- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Proving him wrong

"In several of his demented sermons, in the days before he achieved global notoriety, Osama bin Laden made his followers a sort of promise. Defeating the Red Army in Afghanistan and bringing down the Soviet Union, he said, had been the hard part. The easy part the destruction of the United States of America was still to come. That task would be easy because America was corrupt and cowardly and rotten. It would not fight (as the debacle in Somalia had shown); it was a slave of the Jewish conspiracy; it cared only for comfort and materialism.

"It involves no exaggeration to say that everything depends, and has depended, on proving bin Laden wrong.

"There's no time to waste on the stupid argument that such a deadly movement represents a sort of 'cry for help' or is a thwarted expression of poverty and powerlessness. Only a complete moral idiot can believe for an instant that we are fighting against the wretched of the earth. We are fighting against the scum of the earth."

Christopher Hitchens, writing on "A View From the Patriotic Left," Sunday in the Boston Globe

Fighting back

"Of course the passengers and crew on Flight 93, when they set out from Newark that morning, had no cause in common. They were people on a plane bound from Newark to San Francisco. Some were going home, some traveling on business, some on vacation.

"Which makes it all the more astonishing, what they did.

"Imagine being ripped from your safe little cocoon, discovering that the plane was now controlled by killers, that your life was in their bloody hands. Imagine knowing that there was nobody to help you, except you, and the people, mostly strangers, around you.

"Imagine that, and ask yourself: What would you do? Could you do anything? Could you overcome the fear clenching your stomach, the cold, paralyzing terror?

"The people on Flight 93 did.

"They understood that Flight 93 was on a suicide mission. They figured out what their options were.

"Then they organized.

"Then they fought back."

Dave Barry, writing on "On Hallowed Ground," Sunday in the Miami Herald

Hollywood Hitler?

"Was Hitler human? And if so, how did he become a monster? These are among the questions raised by a provocative new movie that, against all odds, [premiered yesterday] at the Toronto Film Festival. The film project, which became the obsession of three men director/writer Menno Meyjes, actor John Cusack and producer Andras Hamori scared off movie financiers throughout the Western world.

"The film, 'Max,' breaks with cinematic precedent by depicting the young Hitler as an emotionally poisoned man, but nonetheless human, and even sympathetic in his longing for recognition as a struggling and impoverished artist in the postwar Munich of 1918.

"'Max' traces Hitler's transformation from a scruffy war veteran and frustrated painter to a rising propagandist for German nationalism and anti-Semitism. We see the future leader of the Third Reich through the eyes of another scarred survivor of World War I, Max Rothman (Cusack), a prosperous, Jewish, avant-garde art dealer who believes that only brutally honest art can restore sanity to the world.

"Even before it has been seen, the film has set off an angry reaction among people who are offended by the very idea of a movie presenting a figure of such profound evil in human terms. To do so, they charge, renders the monstrous sympathetic and reduces the enormity of his crimes. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd branded 'Max' a cynical exploitation, and the Jewish Defense League is campaigning to block Lions Gate, the film's U.S. distributor, from releasing it."

David Talbot, writing on "Was Hitler Human?" yesterdayin Salon at www.salon.com

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