Armies of the night
Miller proudly announced the title of his next Batman book, which he will write, draw and ink. Holy Terror, Batman! is no joke. And Miller doesn't hold back on the true purpose of the book, calling it "a piece of propaganda," where 'Batman kicks al Qaeda's ass."
The reason for this work, Miller said, was "an explosion from my gut reaction of what's happening now." He can't stand entertainers who lack the moxie of their '40s counterparts who stood up to Hitler. Holy Terror is "a reminder to people who seem to have forgotten who we're up against."
It's been a long time since heroes were used in comics as pure propaganda. As Miller reminded, "Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for."
"These are our folk heroes," Miller said. "It just seems silly to chase around the Riddler when you've got Al Qaeda out there."
The 21st century terrorist battlefield is different from the linear battlescapes of the 20th century. Like politics, to which it is related as much as to war, terrorism is a vehicle for the propagation of ideas. It is intensely ideological and might with justice be defined as proselytization through pain. Al-Qaeda itself arose in part from an attempt to create a Sunni countercurrent to the Islamic revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini; it was an expression of the geo-religious rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. For those purposes it did not matter to Osama Bin Laden that his nemesis, the Ayatollah Khomeini, was dead as he urged the Taliban to drive the Shi'a heretics out of Afghanistan, for in Bin Laden's world, ghosts lived. Only by fully grasping this fact is it possible to understand the depth of uproar over the Danish caricatures of Mohammed, for in the haunted world of fundamentalist cult theology, it is not permissible that anyone should mock their symbols and live. (Sound Gong of Doom here) Foad Ajami, writing in the Toronto Star understands that al-Qaeda has nothing whatsoever in common with the classical Islam of his memory. It's a made for television psychodrama, a comic-book scam.
The people who assaulted the consulate came into a Christian area of Beirut, a city that is divided in the old-fashioned Ottoman way. ... But nevertheless, they stormed this consulate and they attacked a Mennonite church in east Beirut. ... The largest number of people who were rounded up were Syrians. The second largest were Palestinians. And the third, finally, bringing up the rear, were the Lebanese themselves.
Now, the Syrian regime orchestrating all this is hardly a pious regime, right? .... In 1982, the ruler, the father of this young ruler today, Assad himself, gunned down no fewer than 20,000 people in the city of Hamma, and they were principally Sunni Muslims. They were Muslim brothers who had risen against the "godless" regime of Assad. So the spectacle of a tyrannical Syrian regime — secular, really considered by the pious to be an un-Islamic, ungodly regime — suddenly awakening to this great violation that befell the Islamic world is a scam. It's a scam, and people know that it's a scam.
You can at least draw some measure of hope that the battle is joined, and that maybe some Muslims will reclaim their tradition. They have to take it back from the likes of bin Laden. They have to take it back from the likes of these preachers in Denmark. They have to take it back from the preachers in London.
And what we need, apart from robotic fighting platforms, laser gunships and networked battlefields is something that can reach into the realm of ideas and engage Osama Bin Laden -- and Khomeini too for that matter -- on their own level of reality. It sounds like a job for Batman.