sense, or in a police profiling sense, but otherwise, why is it commendable to keep trying to humanize our enemy? We are at war and the premise of the show is that these are people who are trying to kill us, lots of us. I mean, you can always pick something nice or, at least, human, about even the worst person: Hitler loved dogs and hated cigarettes; Goebbels was a family man (although that didn't stop him from murdering all six of his children), Kim Jong-il loves movies, Tookie writes children's books, etc. That doesn't mean, though, that it's worth our while to try to humanize the bad guys -- because that might stay our hand when we have the opportunity to bring them down. "Gee, I can't kill that mass murder. He's got a puppy." I think it's commendable if we don't encourage vigilante justice, something that was not adequately prevented during WWI. I think it's commendable if we understand clearly that not all Muslims are terrorists (although I think we should give decent, ordinary Muslims a little more intellectual grief about their silence in the face of worldwide Muslim-based terror). However, I do not find at all commendable our relativistic desire to pretend that truly bad guys deserve a fair shot because they have a family, or a dog, or a drug problem, or whatever that ties them, however, tangentially, to the rest of the human race.