United 93 is a wonderful portrait of courage (Movies, April 26-May 3). But in the context of America’s current foreign policy, it comes off as a familiar bit of wound-licking. Every nation has a tale of the day the world did them dirt, and United 93 is America’s. But what’s more remarkable is that, when people abroad see the Michael Moore movie Fahrenheit 9/11, viewers are surprised that a person is allowed to do that in America, allowed to be so critical of a sitting president. An unintended effect, because by being so harsh, the movie ends up giving every American something to be proud of, proving to the world that America is still somewhat free.

This is why, the world being convinced that our president means to destroy Islam, no one’s come over here and blown us off the map. Face it. We’re an open society, they could do it any time they wanted. So really, it’s not the chest-thumping, “These colors don’t run” that has kept us relatively safe since 9/11. It’s that this guy out of nowhere gets to film our president’s most embarrassing moments, make it into a movie and inspire debate. That’s why angry fanatics stay their sarin gas and their bombs. Not because we “have the terrorists on the run.” Obviously we don’t. Bush gave up trying to capture bin Laden years ago. We’re safe only because even angry people still admire something about this place.

Hope it stays that way, don’t you?

Jamie Esquire


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