By Alex Farber
Last weekend, I saw Ben Affleck’s new film, “Argo.” The movie tells the story of the CIA operation behind the capture and rescue of the six American diplomats rescued from Iran during the hostage crisis in 1980. The first scenes of the movie detail the modern-day history of the Iranian region – the rise and eventual fall of a series of governments, the United State’s offer of asylum to the Shah, and the subsequent backlash in Iran over the refusal of the United States to return the leader to his home country for trial and justice. Iranian protestors take to the streets in protest and, eventually, break through the barriers to the American embassy and seize control of the building and the American diplomats inside, in what would go down in history as the Iran Hostage Crisis. All together, it is a rather terrifying scene – chaos and panic take over as the angry mob breaks through the doors to the American embassy and the diplomats bravely attempt to incinerate and smash all of the sensitive material in the embassy, knowing all too well that they will not be able to escape themselves. As I watched the events unfold, it struck me as remarkable that almost thirty-three years later, not much has changed. The protests and political unrest continues in the Middle East. On September 11, 2012 – just over two months ago – Al Qaeda orchestrated a terrorist attack on the American embassy in Libya, and the murder of Ambassador John Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats in Benghazi. Yet, there is one startling difference between the 1980 attack on the Iranian embassy and the 2012 attack on the Libyan embassy– the reaction of the American people. Following the chaotic seizure of the Iranian embassy in “Argo,” the film fasts forward to depict daily life in the United States, sixty-nine days later. Yellow ribbons are everywhere – on front doors of homes and offices, on the backs of cars, tied to trees – as a showing of support for the hostages and a reminder that some justice must be served. Television news programs and newspapers are filled with non-stop, up-to-date information about the crisis and the government’s attempts to bring the hostages home. Overall, there is a feeling of anger and outrage surrounding the attacks, and a nationwide sense of pride and unity in the American people with the common goal to bring the hostages home. Notably, the sense of passion that existed in 1980 does not seem to exist in the United States today. How is it that we, as Americans, are not more outraged by the slaughter of American diplomats on the 11th anniversary of the greatest terrorist attack in our nation’s history? Where are our yellow ribbons? Where are the headlines detailing the US attempts to hunt down our attackers and bring them to justice? Where is our anger? Where is our desire for retaliation? If anything, the most significant chatter about the events in Libya have been politicized attempts, in the wake of the presidential election, to attribute blame to the American administration. Perhaps, we have grown accustomed to images of constant turmoil in the Middle East. Perhaps, we are just sick of seeing it, hearing about it, talking about it. Still, this seems to be no excuse for the absence of any real national fury over the deaths of our country’s diplomatic leaders.