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Klavan On The Culture

The Left Can’t Handle the Truth

May 27th, 2013 - 6:05 am

When you go through a political sea change as I did — switching my political position over the course of the years from left to right — there are many little revelations that occur along the way. There are many moments you look back on, thinking, “That was an important clue. That was a step in the transition.”

One of those moments for me was the moment when I realized that the villains in my novels spoke the simple truth more often than my heroes did — that is, I had begun to use my nasty characters to say nasty things that I knew to be true but that sounded too harsh and mean to be spoken by nice people. I have since noticed that left-wing artists do this a lot — and that often the audience recognizes the truth when they hear it and so elevates the villain while completely forgetting the hero and his pious-sounding left-wing claptrap.

The best example I can think of comes from the talented leftist writer Aaron Sorkin’s play and movie  A Few Good Men. We all remember what the tough guy Colonel Nathan Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson in the film, screams at the self-righteous liberal lawyer Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise. We remember it because, while Sorkin makes Jessup act criminally, what Jessup says is exactly right. Harsh, but right.

“You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns…. I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom…. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives….You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

We use words like honor, code, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

It’s about time our artists allowed their heroes to speak such truths and left the puling self-righteous leftist nonsense to their villains. After all, that’s the way it is in real life.

Happy Memorial Day.

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Top Rated Comments   
In my years in the military, I never met a Colonel Nathan R Jessup. I did, however meet a lot of colonels who would hang an NCO in order to preserve their beloved career, especially if that NCO had been proven correct on every count.

In spite of that, I pressed on in my military career hoping that such Nathan R Jessups might exist. I did, however, find great offense with the fact that the character Cruise played as being incredibly disrespectful of the rank and position that Jessup held and, having attended a few courts martial, both as an enlisted member and an officer, I know that Kaffee would be summarily dismissed and replaced in an instant.

As to Jessup's issuing the order, it is also manufactured by the scriptwriter to make Jessup the bad guy. In any unit, it is doubtful that the troops would've followed such an order...it is unlawful. Barring that, however, I have seen enlisted members behave poorly in groups and without authorization. But never ordered to do so by a flag officer.

I am a huge fan of the diatribe as delivered by Jack as Jessup. It's posted in a lot of places in our cubicle farm at work by veterans. I noted years ago as did Mr Klavan that the uber-left-wing writer, in an effort to make Jessup the evil bad guy, has actually summed up the right's position perfectly.

In that the writer sees that as somehow evil, is beyond very telling. It identifies the dichotomy between left and right and it's not something that can be compromised over. It's non-negotiable.

To the left all war is bad.
Nothing is worth fighting about.
Soldiers are inherently mean and somehow brain-damaged

etc.,etc.

Yet, they engage in violence to save whales, trees or spotted owls.

What they choose to fight about is often the result of some ridiculous rationalization and yet, they themselves would not choose to eliminate themselves to preserve one small shred of wildlife habitat because to them, they are not at fault.

They consider themselves the better side of the human equation and therefore must be spared the result of destruction. Many a Star Trek episode has this very theme. Yet they twist it to make the idiots the winners.

So here we are. The left, who think that freedom "just happens" and the right who know that it's neither free nor does it just come as a natural law of physics; That it has to be fought for, protected and guarded with great diligence.

The left NEVER gets that. They are the people that John Stuart Mill was referring to when he penned, "War is an ugly thing". Specifically:

" The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

To those people I say, "Go ahead, smoke your pot and I will laugh when Machmed is removing your head from your neck. I've no desire to fight for you. You are worthless. You are pathetic and you are useless"

That's all I have to say about that.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
In many films and popular novels, the bad guys do say the "puling self-righteous ... nonsense," but ofttimes the "leftist" part is the part that's missing. How many "dirty, nasty Nazi" films are there? The baddies in those films & popnovs are always blowing off some Nazi propaganda just before they're beaten to a pulp or blown to smithereens (you can include the Star Wars films here, where the Third Reich = the Empire, the Emperor = Hitler, etc.).

But "leftist" or Muslim bad guys? That's been forbidden since the mid 1990s. Not since "True Lies" (1995) has there been a blockbuster movie with an Arab villain. And not since "The Killing Fields" (1984) has there been a major motion picture that unambiguously shows the murderous nature of Communism.

Yes, in that time there have been small, out-of-the-mainstream films that have told something more closely approximating the truth, but for the most part there has been a twofold writing strategy: 1) villains are unlikeable truth-telling fascists (or Nazis - in most writers minds there's no distinguishing them) or 2) villains are inexplicable foes from beyond (insect-like Aliens or robots, zombies, ...).

Heros are always either 1) dedicated leftists (less often) or 2) naive, proto-leftists, whose main character development involves gradually becoming a dedicated leftist (more often). It's because of the nature of this character development that the heroes cannot speak "the simple truth" until the end of that development. This literary device is meant to lead the viewer/reader to adopt, through identification with the hero, his or her final leftist conclusions.

Since this is just a literary device, it can be played both ways, and that's what Ayn Rand did in her novels. I do hope they come out with part two of "Atlas Shrugged" movie soon.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's interesting, but I'm kind of comforted by this. Whenever I get into an argument with my leftist "friends" it almost always turns into a gang-style verbal beating. Me against 5 or 6 of them basically throwing out some creative insults, all the while completely side-stepping the actual points of contention. That used to bother me. Now I think I'll just keep calmly reverting back to original topic. That'll definitely cause frustration.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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I appreciated the movie clip because I have not actually seen the movie. All I had previously seen is a briefer clip in which Tom Cruise shouts that he wants the Truth and Jack Nicholson shouts back "You can't handle the truth!" That makes for a powerful clip, but it is much more illuminating to hear the rest of Nicholson's statement.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from George Orwell, a quote that liberals seem unaware of when they denigrate our men and women in uniform:

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having never read or seen the play, and only knowing the movie, all of my comments will be based on it. Also, in reference to one below comment, as an officer I take a little bit of offense at the hoary notion that enlisted personnel are morally superior "because" they are enlisted or that if you're an officer, you _must_ have done something unethical or degrading or stepped on people to make your way. I've met senior enlisted (top 3) who've done worse, and a lot of junior NCO petty tyrants along the way, and believe it or not, there is a such as thing as a scumbag E4. It's not a trait exclusive to either component of the force. That being said, here's where the story always falls apart for me 1) Jessup, supposedly one of the best O-6s in the Marines, decorated, combat veteran, commander, probably with a line on general some day, is petty and stupid enough to actually issue an _order_ to go after ONE problem child private the old-school "wall-to-wall counseling" way? It should have actually been a lot easier to get rid of the guy administratively, get him rotated back to CONUS. Granted, this would just make him someone else's problem, but a) he wouldn't be dead and b) a colonel wouldn't be about to get CM'd himself, and c) two otherwise good enlisted marines wouldn't have been ruined. My disappointment (and relief) was Jessup taking actions that a senior commander shouldn't be taking for what amounted to, big picture, as a minor personnel problem. 2) Santiago shouldn't have made it through basic. I know, I know, the politics of attrition rates and DIs and training are their own mess, but seriously, that kid should have never made it through. 3) I know, military healthcare is a mess, there was another opportunity to get rid of him before he hurt himself or became a liability, 4) the real creep was the LT - if Jessup hadn't been an idiot, this guy would have been exposed as the toxic pompous ass he was. 5) Where was the first sergeant? Where was the command sergeant major in all this? Shoot, where was the damn platoon sergeant, the heck with the squad leader. If all of them were ignored in the process or cut out of it, then really, the LT and the relationship he had with the commander were a toxic combo. 6)Other commenter was correct, I don't think Kaffee would have lasted 5 minutes in a real trial. 7) With the outcome stated, the first thing a good lawyer would do is appeal the sentencing of Dawson and Downey, and could possibly get the character of discharge upgraded at least. The idiocy of the whole plot is that, in real life, 99 times out of 100, Santiago is a personnelist's problem, and would either be waited out to transfer, or his chain would find a way to make him someone else's problem. Sad maybe, but true. But not interesting drama.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Klavan, you could write a hilarious and super-accurate scene where leftists bluster the usual ad hominem attacks while the single conservative sticks to facts and logic. Be sure to include plenty of snorts of derision, eye-rolling, false accusations, and social exclusion. When subsequent events prove the conservative to be correct, it makes no difference at all to the leftists, who just continue with the same exact drivel. Reality doesn't matter, only the narrative.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
What the Left cannot handle about the Truth is their utter inability to deal with it, to even try to affect it, personally.

That’s the real source of their anti-war attitude. They cannot stand to compare themselves to people they hate and then find themselves so wanting.

Just imagine, a knife must twist in their guts. When they realize that a guy with a high school education can put on his country’s uniform, pick up a gun, go to Iraq or Afghanistan, or Africa and in only a single year of service do more for humanity than they ever will in their whole lives. A knife must twist in their guts.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
forgetting all else in the movie, the quotes are powerful and truthful.

And liberals/dems can't seem to grasp that, which is why we now get a president that wants to think he can unilaterally end a war, with an enemy that is at war with us.

How naive, if not stupid/ignorant and sadly out of touch with reality.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I never saw that movie so I never heard the full context of that Jack Nicholson quote. Thank you!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a simple article - but brilliant.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
American Conservatives are mean, just ask Chris Mathews
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having made the same basic shift from left to right I have had those moments too. I am older than Mr. Klaven and started out a Truman-JFK Democrat. A blue, not a red diaper, baby if you will. So the journey was was mostly from center left to center right. The far left confused me - like the SDS and the Weathermen in the 60s. I experienced then as over the top and knew I didn't support them at all, but I couldn't understand why. The issue in those days was Vietnam and I remember Bobby Kennedy in a speech at Columbia saying that it was painful to have to make a distinction between one's country and one's government. He was torn, felt it, and spoke about it. I too was torn and could feel that pain. What I realized about the hard left of the day was they they did not appear to be torn - they apparently lacked a love of country and did not feel that pain. America was Amerika to them. And I remember Jimmy Hendricks playing the Star Bangled Banner at Woodstock. That brought the head and the heart back together again for me. The 60s wasn't all bad, but somewhere it got terribly lost and morphed into the politically correct, self loathing mess we have today. Reagan hit the nail on the head when he said that there are so many things our liberal friends believe that are just not true. That is true of all human being, of course, but the left has a particularly bad case of it right now. They have ruled American thought since the 30s, and what once was a response to world wide depression and a war against totalitarianism has turned into a clinging to a worn out status quo. The irony is that there are far more people interested in problem solving and progress in the generic sense on the right, with some islands of forward thinking on the left mostly, I find, in the tech sector. For the most part the left is serving up refried Marxist leftovers and believe they are the way the truth and the light. Here is a key example of the difference between the left of my childhood and left today. George Keenan sent his 'long telegram' from Moscow after WW2 warning Truman and Harriman at State that they could not successfully do quid quo pro with Stalin. Our current administration has tried to do quid pro quo with totalitarian Islam and Benghazi is the result. The Truman administration got it and, in short, began the policy of containment that became the cold war. In retrospect we can see that the very same left that emerged after 1968 ran against Truman in 1948 in the person of Henry Wallace who FDR had replaced with Truman as his VP in 1944. FDR knew Wallace was too pro communist. So Henry Wallace ran from the left of Truman and accepted the support of the Communists. And Truman beat Dewey despite the split vote. Now I understand better what happened to the Democratic party. Those who fundamentally believed in American values like FDR and Truman were mostly pushed out, and those who never believed in them were able to capture the party. I believe an underlying cause of this aberration was that America became so successful and rich that much of it lost contact with reality. It has allowed an alien ideology that happened to be monstrously misguided to take over its education system and culture. Korea is a war we don't talk about much because we didn't win it. But we did, as it turns out. The Islamists keep trying to tell us that we have lost touch, but denial is so strong that we will go on as long as we can get away with it. FDR used to quote an old Orthodox proverb to explain his relationship with Stalin. 'It is permissible, my children, to hold the hand of the Devil himself until you have crossed the bridge.' Rising 70 years after we made it across the bridge our left and our president still clings tightly to that hand.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep.

The Reagan Democrats were the Decent Democrats fleeing the ugliness that presides in that unholy Godless Israel bashing party now. An unholy alliance of haters of Western Civilization in general and European Christendom in particular.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Leftist wouldn't know the truth if it slapped the in the face.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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