The Corner

Re Terrorist Chic

Last night, I watched the 1973 film, “The Day of the Jackal,” directed by Fred Zinnemann and based on the Fredrick Forsyth book. From a contemporary perspective, it seemed quaint – a period piece.

The villain, played by Edward Fox, is debonair, well-dressed, smokes cigarettes and drives an Aston Martin convertible. He is a complete professional. He only wants to kill his target: Charles de Gaulle. He enjoys playing cat-and-mouse with the authorities but he does not want to be captured or killed.

In those days, it was not so easy to forge a passport. The police – and even hotel keepers – could ask anyone to show their “papers,” and a Virginia driver’s license was not sufficient. The police could tap phones – even those of government ministers without a peep from the ACLU. A government official who was compromised (his mistress was working for the anti-Gaullist underground) politely excuses himself from a high-level meeting and returns home – not to call William Morris but to commit suicide.

Again, it all seems very quaint. But what is troubling: Today, the rules are stiffer for the good guys, while the bad guys play by no rules.

Also, it’s worth recalling this Paul Berman piece on Che chic among intellectuals.

Clifford D. May — Clifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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