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Sunday, January 14, 2007

24 Season Premier - Night One

A haggard and broken Jack descends from the plane. After 20 months of torture he didn't crack. Didn't speak. The President has paid a huge price, he is told, for his release. He must feel some honor. Some sense of privilege that finally, after all these months and all that pain, he is valued. But rather than be granted a hero's welcome he is ushered into a dark hanger at the airport and told that he is going to be traded for a much needed terrorist. Traded. From one merciless torturer to another. Traded. By those who knew him - by his friends.

How did he make it through those 20 months: "I didn't want to die for nothing." A man can endure much if there is meaning to his suffering. And so Jack stands in front of a mirror and views his long, scraggly beard. His tired eyes and beaten face. His back bears the scars and stripes of his torture.

Jack is traded to the enemy for the enemy. But Jack soon finds out that the trade is a scam and he is about to die for nothing. And that ushers in the first I-can't-believe-they-showed-that-on-tv-moment: Jack uses his teeth to bite through the neck vein of one of his captors and kill him. With blood on his mouth he escapes. Suddenly Jack is back. And we are in for another roller coaster season of 24.

But wait. Has Jack softened? He begins to torture a man and then stops. Why? Sympathy is written all over his face. This is a Jack who "doesn't know how to do this anymore."

Interesting political and ethical note (and there were/are many of them): A young, naive America is represented by a suburbian teenage youth who defends a middle eastern young man who is being harassed by his neighbors simply because of his ethnicity. The American teenage youth is apologetic. He is also idealistic. His moral scruples demand he stand up for the middle eastern young man. One problem: The middle eastern young man is a terrorist. From an idealistic perspective the teenage youth is right. However, the reality is that he is aiding a terrorist. Ethical Question: Would you rather be an idealist who is harboring a terrorist or a would you rather be stopping terror???


Melody said...

I don't think being an idealist (which I am not, because idealogoies only work if you use them in an ideal world) and stopping terror are mutually exclusive.

I didn't watch the show so I don't exactly know how this played out, but simply stopping his neighbors from harrassing this man for no reason he is not harboring a terrorist...he's just showing human decency.

If I had to choose;however; I would go with the idealist (as much as that would sadden me because it requires a certain amount of willful ignorance) because, contrary to popular American opinion, safty...even the safty of the masses...is not the most important thing in this life or the next.

Jonathan Erdman said...

idealogoies only work if you use them in an ideal world

This is a good quote. Ideology tends to work if it is applied to one's own idea of what an ideal world would look like. One then takes one's ideology and works to make the world fit into it. But this leaves a person in the sticky spot of having their ideals applied to a less then ideal world, which reveals their flaws. Socialism might work under the right conditions, one of which being that those who are in charge of redistribution actually do a good job of redistributing instead of just lining their pockets and protecting their own power and self-interest. Capitalism would work if all corporations would act responsibly, but of course that will never happen....So we get stuck in the middle somewhere: We need idealogy to work toward an ideal world, but our ideals don't always work right now because the world isn't perfect yet.

Thanks for the thoughts:
I am making your quote the first nominee for quote of the year in 2007!

ktismatics said...

Ever seen The Lost Boys? Maybe Keifer Sutherland really is a vampire.