I never thought that I would find myself watching an Oliver Stone movie, much less approving of it. But last Wednesday my wife and I went to a large movie complex where we took in the movie titled "World Trade Center." We and one other lady were the only people in the theater. A second theater in this complex had another showing of "World Trade Center" a half hour later. I saw no evidence that patronage would be any better for that screen.
I do not know what the count is for the revenue generated by this movie. It obviously is not a barnburner. That is a shame. While I certainly do not want to make Stone rich, he deserves credit for having produced this movie. The movie centers around two men who were trapped in the rubble of the Trade Center implosion. They were almost dead when Marines rescued them. There were 20 people pulled from the rubble alive. These two were numbers 18 and 19.
Both Joyce and I were moved by the movie. I was very uncomfortable as I was fixated on the men and their efforts to keep each other alive. Joyce, however, said she was disappointed. She thought the movie should have shown the terrorists boarding the planes and the fact that in some cases there was concern about them on the part of what is now known as Homeland Security. She has a point. This movie vividly portrays the real suffering that 9/11 caused in the case of two men who were luckier than hundreds of other policemen and firemen. But it said nothing about who was responsible for this horrific act. The closest the movie came to letting people know what kind of men were behind this was when a fireman in Sheboygan, Wisconsin was watching the TV screen and as he saw the second plane hit he yelled "Bastards," whereupon he and his company drove to New York to provide relief and refreshments to those who were trying to find survivors.
We need to keep the memory of 9/11 alive-not only those 3,000 people who were killed in New York, in the Pentagon and in a field in rural Pennsylvania but those who did this dastardly deed. The Islamofacists were at war with the United States for years prior to 9/11. But each incident was isolated and the leadership at the time did not connect the dots. Once 9/11 occurred it became clear that this is a deadly enemy. 9/11 was followed by the Madrid commuter train bombings and the London Underground and bus bombings. These were followed recently by the uncovering of the plot to blow up a German railway station and more recently the very clear plot to bring down 10 to 12 planes between London and the United States.
We can never, ever forget who did this to us. The other day I watched Stephen Spielberg's movie "Munich." The movie was about Israel's effort to kill every person involved in the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympics in 1972. I give my Jewish brethren credit. They are much better at keeping the Holocaust and other atrocities aimed at the Jews alive and in the public mind than are the rest of us with our own experiences.
When I traveled for a decade in the former Soviet Empire I heard heart-wrenching stories from people who had suffered in the gulag thanks to the thugs who were running the Soviet Union. These stories need to be told. Yet when Lee Edwards initiated his effort to build a small monument to the millions upon millions of the victims of Communism he had to undertake a tremendous effort to obtain the funds to build that monument. If the stories of the Soviet atrocities were high in the public mindset then Lee would not have had to push a few people as hard as he did. Do not get me wrong. I am glad he did what he did but if, on account of the murder of six million Jews we have a Holocaust Museum in Washington and in other cities as well, why not something similar depicting the brutal murder of 30 million Ukrainians.
When I first visited Sverdlovsk, now known as Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, young people there had constructed a museum dedicated to the absurdities of Communism. In that museum they said there was proof of at least 70 million dead in the Soviet Union with another 30 million in China and elsewhere in Asia. 100 million died because they refused to give up their Christian faith, would not surrender their land or defied the orders of the state. You mean there is no movie about them? They merit not only a dozen movies but a long-running TV series as well. Yet we have next to nothing. But for Lee Edwards the whole matter of the victims of Communism might have been glossed over.
Should the brutal dictators who perpetrated crimes beyond belief be given a free pass? I think not. The Congressional Librarian, Dr. James Billington, moved with lightening speed as soon as there was an opening in Soviet archives. He made almost everything we can access online in the United States available to Russian citizens. In the process he encountered many stories which could be turned into movies. I had such stories told to me, but there are others. Father Victor Patapov, who for decades did the Voice of America broadcast featuring homilies on the Orthodox Faith, was recognized by people over and over from the sound of his voice when he finally went to Russia. The stories he picked up along the way would make several movie scripts.
We undertook to convince Boris Yeltsin to accept an invitation to speak before Congress, knowing that if he did President George H. W. Bush would be obliged to invite him to the White House, which is what he wanted. But I had to convince Gennady Bourbulis, Yeltsin's Chief of Staff, that in our tripartite form of government the Congress is equal to the Executive Branch, something that neither Yeltsin nor Bourbulis had known. I pleaded with Bourbulis to get Yeltsin to accept. He said he would try but he was not optimistic. Meanwhile I went elsewhere in the Soviet Empire, to Georgia. Upon my return, Bourbulis left a message at my hotel to come by his office in the Russian White House. "Well, your words worked," Bourbulus told me. "I never believed it would happen but the old man has accepted the invitation to address a joint session of Congress. Now are you sure he will be invited to the White House?" I said I would stake my career on it. And so it came to pass. But here is the part that makes one gasp. Yeltsin was at the White House only a very short time before the attempted coup in the Soviet Union, in which Yeltsin stepped in to take charge and was seen atop a tank. President Bush said if he had not had that meeting with Yeltsin in the White House he might well have been on the wrong side of the coup.
I have stories like that as has my associate for the past seventeen years, Arkady Murashev. He told me the story, complete with pictures he took, of being out in the woods and getting Yeltsin to sign the death knell to the Soviet Union. It was Bourbulus who drew up the papers which ended the Soviet Union. No wonder the first demand of the Communists was that Yeltsin fire Bourbulos. He caved in to their demand because they were very strong in the Duma, or parliament. We all have stories which would make for good docudramas. But where is Hollywood? Nowhere to be found. We should demand that the story of a system which killed 100 million people be told far and wide. The Communists should not get off that easy.