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Friday, July 29, 2005

Great Response in The Battle of Algiers

In my effort to watch all "classics," we rented The Battle of Algiers the other day. There was a great line near the end, when the French have captured the intellectual mastermind of the native resistance. The reporter asked something like, "Don't you think it's cowardly to use women's baskets to deliver bombs against defenseless civilians?" (He was referring to the terrorist acts the FLN had committed to get the French out of their country.) To this the leader responded (not exact quote):

"Isn't it cowardly to use airplanes to drop napalm on defenseless villagers? Of course we wish we had airplanes to deliver our weapons. If you give us your bombers, sir, you can have our baskets."

And no, I'm not saying terrorism is OK, I'm saying it is always wrong to kill innocent civilians to achieve your political goals. This includes governments bombing the crud out of Indochina.

7 comments:

  1. "I'm saying it is always wrong to kill innocent civilians to achieve your political goals."

    What's so great about a response that denies this?

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  2. The response points out that "terrorism" is a term that may properly be applied to both suicide bombers and military action involving killing civilians.

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  3. Anonymous12:49 PM

    I don't understand the first comment at all -- who said anything was "great" about a response that denied that?

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  4. anonymous said:

    I don't understand the first comment at all -- who said anything was "great" about a response that denied that?

    Oh, what Kennedy was saying is this: The title of my blog post was "great response," but yet the FLN's guy's response did not admit that terrorism is wrong. Therefore, Kennedy is asking me, why am I calling the guy's response great, since he thinks killing innocents is OK.

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  5. Kennedy,

    Look, if you didn't think the guy's response was "great," it won't work for me to explain why I thought it was (just as explaining a joke doesn't make it funny).

    I didn't mean it was "great" in the sense that the Sermon on the Mount was great. I just meant, I thought it was an extremely glib response that shut up the smug French reporter (who presumably did not think his government's policies were "cowardly").

    What I liked in particular was that he didn't just say, "Oh, you guys do it too." But he actually gave an option that would have eliminated the allegedly cowardly acts--namely if the French gave their bombers to the FLN, then the latter would stop acting like "cowards" and would act like responsible military powers. Since the French would of course never do this, it showed the weakness of their position.

    (In contrast, if Gene Callahan criticized them, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on, since [as far as I know] Gene doesn't himself kill innocent people, unless you count readers of this blog.)

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    ReplyDelete