Dissent in Wartime: 1860s Edition
From The American Conservative‘s own Bill Kauffman and “Gods and Generals” director Ron Maxwell comes “The Copperhead,” about one family’s experience trying to stay out of a much bigger war than Iraq or Vietnam.
The film raises some questions that may not be great for ticket sales but that deserve to be taken as seriously as anything in “Zero Dark Thirty”: are the only wars where dissent is permissible those that history decides weren’t worth fighting—and what penalties must noncombatants on the wrong side of history suffer?
Or consider this: if the Iraq War really had swiftly brought about a stable, prosperous liberal democracy in the Middle East, perhaps even setting off the chain reaction of liberalization in the region that supporters had hoped for, would opposition still be seen in retrospect as legitimate? If the South had won the Civil War, would 21st-century citizens of the North look back on the war as a noble but unsuccessful effort to end slavery—or at least to preserve the Union—or would they view it as not only a lost war but also one whose motives were different as well?