“Patriot’s Day” Is Not a Patriot’s Way

Please don’t misunderstand. If you haven’t already seen the movie, my intention is not to persuade you to watch it. It is not even to warn you if you do decide to watch it that you had better be on the alert for the astonishing distortions inflicted on it by political correctness.

My point is this: what makes the movie “Patriots Day” worthy of comment is how its political correctness perfectly portrays the political correctness that is the stock-in-trade of our ruling elite, in Hollywood, in the news media, and in government.

The film depicts the events of the terrorist bombings of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the ensuing hunt for the terrorists. Toward the end of the film, we learn, as is nearly always the case, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been on the terrorist watch list. This raises in the mind of the viewer the obvious question: if he was known, why wasn’t he stopped? At this point, in the midst of a desperate city-wide hunt for the terrorist who was still alive, there is a pause in the action so the film can make the film’s “Profound Comment.” One cop asks the protagonist, Officer Tommy Saunders played by Mark Wahlberg, “You think this s**t is preventable?”

Imagine this scene for yourself. One tough Boston cop asks another this question. Do you believe a real cop would have some very practical commonsense ideas about preventing terrorist attacks? Sure you do.

Of course, these aren’t real cops; they’re movie cops. “Tommy Saunders” is a composite character and his job is to deflect the question—which he proceeds to do. His answer is a prolonged monologue about the terrible day seven years ago when he and his wife learned she could not have children. His emotional monologue is intercut with even more emotional scenes of the wounded and the traumatized being reunited after the horrors of the day. “Devil hits you like that only one weapon you have to fight back with—love.”

Love is the answer, but of course this answer ignores the question: what can we do to prevent terrorist attacks?

After this monologue, the film returns to the action, portraying the capture of the second terrorist, and then returns to, and ends on, the love theme introduced by the Saunders character. The focus is on the caring of the first responders and on the courage shown by those who were horribly wounded, interspersed with repeated references to patriotism. The urgent question of what could be done to prevent terrorist attacks has been pushed aside by scenes dripping with emotion.

The message is clear: our response to terrorism is to congratulate ourselves on how magnificently we respond to acts of terrorism, not to ask what we need to do to protect ourselves.

One of the maimed, speaking of all the other victims of terrorist attacks, has this to say: “I think it is important we think of these people around the world not as victims of violence but as ambassadors for peace.” Simply astonishing. Can you imagine a movie made during World War II presenting a sailor who lost his leg at Pearl Harbor saying, “I think it is important we think of these people around the world not as victims of Japanese and Nazi aggression but as ambassadors for peace”?

So “love is the answer” boils down to ever greater numbers of victims sacrificed to terrorism providing ever more ambassadors of peace.

The film has nothing to say about the fact that we keep bringing in more and more Muslims and putting more and more of them on watch lists, or that officials go on announcing after every atrocity that the latest jihadi, just like the previous one, was known to authorities beforehand. As for us, the targets of the terrorists, we are told we must meet the inevitable coming attacks with love.

In the real, as opposed to the film version of this story, you and I were later to learn in news reports that Tsarnaev had repeatedly visited the al-Qaida online magazine Inspire to learn how to “Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” We also learned that Tsarnaev was on the watch list because the Russians had warned U.S. intelligence agencies that he was a threat. However, any idea that we urgently need to do the completely obvious—to take the commonsense steps to prevent the next terror attack—is nowhere to be found in “Patriots Day.”

This version of patriotism is an astonishing aberration. The film’s value is that it makes perfectly clear how the elite in Hollywood, in the media, and inside the Beltway wants us to think—or rather not think—about Islamic terrorism.


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