Posts Tagged ‘legacy’

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The Legacy of HW Bush

Posted: December 1, 2018 in -
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The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice

 

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The Enduring Legacies of Slavery in America: Reflections on “12 Years a Slave”

by Lawrence Ware

Two years ago I sat in an almost empty auditorium waiting for 12 Years a Slave to begin. To my right, with an obligatory seat between us per the unspoken yet ubiquitous norm known as ‘man law,’ was my dear friend and brother T. E. Dancy. We arrived prepared to critically engage the film as scholars, but we underestimated the impact the film would have upon us emotionally.

Every year I screen the film on campus. I am consistently surprised by how few have seen it. They have seen movies detailing the horrors of the holocaust. They have watched violent visual narratives about the war on terror. Yet, for some reason, this film remains unseen.

White Americans have a complex relationship with the history of black people in this country. They intellectually assent to the proposition that slavery happened. They admit that it was ‘bad.’ Yet, like attempts to minimize the horror of slavery in Texas textbooks, white folks don’t want to be confronted with the lived experiences of slaves.

Black Americans don’t have that luxury. As Ta-Nehisi Coates argued, even if attempts are made to ignore the past, the shadow of slavery follows black people today. In our language, in our food, in the construction of American social institutions upon the assumption that if you inhabit a black body you possess less personhood than if you inhabited a white body, the history of slavery still shapes black life in America.

As I discussed the film with T. E. Dancy, I began to realize that this visual text powerfully communicates these truths in four ways.

Socioeconomic Status is No Exception From Racial Realities

Solomon Northup was an educated, cultured free black man in the 1840s. His only mistake was thinking that being born free meant he was safe from the ugliest manifestation of white supremacy in American history. Yes, he was educated; yes, he was musically talented; yes, he was petite bourgeoisie; no, that did not matter. One’s black body is always a threatened when living under white, capitalistic hegemony.

This remains true today.

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Americans from childhood are fed a diet of bullshit that carries on into adulthood. One of these bullshit myths concerns Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated by the US government, and not by a lone gunman, on April 4th of 1968.

Exactly one year to the day prior to that event, April 4th of 1967, Dr. King gave the most political and controversial speech of his life. Lashing out at the war in Vietnam, the mass murder, billions squandered, the imperialist machinations of the US government, Dr. King essentially signed his own death warrant by stating point blank:

“Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

Full Text: Beyond Vietnam, A Time to Break Silence

I believe that section of the quite lengthy speech is contained in this clip:


  
Dr. King reveals US meddling prior to US involvement in the war:

“After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again”

He reveals clear war propaganda lies by the United States:

“Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made.”

Dr. King was labeled one of the most dangerous “national security” threats in America several months before his liquidation. Statements like these directly challenged the legitimacy of the war, the draft and the government in Washington:

“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam.”

Professor Jared Ball discusses the whitewashing of Dr. King’s actual struggle, and his revolutionary stances against poverty and militarism as well as racism.


  
Lastly, a civil trial took place in 1999 which ruled that there was a conspiracy to kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the morning of April 4th 1968. I highly suggest that those who are interested research the evidence brought out during that trial.

The rifle which was claimed to have killed Dr. King, and said to belong to James Earl Ray could not have done so. The sight was completely off. What’s more, the rifle itself was deposited in an alley beside an arcade company 10 minutes prior to the actual shooting. It was planted by an unknown figure, and clearly not in the possession of James Earl Ray when Dr. King was shot. Numerous other anomalies surround the case, and the jury came to a verdict in a very short amount of time.

Dr. Martin Luther King was not about nostalgia, feel good photo opportunities or homogenized, sanitized history. He was a fighter who chose non-violent, and quite risky confrontation. His legacy should be taught and remembered for what it actually was, and not for what white corporate Amerika would like it to be.

Judge Arthur Haynes testified that he was, of course, James Earl Ray’s first lawyer along with his father, and he testified that in the course of their early on-the-scene investigation, they talked to Guy Canipe, who owned the amusement shop in front of which was found the bundle which contained, amongst other things, the rifle. He said Canipe told them very early on, before anyone else apparently had done any kind of tampering with him, told him very early on that that bundle was dropped some minutes before the actual shooting. Imagine that, that the bundle, the murder weapon, the rifle in evidence, was dropped minutes before the actual shooting.”(Civil Case: King Family versus Jowers)

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

 

DVD: The Last Station
Blu-ray: The Last Station

Vague, Passionate and Erratic: The Last Station

by Binoy Kampmark

“Tomorrow, I’ll go to the station and lie down on the track. Tolstoy’s wife becomes Anna Karenina herself. See how the papers will like that!”
Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren) to Leon Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), The Last Station (2009)

In Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station, a portrayal over the last days of Leo Tolstoy’s life and a battle over the disposition of his estate and copyright to his works, politics and personalities clash. The wily aide and pejoratively labelled ‘catamite’ Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), who sees himself as more Tolstoyan than Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), faces off with Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren) over how the great author shall share his legacy. Everyone seems to be scribbling notes in an effort to record the last days of an era. Be it doctor or secretary, the latter played by James McAvoy, there is a furious relaying of all that is said, irrespective of how noteworthy it might actually be. ‘In the beginning, there was the word…’

Parts of this effort by Hoffman are barely believable, though it all comes down to what viewers are expecting. Reviewers have found the scene when Countess Sofya’s desperate attempt to woo Tolstoy with the lines ‘I’m your chicken, you be my big cock!’ desperate and cringe worthy. Tim Roby of The Telegraph (Feb 18), is merely being cranky, though he is right to point out that the carnival, stage element never quite escapes this film. For many, that will be a more than sufficient digestive. Something might have been made about the black and white footage that is shown at the end of the film, featuring a Christ-like Tolstoy engaging in his labours. We are left wondering.
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