Sunday, May 06, 2007

You Must Remember This

I’ve just watched Casablanca for the umpteenth time, and it never fails to move me. The War in Iraq will not generate its own equivalent of this film, because no one involved is fighting for a noble cause. American troops are under the command of a regime that supports torture and trumpets a nonsensical oil-worshiping superstition, with zero moral authority, called Christianity. Iraqi citizens slaughter one another over competing versions of an inhumane, centuries-old myth. Self-sacrifice appears only in the guise of suicide bombers, who give their lives not for the furtherance of freedom and human dignity, but for the continued propagation of religious tyranny. The only link between Casablanca and the events of our own day is the modern version of the reprehensible Signor Ferrari, who takes advantage of every awful situation to feather his own nest. If Sydney Greenstreet were still alive, would it be possible to cast him as Halliburton?

4 comments:

Sarge said...

And it's going to get worse before it gets better...if it ever does. I have a feeling that the powers that is will get tired of the charade that everything is au fait, simply suspend the constitution/civil liberties, and they will round up 'the usual suspects". I have no doubt that I'm on a list somewhere as someone who's unreliable, someone to have something done about them.

And, like I heard had happened in the war of 'Casablanca', most people will pointedly not see what's going on. Survival depends on it in that kind of a society.

Mike said...

I disagree. While there were clear "bad guys" and "good guys" in the war during which Casablanca was set, it was all about the little guy. As much as the Jews, French, Polish and Turks (among others) being stomped on by the Nazis, this war has its victims, its displaced civilians who only want to be home.

I would suggest that this is an even more appropriate setting for a Casablanca story, because there's far less hope for the displaced.

Sarge said...

The movie is neat, has "good guys" and "bad guys", the reality was something different. Admiral Darlan and the Vichy rounded up the Jews and had them in the slammer as soon as they could lay hands on them. And after the allies came, they stayed right where they were. No 'liberation' for them. A few other little goodies went on as well.

When I was a kid my father was stationed in Germany (among other times) between 1955 and 1958. He was also a WWII vet, and while we were in Europe we retraced his steps from England to as far into Germany as we could travel. He ended the war in Eisenach, in the 'East Zone', so that was out.

We stopped in a small town in France where his unit had been for a couple of weeks, and some of the people recognised him. They came and talked to us, nad my father asked how things were. He had shown us a lampost that he knew for a fact would support the weight of four people hanging from it. The resistance and others who were "losers" were expressing oprobrium and disappointment with the profiteers, collaborators, and Vichy. I learned irony and sarcasm from a man who had no equal. They had used chastisement which ranged from a good thumping to execution, and dammit! All these people had really been heros all along! Who knew? Here, they'd actually all been passing information on the Germans to the FFI and others (too bad their contacts all died in the cellars), and SOMEONE had to keep order, deal with the Germans, and if they had to hand over a few people (and incidentally help themselves to their property) well, this was war, sacrifices had to be made. And now most of the heroic Vichy were back, and in government. They DESERVED it for their hard, thankless work for France. And he shrugged. I guess that he and his compatriots were now "bad guys".

In my war I saw, heard and yes, smelled what happened to people who 'got in the way'. Accidently or on purpose. They sit beside me at every meal, crawl in bed with me every night. Their faces look at me from the eyes of my wife, my sons, my daughters in law, and my grandsons.

I knew expat Russians and my thirteen years in Germany talking to people told me a few things. If you watch Hogn's Heros ol' Sergeant Schultz actually is demonstrating survival in a police state. He knows, sees, hears NOTHING. You've always got to be surprised at everything, have no opinion which can be repeated or used against you. If you call attention to yourself, positve or not, you're marked and will suffer for it.

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