Jonah Goldberg

How's this for a plot? There's this international conspiracy to acquire nuclear weapons and kill millions of Americans. The conspirators act with the aid of various governments, some of which pretend to be our friends. Some of these governments are ruled by medieval tyrants who keep many wives (and even more concubines), rule by fiat, and crush, behead, hang or otherwise mutilate dissidents, free-thinkers, Christians, Jews, homosexuals and other inconvenient souls. Other governments are ruled by fascist dictators who invade their neighbors, subvert democracy, fund terrorists, collude with Western powers in criminal schemes, illegally smuggle nuclear materials, and jail, starve, imprison and murder children while living high on the hog.

All the while, these conspirators commit countless grievous acts of cruelty and barbarism. Though they may be savages, they're not mindless ones. They hatch brilliantly audacious schemes to bring down skyscrapers with hijacked planes. They attack naval ships with speedboats. They manipulate the Internet, the international press and various Western governments.

Now, call me crazy, but somewhere in there I think there's enough material for Hollywood to "rip from the headlines" (as they say on "Law and Order") some plausible bad guys and pretty good plot ideas.

Apparently I'm missing something.

Consider, for example, the last big movie of August: "The Constant Gardener." Now, I haven't seen it yet, so I'm not offering a review of the movie. Besides, from what I hear it's a pretty good flick based on a pretty good novel by John LeCarre. The plot of both involves an elaborate conspiracy of Western governments and pharmaceutical companies that assassinate anyone who tries to uncover their fiendish plot to experiment on poor Africans for the benefit of rich Westerners. A trailer for the film declares that pharmaceutical companies are no better than arms dealers, preying on African poverty. The film's director told National Public Radio that the drug companies are the "perfect bad guys."

Now, notwithstanding the mistakes of major pharmaceutical companies, I think it's fair to say, without fear of contradiction, "Are you on crack?!"

Granted, the war on terror is a fairly controversial subject. I understand there are sensibilities involved, insofar as the terrorists claim to speaking for Islam, and therefore some care is necessary when dealing with the nature of the threat.

But come on - it's al-Qaida vs. Pfizer, and Pfizer wins the title of "perfect bad guy"?

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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