Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Sand Pebbles

Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online published an interesting comment noting Katie Couric being puzzled by the surge in patriotism after 9/11.
Close readers may have noticed that I am increasingly vexed by cosmopolitanism, the idea that we are not citizens of a country or products of a place but rather "citizens of the world." See this old G-File, particularly the second half for a fuller explanation of my views.
Source: The Corner – The Nefarious "We" (Jonah Goldberg)
The "citizens of the world comment instantly sparked a recollection in my mind. Every now and then when flipping through the channels I come across a movie entitled The Sand Pebbles. I usually stop and watch. It stars Steve McQueen (I react the same to another Steve McQueen movie: Papillon). Here is what I wrote to Mr. Goldberg:

Ever see Steve McQueen's The Sand Pebbles? In it, Candace Bergman (IIRC) is the daughter of a "globalist" missionary. Steve McQueen's gunboat is assigned to rescue them and when the gunboat arrives to the rescue Candace's father says he tore up his passport and denounced his citizenship in front of the appropriate personal. He tried to tell the Chinese mob he wasn't an American but a citizen of the world as you can well guess it worked as well as the boxing routine the Chinese used to protect themselves from bullets.

It all comes back to the idea of how herding is a sound defensive mechanism.
E-mail I sent to Jonah
That is essentially what happened and in the end Steve's character is also killed. However, the main point is that the protestations of the missionary character that he was Not American but a citizen of the world did not do any real good. It made him an easier target is what it did. Similarly, for Tom Fox he hoped his denunciations of his nation and its efforts would spare him from barbarism but it did not. In the end his captors probably show more compassion to a Eid sheep than they did to him.

Later in the day I was visiting The Corner and this is what I see:
The Sand Pebbles [Jonah Goldberg]

I've never seen it, but apparently the movie made a big impact on quite a large number of readers. For example:

Mr. Goldberg,

One of my favorite scenes from a movie is in “The Sand Pebbles”, a Steve McQueen vehicle covering American involvement in the Boxer Rebellion. Going upriver to rescue a missionary, they discover he won’t leave, because he has renounced his citizenship and the local militia would never, ever harm him. As the troops approach, he runs toward them waving his ‘renunciation papers’ and shouting that he is a ‘citizen of the world’. He’s the first to die. Even as a kid, that lesson wasn’t lost on me.

09/26 02:57 PM
Source: The Corner – The Sand Pebbles (Jonah Goldberg)
One question I have for the globalists – do you support completely free trade?

Anyway, the note Jonah published was not mine but the sentiments were identical.

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