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Hollywood's War

Are we currently at war with militant Islam?  Not in the same way we were with the Germans in World War I and the Japanese and Germans in World War II.  In the two world wars, it was a people against a people, tribe against tribe.  Our hatred for the enemy was passionate and pervasive.  Allied governments stoked the fire with stories of bogus atrocities, more primitive, perhaps, in World War I.  A widely circulated cartoon showed the kaiser’s troops, with monster faces, crucifying an Allied soldier and bayoneting a baby.  As one British general explained it, “to make armies go on killing one another it is necessary to invent lies about the enemy.”

In World War II, the news media and Hollywood featured the same kinds of stories—toned down a bit, but designed to inflame hearts with unreasoning anger.  We became, all too quickly, a hateful people, though—as our British ally suggested—in wartime, a certain amount of hatred is all but mandatory.

Warfare is necessarily personal, though never intimate—like sex between strangers.  I remember reading an account of a man attending an orgy for the first time, guided by an experienced friend, who—in the midst of the heated activity—pulled him off a woman he knew, saying, “Come over here.  I want you on top of someone you’ve never met.” ...

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