The left embraces 'Avatar'

Anyone who thinks I may have overstated the left-wing message in the movie "Avatar," which grossed another $75 million over the Christmas weekend, should read the column by David Swanson posted at the "progressive" website .

Among other things, he writes,


The Na'vi people of "Avatar" are very explicitly Iraqis facing "shock and awe," as well as Native Americans with bows and arrows on horseback. The "bad guys" in the battle scenes are U.S. mercenaries, essentially the U.S. military, and the movie allows us to see them, very much as they are right now in 177 real nations around the world, through the eyes of their victims.

Imagine if a tenth of the people who now sympathize with these bony blue beings were to take three hours to read a book or watch a movie about the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Iran. Our real planet would then be a different world.

When I saw "Avatar" in a packed 3-D theater in Virginia, and the crowd cheered the closing shot, I shouted: "And get out of Iraq too!" No one cheered for that. But no one called me a traitor either.

But will anyone in that crowd lift a finger to pressure their representatives in Congress to stop funding the evil they'd just seen sanitized, animated, relocated, and ever so slightly disguised?


Swanson asks his readers to print out a copy of his column to distribute at theaters showing "Avatar" and to contact their local media and members of Congress as part of the campaign to "defund war" but only in America. He apparently favors the funding of wars conducted by terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, not to mention Iranian military programs, all aimed at creating a very different and savage world.


Listing Iran with its nuclear ambitions as a victim of U.S. militarism would seem to show the extent Swanson would go to embrace dangerous enemies, especially at a time when the corrupt and fanatical Tehran regime is shooting people in the streets for protesting its stolen election. Listing Yemen, however, is even more revealing in that Swanson undoubtedly knows it is the base of Anwar al-Awlaki, the jihadist cleric who influenced Ft. Hood terrorist Army Major Nidal Hasan. Such is the deformed meaning of "progressive" these days.


Swanson is the author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union and of the introduction to The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush He holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia and worked as press secretary for the 2004 presidential campaign of Rep. Dennis Kucinich'(D- OH), and as a communications coordinator for ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Swanson is creator of and Washington Director of, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America and Voters for Peace.


Hollywood rushed into production a number of explicitly antiwar films with big-name stars in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. The films "Stop-Loss" (2008), "In the Valley of Elah" (2007), "Lions For Lambs" (2007), "Rendition" (2007), Syriana (2005) and "Jarhead" (2005) were all considered box office failures. Prospective movie-goers knew what these films were and had no interest in seeing them. Science fiction, however, has always had the advantage of being able to disguise its contemporary commentary by shifting the setting in time and place. "Avatar" is doing this in a major way with audiences expecting to see an action-adventure story presented in dazzling 3D animation rather than an anti-American political diatribe. Unfortunately, they are getting both.