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The “Zero Dark Thirty” debate isn’t really about torture

Art can be created with moralistic intentions, but it is inherently a ruthless and amoral endeavor, whose meaning always gets away from its creator. It can certainly be used to soothe the savage breast, lend succor in an hour of darkness, and so on. But let’s not forget that children in the death camps were made to play Schubert by murderers and torturers who believed themselves to be civilized and cultured men. That thread of civilization and culture is what saves teenage genius Wladyslaw Szpilman’s life in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” – but the ironic question posed by that film is whether that’s a good reason for one man to live while millions of others died. Because he could play the piano?

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