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Where's Frodo?

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006 3:10 PM

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum knows exactly what's at stake in the War on Terror. It's simple.

Iraq is like the Lord of the Rings, where Frodo and Sam are making their way towards Mount Doom, and the Dark Lord is ... um ... busy elsewhere.

And that's why we're safe here at home, according to the senator.

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."

I suspect Santorum has never actually read the Lord of the Rings.

There are lessons to be learned, and while J.R.R. Tolkien himself remarked that he casually detests allegory in all its forms, let's consider the senator's words.

It's clear that Santorum sees Iraq as Minas Tirith. We should, of course, remember that, Denethor, the ruler of Minas Tirith challenged the Dark Lord on his own terms and was driven to madness, both by what Sauron permitted him to see through the palantir, and by his own hunger for the One Ring. Denethor believed that strength of will would be enough to guard against the seductive evils of the One Ring; in this, he was most decidedly wrong.

But Minas Tirith is not Mordor. Sauron, the enemy, is elsewhere.

I wouldn't credit Osama bin Laden as being the Dark Lord; he and other visible proponents of terrorism - Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khalid Shiek Mohammed, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Ayman al-Zawahiri � the ones we prop up as targets for media consumption, may not even be the nazgul, the ringwraiths. Sauron had more than a sufficiency of minions to do his bidding.

Yet, if Minas Tirith is Iraq, who, then, are in the role of Frodo and Sam? Bush? Cheney? Rove? (And which one of them is Gollum/Smeagol?)

More importantly, Santorum missed the bit where, if Frodo fails, Sauron wins.

The battleground is the whole of Middle-Earth, from the Shire, through Fangorn Forest, the fields of Rohan, and the proud city of Minas Tirith. Even Gandalf recognized that Tom Bombadil would fall, last as he was first.

The evil of the One Ring is not something that can be defeated on a single field of battle, or by mere force of arms. The One Ring is both power and the lure of power, with the ability to corrupt and degrade even the wise and innocent ��Frodo, after all, got to Mount Doom and claimed the Ring as his own. It is a weight, a burden, and at all times, that power is sought by the Dark Lord.

Sorry, Senator. Your paper on Tolkien gets an F.

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