Matthew Modine: Useful Idiot

Lee Ermey, the ex-Marine-turned-actor who played the drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1987 film, parlayed his role into success as an American folk hero, particularly via his long-running shows on the History Channel, such as Mail Call and Lock ‘n’ Load. It took co-star Adam Baldwin a bit longer to find comparable fame, but he’s catching up fast. As Baldwin told PJM's Ed Driscoll recently on PJM’s weekly Sirius-XM radio show, he was named TV Guide's “Sexiest Newcomer” in 2005, despite an acting career that dates back to the early 1980s.

The American public was able to see past both actors’ over-the-top, Strangelovian parodies of Vietnam-era Marines required by Kubrick to find those rare Hollywood performers whose worldviews resonate with flyover country.

In contrast, Matthew Modine, who played “Private Joker,” the star and the only introspective character in Kubrick’s otherwise dark film, has fallen a bit by the wayside. He’s found steady work as a character actor. But his co-starring role in 1995's Cutthroat Island may have permanently ended his bankability as a leading man in films. According to the Internet Movie Database, the abortive Geena Davis star vehicle was dubbed “the biggest financial loss to this date” by the Guinness Book of Records, with a loss of over 100 million dollars at the box office.

Modine’s boilerplate Hollywood politics aren’t helping to rebuild an emotional connection with most Americans, either. He was recently interviewed on CNN, where he came out with this gem:

Imagine if somebody were to really sit down with Osama Bin Ladin and say, "listen man, what is it that you’re so angry at me about that you’re willing to have people strap bombs to themselves, or get inside get inside of airplanes and fly them into buildings." That would be the miracle if we can get, sit down and talk to our enemies and find a way for them to hear us.

Yes, just imagine. Maybe it would be like the Munich Agreement of 1938, after which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared “peace in our time.”


Unfortunately, Matthew Modine is not alone in his way of thinking. Too few people really understand the jihadist threat and what drives it. Our friend Matthew has likely never heard of the Muslim Brotherhood (officially known as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), which included amongst its membership Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian who spent time in Colorado as a college student in the 1940s. The Islamist terror group al-Qaeda grew in part from the seeds planted by Qutb.

While here, Qutb was horrified by what he saw. Bret Stephens, writing for the Wall Street Journal, has a brief summary:

In his 1951 essay "The America I Have Seen," Qutb gave his account of the U.S. "in the scale of human values." "I fear," he wrote, "that a balance may not exist between America's material greatness and the quality of her people." Qutb was particularly exercised by what he saw as the "primitiveness" of American values, not least in matters of sex.

"The American girl," he noted, "knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it." Nor did he approve of Jazz -- "this music the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires" -- or of American films, or clothes, or haircuts, or food. It was all, in his eyes, equally wretched.

Qutb's disdain for America's supposedly libertine culture would not matter much were it not wedded to a kind of theological Leninism that emphasized the necessity of violently overthrowing any political arrangement not based on Shariah law. No less violent was Qutb's attitude toward Jews: "The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days [of Islamic history]," he wrote in the 1950s, "has raged to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and the means remain the same."

What’s more, Stephens writes, is that this all happened in the 1940s, well before “Elvis, Playboy, the pill, women's lib, acid tabs, gay rights, Studio 54, Jersey Shore and, of course, Lady Gaga. In other words, even in some dystopic hypothetical world in which hyper-conservatives were to seize power in the U.S. and turn the cultural clock back to 1948, America would still remain a swamp of degeneracy in the eyes of Qutb's latter-day disciples.”