Much pivots today on whether mass nonviolent campaigns from below, revealed in this film, offer a way out for a humanity threatened by endless war and climate change.
“At the end of our film, you know, I had to rewrite this radical idea that he had. This amazing idea that he had picked up on from another scholar [King was, by the way, a creative philosopher, learned in Plato and Hegel, and her term is apt] that racism is a lie that's been told to white people to divert their attention from the challenges in their own life by the powers that be, that rich white men indoctrinate racism into poor white men to make them look at black people and not at the powerful white men, who might not be helping them as they should [more accurately, who prey upon them, though to their own psychic and societal detirment – the point of nonviolence, as well] - a pretty radical idea. My thought was, you know what? Let's not not have this idea expressed in the film because we can't get the speech.
That idea is big enough, bold enough, interesting enough, complex enough, to be shared and it should be shared. And we just have to find another way to say it 'cause we can't afford those speeches. And we don't have the rights to those speeches. You know, but the idea itself should be heard.”
But is every American, even those who fight the brutalization of Palestinians, responsible for war or every white American slavery or segregation or the prisons? Are all the French who protested the war in Algeria or who detest colonialism responsible for its horrific legacies?
This dialectic is an incredibly dangerous thing because ignoring the causes of Muslim violence and elevating racist predators to power - the Republican Party except to some extent Rand Paul, Marine Le Pen - will increase the downward spiral of aggression. torture and internal oppression in the West and the Arab world.
In “Selma,” DuVernay uses the very effective device of typing brief FBI reports over the shots of the meetings and demonstrations going on. She got access to them because they are real. One “historian” actually tries to say that this was Kennedy’s fault and LBJ didn’t go in for such things…
The Committee was led by Senator Walter Mondale (later Presidential candidate), a liberal truckling to not upset Johnson. It decided on a “compromise” between the two delegations. The white delegation was to be seated. But the Convention would allow two delegates to be seated from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and for 1968, require an expanded vote on delegates.
Fortunately, the racists went home. In “Eyes on the Prize,” a creepy white usher refuses to let an old black woman in the MFDP sit in the Mississippi seats.
Fannie Lou Hamer spoke of being too tired to wait any longer (the 350 years King speaks of eloquently in his Letter from the Birmingham City Jail” here).
Andy Goodman, my friend from first to fourth grade at Walden School in Manhattan, went to Philadelphia, Mississippi and was murdered his first day there, along with James Cheney and Michael Schwerner, by a mob led by the sheriff and the preacher Edgar Ray Killens. See here. DuVernay’s point about whites being part of the struggle is, once again, profound.
Listen also to these words about how heartening Johnson’s “war on poverty” had once seemed to King and yet how the Vietnam War was a war against the poor, black and white.
Today Obama has a trillion dollar military/intelligence budget as the middle class becomes impoverished and wages have stagnated since the 1970s for the bottom 80% of American income earners.
The “Republicans,” the party of big imperial authoritarian racist government, vote endlessly to extend war as their latest plots on Iran reveal (some libertarians and conservatives, however, do not – see, for instance, Come Home America/antiwar com here.) American militarism continues to be, as King named it, a demonic destructive suction tube.
Talk about racist patriarchy...
LBJ withdrew (any) FBI protection from King. At the least, Johnson worked over time to create the environment in which King, fighting to realize the war on poverty with a poor people’s movement, was crucified.
But wasn't President Johnson interested in "the war on poverty"? One could imagine a decent and self-confident human being supporting a poor people's movement from below (but capitalists objected) and actually making serious arguments - Lyndon Johnson, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy did not because there were none - for the War.
To praise Lyndon Johnson (and Barack is one who does, also) is to be a fool...
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath --
America will be!