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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cowardly European foils terrorist

The recent terrorist attempt to bring down an American civilian aircraft brings to light an interesting anomaly: The first passenger to react decisively and try to restrain and stop the terrorist was a Dutchman (see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/us/27plane.html?_r=1&th&emc=th). This runs quite counter to the narrative in the film United 93 which portrayed the only European passanger on board the plane as the one who is cowardly and passive (see http://atlanticreview.org/archives/396-German-911-Victim-Defamed-in-United-93-Movie.html).

The 2006 film clearly put the individual actions of the passengers into the wider context of the "war on terror," assigning them roles parallel to their nations' policies. The Americans play the courageous ones willing to risk all to fight for what is right while Europe stands by passively, hoping everything will work out in the end, pretending that evil isn't real and that negotiation and appeasement are the best approach. Films based on real historical events always have an artistic element to them. They have to fill in the gaps, make up scenes and dialogue. The best they can hope for is to not contradict known facts. United 93 went beyond that, contributing actively and intentionally to a particular narrative and American self-portrayal. On Christmas day 2009 Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch film director no less (not only an appeasing European, but part of the "liberal media elite" no less!) put a lie to stereotypes.

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