Sparks fly, and not just a few lies slip by…
Sparks fly, and not just a few lies slip by…
Spielberg’s Lincoln and the Resilience of Historic Myths
By Ruth Hull
Think about the word “history” — his story. History is always told by the victors. Victors have the money and power to acquire spin doctors to come up with created history so these winners will sound so good that they are unrecognizable.
Some popular myths (as in not true):
Some even cooler myths that I had never heard can be found at: Debunked Myths about the U.S. Presidents.
With Thanksgiving approaching, some people want to re-create the early days of the early settlers.
Remember Plymouth, a place where the Pilgrims did not land on a rock. There is a commemorative rock there now. Jamestown was founded first.
In Jamestown, one of the more interesting dishes was human beings. Yes, check out Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States.” Many of us were descended from cannibals. Now, while known cannibals like the Jamestown settlers were white, there are no documented instances of non-white cannibalistic societies. Such non-white societies are myths. So maybe a white Thanksgiving isn’t a good idea if you want to keep your body parts.
If you wish to eat like the Pilgrims, make sure you use your fingers. Howard Zinn calls Thanksgiving, “the celebration of the friendly dinner that came before the genocide.” So, in keeping with tradition, have dinner with your neighbors and then slaughter them.
The Lincoln movie by Spielberg also played into historical myths. Sometimes myths are fun. In the case of Lincoln, they were very entertaining. It’s easy to get lost in these myths and some believers are willing to fight against anyone trying to provide them with facts. Though Lincoln scared the South into seceding, he was at best a reluctant abolitionist, preferring an intact Union to freeing even one slave. Occasionally, he would say something to appease abolitionists and then go back to statements expressing his belief in inequality of the races. His letter to Horace Greeley is consistent with this as were his statements in the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the Emancipation Proclamation, which could have freed slaves in the Union territories but specifically did not free even one slave in the Union. The Proclamation was designed to demoralize the South, against which the Union was fighting while giving the appearance that it actually stood for something. Lincoln opposed interracial marriage. He spoke of deporting the Blacks to Africa and he supported fugitive slave laws. An African-American scholar named Leone Bennett, Jr., wrote a book in 2007 calling Lincoln a racist and documenting his claims directly from Lincoln’s speeches. Mr. Bennett ignored the myth-writers and therefore stirred up a lot of anger among whites who insisted their white President freed the slaves single-handedly. The book is called, “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.” Regardless of your feelings about Mr. Bennett, Lincoln’s own words in the Lincoln-Douglas debates and elsewhere show he did not consider himself an abolitionist. While we may wish Lincoln had been a stronger opponent of slavery, we are stuck with the facts as they were. It is hard to think our leaders were so ignorant that they didn’t get that even debating before ending slavery was itself an abomination.
In the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, this is one of the most repeated of Lincoln’s statements. Here in the sixth debate, he is quoting his anti-abolitionist position to prove his consistency on this point.
“After reading I added these words: ‘Now, gentlemen, I don’t want to read at any great length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery or the black race, and this is the whole of it; any thing that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastical arrangement of words by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so. I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together on the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.’” (source)
The Lincoln movie does have a certain amount of charm. The favorite part for Israel’s Likud Party is undoubtedly towards the end. Why would an 1865 Abraham Lincoln be reminiscing about wanting to take off to Israel? The Israeli plug was silly at best. Robert Lincoln refuted the false historical claim that his father was Jewish. The timing of the movie’s opening to coincide with the attack on Gaza was likely something Spielberg didn’t expect, but those in the Israeli leadership, who met with Spielberg, before the filming started, did have choices and they chose to massacre children on the opening weekend.
The movie also diminished the contributions of African-Americans and women in getting the 13th Amendment adopted, making it look as if the Amendment was a gratuity granted to them. In Lincoln, the physical handing of the 13th Amendment document to the African-American love interest of Thaddeus Stevens symbolizes the idea that it was a gift handed down from the Whites as opposed to something the Blacks inherently deserved.
Embellishing to build up our leaders as role models is sometimes considered useful, but not when the admission of teens to college depends on their getting 5′s on their Advanced Placement U.S. History exams. Fortunately for this year’s AP students, there is half a year to dispel the myths of this movie and get top scores. The best prep for that particular AP exam is Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.
Now, while the Spielberg movie mixed myths with history, it left out Lincoln’s opposition to corporate rule and also the special holiday he gave America: Thanksgiving.
Lincoln was theoretically (though this could be another myth) inspired by editorials and letters written by Sarah Josepha Hale, the New England editor of Godey’s Book, to create the occasion. In 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg, he declared the National Thanksgiving Holiday.
So have a Happy Thanksgiving. If you want to see a movie over the holiday weekend, a good choice is the final chapter in the Twilight series. Breaking Dawn, Part 2, may well turn out to be the best anti-war movie of the year. See it and you will find out why.
Ruth Hull is the chairman of a liberal Democratic organization that is working to move the country towards its true base, the people. She has organized major human rights events and worked with some of the most liberal leaders in America. Her career has included work as a criminal defense attorney, a licensed private investigator, an educator and a writer.
Don’t bother. This is by insiders for insiders. By imperialists for imperialists. The Q&A talk after the film’s premiere was puke-inducing. War criminals, profiteers, shameless invaders and imperial profiteers telling us about security. Invasion, occupation, business opportunities — chilling in its overt criminality.
Myths about the US are front and center. Nothing about the cover-up of 9/11. It was all a “failure,” you see. The myth of a dysfunctional national security state, as opposed to a sabotaged defense on 9/11 is pressed without reservation. No acknowledgement of US SUPPORT of terrorists including MEK, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Free Syrian Army and of course Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda for a couple of decades.
The poor US just accidentally bumbles its way to a global military stranglehold on the earth. Ooops, how incompetent and uncoordinated.
As far as Richard Clarke is concerned, his role as a witness to the 9/11 attacks and his revelation of CIA knowledge of the hijackers in San Diego is the most explosive and newsworthy line of inquiry. The filmmakers are incompetent and ignorant about most of what they film.
My September 11th, 2012 post…
Counter-terrorism Advisor to the White House (“Terror Czar”) Richard A. Clarke:
“It’s not as I originally thought, which was that one lonely CIA analyst got this information and didn’t somehow recognize the significance of it. No, fifty, 5-0, CIA personnel knew about this. Among the fifty people in CIA who knew these guys were in the country was the CIA director.”
“Unless someone intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution, I would automatically get it… For me to this day it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counter-terrorism center didn’t tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months… We therefore conclude that there was a high-level decision inside CIA ordering people not to share that information.”
“There was not a lack of information sharing. They told us everything – except this.”
“THIS” = Hijackers living in San Diego for 16 months prior to 9/11, the people who allegedly flew a plane into the Pentagon on Sepbember 11th, 2001.
“George Tenet followed all of the information about al-Qaeda in microscopic detail. He read raw intelligence reports before analysts in the counterterrorism center did…”
Even to this day, Richard Clarke can’t comprehend that the attacks were deliberately allowed to proceed and that the United States war machine gained significantly from this event. That it was a false flag attack with Saudi and Pakistani sponsorship, much like the war on the Soviets in Afghanistan was carried out.
So much suspicious cover-up and blatant lying surrounds 9/11, the role of the Saudis, the destruction of the buildings, the missing black boxes from the planes, the non-response of fighter interceptors, the numbers of warnings before the fact that were blatantly ignored, also insider stock trading on the airlines and other affected companies. Add the fairy-tale fictional 9/11 Commission Report that relied on the admittedly tortured testimony of an alleged Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. The ommission of Able Danger, the inexplicable deletion of terrabytes of intelligence that included Mohammad Atta’s cell in New York. The Commission’s censoring out of all dissenting witnesses, whisleblowers even research staff, and the corruption of the 9/11 Commission by Bush White House operative Phillip Zelikow. It is far, far too extensive a whitewash to go into in such a post as this.
The undeniable fact is that unless you are of a handful of insiders who perpetrated the attacks, you have no idea whatsoever what actually happened on 9/11 and who, precisely, coordinated it, funded it, orchestrated it. The truth of 9/11 has been obfuscated and washed from history, and in its place we have nothing but a quasi-religious day of remembrance, a day that bolsters the imperial agenda of attacking other nations, bombing the official enemies into submission without restraint, illegitimate belligerence in the name of “defense.”
by Randy Shields
Thanks for letting me borrow Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Blind Side. You really hooked me up this time. How did you know that Caucasian porn is one of my guilty little pleasures ? Having merciful, just, compassionate and brave white people always available and their goodness spurting off like Old Faithful, OMG, is so hot. Here’s my review:
I have to hand it to us: we whites are the most selfless, courageous, beneficent people who ever walked the face of … the silver screen. From pistol-packing white mama Sandra Bullock sashaying into the hood to tell off the home boys in Blind Side (how come those black savages aren’t doing honest work for six bucks an hour in one of Bullock’s millionaire husband’s fast food chain restaurants/plantations?) to the white gimp hero being made whole in his blue heaven of Avatar (white men can jump on Pandora!) and leading the blue savages to victory (after he and his kind brought them carnage and mayhem) to The Hurt Locker soldiers de-mining bombs unfairly planted by the sand savages (after the soldiers and their kind brought them carnage and mayhem.) The problem is always savages — savages, savages everywhere. Savages of every color and stripe (the Na’vi!) and not enough white people to save them. Whites! Carnage! Action! Salvation! Hang in there, magenta people, wherever you are, we’re on our way to save you (from us, after the introductory offer of carnage and mayhem.)
(Memo to white Christians: time to get couples counseling because, while you’re keeping the home fires and hell fires burning, the God you worship apparently hates you: He keeps carousing out there in the Third World and even other galaxies, giving away all the cosmic bling — the buffalo, the oil, the “unobtainium” — to the savages.)
I know you liked Blind Side, Raheim, but if you want a classic football movie check out North Dallas Forty with its humor, injuries, legal and illegal drugs, racism, sadistic coaches, greedy owners, groupies, the stamping out of individuality, and the camaraderie and love of competition that keeps players hanging in there to the bitter end. Should Blind Side get points because it’s based on a true story, this tale of a white southern Republican family that adopts a young black male who goes on to college and pro-football? Nah. It left me cold. I’m not interested in the America that accidentally coughs up a diamond every once in a while for our pleasure and pacification — I’m interested in seeing movies about everything that capitalism deliberately devours and shits out to produce that diamond or, more accurately, fool’s gold. Probably in the last 300 years in America there were a couple dozen instances of white people helping out black people — and Hollywood made blockbusters out of all of them.
In Avatar, put aside the white male hero character going off the rez — that’s too easy to slam — I didn’t buy Sigourney Weaver’s character trying to schmooze the tall athletic Na’vi. Wouldn’t the American empire have sent somebody like NBA Commissioner David Stern to see if the blue freaks could hit the turnaround jumper? The empire needs to be entertained too, you know. Isn’t an NBA commish born to negotiate with chief mercenary Stephen Lang, concerning the merits of a possible new expansion franchise, the Pandora Tail-Shtuppers? Even if Pandora was destroyed, a few Na’vi could have been brought back as “hardship” cases and been mentored and tutored about the discovery of their country by “explorers” Lang and Weaver and then suited up.
I’ll say one thing for Avatar, though: this film is a crack across the mouth of America, America’s military, and everything the American empire is doing in the world. Director James Cameron turned up the squirm knob on American filmgoers cuz by all rights they should have been cheering and whooping that the underdog Na’vi heroically defeated a fiendish aggressor. But there wasn’t that kind of cheering in American theaters (unlike foreign ones) because — oops, cognitive damn dissonance, these villains are the sacred and sainted troops whom it’s so important to glorify at all times. Avatar does not support the troops — and if it cost $300 million to put that statement on screen it was worth it. You can’t get that statement out of the mealy-mouthed “leaders” and supposed radicals in the antiwar movement. Maybe in America you can only tell the truth if you have $300 mil in your pocket. Or are completely broke — anything in between and you’re just a corrupt little weasel in waiting. Apologies to real weasels — we humans just labeled you really funny and it’s a great oversight that our names aren’t reversed and we aren’t all singing I-I-I-I-I-I am everyday weasels… Weasels… need weasels…
That said, Avatar’s not that threatening on a more basic level. A movie of noble savages saying a little prayer for each innocent creature they needlessly slaughter ( there seems to be a lot of juicy fruits on Pandora ) puts humans back in their cribby comfort zone. Humans are always open to the Good News of the possible necessity of killing something. Americans, in particular, can deal easier with their skyscrapers being knocked down than the true nightmare, the end times scenario: the cheeseless world of the scary vegans. To show you what America really fears, I offer you all the many anti-terror laws used against eco and animal activists during the Bush years (not so much a time of the Great Fear as the time of the Great Big I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn.) The words “soy cheese” and “tofu” elicit more instant hatred and alarm than “fuel oil” and “fertilizer.” (The best sequel to Avatar: an invasion by a thousand vegan missionaries brandishing Cornell University’s “The China Health Project” and Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights while simultaneously hunt-sabbing the Na’vi and dodging all of Pandora’s carnivorous creatures. Na’vi eyes would glaze over, preceding their surrender, as we vegans carpet-bombed them with sermons on non-animal sources of B-12 and the hoax of protein complementarity.)
Now the Hurt Locker does support the troops which is why big bad liberal Hollywood gave it the best picture Academy Award over Avatar. This tedious sand fly soap opera is nothing but war propaganda. Scene after scene about the terrible difficulties that invaders, occupiers, and war criminals face. After 90 minutes of murderous foreplay, America finally gets off: a dead young Iraqi boy has a “body bomb” implanted in his torso by the diabolical insurgents and our white hero can’t bear to blow up the dead kid so he basically does open heart surgery to remove the bomb at great risk to his own noble self and carries the dead kid to the safety of the American conscience. It’s so good living here in the White Imagi-Nation. Jesus Christ, we’re good people. We would never stand by and let our government kill one million Iraqis or turn another four million into refugees or destroy their country in a simple tax/wealth transfer from our children’s future to Lockheed and Halliburton’s present. No, we sacrifice our own lives, the most valuable and meaningful lives on this whole damned planet, to make sure that even dead ragheads get a proper burial!
O courageous Hollywood directors, there is a heroic story to be told about Iraq — it’s the Iraqi resistance, particularly the Sunni resistance. At one point the Sunni were fighting the great American murder machine, the fanatical al-Qaeda interlopers and the numerically superior Shia. And in the winter of 2007 with the chaos boiling over it looked like the Sunni just might pull it off and make Uncle Sam cry uncle. But American generals screwed their courage to the sticking place — and put the Sunni on the payroll. I often wonder at the mental gymnastics that friends and loved ones of US soldiers go through. One night we went to bed knowing the Sunni are depraved terrorists who plant IEDs and the next morning the newspapers said these irredeemable murderers are now getting our tax dollars (the “Sunni Awakening” was really the Pentagon Awakening to the fact that it was about to get its five-sided ass kicked out of Iraq.) But where oh where on earth is our revenge supposed to go? And who knew that there’s so much Christian forgiveness at the Pentagon! And no congressperson or prominent media person says a word — just get used to it you idiots, we’ll tell you day is night and shit is sugar and you’ll buy it every time. We’ll tell you who to hate and when to hate and how hard to hate and then tell you to stop on a dime and you losers will do it every time, even if the blood and limbs of your sons and daughters are fertilizing Fallujah. This government is bankrupt because you’re bankrupt.
The Hurt Locker and Blind Side are two “true” stories that paint a more deceptive picture of what life is like in 2010 than does Avatar’s 22nd century Pandora.
Anyway, Raheim, keep the flicks comin’. And don’t forget to shower the weasels you love with love.
Randy Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Label GMOs. You have a right to know if that produce is a Frankenfood, like most of the world.
MONSANTO is pulling out all stops to propagandize the public about why they should remain ignorant and powerless when choosing food. A recent study linking rats to tumors will be attacked for its methodology. That is but one study out of hundreds.
The LA WEEKLY also has a write up on Prop 37, the “Right to Know” ballot initiative. This could be the first step toward changing the laws nationally in the US.