Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Unforgiven

I used to sort of like Clint Eastwood but now, after the release of "J Edgar," I just think of him as another Hollywood half-wit, regurgitating revisionist "history" in a pander to the Left. Hoover, like Nixon and McCarthy, truly are America's "Unforgiven." Virtually everyone else who becomes notorious gets at least one shot at rehabilitation and redemption in America, sometimes even two, except for these perennial lepers. And why is that?

Is it because they conducted wiretapping? Is it because they were ruthless? Is it because they sometimes became rule-bending zealots in pursuit of political or personal demons? Not really. The same could be said of many American historical figures (Bobby Kennedy, to name just one) who are still held in relatively high esteem.

So what was their unpardonable sin? It was fighting the spread of Stalinism and Soviet tyranny. It was being correct about the evils of communism, at a time when so many Americans, especially fellow-travelers on the left, were ignoring or minimizing or actively enabling Soviet crimes.

You can be forgiven for anything in American, it seems, but for being a staunch anti-communist -- though it's by now beyond doubt that communism was a force for evil in the world. It's that, not Watergate or the Army-McCarthy hearings or Hoover's alleged abuses of power, that makes them the pariahs they remain.

Not everyone likes gleefully jumping on their graves, however. Some of us find their anti-communist crusading admirable, even heroic, given the Cold War context in which they lived. And they rise even higher in our esteem in response to the hatred and derision heaped on them by unreconstructed fellow-travelers and their useful idiots among opinion-makers. We understand that they are hated because they were honest about communism. We know they are doubly hated because they were effective anti-communists. And that, more than anything else, is why we can forgive them their other human foibles.

And what of Eastwood's motives? Why would this supposed Republican (though a Hollywood Republican) bastardize Hoover's biography (especially his alleged sexual history) the way he does in J. Edgar? It seems like just another bid for redemption by the former Dirty Harry, who made a fortune and sold out theaters in politically-incorrect shoot-em-ups that undoubtedly offended Tinseltown's liberal sensibilities, but who has in more recent films struck a notably softer tone, as if he is making amends for his former movie persona (not to mention his reputation for being one of the industry's few -- gasp -- Republicans).

This is a portrait of Hoover that's sure to win Eastwood the love of Hollywood's left-leaning establishment, which is what he still obviously craves. And it might also just win him a best director Oscar, since "the Academy" isn't above making political or social statements with the awards it hands out. That, in my view, explains it. It's a cynical, shameless, pandering move on Eastwood's part, which lowers his stature in my opinion. But no one ever went wrong, or broke, in contemporary Hollywood cranking-out Leftist propaganda.

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