Is George Bush a Sith lord?

Greg M. Schwartz

Last month, the Plain Dealer’s Tom Feran wrote a column mocking the idea that George Lucas’ Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith could be posing legitimate parallels between the rise of Darth Vader and the Empire with the rise of the George W. Bush regime. A number of fans and some critics have declared these parallels to be fairly obvious.

It’s too bad people like Feran and other dismissive critics can’t see it. Lucas should be commended for the clever and patriotic way in which he is attempting to awaken the masses before our democratic republic is also subverted into an empire.

Feran attempts to shoot down any such notions, saying that Lucas first sketched out the Star Wars saga during the Vietnam War, implying that modern comparisons are therefore crazy. This is specious reasoning. Themes regarding deceit in American military endeavors can easily span decades, and many in the Bush regime have been involved in plotting military endeavors since the Nixon administration.

Lucas is a visionary, plain and simple. The universal themes of the Star Wars saga give the story cross-generational relevance. Comparisons between the Empire and the Bush regime are part brilliance and partly just plain opportunistic because those comparisons are “all too easy,” as Vader said in The Empire Strikes Back.

In 2002’s Attack of the Clones, Senator Palpatine, who goes on to become emperor, orchestrates a staged assassination attempt on the life of Queen Amidala. This allows him to coerce a frightened and paranoid galactic Senate to willingly extend him “emergency powers,” to ensure the safety of the Republic. For those who believe our government is hiding the truth about the Sept. 11 attacks, this is a clear cinematic metaphor for the Patriot Act.

In both Clones and Sith, Palpatine dupes pawns into creating a separatist army to challenge the Republic and create a contrived state of war. In Sith, he uses more rhetoric about the need for safety and protection to convince the Senate to cede him even more power, amid massive applause. Natalie Portman’s character, Queen Amidala, comments, “So this is how liberty dies — amidst thunderous applause.” The scene recalls several Bush speeches filled with misleading extremist rhetoric that were met with similarly thunderous applause by Congress.

After Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side of the Force and confronts his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, he declares, “You’re either with me or you’re my enemy.” For many viewers, this line immediately conjures Bush’s speech from September 2001: “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” The point is rammed home when Obi-Wan responds, “Only a Sith (dark lord) sees the world in extremes.”

The comparison is clear — Bush is all about the dark side. In his own way, Bush is just as much an extremist fanatic as the terrorists he rails against. Declaring that America was attacked because, “the terrorists hate freedom,” is extremist rhetoric meant to mask the American consciousness from the true causes of ill will against the United States — our undemocratic, imperialist ventures around the globe. To follow a leader who thinks in such extremes is the pathway to the dark side.

Greg M. Schwartz is a graduate journalism student and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].