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November 16 saw the limited release of Brian DePalma's new film, Redacted. Right-wing gasbag Bill O'Reilly has been attacking this film, and calling for a boycott, so I knew I had to see it. Fortunately it's showing in Philly, so I planned my weekend around a matinee screening. The film presents fictionalized accounts of events leading up to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. troops, and the killing of her family, and the aftermath of that tragic night. Of course, that girl and her family were not the only victims of a war gone terribly awry. Earlier in the film, we see a pregnant woman shot to death by U.S. troops as her brother drove through a checkpoint while rushing his sister to the hospital to give birth. But the violence isn't one-sided. We see a U.S. Army master sergeant blown to pieces by an IED in full view of his men, who later went on to commit the rape and murder. It's a study of the toll that war can take on the minds of the soldiers. When you're not sure who you can trust, you eventually decide that it's safest to trust nobody. Not only do the lines get blurred between which Iraqis you can trust or not, you also start to distrust your fellow soldiers. And it gets worse when you start drinking. It's also a study of how the war gets filtered through the media, and how, as a result, our ideas and beliefs are controlled as well. You and I cannot be in Iraq. So, when it comes to war, the media tells us what we should know and what we should think. And therein lies the true irony of O'Reilly's attacks on the film and its makers. Keep quiet about the atrocities of war, and America will continue to go shopping. If you recognize that war is hell, you are on the side of al-Qaeda. Go figure. Every American should see this film, including every member of the Bush administration. Because it's not so much about what American troops are doing to the Iraqis, but rather what Bush's war is doing to our troops. Their actions are just a consequence of that. While the soldiers who committed the rape and murder upon which that episode of the movie was based should, and are, being punished, they're not just a few bad apples. They're the fruit of a poisonous tree. And Bill O'Reilly is the snake dangling from a low-hanging branch and tempting his followers with the poisonous fruit of that tree. ###
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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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