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The movie that wasn't made

"The movie that wasn't made" Continued...

Issue: "Books and Movies 2006," July 1, 2006

Meanwhile, the family of the Orthodox student has hired a civil-rights lawyer who threatens a lawsuit that will expose the university's hypocrisy and its suppression of choice. The administration caves in. Jones is reinstated. The women's studies professor and the multicultural studies professor are reprimanded. The head of the Mid-East Studies Department receives a visit from the FBI. Jones and Jensen realize that they are meant for each other; they decide to get married.

In the final scene Professor Jones is in front of his class once more. It is the last class of the semester, and toward the end he talks earnestly about the importance of academic freedom and urges his students to remember that they should always put the search for truth above personal feelings and animosities. When he finishes the room is silent. Then a lone student begins to clap. She is joined by another, then another. Soon the whole class, even those who were reluctant at first, are on their feet applauding.

Again, all of these incidents, even the misallocation of federal funds by the Mid-East Studies Department, have a basis in fact. Today's reality is that the impulse to run roughshod over civil rights and due process comes mainly from left-leaning establishments such as the universities. This is why a movie such as Good Night, and Good Luck is so out-of-sync with present realities. It's another of those message-in-a-bottle movies that reveal an industry intent on fighting yesterday's battles. Hollywood seems incapable of understanding that there is a new strain of McCarthyism, and that it emanates from the left, not the right.

There is another reason why Good Night, and Good Luck ought rightly to be regarded as a museum piece. In suggesting that there was no real threat to national security then (although the Venona Papers say otherwise), the film implies that there is no real threat today. Since 9/11 it's been difficult to miss the fact that Islamic terrorism is a real threat, possibly the biggest threat that we've ever faced, but Hollywood manages to miss it. True, Munich does deal with terrorism, but it does so in a very strange way. The viewer is left with the impression that, although terrorism is a bad thing, there is no specific Islamic threat to the world's security; rather, terror is presented in terms of an intertribal dispute. The film comes close to accepting the slander that it is somehow the stubbornness of Israel that invites terror.

Not only does Hollywood miss the real civil-rights issues of the day, it also manages to miss the gathering storm that is now darkening the horizon. Once again we are left to wonder about the movies that aren't being made. In that spirit of curiosity let me suggest two more candidates for Phantom Film of the year.

First, here's Script Outline D: See No Evil. A rough-mannered radio talk show host speaks out against "Islamo-fascism" one too many times. When his body is found the next day, the note stabbed to his chest leaves no doubt about the motive. Police investigate leads in the local Muslim community but back off when Islamic pressure groups together with civil-liberties organizations complain about ethnic profiling. One stubborn detective persists, however, and with the help of his Muslim partner conducts his own investigation-an investigation that leads into a labyrinthine world of mosques, madrassas, and arranged marriages.

Finally, with the aid of moderate Muslims who both fear and despise the radicals, the detectives are able to track down the killer and his cell. A fiery gun battle erupts and only ends with the death of several of the terrorists and the arrest of the others. In the closing scene another talk show host, a rival to the slain man, now shaken to his senses by the tragic event, honors his rival's courage and takes up the cause of awakening his own listeners to the new fascism in their midst.

In Script Outline E: Three Days of Terror, a team of Islamic terrorists takes over a Christian school in a suburban American town. They hold the students and teachers hostage, rig the school with bombs, and make impossible demands. Traumatized parents, television crews, and SWAT teams gather outside. Negotiations go nowhere. The terrorists threaten to kill one student for every hour of delay. Numerous acts of courage and self-sacrifice by students and teachers are observed. Interactions between teachers and terrorists highlight the clash of civilizations. There is conflict among the terrorists themselves. Some of them never realized it would go this far. One of the dissenters is shot.

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