Few poets were less inclined to flatter America than John McTiernan. It is necessary therefore to show his mind on America going to hell, not merely because he seems to have given it much thought, but also because it shows the pessimism that must have been overcome by the poet who made up these stories on which we reflect today.
First, the defenders of the nation combine mediocrity with incompetence. It first seems like this is an unfortunate problem with the bureaucratic hierarchies the federal government creates; call it the alphabet soup style of government. When it emerges that the terrorist is always a couple of steps ahead, it emerges also that incompetence is a requirement of the organization, which 9/11 & subsequent events woefully proved.
This is not a matter of the CIA & FBI suffering intelligence failures: They are structurally incompetent. The boasting & the pretense of sophisticated power is meant to soothe American feelings. Their enemies, however, are undeceived. These organizations are busy doing security work for the regime, but they do not face extinction upon failure of any magnitude short of armageddon.
Second, the public sentiment & public opinion shaped by what are called the media are thereby corrupted. Journalists are exactly that. They feed the worst in the people & thus help America’s enemies first by separating Americans from their concerns (including politics) with stupefying, but satisfying stories; & last by informing America’s enemies, who are lucid, of the weaknesses of the Americans.
Third, the liberals in the democracy, the privileged few, are incompetent or malevolent, & it is not always possible to make the difference. The general indictment is a cowardly love of money which prevents thinking about how to deal with the ruthless. Could blue-collar manliness be defended or praised otherwise? The first problem emerged because alphabet-soup government makes women of men. The second emerged when one’s own good & one’s civic concerns were replaced by TV hysteria & outrage. The third emerges as a consequence: Corporate America only does what the public & government expect of it: & it thinks that America is more or less like itself, just bigger & dumber. This is the stuff of comedy, one mistake after another revealing both the character of the actors & the enormous difference between their actions & their minds. Here, it is enacted subtly, but just as subtly. The suggestion is, leaving deeds to government, speeches to media, & therewith self-worth to liberal self-aggrandizement is suicide.
The one thing alone that stops terror is a manly man; he does not fear his enemies, but he wants to destroy them; his courage is political, being good for his fellow Americans. – A policeman not on the job is simply a citizen, but he is truly a citizen.