Come on, admit it. We all cheered when George McFly punched Biff in the face at the end of Back To The Future. It is a seminal example of Goodie Good finally defeating Bully Baddie Bad - and such a wonderful punch changed the McFly history for the better; George McFly becomes a hero, achieves his dreams, and the destinies for the whole McFly family become filled with fortune. And with that comes a happy ending, a tear in the eye and a sigh of relief.
There is something Socratic about the prevailing of justice in such unjust circumstances. From Die Hard to Tom and Jerry, comeuppance, putting wrongs to rights, rebalancing the scales, is pretty much a celebrated feature across the world; we watch our televisions and hope that the baddie gets what's coming to them. We re-calibrate our moral compass. Essentially, where ordinarily we sit with Kant, that there are certain inalienable rights applied across the world to all individuals, when it comes to justice and fairness, we move towards Bentham; we switch towards a more Utilitarianist 'the ends justify the means' approach. We find a hero in the person who delivers justice.
Of course, there was no hero flying in in the case we saw this week, when a mob attacked a 17 year old Kurdish-Iranian asylum seeker in South London. A gang mercilessly attacked a lone, helpless lad to the point of near death. A sickening and despicable occurrence, unjust and unfair in its entirety. And certainly, I think we can all agree it would have been great if Hollywood had flown in a strapping hero from on high to protect the helpless boy, delivering justice and saving the day. In such an event, we would cast aside our moral compass and happily forgive and condone, and even secretly encourage, the use of violence to restore injustice.
The question we have to ask ourselves is when is it okay to translate the comical or fictional hero into real life? And moreover, what does this hero look like, and how unjust does an injustice have to be for this hero to step in? We all, including Kant, have our lines. And the harder question, as much as it pains us to ask it, is whether this hero can come in the form of the man we enjoy to mock, Mr Donald-Le-Orange-Trump? Could it possibly be that after seven years of conflict in Syria, the response to a reported nerve-agent attack on innocent civilians, comes from the very bigoted, sexist, Islamic-banning, wall-building, health-care-repealing Trump who we so love to hate? Has Trump McFly become the man to deliver a warning punch to the Bully Biff of Syria that so satisfies our inner schadenfreude? A scary thought, true, but perhaps one we must be brave enough to ask and think about. Yes, war is war. But even combat has rules. And using chemical weapons to bully, maim and kill simply is not cricket. And so at some point someone must stand for fairness and justice, right?
The truth is, as peaceful as we all want to be, Dostoyevski might be onto something when he says: right or wrong, it's very pleasant to break something from time to time. Because sometimes enough is enough. And morality snaps. But can we ever stomach Trump McFly being the champion of the innocent? Can Trump lead Syria to the happy ending that takes the future of Syria back to the joys of it's past?Suggest a correction