We Own the Night: Honorable Fights for Personal and Global Futures

During the cocaine influx of the 1980s, a beleaguered police force develops a motto that serves as the film’s title. In addition to featuring my star crush, Eva Mendes, in a flattering role, We Own the Night offers a study in the transition from self-indulgence to service. The shooting of a family member transforms one character and forces the audience to reevaluate comfortable, early judgments. Similar to the exciting finale of the recently remade 3:10 to Yuma, such changes thrill the spectator and reveal possibilities within each soul, dormant but not lost. While the film drags a tad in the last third, I recommend this film for those seeking the aforementioned arc. Other enjoyable elements: familiar tunes from the 80s and an anachronistic cameo by Ed Koch.

On a deeper level, Rovert Duvall’s character hints at current geo-politics saying, “You’ll have to choose one day whether you’re with us or with the drug dealers.” This echoes the Bush-David Frum world view, a formulation repugnant to liberals who prefer that our age requires of them nothing more than a redoubling of their efforts of tolerance and generosity.

Liberals, progressives and Democratic candidates need to offer an alternative frame instead of simply dismissing Bush’s. Liberal initiatives since the demonstrated threats of militant Islamism include interfaith exchange, eliminating the sources of grievances usually questioning Israel’s existence or challenging the Israel Lobby in Washington, declaring “Hands off Iran,” and denouncing the actions of far right-wing groups such as IslamoFascist Awareness Week on College Campuses begun this October. More recently, the culture of fear and executive branch power have properly been challenged by liberals. However, these criticism can lead toward Bush=Nazi/Hitler equations (see Naomi Wolf) which will seem quaint in 14 months.

I worry that the Left will not develop an alternative frame for understanding and responding to militant Islamism. Peter Beinhart argues wherever he can for the necessity of liberals to join the fight and bring their values to it. Regardless of one’s politics and perception of threat, we must consider how to channel the anxiety and rage that another domestic attack will inevitably unleash against Muslims and Arabs. My friend Jeffry over at Chronicles of Atlantis suggests we recover the honorable form of service called CHIVALRY to delimit the appropriate boundaries of battle in such a frenzied moment. We might well start by considering the model of service offered by We Own the Night.

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