Old Movies Always Playing

Out here in Hollywood you get used to it. The social conservatives – the evangelicals and End Times folks anticipating the Rapture, the values-voters and whatnot – have no use for Hollywood. All the movies and television shows are filled with sex and violence, they portray decadence and perversion, and the bad guys are always the military or pious religious folks – good soldiers and good Christians aren’t supposed to be the bad guys. After all, those Jason Bourne movies are like that – the amazing hero is being pursued by the guys in Washington who are just trying to rid the world of bad guys. Why are they the bad guys? But of course the car chases are real cool. And then there was James Cameron’s Avatar. Why did the bad guys have to look so much like our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan, and say the same sorts of things about the locals? Some on the right saw that as a cheap shot, and although the story was stirring, those ten-foot-tall smurf-people really were tree-huggers, like all stupid people who think global warming is real. And that whole Avatar program was kind of about a form of bestiality, just without the hapless and startled goat. One should stick to one’s own species.

Of course this goes back decades. In that teen movie Footloose – Kevin Bacon as the city kid stuck in the middle of rural nowhere – the local minister just wanted to be sure the high school would never hold a dance, much less a prom, because he was worried about sin. Why did he have to be wrong? A few decades earlier it had been Inherit the Wind – Spencer Tracy as Clarence Darrow, and the Scopes Monkey Trial. Why did they have to make those who know evolution is just a theory, and a wrong one at that, look so bad? You’re talking about forty percent of all Americans and fifty-two percent of the Republican Party now – science is all wrong, it always is, and the Bible is not. What are they, chopped liver?

So you’ll hear these folks wonder why they don’t make movies like The Sound of Music anymore – wholesome, with no sex and no violence, and the bad guys are Nazis. And another is Red Dawn – the dawn of World War III and in mid-western somewhere or other a group of teenagers bands together to defend their town, and their country, from the invading Soviet forces. The bad guys are commies and UN folks. And of course the operation to capture Saddam Hussein was named Operation Red Dawn, after the movie – because Real Americans love that movie so much. There is a remake in progress – the bad guys are Chinese this time – but it’s from MGM and the MGM bankruptcy stuff, and who will now own what, has all their productions in limbo. You also won’t be seeing The Hobbit anytime soon, or another James Bond flick.

But it is Christmastime now, and the classics are on cable now, in endless rotation. But a friend, in a casual email, points out something interesting:

I’ve always thought Christmas tends to lean slightly left. That Ebenezer Scrooge story is a great example (after visits from spirits from the other side, where truth resides, shit-head conservative gets comeuppance, and wakes up a full-blown liberal) as is It’s a Wonderful Life (liberal’s good-nature gets him into trouble, starts to doubt his own worth, but after a visit from a ghost from heaven, where truth resides, he goes back to realizing that being a liberal, someone who  sees that all of us are in this together, is the right path after all.)

I’m always a little surprised that you don’t hear howls of protest from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and all those Fox News “War on Christmas” Warriors, when these movies come back to haunt them every year. I guess they just find it too embarrassing to try to make that case in public. And rightly so – they’d be ridiculed right off the air.

Another adds this:

Christmas is very left-wing. Jesus is. All of Christianity is. The whole Jesus-as-tough-love-Republican was always a stretch. But it’s fun to watch those on the righteous right try. And they should denounce those two movies, but do not, of course. And the idea of Jesus-as-tough-love-Republican is now the mainstream, pretty much. Is this a great country or what?

But of course then this just had to happen:

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips has a dream: “No more Methodist Church.”

A blog post on his Tea Party Nation page says that on Friday he walked by the United Methodist Building in Washington D.C., which had a sign that said, “Pass the DREAM Act.” Phillips wrote: “I have a DREAM. That is, no more United Methodist Church.”

Check out that blog post – Phillips explains that he had been a member of the church, a Methodist just like the younger George Bush, but he left because it’s now “the first Church of Karl Marx.” He says that those guys are now “little more than the ‘religious’ arm of socialism.”

The Methodist church is pro-illegal immigration. They have been in the bag for socialist health care, going as far as sending out emails to their membership “debunking” the myths of Obamacare. Say, where are the liberal complaints on the separation of church and state?

In short, if you hate America, you have a great future in the Methodist church.

And he must really hate those two famous Christmas movies. But he doesn’t go there. And note that Phillips has recently argued that it’s a “wise idea” to only let property owners vote – renters have no stake in America. And he had strongly defended an email he wrote calling for all Tea Party folks to help “retire” Keith Ellison – the Democratic congressman from Minnesota – because “he is the only Muslim member of congress.” Phillips is an interesting fellow. So was Scrooge.

And Phillips won’t be visiting Hollywood soon, to see the sights. We offend such people, and that’s easy enough:

The Council of Conservative Citizens has launched a website calling for a boycott of the new Marvel comic-inspired film Thor, because a character is being played by a black actor.

The CCC is the contemporary incarnation of the segregationist Citizens Councils, which sprung up across the South in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education and which possible Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour praised in a recent interview.

“It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves,” a post on the CCC’s website reads.

And see Boycott-thor.com which expands on the CCC’s position:

Marvel has a history of advocating for the left-wing. In early 2010 they even used their Captain America comic to attack the Tea Party movement. Marvel front man Stan “Lee” Lieber personally funds left-wing political candidates. Now Marvel has inserted left-wing social engineering into European mythology, casting a black man to play a Norse deity.

Note Stan Lee’s “real” name. It’s obviously Jewish. The Jews run Hollywood. They run everything, or at least the Rothschild family does. And now they’re messing with Thor! That’s not right! White folks can’t take much more of this.

Of course this not the most vital issue facing America. At least they didn’t cast Ellen DeGeneres in the role. But what’s this about possible Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour praising the Council of Conservative Citizens?

It does seem that Haley Barbour is being taken seriously as a 2012 contender in Beltway circles, as they say. And he’s a major Republican fundraiser – Fox News’ owner Rupert Murdock gave Barbour’s Republican Governors Association more than a million dollars to help out in the recent elections. Barbour is as establishment player. And, yes, he did whitewash the history of the Citizen Council in his hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi.

That was in this interview with the Weekly Standard. Barbour said the northern stereotype of the Citizens Councils is all wrong – his local Council was an “organization of town leaders” that had actually opposed the Klan. They were the good guys. Yes, he keeps a Confederate flag signed by Jefferson Davis in his office. And he has cited Jim Eastland as his political inspiration – Eastland is best known as a champion on segregation – and Barbour once told a campaign aide who’d made racist comments that “he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks.” It was a joke, folks. He’s not a racist.

But there is that interview with the Weekly Standard:

In interviews Barbour doesn’t have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”

Did you go? I asked.

“Sure, I was there with some of my friends.”

I asked him why he went out.

“We wanted to hear him speak.”

I asked what King had said that day.

“I don’t really remember. The truth is, we couldn’t hear very well. We were sort of out there on the periphery. We just sat on our cars, watching the girls, talking, doing what boys do. We paid more attention to the girls than to King.”

And there’s this:

Both Mr. Mott and Mr. Kelly had told me that Yazoo City was perhaps the only municipality in Mississippi that managed to integrate the schools without violence. I asked Haley Barbour why he thought that was so.

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

Well, maybe those of us up north had it wrong, but Matthew Yglesias doesn’t – “The Citizens’ Councils were, right in the state of Mississippi where Barbour is from, the respectable face of white supremacist political activism.”

And Yglesias cites an example from the Association of Citizens’ Councils pamphlet, on why your community needs a Citizens Council:

Maybe your community has had no racial problems! This may be true; however, you may not have a fire, yet you maintain a fire department. You can depend on one thing: The NAACP (National Association for the Agitation of Colored People), aided by alien influences, bloc vote seeking politicians and left-wing do-gooders, will see that you have a problem in the near future.

The Citizens’ Council is the South’s answer to the mongrelizers. We will not be integrated. We are proud of our white blood and our white heritage of sixty centuries.

And Haley Barbour wants to give these people credit for keeping things calm. That’s a bit of a stretch.

And see Yglesias here:

It’s worth noting that it would actually be surprising if Teenage Haley Barbour hadn’t been a white supremacist in the early 1960s. In January of 1964, Gallup found that the Civil Rights Act had a 71% approval rating among non-southern whites but just a 20% approval rating among white southerners. I wouldn’t condemn anyone for just kind of picking up the local conventional wisdom. But 40-50 years later, it’d be nice for him to show some understanding of what was happening.

And Josh Marshall adds that these Citizens’ Councils were so transparently racist that, up until now, the conservative mainstream “would have nothing to do with them.”

Just by way of background, in the last decade or so there’s been controversy about a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens, a successor group to Citizen’s Councils. In other words, the CCC group was an organizational attempt to cleanse the reputation of the earlier group or rather shed some of its more explicit connection to white supremacy and legal racial discrimination. But even those folks were and are so retrograde that the mainstream right would have nothing to do with them. David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union – sponsor of the annual CPAC conference – said almost a decade ago: “We kicked [them] out of CPAC because they are racists.”

So folks like Keene won’t have anything to do with the cleaned up, scrubbed down version of the group. But Barbour thinks the genuine article operating as the rearguard during the Civil Rights Era was just great.

Barbour just wants these guys back in the fold. They may have been utter racists, and still are, but they weren’t the Klan. That should count for something.

And then Eric Kleefeld spoke to Dan Turner, Barbour’s chief spokesperson, who sounded defensive:

So, I asked Turner, does Barbour have any comment on the Citizen Council movement’s basis in white supremacy, and its work of launching economic boycotts to cut off employment and business for African-Americans who became active for civil rights – including that notable occasion in Yazoo City?

“Gov. Barbour did not comment on the Citizens Council movement’s history,” Turner responded. “He commented on the business community in Yazoo City, Mississippi.”

I asked further about the Citizen Council movement’s white supremacist activities, such as the boycotts in Barbour’s hometown. “I’m not aware that that’s accurate,” Turner said. “I’m not aware that he [Barbour] has any statement on that. I’m aware of the statement that he made in context of how he made it.”

After being pressed further on whether Barbour’s comments about the Citizens Councils were accurate, Turner said: “I’m aware of what the governor said in this interview. I’m not gonna get into the business of trying to twist what the governor said, or to manipulate it.”

Who needs manipulation? Barbour was asked about the civil rights era in his Mississippi community, and he responded with praise for a racist organization, known for running on and on about racial integrity – and fighting for segregation. Maybe you can draw a distinction between Citizens Councils and the KKK, but they seem two versions of the same thing – the Citizens Councils used economic coercion to preserve racial harmony that kept whites on top, while the KKK used violence. The aim was the same.

Or so says Steve Benen:

The governor and his spokesperson seem impressed with the fact that the Citizens Council in the community where Barbour grew up kept the KKK out of town. That’s nice, but it’s also missing the point – that same Citizens Council enforced what was effectively mandatory apartheid; it was created in response to Brown v. Board of Education; and its efforts were focused on not only fighting the civil rights movement, but also in demanding that local African Americans never even tried to advance beyond second class citizens.

Barbour looks back at those Citizens Council efforts as laudable, effective, and worthy of praise. By any modern standards of decency, that’s simply unacceptable.

And see Greg Sargent:

Ben Smith points to more evidence of Barbour’s casualness, unearthing a 1982 episode in which Barbour, according to The New York Times, dressed down an aide: “Mr. Barbour warned that if the aide persisted in racist remarks, he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks.”

There’s a lot of talk on the Internets to the effect that Barbour fully intended to make his claim about the Councils, as part of some sort of “southern strategy.” Whether or not that’s true, this kind of skirting of the line on race makes GOP establishment figures very nervous these days. When Michael Steele recently acknowledged that the GOP had been pursuing a “southern strategy” for four decades, GOP insiders were privately furious about Steele’s lapse.

So if the narrative takes hold that Barbour is undisciplined or sloppy about racial matters, and is unwilling or unable to keep this third rail at arm’s length, this could seriously damage his standing among insiders as a 2012 presidential hopeful.

And see Eugene Robinson on how Barbour recently tried to suggest that southern Republicans were an enlightened force behind civil rights, doing good:

In a recent interview with Human Events, a conservative magazine and Web site, Barbour gave his version of how the South, once a Democratic stronghold, became a Republican bastion. The 62-year-old Barbour claimed that it was “my generation” that led the switch: “my generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to integrated college – never thought twice about it.” The “old Democrats” fought integration tooth and nail, Barbour said, but “by my time, people realized that was the past, it was indefensible, it wasn’t gonna be that way anymore. And so the people who really changed the South from Democrat to Republican was a different generation from those who fought integration.”

Not a word of this is true.

And it’s really, really, really not true:

Barbour did not attend “integrated schools,” if he’s referring to his primary and secondary education. Mississippi ignored the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that was meant to end separate-but-unequal school systems. Eventually, officials implemented a “freedom of choice” desegregation plan – but black parents who tried to send their children to white schools were threatened and intimidated, including by cross-burnings. Finally, in 1969, the Supreme Court ordered Mississippi to integrate its schools immediately. The long-stalled change took place in 1970.

That was long after Barbour had graduated from high school in Yazoo City and gone on to attend the University of Mississippi – the “integrated college” he mentioned in the interview. The federal government had forced Ole Miss to admit its first black student, James Meredith, in 1962; he had to be escorted onto the campus by U.S. marshals as white students rioted in protest.

The following year, a second black student was admitted. In the mid-1960s, when Barbour was attending Ole Miss, it’s no wonder that he “never thought twice” about integration. There were only a handful of black students, and by all accounts – except Barbour’s – they were isolated and ostracized by their white peers.

And there’s more:

The governor’s assertion that segregation was a relic of the past “by my time” is ludicrous. He was 16, certainly old enough to pay attention, during the Freedom Summer of 1964, when civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia, Miss. He was a young adult, on his way to becoming a lawyer, when the public schools were forced to integrate. I’ll bet Barbour could remember those days if he tried a little harder.

Equally wrong – and perhaps deliberately disingenuous – is his made-up narrative of how the South turned Republican. Barbour’s fairy tale doesn’t remotely resemble what really happened.

This is what some of us remember:

As he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law, Lyndon Johnson is supposed to have said that the Democratic Party had “lost the South for a generation.” Among those who voted against the landmark legislation was Sen. Barry Goldwater, who became Johnson’s opponent in the presidential race that fall.

Johnson scored a landslide victory. Goldwater took his home state of Arizona and just five others: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. It was the first time those Deep South states had voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Reconstruction – and marked the moment when, for many Southern voters, the GOP became the party of white racial grievance. It wasn’t “a different generation from those who fought integration” that made the switch. Integration was the whole reason for the switch.

Now, Haley Barbour is not stupid. Why is he telling this ridiculous story?

But Robinson knows why. It’s politics:

The Republican Party is trying to shake its image as hostile to African Americans and other minorities. It would be consistent with this attempted makeover to pretend that the party never sought, and won, the votes of die-hard segregationists.

One problem, though: It did.

Ah, and they can pretend they like and respect gays and Hispanics too. And this Barbour fellow can be president one day.

That’s not going to happen. But then they pretend that the Scrooge movie and It’s a Wonderful Life are about self-reliance and making it on your own, with no help from anyone, particularly a community or your government. They don’t make movies like that anymore. Actually, they didn’t make movies like that in the first place.

And as for Thor being played by a black actor, who said Thor was white? He’s not even human. Of course neither is Haley Barbour it seems.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
This entry was posted in Hollywood and America, Race and America, Race and Politics, Republicans – Party of the South and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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