Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Why the Showtime Series Homeland Sucks
Homeland is a series on Showtime which just finished its first (and last?) season. It's a copy, with liberties, of an Israeli series I have not seen.
I liked it for many episodes. Then the lead guy, Marine Sgt. Brody --now a confirmed traitor/terrorist --(played by Damian Lewis, who was so good as Captain Winters in Band of Brothers) complained to his best friend/fellow marine about their service in Iraq. One could forgive Brody for being bitter, as he was captured and tortured for 8 freakin' years. But his bud just nodded his head in agreement. Wrong. We have done a good job in both places--meeting and defeating the enemy at nearly every engagement. The top leadership, particularly in Iraq, has been uneven, but these were not grunts complaining about the brass and REMFs as is usual and even healthy, this was criticism of the grunts. Bad. Bad.
Then in the finale, it got a lot worse. Here's the background. Our attempt to kill Abu Nidal (here Nazir) with a drone strike went wrong and hit a nearby madrassa and killed a lot of young boys. One of the boys was Nizar's son who was also beloved (platonically) by Brody. The American prisoner was then not being tortured and was actually under 'house arrest' with Nazir and part of his family in an effort to turn him against his country. The son's death caused Brody to vow to kill the man responsible for the strike--now the American Vice President. Then the facile and decidedly unequal moral equivalence begins and never stops.
First, the perpetrators of the botched strike feel so guilty about it that they erase nearly all traces of it. What? Have we put any of our deadly drone strikes in Afghanistan down the memory hole? No, we boldly own up to our few mistakes and our less rare but still regrettable collateral damage; but we also don't apologize for the latter. If the terrorists would seclude themselves from their families and other innocents, then those people would not be killed in drone strikes. Who's putting the innocents at risk? Both of us. By way of historical context--during WWII, we put German and Japanese citizens not in the military at risk with our strategic bombing campaigns (and thereby we killed 600,000 German non-combatants --as many as starved to death in WWI because of the British blockade-- and 900,000 Japanese non-combatants (at least) were killed in city incendiary bombings, including the two nuke strikes in Agust 1945). We won that war.
The central tragedy of war is that during it, you don't do what you should, you do what you can to win. But back to the show.
I'll take a rough equivalence between the fault of the terrorists for surrounding themselves with innocents and our willingness to cause collateral damage when when we drone strike terrorists. I will not take more of the blame as Homeland, through its Jewish Jiminy Cricket, Saul, made clear we deserved. That non-equivalence is just total BS.
But in getting the information of the boy killing drone strike out of the CIA minion, Saul put CDs of our interrogation of certain captured terrorists on the table to blackmail the CIA guy in the know to spill his guts about the "horrible" drone strike. Saul implied that the tapes showed torture. I doubt it. I don't believe short bouts of water boarding is torture (otherwise the late Christopher Hitchens would never have agreed to try it (for about 3 seconds) and thousands of American servicemen would not undergo it during SERE training). There is nothing damning on the CDs (except to the America hating left). Saul says that the tapes, if he turned them over to the NYT (who clearly are America hating enough to publish them) "would be the greatest recruiting tool since Abu Graib." This is another stupid lefty meme. The Muslim extremists did not need the fraternity hazing at the infamous Iraqi prison to recruit hundreds of ground kamikazis before 2003. The day to day actions of Saddam Hussein in the same place before we properly finished Gulf War I make the "horrors" of Abu Graib seem like next to nothing to anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge and common sense. Back to the show.
Part of Brody's torture was being beaten with a stout table leg with its end wrapped in barbed wire. Compare that to the safe waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who later thanked his interrogators for doing it so he could talk with a clean conscious. Which of the two is actual torture?
Saul doesn't seem aware of the huge discrepancy between deliberately targeting innocents and targeting enemies who surround themselves with innocents for safety and/or propaganda gains. He can't see the difference between the real torture Brody received and the harsh but less than torture interrogation we have employed a whole three times. His and the show's equivalence of the real evil of the Muslim aggressors and our regrettably necessary response is morally bankrupt and factually wrong.
The show has lost me as a fan. It should lose you too.
This reads like some bitter dribble filled with arbitrary anger towards anything with a faint scent of a Liberal lean.
I'm not saying that represents you, but that's what this reads like.
I'm relatively sure Saul didn't approve of what the Muslims did to Brody but the fact that the show has him silent about Brody's actually being tortured and vocal (even indignant) about our non torture interrogation of high value captures and about the ultimate nothing burger we call Abu Graib, I think, makes my point about false moral equivalence. That false moral equivalence is the focus of my anger because it is ultimately the building blocks of a false history, which sees the microscopic specks in our eyes and ignores the huge redwood size beams in Muslim eyes. You are right about the bitter, though.
Also, just to point out: What Hitchens went through couldn't even be remotely considered as fucked up as what they actually do to the people they torture. Do you think they give the prisoners the option of tapping out after 11 seconds? Or of going into it wearing pleated slacks and a nice buttoned shirt? To say that it's not torture because Hitchens got to say uncle after 11 seconds is idiotic, to say the least. At least Hitchens realized that. RIP
And it's cool to dismiss expert claims as 'politically motivated', then admit that to a certain degree it is in fact torture, then blame people for newspeak and completely miss the hypocrisy there.
I have aired my suspicions that the US does in fact use the bad way of waterboarding, along with other techniques, such as forced nudity, extreme sleep deprivation, etc. Techniques that weren't applied to Hitchens, because he's a good guy and only wanted to know about waterboarding (this also leads me to believe that his careful treatment would not be afforded a foreign terror suspect). These suspicions are also based in revelations over the years, like the outsourced CIA-run torture facilities around the world, the glimpse into Abu Ghraib's conditions, etc. Even the fact that the US wouldn't even let the UN look into the conditions of Bradley Manning, a US soldier being held on US soil, should give an idea of how honest the US is being about their activities.
Hope that helps.
How could you argue that with a straight face?
It baffles me.
There is no "right" way to torture someone. Torture is torture, it's a means to an end, any physical (or mental) discomfort used to coerce someone into giving you something is a form of torture.
What, you think that waterboarding is something you can just reason through? Maybe to be compared to a slight unpleasantry, like, say, getting pinched?
If it were, do you think they would do it?
Or maybe you people somehow believe waterboarding is something to be enjoyed?
While I do agree that waterboarding may perhaps be one of the more 'mild' forms of torture, let me tell you, there's nothing mild about choking on water that's been getting in your lungs, and gasping for air, but instead, getting more water.
I swear, some people, these days....
There's something in the water....
Just kidding, you don't really know what water is, do you?