A New Science-Fiction Movie Explores What Happens When the Future Goes to War with the Past

Nov. 25 2020

The philosopher Leo Strauss, in one of his most significant essays on Judaism, contrasts the modern West’s understanding of progress with the Jewish aspiration for t’shuvah, or return (often imprecisely rendered as repentance). While one view sees perfection in an imagined future, the other hopes for a return to the past. It is an extreme version of the former view, perhaps, that was at work when rioters in Portland, Oregon destroyed statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Reviewing Christopher Nolan’s new time-travel film Tenet, Michael Weingrad is put in mind of that event, which occurred just a few days after he saw the film, and not far from his own home:

“The future is trying to kill us,” explains one of the characters. Nolan leaves the precise details vague; there is a gesture at the environmental damage we in the present are said to be causing. But the point is that our descendants have found us wanting and have decided to solve the problem by destroying us, their past.

In other words, Nolan gives us the metaphysics of much of the left, dramatized with explosions and spy gear. It is part of the progressive faith that the future is always better and more moral. Why, then, should the future not try to kill us, we who were inconsiderate enough to be born in the past, and who always seem to hold back the better world just around the corner?

So how do you fight the future? To some extent, you can’t. Yet Nolan gives us heroes who do not give in to historical determinism. They do not confuse their position on a timeline with morality.

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Read more at Investigations and Fantasies

More about: Film, Leo Strauss, Progressivism, Repentance

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam