If you look at the cartoons in this week’s Spectator magazine, you’ll see one showing two jihadi fighters watching the new TV series based on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. One jihadi turns to the other and says, “it’s set in a utopian future”.
Margaret Atwood’s novel is actually set in a futuristic America which is ruled by religious fundamentalists, who are devout Christians.
In addition to being a television series, the novel was adapted into a film about 25 years ago, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, and starring Vanessa Redgrave’s daughter, the late Natasha Richardson. In other words, the usual suspects.
The novel was published in 1985, which was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. As such, it may be reasonably regarded as yet another liberal reaction against a Republican presidency. Younger readers may be unaware that it was this Republican presidency that defeated Soviet communism and won the Cold War, liberating humanity from the threat of an evil dictatorship. This major feat in human history is unacknowledged in popular culture.
It is not entirely clear why Atwood’s work, which was also is turned into an opera seventeen years ago, needs a fresh outing in a new format. It may well be that the producers anticipated the election of Donald Trump. Either that, or they were trying to extrapolate the consequences of the influence of the Tea Party on American politics. While the Blair, Brown and Cameron/Clegg years saw the development of a kind of centrist consensus over here, the trend in the United States has been towards polarisation. It may be this polarisation that caused this production to be given the green light.
What is interesting is that once again the creative and political Left are putting on show the same kind of hideous blind-spot that they have over Soviet communism.
There is only one religious fundamentalism that threatens freedom in the United States and elsewhere. It is not Christian.
It may be too much to expect creative types to dramatise what life is like under Daesh should they manage to establish a caliphate in Washington. However, as they did in the 1980s with the same work, once again the liberal creatives ignore the true major threat to Western civilisation while they exercise their paranoia and prejudices to a ridiculous extreme.
Thirty years ago the threat was from Soviet communism. Ronald Reagan spoke for the West when he indicated that he had had enough of the evil empire based in Moscow. He faced the Soviets down. We had a peace dividend lasting a decade. Good times.
The West faces a new evil empire based in the east. However, the liberal types seemed far more interested in focusing on marginal human rights issues caused by the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe, rather than the human evil that these men and women protect us from.
It is also rather galling that a fictitious Christian crusade is being promoted and dramatised rather than the all-too-real Islamist jihad. For some reason, it always seems to be okay to hate only Christians. Perhaps this is because the actual Christian response to this hate would be to turn the other cheek. The response of other faiths may vary. There is cowardice afoot.
It is part of the function of a dramatist to examine and question the functions of human society. It is altogether different when an artist hijacks their profession to make a non-existent political point and creates artificial prejudice.
The Islamists hate the West. It would be useful if some of the creative types paid millions to bring quality drama to our screens would not hate the West with a similar intensity.
The Handmaid’s Tale is being shown here on the state broadcaster Channel Four. It is depressingly likely that the controllers of that channel probably didn’t even think twice before considering broadcasting this anti-Western propaganda.