Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – You’re going to have to help me out, Mr. Gruss. I am three episodes away from the end of Season 1 of Homeland. Don’t blow it for me. The episode I just watched — I don’t recall that this was controversial at the time. Watching it last night, how could it not have been controversial? Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: You’re going to have to help me out, Mr. Gruss. I am three episodes away from the end of Season 1 of Homeland. Don’t blow it for me. The episode I just watched — I don’t recall that this was controversial at the time. Watching it last night, how could it not have been controversial? I’m talking about the episode — you’ve seen all of both seasons, right?
Mike: I’m talking about the episode where Sergeant Brody is in Iraq and he’s teaching English to Issa, the arch terrorist Abu Nazir’s child. The relationship starts off a bit rocky. The boy is about, I don’t know, eight, nine years old. The arch terrorist has rescued the Marine and asked him, in exchange for sparing his life, to teach his son how to speak English. I still don’t know why, but in any event. The captured Marine takes to the task and teaches the boy English, grows fond of him during his tutoring. One morning, he sends the tyke off to school. Shortly after — I guess the school is very near to where the arch terrorist’s house is, or abode, or whatever it is. Sometime during that morning, a horrific bomb goes off and shatters all the windows in the house and just rolls him across the floor from the concussion blast. He runs over to the schoolyard to find the young Nazir, Issa Nazir, along with about, it’s just a graveyard of kids. It’s a gruesome scene. There’s one kid that survived. Did you catch the one kid that survived that had his arm blown off?
AG: That was a gruesome scene.
Mike: Let me get to the chase. We talk about having drones indiscriminately drop ordnance on alleged terrorist masterminds’ or agents’ homes in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and what have you. How do you know that they actually hit the targets? What if they did that to your house, or trying to hit your house and instead hit a neighbor’s house or playground nearby or something to that effect? This is the scenario that’s played out in the TV series Homeland. A bomb actually is directed at the arch mastermind terrorist’s home. It misses the house where the Marine is inside and instead blows the school next door to kingdom come.
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Then, to add insult to injury, the Vice President of the United States — the press gets wind of the attack because the people in Iraq don’t like dozens and dozens of children being blown to kingdom come that were attending school. The word gets out that it didn’t hit a terrorist’s house and instead it hit a school. It hit near some houses but actually hit a school. The acting vice president goes on television and says: We took out a terrorist. We did the world a favor. One of the reporters asks the question: The people in Iraq say you hit a school and they’ve got the bodies to prove it. The vice president says: That is a lie. They killed those kids and put them there to make it look like we did it. This is the setup to the future. They cut to another scene and there’s arch terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir. Is he an arch terrorist mastermind? I’m assuming he is. I haven’t seen that he’s done anything yet.
Mike: Okay. So this terrible, rotten jihadi is in a scene with the American Marine and they are surveying the landscape of what was once formerly a school. Then they go inside and they’re watching the vice president on television talk about how the Iraqis had planted the bodies there. The arch terrorist turns to the Marine and says, “Do you see this? And they call us terrorists.” Then that episode kind of ends. Don’t tell me what happens. I’ve got disc 3 and I’m going to watch it this weekend. How could that have not been controversial at the time? Maybe it was.
AG: What aspect are you looking for the controversy from? The series starts off with the attack that Nazir masterminds that Carrie gets involved with and how she gets nuts from.
Mike: This is the one that happens in Iraq at the beginning when she’s trying to get her informant out of the jail?
AG: Yeah. It’s been two years now since the first season. I think Carrie talks about other terrorist attacks he’s masterminded, that have occurred. She’s in that jail trying to get the guy to spill the beans.
Mike: Right, and he kind of does.
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AG: I guess where the series goes over the next couple episodes — the second season is so crazy it’s unbelievable. Not as if any of this stuff is, particularly the last couple episodes of what happens the rest of the first season you’re going to watch, but literally, what happens in the second season is so out of the realm of possibility. If people have seen the second season, the cell phone scene is so out of the realm of possibility that I think people are like: Okay, we’ve kicked the can on what this series shows in terms of real-life situations. We’ll just enjoy it for what it is, which is an hour-long episode every Sunday night.
Mike: What I think is shocking about it is they portray a drone strike and the effect it has on people and on children and what not that are not jihadis. There’s death and mayhem, kind of like what we talked about before and we know this actually has happened. The way we perceive it is: Those people shouldn’t have been living near terrorism. It’s their fault. They deserved it. Then I always say: They deserved to die, really?
AG: But do you get into the — if you look at that and the parallels, is Nazir a bin Laden-type character in this series? Do you have the tough mental exercise going through — I think bin Laden was alive when they were filming this.
Mike: It was three years ago, so he would have been alive.
AG: In particular this scene with the bombing that kills the kids, if you had an opportunity to bomb what you thought was bin Laden, in the series that’s his home and his kid lives there, do you have the tough moral exercise of, in a similar situation in real life, if bin Laden had been in a schoolhouse or a group of homes where there are innocent kids and there was the chance you’re going to kill them, do you still take that opportunity to bomb that house?
Mike: If you’re asking me, I’m going to answer the question no, I’m not going to bomb the house. If they’re in a school, there ought to be enough SEALs and Rangers and other special ops. If you can get there by drone, they ought to be able to covertly get there and do the same job without killing children.
AG: But what happens when —
Mike: Collateral damage, to me, morally, from a Christian just war point of view, unacceptable. I’m going to say no.
AG: Right. I get that. I guess the response would be: What happens if you do plan for a SEAL or Rangers —
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Mike: And it falls through?
AG: And they end up dying?
Mike: But they volunteered for military service.
AG: You’re kind of weighing what life is worth more than another.
Mike: No, I’m not.
AG: At the end of the day, is an American life worth more than an Afghani child’s life if the end result is bin Laden is dead?
Mike: You’re getting into that moral relativism. If the children are actually engaged in the activity, knowing full well they are engaged in the activity, then they are as culpable as anyone else. You’re proceeding from the point of view that the only way to deal with someone like bin Laden is to drop a bomb on him or take him out or kill him. It used to be that when we would execute these sorts of orders, the first order of business would always be to try to take the, especially if it was a pirate or something of that sort, to try and take them alive. If you want them to stand trial for piracy crimes or crimes against the law of nations or on the high seas, we would have done what we could do —
AG: But that’s changed with suicide vests.
Mike: You’re right.
AG: I don’t know. I can see the argument that we don’t want to risk the lives of our men and women, you’re right, you do get into the moral relativism. If the possibility of a SEAL dying during this mission, is that worth more than possibly killing a completely innocent Afghani child? Yeah, you’re going to have that tough “what life is worth more?” discussion.
Mike: Did the nine-year-old sign up for military service or is the nine-year-old saying: It’s going to be a pretty good school today. I hear we’re going to move onto the second part of the alphabet. The SEAL signed up for the death, mayhem and destruction; the kid did not. See, that’s why this is controversial. I can tell you the answer to the question, if you ask John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte, Dianne Feinstein, Bob Menendez, Bob Corker, probably Obama, Bill Kristol, anyone who’s ever been on Fox All Stars, any of those guys, not only will they drop one bomb, they’d drop a cleanup bomb just to make sure. If they had any infrared images moving or hearts still pumping down there, they’d probably drop another one just to make sure they took care of the situation. That’s me answering the question. That’s not the United States, because we know what our answer is: Kill ‘em! Bomb ‘em! Bomb ‘em!
AG: You don’t have to wait to see how terrible Nazir is for too long in the series. While the third season beings this Sunday, I will be checking in with the series finale of Breaking Bad instead. I’ll have to catch up on that as well.
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Mike: Breaking Bad is over. Dexter ended Sunday night. My daughter last night asked me, she said, “Dad, your show Dexter ended last Sunday night, didn’t it?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “What are you going to do?” I said, “What do you mean what am I going to do?”
AG: It ended badly, right? I saw a lot of criticism.
Mike: I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen it. Don’t play spoiler. I do know, I saw a screen cap of the final scene. I do know that he winds up being a lumberjack or something stupid like that. I don’t want to know. She said, “What are you going to do?” I said, “That’s an interesting question.” Mrs. Church and I started watching Dexter in Season 1. We weren’t bandwagon jumpers. I cannot remember what made me want to watch it, probably because Michael C. Hall was in it. He’s such a good actor. He’s good in anything, except when he’s playing the homosexual guy in Six Feet Under. He was even good in that. That’s just not my cup of tea. I turned it off and stopped watching it then.
I watched that show from its inception, from the first episode on. I haven’t missed a solitary episode of Dexter. Yeah, there is some anti-cult going on in there, but there is also some cult. It’s not God cult. They even dealt with God in one season and tried to compare a moral code from God with the code that’s handed down to Dexter to try to keep him from killing innocent people and instead to kill those that escape justice, which they have so richly earned. It won’t be on anymore. It’ll just be on in reruns. It would be kind of like if a radio show ended. You kind of get attached to these things. Here’s another comparison, much like when J.K. Rowling had to bring the Harry Potter series to an end. I’m sure back in the day when J.R.R. Tolkien had to bring the series of The Hobbit to a close — I will say this, though.
The attachment to literature, even though it’s not really literature, it is acted out literature, but it is fiction. It is theatrical. The attachment to literature is probably one of those things that we don’t talk enough about. I don’t mean gossipy about what this star is doing or that star is doing. I think it’s a healthy exercise, even though this is fiction, for conservatives and those that pine away from conservatism, or if you fancy yourself a progressive or liberal too, to engage in literary fiction and to talk about the actual and discuss and process the actual story. Again, not the stars, not the gossip, not all the celebrity hero worship, none of that stuff, but what’s going on in the actual story. That’s why the conversation we just had about Homeland, and over the last eight years I’ve talked many, many times about the morality or lack of morality that is Dexter. You’re watching Breaking Bad. That’s a morality play. Brian Cranston is playing a teacher who people trust with their kids. If they knew he had a trailer and was making the most pure form of methamphetamine ever made, or whatever it is he’s making, they may not trust him with their kids anymore. All of good literature is a morality play, I guess is my point.
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As I said, we probably don’t have enough of that discussion because instead we’re obsessed with politics, and instead we’re obsessed with political process. There’s more to life than just politics. When people talk about and ask about: What do you think a founding father would do in this situation? [mocking] “I’ll tell you what, he’d get a gun and he’s start shooting.” There are bumper stickers out there “The Founding Fathers Would Be Shooting By Now.” I also bet you the founding fathers would be saying: You know what I think? I think you should probably have a dialogue with those nuts from Iran. Anyone that wants to talk to you, you should probably talk to.
End Mike Church Show Transcript