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Jordan Reid

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Portraying far-left and far-right as equal in ‘Civil War’ is wrong

Apr 25

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The movie “Civil War,” which depicts Texas and California seceding from the nation to wage war on Washington, D.C., reflects a what-if scenario fueled by memories of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. But as the presidential election looms, discussions about civil war have moved beyond theoretical debates to become a serious consideration among some voters.

Straight Arrow News contributor Jordan Reid analyzes the new dystopian movie in the context of America’s current political landscape.

I think that if I sat down and asked somebody why might your country or my country disintegrate into a state of civil war, they would know the answers. I don’t need to spell them out. Those answers surround us. So I felt it would be not just patronizing but redundant to spell it out.

Look, I am of the opinion that you don’t change anyone’s mind in either direction by yelling at them, telling them they’re crazy, fascists, what have you. The way you change minds is by finding points of commonality, communicating, above all, listening. And I definitely understand that the extremism of the very far left can be damaging to the goal of unity, perhaps, perhaps even to the goal of progress.

But there is a danger to this film — again, it’s one I thought was very good and very thought-provoking and I do recommend it — but the thing is I can have my disagreements with certain elements of the far left and certain elements of the far right, but the danger presented by the two, it’s not an equivalency.

For something a little different today, let’s do a Movie Preview. So I finally saw the massive box office hit Civil War, a film that I had been anticipating with mixed dread and curiosity.

So the movie was very good. I think from a critical perspective, it was phenomenal acting, obviously compelling subject matter and so forth. But for me, the most interesting thing about Civil War was what it didn’t say, it didn’t say the specific motivations behind the war, or give any real background information at all. And throughout the film, I found myself trying to figure out which side each new character we met was on, until I finally realized that’s the whole point. That’s what director Alex Garland was trying to achieve. Garland is by his own description, a left centrist and interviews, he tends to emphasize the centrist element because to him, apparently, the point of both the film and the locus of his anxiety is not as much about politics as much as it is about extremism on both sides. And an interview with PBS garland said, quote, for me, it categorically is a political film. It’s just not choosing a politics of left and right.
I think that if I sat down and asked somebody, why might your country or my country disintegrate into a state of civil war, they would know the answers. I don’t need to spell them out. Those answers surround us. So I felt it would be not just patronizing, but redundant to spell it out.
Look, I am of the opinion that you don’t change anyone’s mind in either direction by yelling at them telling them they’re crazy fascists, what have you. The way you change minds is by finding points of commonality, communicating, above all, listening. And I definitely understand that the extremism of the very far left can be damaging to the goal of unity, perhaps, perhaps even to the goal of progress. But there is a danger to this film again. It’s one I thought was very good and very thought provoking, and I do recommend it. But the thing is,
I can have my disagreements with certain elements of the far left and certain elements of the far right but the danger presented by the two. It’s not an equivalency. A simple peek at gun death statistics in our country shows that the vast majority of mass shooting events have been at the hands of white men, often white nationalists. Only one side of our sadly binary political system is calling for a bloodbath if Trump doesn’t win the next election. So while I do believe, like Alex Garland does, it seems that centrism isn’t just an ideal but probably an imperative. I take issue with the concept that the far left is just as dangerous to our democracy and very selves as the far right. It’s just not a competition.

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