That’s the title of my new ABCNews.com column on the “controversy” over “24.” Sportscaster-turned-nutter Keith Olbermann is deeply upset over the program for playing to the fears of Americans. My take is, surprise, quite the opposite. An excerpt:
Would the BBC have been going “too far” if in 1937 it had broadcast a radio drama depicting life in a Hitler-authorized death camp where hundreds of thousands of Jews were being executed in gas chambers, one of a string of such camps springing up across Europe?
Would a Paris newspaper have been going “too far” if it had run a short story in 1913 supposing trench warfare that would claim millions of casualties?
Had PBS run a drama proposing a Communist massacre of millions of Cambodians in 1973 or a Rawandan genocide of more than a half million Tutsis twenty years later, would those prophecies have been going “too far?”
The problem of the last century was a failure in the imagining of evil, a failure which was in some ways evil’s accomplice. “It can’t happen” often masked the very unfolding of the too-awful-to-occur event.