12/20/2005

Paradise Road

Paradise Road is the title of a movie made in 1997, based on the true story of how a group of English, Australian and Dutch female prisoners of war on Sumatra during the Second World War formed a 'vocal orchestra' to keep up their morale; a very ladylike way of telling the Empire of the Sun where it could shove it.
That was in the good old days, when people didn't whine about lack of government assistance or complain about their insurers.
It was one of Cate Blanchett's first big breaks, in the stand-out role of a quiet but spirited Aussie country girl, Nurse Susan Macarthy.
At one point Nurse Macarthy is accused of a petty infraction. She is made to kneel for 24 hours in front of a spike aimed at her throat. Every attempt by her fellow inmates to assist her is beaten back; at one point she seems to be threatened with decapitation.
But Captain Tanaka of the Kempetei did not break Susan Macarthy.
I don't know if Susan Macarthy was a real person, or an amalgam of characters.
Mark Steyn has noted today that last Friday, following the recent violence in Sydney, Ms. Blanchett,
"...toddled along to Dolphin Point on Coogee Beach wearing a white T-shirt showing the outline of Australia with the single word "THINK" inside and stood in front of a banner calling for "a wave of tolerance" to sweep the country (which sounds more like a tsunami of tolerance). And, even as I was still drooling like a schoolboy, I could feel myself starting to roll my eyes. At that point, Miss Blanchett unburdened herself of this great insight: "It's actually very clear and simple. Violence and racism are bad."
As Steyn says

"Thank God somebody had the courage to say it, eh?"
Charton Heston once addressed Harvard Law School in the following terms, and he did it to their faces:
"You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that ... and abide it ... you are - by your grandfathers' standards - cowards."
The riots in Sydney were indicative of how deep Islamic antipathy to the mores of Western society actually goes. To be uptight in the UK, where it's cold and wet most of the time, that's one thing; but to adhere to the standards of the old country in a land whose inhabitants, according to one of its great sons, Robert Hughes, 'once thought themselves the freest people in the world because they could go surfing at lunchtime' says much more about the Muslims than a T-shirt of Cate Blanchett's ever could about the Australians.
The 'Lebanese-Australians' are only concerned with one kind of road to Paradise; and it's not Susan Macarthy's. And perhaps some Aussies might care to think that, if Charlton Heston was correct and the academic meteors of Harvard Law are cowards by their grandfathers' standards, then they are cowards by the standards of their grandmothers.
Advance, Australia Fair.