Leftists Hate and Fear 'The Patriot'
Tuesday, 16-Jan-01 11:00:03
Leftists Hate and Fear 'The Patriot'
Tuesday, July 4, 2000
There are two kinds of people: those who love Mel Gibson's new film
"The Patriot" and those who hate it.
The litmus test is your reaction to that now-famous scene in which the
character played by Gibson arms his sons – ages 10 and 13 – with
muskets and leads them into the woods to ambush the British.
Cyber-journalist Matt Drudge reports that audience members at an
advance screening gasped in horror at the sight of children firing
For me, the scene had the opposite effect. It evoked the closeness and
comfort of family. It conjured up long-forgotten yearnings from childhood.
What boy has not dreamed of creeping through the woods, musket in
hand, stalking the enemy at his father's side, in defense of hearth and
Those people who gasped in horror at the screening are evidently
strangers to such emotions. They are also strangers to American history
and even to Hollywood, which has never hesitated to portray boys
wielding firearms in historical dramas.
"Dances With Wolves" comes to mind. Remember the flashback scene,
in which Kevin Costner's love interest suddenly recalls the Indian raid in
which her family was killed? Her last memory is of her brother – a
prepubescent boy – telling her to run for her life, as he readies his rifle to
fire at the Indians.
No one gasped when they saw that. Nor does anyone seem shocked
about children committing horrific acts of cinematic violence in gore
fests such as the "The Faculty" and "Scream" I, II and III.
But children fighting for liberty in the American Revolution – that is true
pornography, in some people's minds.
Leftists have always hated the Revolution. They hate it because it
worked. It yielded so much freedom, prosperity and equality for
Americans that, to this day, even the most skillful agitator has trouble
persuading us that we need socialism.
So the left has counterattacked through the schools. Cynicism about our
Revolution and Founding Fathers has been sown deeply in our culture.
Many film critics end up parroting the Marxist line without even knowing
"Don't mistake ["The Patriot"] for history," warns James Verniere in the
Boston Herald. "It's a sales pitch for America."
"Overblown sanctimony and sentimentalism," agrees Ann Hornaday in
the Baltimore Sun, "as corny as the Fourth of July."
Verniere and Hornaday seem unaware that some of us still respect the
Fourth of July and see nothing wrong with "selling" America. The
educational system has done its work well with these two critics.
Hornaday attacks the filmmakers for failing to present a sufficiently ugly
picture of white colonials.
The Gibson character, Benjamin Martin, is a wealthy planter whose farm
is worked by black freedmen, not slaves. Hornaday calls this
"comforting revisionism" that is "much more dishonest and damaging
than anything that's sprung from Oliver Stone's imagination."
Damaging? To whom? To what? To the notion that America is an
irredeemable racial hell? To the notion that every black person in
colonial times was a slave? Neither of these beliefs would be accurate.
Yet Hornaday implies it is Hollywood's duty to foist them on us anyway.
Jack Matthews of the Daily News objects to the movie's glorification of
guns. "In a scene that will put lead in the spine of Second Amendment
fundamentalist Charlton Heston, Martin tears into his larder of
unregistered muskets … and wreaks havoc on those who would invade
his home," writes Matthews acidly.
Yes, he does. And that is precisely why audiences cheer him. Viewers
roar their approval each time Gibson dispatches a bad guy. It is driving
the left crazy. They are enraged to see a "sales pitch for America" that
Does "The Patriot" really falsify history? Not significantly. Its worst
offense is to dress the Green Dragoons in red tunics when in fact they
wore green. This annoyed me throughout the film.
But more substantive accusations of historical inaccuracy fall flat. Critic
Ben Steelman, for instance, says "The Patriot" made the British too
villainous. "The bloody British are credited with atrocities that would
make the Serbian army retch," he writes. "This is anachronism. … It
would take later generations … to conceive of the notion of wars
Steelman is wrong. Atrocities were common in the Revolutionary War.
Patriotic mobs tarred and feathered loyalists, then set them aflame.
Irregular bands of loyalist militia roved the countryside, slaughtering their
rebel neighbors. The evil British dragoon played by Jason Isaacs is
based upon a real villain, Col. Banastre Tarleton, notorious for
massacring American civilians.
The best advice I can give you is to ignore the critics and see the movie
for yourself. It is less great than "Braveheart." But every scene is vibrant
with passion and manhood, qualities as alien to left-wing scribblers as
Richard Poe is editor of David Horowitz's Web site
FrontPagemag.com. For more information about Poe and his work, visit
RichardPoe.com. E-mail him at
Poe@newsmax.com . All e-mails may
be posted on Web sites that Poe edits, unless they include a notice
stating that they are private communications not to be posted.
CLINTON LEAVES MILITARY WEAKENED [Free Republic]