Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sam Husseini on "Lincoln" and the moral depravity of political compromise

Thoughtful and intelligent piece by Sam Husseini here and here about what he perceives as the "moral depravity" of Stephen Spielberg's highly acclaimed film Lincoln.

In talking about a scene from the film Husseini writes:
A pivotal scene is between him and Lincoln in which he pleads for Lincoln to follow his moral compass. Lincoln responds that one cannot go straight north when there is a swamp there. And there the matter was settled, as if there was no response to such an argument. Compromise was the higher calling, not actually standing for what is right, which is regarded as ineffectual or counterproductive.
Even if one were to concede that that might be what politics should be about, and I don't think that's the case, what sort of "art" exactly glorifies that while dismissing those standing boldly for what it true and just? What sort of "art" says it's the highest calling to be conniving in alleged pursuit of some higher goal? What sort of "artist" uses his talent and resources to convince the public of this message?
Husseini's argument is that Spielberg's movie glorifies the art of political compromise by diminishing and dismissing the Abolitionists who stood for what was right and just- that is the the total abolition of slavery. Husseini goes on to argue that Spielberg's film conveys the view that political compromise is in fact the the higher calling, rather than actually standing for what is right, which is portrayed as ineffectual or counterproductive.

I have not seen the movie so I am no position to test the veracity of Husseini's conclusions. But I agree with his argument that when it  comes to complex social, moral and political issues the strategy of compromise is usually portrayed as a higher calling, as a more honorable and  necessary response than standing for what is just and right.

Husseini suggests that this glorification of political compromise is precisely the moral stance taken by a great many liberals and progressives to reject criticisms of the Obama Presidency.

So to here in Australia where for decades the rule of political compromise has dominated over doing what is right and just on a whole range of public policy issues.

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