I dislike quoting actors and directors and the like because I generally consider them too out of touch with reality to have much to say that bears on my life or the life of anyone who doesn't live in a meticulously constructed fantasy world. This NPR interview with Frank Miller (wrote the graphic novel the recent film "300" is based on) shows surprising clarity for "one of those hollywood people". I'll post the same extract here as I read on The Atlasphere. I am specifically talking about the notion of cultural equality:
NPR: […] Frank, what’s the state of the union?
FM: Well, I don’t really find myself worrying about the state of the union as I do the state of the home-front. It seems to me quite obvious that our country and the entire Western World is up against an existential foe that knows exactly what it wants … and we’re behaving like a collapsing empire. Mighty cultures are almost never conquered, they crumble from within. And frankly, I think that a lot of Americans are acting like spoiled brats because of everything that isn’t working out perfectly every time.
NPR: Um, and when you say we don’t know what we want, what’s the cause of that do you think?
FM: Well, I think part of that is how we’re educated. We’re constantly told all cultures are equal, and every belief system is as good as the next. And generally that America was to be known for its flaws rather than its virtues. When you think about what Americans accomplished, building these amazing cities, and all the good its done in the world, it’s kind of disheartening to hear so much hatred of America, not just from abroad, but internally.
NPR: A lot of people would say what America has done abroad has led to the doubts and even the hatred of its own citizens.
FM: Well, okay, then let’s finally talk about the enemy. For some reason, nobody seems to be talking about who we’re up against, and the sixth century barbarism that they actually represent. These people saw people’s heads off. They enslave women, they genitally mutilate their daughters, they do not behave by any cultural norms that are sensible to us. I’m speaking into a microphone that never could have been a product of their culture, and I’m living in a city where three thousand of my neighbors were killed by thieves of airplanes they never could have built.
NPR: As you look at people around you, though, why do you think they’re so, as you would put it, self-absorbed, even whiny?
FM: Well, I’d say it’s for the same reason the Athenians and Romans were. We’ve got it a little good right now. Where I would fault President Bush the most, was that in the wake of 9/11, he motivated our military, but he didn’t call the nation into a state of war. He didn’t explain that this would take a communal effort against a common foe. So we’ve been kind of fighting a war on the side, and sitting off like a bunch of Romans complaining about it. Also, I think that George Bush has an uncanny knack of being someone people hate. I thought Clinton inspired more hatred than any President I had ever seen, but I’ve never seen anything like Bush-hatred. It’s completely mad.
NPR: And as you talk to people in the streets, the people you meet at work, socially, how do you explain this to them?
FM: Mainly in historical terms, mainly saying that the country that fought Okinawa and Iwo Jima is now spilling precious blood, but so little by comparison, it’s almost ridiculous. And the stakes are as high as they were then. Mostly I hear people say, ‘Why did we attack Iraq?’ for instance. Well, we’re taking on an idea. Nobody questions why after Pearl Harbor we attacked Nazi Germany. It was because we were taking on a form of global fascism, we’re doing the same thing now.
NPR: Well, they did declare war on us, but…
FM: Well, so did Iraq.
I'm not a big GWB supporter these days but I agree with what Frank Miller is saying about culture. The notion that we can't condemn people for holding onto barbaric practices like enslaving women and mutilating little girls because "that's their culture and no one's ideas are any better than anyone else's ideas" quite frankly has gotten old and will be the downfall of western civilization if not checked. What's funny is that a nation like Iran or the various African nations engaging in what most of the civilized world regards as insane human rights violations can take the stage at the UN and condemn the United States for our various questionable practices. Iran can blast the US for not sending enough troops to Darfur or something, meanwhile the world should turn a blind eye to its Barbarism. This is why the UN is a joke in my opinion. The international community has done a poor job of working out Standards for Participation. You want to be in our club? (where our club is trade, assistance, etc) You have to follow our rules, and our rules must include some fundamental standards for human rights within member nations. The US is absolutely not without its flaws, but Murderers and dictators should not be able to take the stage at the UN to crticize civilized nations.
I'm sure I'll get blasted for this, flame on.