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.