Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One Ring to Rule Them All

Thanks to the timeliness and popularity of the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, comparisons between the hobbits’ quest and our own struggle against the Great Jihad have become commonplace. It’s hard to avoid goosebumps of uncanny recognition when Aragorn says, “This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, men of the West!”

Sauron is clearly a composite of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein, with all of al Qaeda and the other mujahideen for his legions of orcs. And Saruman? I would vote for Hugo Chávez, Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong-il, all rolled into one. And the Fellowship of the Ring represents… well, it represents all of the rest of us, doesn’t it? “The Men of the West,” indeed.

The analogy really struck home the other day, when I was thinking about how invisible George W. Bush had become as his political enemies did everything they could to bring him down.

“I know what is,” I thought. “He found himself in danger, and has put on the Ring!”

It was Boromir, in the person of Senator John McCain, who induced this behavior in President Frodo: “Just let me have the Ring, Mr. President! I could do great things with it!”

Then he looked around in surprise as the wily hobbit vanished and slipped from his grasp.

So how far can one extend the metaphor? Bilbo is obviously Bush 41, who had the Ring in his possession for a little while, but relinquished it to his younger kinsman. George Galloway does well in the part of Grima Wormtongue, sneaking around the back corridors of power with his all his lying and scheming. And Gollum is a certain Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate: “It’s ours, precious, yes it is! The nasty hobbitses stole it from us!”

And the Riders of Rohan? I vote for the doughty Australians for that role. But that puts their Prime Minister in the part of Theoden, so Mr. Howard will have to watch out that his horse doesn’t fall on him.

I see Jacques Chirac as Denethor, burning down the palace around himself as his countrymen despair of their ability to withstand the onslaught of the evil horde from the east.

The analogy is not perfect. We lack Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and all the other Elves. I might hand their parts to Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, but these greats have already departed for the Grey Havens, or are waiting on the quayside.

And Aragorn has not appeared on the horizon. The Sword That Was Broken has yet to be reforged.

So, for President Frodo, a brief word of advice: while you have the Ring on your finger, avoid the gaze of the lidless eye.

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them


Baron Bodissey said...

a4g -- I dunno. Do you really think Rove could lop the head off an orc with his gigantic broadsword? Or wrestle the Balrog to a fall in the pits beneath Moria?

Maybe he needs to spend a little more time in the gym...

Dymphna said...

Thank goodness failing eyesight makes everything in the mirror so blurry .

Hey, a4g, myopia makes the whole world a Renoir painting. The first time I got glasses, age 14 or so, I was shocked by the sharp outlines of everything. Talk about a cutting edge world. Eeeyew...I took them off except when I had to see the blackboard.

ShrinkWrapped said...

Tolkein also began his epic in the 1930's when another great evil was beginning to spread its shadow over the world....

American Crusader said...

I must admit to not seeing the analogy, but having it pointed out..there is something to it. Still, I try to leave politics at the popcorn stand.

Baron Bodissey said...

American Crusader --

I don't see it as politics. I see it as the defining issue of our time, which has unfortunately been wrestled down into the swamp of politics.

But it is the face of pure Evil in the world.

As Frodo says, "I wish it need not have happened in my time."

Gandalf responds, "So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Shrinkwrapped is right -- another form of Evil stalked the world in the '30s.

Gryffilion said...

The full quote, painstakingly downloaded and spliced by me, is:

"My brothers, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship--but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down--but it is not this day. This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!"

(PS--if anyone wants the sound file of this quote, IM me on AIM [Gryffilion].)

Gryffilion said...

By the way, I vote for the U.S. Army and Marines as the forces of Gondor, although that would seem to contradict the Chirac/Denethor analogy. Also, I'd put Condi in the camp of Merry and Pippin--the brave hobbits who used forceful and persuasive diplomacy to engage the Ents to fight Saruman.

Speaking of Saruman--who's he? Which dictator should we choose for him? Is he Assad, locked away in his Syrian tower? Or is he Sadaam, cut off and trapped by the flood of coalition forces? I'd go for Sadaam, personally--the river Isen, the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, etc...

There's one big difference in this case, though. Sauron is an entity of people, and not one person or spirit himself. Which makes the lidless eye all that more dangerous to confront.

Dymphna said...

Isn't that a cool lidless eye? The Baron made it...of course, *he's* too modest to say so, but I'm not.

goesh said...

gollum as Gore - HA HA
and Michael Moore clearly leads a pack of Orcs

airforcewife said...

A very good analogy, I think.

I saw something that stuck in another movie, too. I took my kids to see HP4 and the quote, "There comes a time when we must choose between doing what is easy, and what is right," really stuck with me.

However, I find it very hard to believe that the actor portraying Dumbledore would like his utterance being used in the GWOT.

bordergal said...

Sam: It's like the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy?

Most of the folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. But I understand, I know now, that they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What were they holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it's worth fighting for!

OR: After Merry and Pippin fail to convince the Ents to join them in fighting Saruman.

Pippin: It's too big for us. What can we do? We've got the Shire.

Merry: The fires of Isengard will spread, and the woods of Tuproe and Buckland will burn, and all that is green and good in this world will be gone! There won't BE a Shire, Pippin.

(From memory, so it may not be 100% correct)

Baron Bodissey said...

peggy --

I think you are right to draw the distinction between the evil ones and the innocent bystanders. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference, and we should always err on the side of caution.

But I think we can identify at least some individuals who have incarnated Evil in this world, and that Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-Il, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are amongst them.

If they are not evil, then the word "evil" has no meaning.

The analogy of LOTR is a general one, not a specific guide to who should be assassinated and who should be left alone. It is a reminder of what goodness is, that it resides in the ordinary and commonplace among ourselves, and that sometimes it takes great courage to call this goodness to the surface and act on it. Those ordinary people who respond to the inner call can do great things, at great risk to themselves.

At the (trivial) political level, it would manifest itself as a politician willing to act on a principle higher than that of winning the next election.

al fin said...

Shame on anyone who would disappoint Peggy, of all people. Peggy sees things the way God sees them. Disappointing Peggy is the same as disappointing God. Be very careful when disappointing Peggy.


Imagine someone trying to tell us how God sees anything or anyone. What presumtion. Sorry, folks. We are pretty much on our own with these lowlife creatures of islamic and other fascisms. We had better do what we think is right, not what some *&^%$ claims that God thinks is right.

Unknown said...

Baron: You might want to have a look at this essay:


The Return of the Ents

Thomas von der Trave said...

Personally, Baron, I think Kerry makes a better Saruman than your composite. Saruman, after all, masks himself as one of the good guys until he's forced to show his hand. Mugabe, Castro et al. are visibly Orcs from the git-go.

"We must join with him, Gandalf. We must join with Sauron. It would be wise, old friend."

As for Gandalf, I nominate Donald Rumsfeld. The fightin' wizard. Yeah!

Thomas von der Trave said...

Michael Moore is, obviously, the Cave Troll.

Baron Bodissey said...

peggy, I am not in disagreement with you. You are simply citing scripture: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." People who are not religious have trouble telling the difference between attempting to discern the will of God and claiming to know the will of God.

And, just for the record, I found al fin's comment intemperate. Peggy has shown a fierce desire to do right in God's eyes, but has never crossed the line to self-righteousness. IMHO.

Baron Bodissey said...

fjordman -- thanks for the tip!

BTW, I just nominated you for "Best European Blog" at the annual Wizbang awards.

Everyone should go over there to the 2005 Weblog Awards and make sure their favorites get put onto the different ballots.

Feel free to nominate Gates of Vienna for any appropriate category. ;) I was too modest to nominate us myself, but a4g seems to have put us in the Ecosystem 500-1000 category. Thanks, Mr. a4g!

Dr. Sanity said...

Well, I'm Arwen (my license plate has proclaimed it for 30 years anyway) and if I run into an Aragorn, I'll let you know!

Baron Bodissey said...

Ohmigosh, Doc -- you gave up your immortality for him?

unaha-closp said...

Bush is Saruman. He has portrayed himself as a friend for a long time, but in reality has being purchased by the evil lord for the price of oil. He is the most powerful wizard and can beat any other who dares challenge him. He talks in lies and manipulates innocent people into believing him.

He has been bought by Wahhabism, (Sauron) addicted with promises of immense wealth. He is convinced that he it is the will of the almighty that he is destined to lead. He is sure the people of the West will see the pragmatic benefits of bowing down before the mighty (oil barrel) army of Sauron.

We have not yet reached the conference of Rivendell (expect 2008/2009) - this is going to be a long war.

al fin said...

Well Peggy, I find your reading of my comment, and the overreaction therefrom, to be most intemperate. My fingers merely slipped off the keys momentarily. The word I was trying to type was "beautiful-princess." I simply do not know what happened.

Mad Fiddler said...

the sad thing is that almost everyone associated with the production seems to be anti-Bush, anti-Iraqi-liberation. Rather than use this as an opportunity to promote my own tedius blog, I will actually make a note connected to the THREAD.


One thing that I've noticed about Lord of the Ring is that Tolkien does not make spiritual ritual a central theme. I recall when Frodo and Sam (in the book not the movie) join Faramir and his men at table, one of the men of Gondor asks says something to the effect that before they eat, they turn for a moment toward Gondor for a moment of silent reverence, or some such thing. No overt praying, no sacrifices of goats, no oaths to GOD or gods...

Tolkien seems to address the immortality and spiritual duality of the Elves (living simultaneously in two worlds) as a fact, not a belief system. Their journey to a distant shore on the ships of Cirdan the Shipwright, can't be ignored, but it certainly is not a clear case of proselytizing or preaching or promoting any specific religion.

I think it's a remarkable thing that he was able to steer such an independent course, describing a world in which ethics, morality, individual and collective responsibility are so crucial, without invoking any recognizable religious or spiritual tradition that might have tainted the universality of the story.

Someone has made the point that the great evil we came to know in the 20th century was the faceless bureaucy relentlessly killing its victims without even any particular passion. World War I with the generals sending one army after another to melt into the mud of no-man's-land for four years...Stalin's Checka and armies surrounding the Ukraine and simply letting millions of Kulaks starve, and executing mothers who'd come to police stations looking for word of their missing sons... World War II Nazis rounding up victims and marching them in orderly lines to the gas chambers... Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime casually executing and starving millions of their countrymen.

One could argue that we seem to have at least turned that corner. The Jihadi muslims at least seem to have recaptured that adrenalin-spurting excitement and the lust of killing. Ya gotta give'em that much.

Unaha-closp, you need to go back and write in elvish runes 1000 times "I have been a bad goblin and said mean things about my betters."