Phony Threats and Great Accents

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent visit reminded us of Britain's stake in the war against terrorism. For more than three decades, the British have fought a war of their own against the IRA that has cost thousands of lives on both sides of the Irish Sea. More recently, we've learned that English cities have become hotbeds for radical Islam. The would-be "shoe bomber," Richard Reid, is a product of this. With all of this real-world material to draw from, you wouldn't expect a television program about Britain's elite security service to portray a made-up threat to British security. But that's what has happened. On July 22, the A&E network began airing the BBC series MI-5, named for Britain's domestic intelligence agency. The first episode was titled "Thou Shalt Not Kill." In the episode, MI-5 operatives learn that twenty bombs have disappeared somewhere between Ireland and Britain. A short while later, their worst fears are confirmed as a car bomb goes off, killing a mother and her child. One bomb accounted for, nineteen left. It's obviously just the start of a prolonged terror campaign. Who's behind it? If you guessed the IRA or al-Qaeda, you would be wrong. No, the threat to British internal security comes from pro-lifers -- and not just any pro-lifers, but American pro-lifers. The Osama bin Laden equivalent in the premiere episode is the wife of a man facing execution for the murder of an abortionist. As the MI-5 website sums up her beliefs, she is a "fanatic, convinced that murder is justified in her war against abortion." If Britain is in danger from anti-abortion violence, domestic or imported, I have missed it. But in a show depicting the personal sacrifices made to protect the British homeland, the producers lead off with a phony threat. Why? Part of the answer, of course, is animosity toward Christians and the pro-life movement. In television and movies, the words 'believer' and 'fanatic' are interchangeable. But there's something else at work here, a suffocating political correctness that will offend Christians but then goes to ridiculous lengths not to offend other groups. An example of this was last summer's blockbuster The Sum of All Fears. In that film, a nuclear attack on the United States was perpetrated by neo-Nazis instead of Islamic terrorists as was the case in the Tom Clancy book on which the movie is based. It didn't matter how preposterous this scenario was; it was better than offending Islamic groups, some of whom lobbied the producers for the change. And The Sum of All Fears was hardly alone in this regard. Since September 11, we've seen a total disconnect between what we read in the news and what we see onscreen: Newspapers and magazines tell us about Islamic "sleeper cells," and movies and television bend over backwards to avoid putting blame on Muslims. But, of course, we still need villains. And since pro-lifers are an unpopular bunch with the cultural elite, they'll do. The BBC is making a pattern of this with its campaign against Bush and Blair for supposedly misleading us on Iraq. This just underscores why the entertainment media is the last place to turn to if you want to understand what's going on in the world -- no matter how charming the accents might be. For further reading and information: Kathy Blumenstock, "The Spies and Lies of 'MI-5'," Washington Post, 20 July 2003, Y07. Gina Dalfonzo, "The Ick Factor: When Morality Shows Up in Strange Places," BreakPoint Online, 28 February 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 021203, "Prime-Time Fairness: Law & Order's Setting the Record Straight." Michael Medved, "Admit terrorism's Islamic link," USA Today, 23 June 2002. Danna Harman, "Radical Islam finds unlikely haven in liberal Britain," Christian Science Monitor, 5 August 2002. Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, "Bush, Blair Defend Motives of Iraq War," Washington Post, 17 July 2003. The BreakPoint Culture of Life Packet includes the Family Research Council booklet, "Building a Culture of Life: A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life," and a "BreakPoint This Week" CD interview with William Saunders of Family Research Council in which he discusses what citizens can do to make a difference for life. The CD also includes a speech by Dr. Robert George, "Bioethics and the Clash of Orthodoxies." Thomas Hibbs, Shows about Nothing (Spence, 1999).


Chuck Colson


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