Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard: [upon learning Devereaux’s plans to torture Tariq] Are you people insane? What are you talkin’ about?
General William Devereaux: The time has come for one man to suffer in order to save hundreds of lives.
Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard: One Man? What about two, huh? What about six? How about public executions?
General William Devereaux: Feel free to leave whenever you like, Agent Hubbard.
Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard: Come on General, you’ve lost men, I’ve lost men, but you – you, you *can’t* do this! What, what if they don’t even want the sheik, have you considered that? What if what they really want is for us to herd our children into stadiums like we’re doing? And put soldiers on the street and have Americans looking over their shoulders? Bend the law, shred the Constitution just a little bit? Because if we torture him, General, we do that and everything we have fought, and bled, and died for is over. And they’ve won. They’ve already won!
General William Devereaux: Escort him out.
This is a pivotal scene in chillingly prophetic 1998 thriller “The Siege” between FBI anti-terrorism expert Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis), a sadistic racist, put in command of rounding up Arab-Americans and forcing them into a detention camp after Arab terrorists attack a bus in Brooklyn, a Broadway theater and FBI headquarters.
That plot seemed so far fetched, but today we all know better.
After the September 11 attacks, we started a real life Siege sequel and no Denzel to make the case against xenophobia, fear and racism.
In another scene, Denzel’s “Hub” has a head-to-head with an FBI colleague-
Anthony ‘Hub’ Hubbard: “London. Paris. Athens. Rome. Belfast. Beruit. We’re not the first city to have to deal with terrorism. The day after they bombed the market in Tel Aviv the market was open and it was full. “This is New York City. We can take it.”
The central argument of The Siege is to avoid becoming the very monsters you are fighting. Stripping American Citizens of their Constitutional Rights out of fear is not only morally wrong, it destroys the Liberty of all Americans and fuels global resentment abroad. We’ve done it before. George Takei speaks on his Japanese American families internment during World War II. Notably, German and Italian Americans weren’t given the same treatment. The U.S. Constitution applies to all, or no one.
A major American political party was hijacked by a con-artist with no plans, only platitudes.”I’m great, trust me.” Is not a political platform. He’s all hat and no cattle. If Trump were a foreign leader we’d ridicule him as a tin dictator. Donald Trump has the unfortunate combination of gargantuan ambition, incredible lack of hubris and a pitch black soul. His brutish Ill-manners are what weak men see as strength, wrapped in orange spray tanned paper-thin skin. When Martin Luther King Jr. said “There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”, he could as easily been speaking of Trump and his supporters, a substantial number of which are Birthers. 72% doubt POTUS Obama’s citizenship, 66% think POTUS Obama is a “secret Muslim” and 20% think the Emancipation Proclamation was a mistake. A “Basket of Deplorables” is a moniker Hillary Clinton, perhaps in-artfully but accurately coined to describe this bunch. Sorry Trump supporters, lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.
I’ve taken heat about my recent piece on 9/11. “The Long Memories of New Yorkers #neverforget” I was accused of “politicizing” 9/11. Guilty as charged. Those 11 Saudi attackers and their CIA trained mastermind Osama Bin Laden also made a political statement. I experienced 9/11 in real time with loved ones in harms way. I’d like to minimize future exposure as much as possible and I need a President up to the job. We aid and albeit our enemies when we discriminate against followers of Islam and Trump is the best recruiter ISIS has. Arabs are racially profiled. An Arab passenger can get kicked off a flight for sweating and saying “Allah” while White American Extremists are far more dangerous than ISIS. Ever hear someone say, “Excuse me, that white couple over there, I think they’re Fundamentalist Christians. The wife was quoting Leviticus, I’m seeing something and saying something, I don’t feel comfortable with them on board.” This double standard is all you need to know about the political agenda of this country. We cherry pick Americans based on religion or race all the time, just as Hub called it and every time we do, we shred the Constitution a piece at a time.
The Bush Administrations “War on Terror” was instructive in what NOT to do.The American Conservative article: The War Bin Laden Wanted “A revolutionary or terrorist movement has much to gain from getting a real government to declare war upon it. This gives the movement considerable status, putting it in some sense in the same league with the government with which it is now recognized as at war. No sensible government wishes to give such quasi-legitimacy to a movement it is trying to stamp out.” OBL played Bush like a violin. He gave him the war he wanted. 15 years later, what do we have to show for it? Donald Trump has demonstrated all the intellectual curiosity of GWB (none) without the “Compassionate Conservatism “.Trump’s weird Putin Fetish, elocution of a five year old and teenage temperament make him unfit to serve as President. This is the consensus view of Conservative pundits, Journalists 60 + Republican National Security experts and military personnel, Yet, here we are.
I’ll continue to say he’s unfit until he’s in the political dustbin as is my right as an American Citizen. The freedom to do, artistically and personally, the things we’d like presupposes a political freedom I value. In Trumps America, these rights aren’t a given. He’s shown he’s hostile to the press and encourages violence against dissent at his book burnings, excuse me, “rallies”. Those are not “American Values”. If I choose to use my remembrance of 9/11 to speak out against a huge threat to our democracy or a football player chooses to take a knee to protest police brutality, these are basic rights of a free society.
Consider this, we are on the verge of having a Woman president. Unthinkable at one time. Girls getting an education and Women having a career were “political statements” frowned upon in this country. Today, women are the majority both in the workplace and on college campuses but still average 79 cents on the dollar vs. men. We ignore the greatest weapon in our vast arsenal against poisonous ideology. One that strikes fear in the hearts of both ISIS and Alt Right men alike.
Girls, like the ones enrolled in the Pakistani program who get a free education if their families commit to delay marriages. Girls like the 300 Nigerian girls stolen by Boko Haram and sold into slavery or taken as child brides to prevent them from educating themselves and in-turn, raising educated societal stakeholders. Educated women and girls change theocracies into modern, secular free societies. Terrorism only succeeds as a political strategy if a populace is afraid enough to allow the crushing of civil liberties, so more hopeless youth are ripe for indoctrination with malignant views, like a virus. This applies equally to ISIS and The Alt Right. Things will get worse, there will be other attacks like 9/11 before this is over. The lesson of The Siege however, is we must not let fear change who we are or aspire to be as a nation. Regardless if the enemy is within or without. To paraphrase Hub , “We’re The United States of America. We can take it.”
If we claim to value our Constitution, we must stand fast and continue to hold on to the ideals we cherish. For Christ sakes, Man & Woman up America! Syrian Refugee children aren’t coming to murder you in your sleep! We should help them, not bomb them, not vilify them. Don’t get it twisted, we are a nation of misfit toys & refugees. There were “No Irish Need Apply” (NINA) signs all over NYC not all that long ago. Embracing and protecting our fellow Americans who follow Islam, encouraging the education of women, boys and girls trapped in cycles of poverty here and abroad, THESE are the American values we should be proud of. Values that people like Trump and his minions would convince us to squander. The War of Ideas is essential to win. Changing hearts and minds will ultimately succeed where perpetual war has failed those of us not making a buck off of it.
Spoiler alert: Hubs eventually arrests the General. He and the men under his command are held accountable for the torture and murder of an American Citizen.
Unfortunately, that kind of stuff only happens in the movies.
P.S. As I was finishing this piece, I learned of the attack on a traditionally dressed Muslim woman Saturday. She was set on fire on Fifth Ave.& 55th St. outside Valentino.
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Photos: Youtube screenshot