Monday, February 01, 2016

Politics in February 1, 2016

One of the political films in our generation is “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” It was directed by Michael Bay and it was written by Chuck Hogan, which was based on a book by Mitchell Zuckoff. The movie relates to the war in Libya and the civil war aftermath in the country. The terrorist attack in Benghazi has been debated by people from across the political spectrum. The film has many explosions and special effects, which relates to Michael Bay’s directorial style (as found in his others movies like Bad Boys, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and Transformer). The movie deals with the 2012 evil attack on an American compound in Libya by Islamist militias. This evil, unjust attack killed 4 Americans including the U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.  This film outlines the continuous trend of pro-American militarism in film (when we should not murder and do imperialism). Such films showing the unabashed promotion of such militarism include Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor, American Sniper, etc. The first few minutes of the film shows not the complete truth about what happened in Benghazi during 2012. The film mixes or juxtaposes the lynch mob extrajudicial murder of Col. Muammar Gaddafi (when he has experienced no trial or due process) with the titles that explain how the Libyan people rose up against Gaddafi and how the U.S. and its allies fought to free the people (but then Islamist militias began fighting each other once the war was won, etc.). The truth is that after 2003, Washington allied once with Gaddafi. He even used his nation for CIA torture “black sites” to fight Islamist militias. Then, Gaddafi wanted more independence from the U.S. /EU faction. He was unifying his nation and wanted more African unity. Libya before the NATO attack had a lot of progressive resources and it was a developing rapidly as a nation. Gaddafi wanted to his Libyan gold to promote a pan-African currency (as documented by recently revealed Hillary emails), which was against the interests of the West. Later, the Tunisian and Egyptian mass uprising came out. The U.S. government exploited the popular hostility to Libya and the West aided the same militias (once called “freedom fighters” when they were murdering people like innocent Black Libyans) to the teeth. Gaddafi was overthrown in a war when NATO killed tens of thousands in overt war crimes. The militias fought each other even in a civil war.

Chaos and violence came about and then the massacre in Benghazi happened. Libya was once secular and now Western imperialism as torn the country apart (in the agenda in getting Libya’s oil and mineral wealth). The CIA compound and diplomatic outpost in Benghazi was attacked in the realm of “blowback” on September 11, 2012. Some accuse the CIA of using Benghazi as weapons conduits for smuggling arms and fighters into Syria (to fight the Assad regime). The movie "13 Hours" portrayed the Libyans as non-people and not really diverse. The focus is on the Americans obviously. Jack Da Silva (John Krasinski), who we learn is a CIA security contractor, a euphemism for mercenary, with a wife and children back home. From a McDonald’s drive-thru, with kids in tow, she tells her husband over the phone that she is expecting a baby. The scene wanted to humanize the Americans mostly. The movie shows events about Benghazi favorable to FOX News and other reactionaries. Conservatives believe that there were not enough US forces to guard the compound in 2012 thanks to back-stabbing officials in Washington (i.e., Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama). There is a legitimate discussion about Hillary supporting the evil Libyan war policies, etc. but it isn’t just Hillary or the President involved in the Libyan fiasco. Bay’s film turns reality on its head. Here, US imperialism, the greatest perpetrator of violence in the world, is under siege, with its hands tied behind its back by bureaucratic red tape and cowardly civilian officials. If only “our boys” could get the support they really needed is the reactionary view of the promoters of imperialism. There is more than a whiff of fascism in this. The movie says that CIA station chief “Bob” (David Costabile) tells our military champions to “stand down” from defending the ambassador’s compound until they can figure out what is going on. According to the real-life CIA station chief, however, no such order was given. Moreover, the Republican-led committee investigating the Benghazi events concluded in November 2014 that there was “no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support.” The movie premiered in Arlington, Texas at the large AT&T Stadium, which is the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys (because of the demographics, etc.). The actors and the producers of the film from Paramount didn’t want to be political they claim, but an event like Benghazi will cause political debate regardless. The actors say that they wanted to just applaud the military for their courage. Yet, the best way to applaud people is to tell the people the truth that imperialism is wrong, that the Libyan civil war is a disaster, and that the West’s policies neo-conservative policies in the Middle East have failed.

The movie Trumbo exposes the McCarthyism era and the Hollywood’s blacklist. This era was about how the government illegally used policies to try to ruin the lives of movie directors, producers, etc. because of their political views. The First Amendment clearly states that people have the right to peacefully believe in whatever economic or political philosophy that they want to. The movie “Trumbo” was directed by Peter Askin. The film shows the life and career of screen writer and novelist Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976). Trumbo was part of the so-called Hollywood Ten (or the active members of the Communist Party in the film industry). They went to jail in 1950 for contempt of Congress at the height of the McCarthyite witch-hunt. Trumbo, once one of the most highly paid writers in Hollywood, was subsequently blacklisted until 1960, although a number of his scripts made their way to the screen attributed to other individuals (known as “fronts”). The movie is based on the stage play by his son Christopher Trumbo. His son and daughter Mitzi shows their memories and opinions. 90 year old Kirk Douglas helped to break the blacklist by openly employing Trumbo on Spartacus. Kirk Douglas has an appearance in the film. The letters, or portions of them, are read by a talented group of performers: Donald Sutherland, Liam Neeson, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Michael Douglas, Brian Denehy, Paul Giamatti, Nathan Lane and Josh Lucas. The letter described his diverse emotions. In response to efforts by liberals in 1956 to legitimize informing, Trumbo wrote, “[I]f I could take a census of all the American faces I have seen and of all the dead whose graves I have looked on, if I could ask them one simple question: ‘Would you like a man who told on his friends?’ there would not be one among them who would answer ‘Yes.’” Trumbo was born in Montrose, Colorado and he moved into Los Angeles in 1924. He worked in a bakery for nearly 10 years. He was the manager editor of the Hollywood Spectator. He wrote his first novel Eclipse in 1934. He wrote famous films too. He wrote the Johnny Got His Gun novel to attack war and war makers. Once Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941 and the US entered World War II, Trumbo, presumably in the Stalinist periphery at this time, withdrew his novel and suppressed it for the duration of the war. He actually joined the Communist Party in 1943. The film just portrays Trumbo as a contrarian liberal and a defender to the U.S. Constitution. The Communist Party in America by the 1940’s was Stalinized. During this era, people saw the Russian Revolution, the anticommunist raids in the US after World War I, the great battle over the fate of Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scottsboro boys’ case. Even some American liberals agreed with the anti-freedom witch hunts. Yet, many people spoke their minds to defend free speech and free expression during that time. The film outlines the principles that the loss of personal freedom is not only anti-human rights, but it’s damaging to any progressive society.

The Black Panther Party has an explicit philosophy. They didn’t just express themselves in using newspapers. They developed an analysis of society. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale believed that the black communities of America were as an occupied people by the U.S. government. They compared this occupying of the black communities by the police as similar to how the Vietnamese people are brutalized, colonized, and oppressed by Western forces. Therefore, Newton and Seale wanted the Black Panthers to act as a vanguard organization to develop strategies to promote the interests of the community. They wanted to show programs to serve the community. They wrote that in their books and literature. Also, new recruits of the Black Panther Party has to follow the 10 Point Program and read books from Fanon, Malcolm X, Mao, and other human beings who expressed revolutionary views. The rebellions especially of 1967 in Newark and Detroit inspired the Panthers to advocate for armed self-defense against police terror. They advocated that action before 1967, but the rebellions crystallized their views. They viewed the rebellions as not successful long term, but they did realize that they were expressions of frustrations with poverty, police brutality, and bad social conditions of the ghetto. They viewed the rebellions as protopolitical actions.  Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton before the protest in the California capitol in 1967 encountered the police and cited the law, so the police couldn’t arrest them unjustly or without cause. The Black Panthers studied the law and studied the actions of revolutionary movements of the Third World in order for them to develop their anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist views.

One saying is true after all of these years. It is that no good fruit can come from a rotten tree. We have seen the evil fruits of Hollywood since its inception which includes: racism, sexism, xenophobia, the promotion of militarism, the glamorization of violence, and the hatred plus mocking of goodness. That is totally exemplified in its movies and other forms of media that Hollywood promotes. Films like the Butler and Get Hart either sugarcoat our history or denigrate black people. It is very unfortunate that some people want to beg so hard for receiving a golden idol of an award (which can’t save a soul) instead of dealing with the important issues that we have to deal with as black people (like education, poverty, gentrification, poisoned water in Flint, police brutality, etc.). During this time, we should already know what time it is. The controllers of the Oscars have no intention of promoting progressive stories about black people en masse. They only want to promote their Eurocentric agenda and show crumbs in claiming that these token crumbs relate to black progress (when it isn’t obviously). The mainstream entertainers are bounded in the system of Hollywood (which is an extension of the overall system of racism/white supremacy). It is desperate among some people to beg white acceptance from an industry that has so degraded black people for generations. The racist comments from many white elitists in Hollywood recently (including the Sony emails that we leaked in public) show the perspective of Hollywood in detail. At this point, boycotting the Oscars would do no good. What will do some good is the mobilization and organization of our resources (as black people) to build more black institutions that deal with education, art, film, economics, business development, science plus technology, etc. so our people collectively can benefit. Power deals with organization and building up institutions and resources that can help the masses of black people (not just the upper middle class and the rich). I do believe in self-determination. Breaking free from mental colonialism and loving our Blackness unconditionally is very important. Also, nothing changes radically unless we address poverty as many of our people have lax wages and little benefits by no fault of their own. I reject income inequality, I believe that health care should be given universally, and I oppose imperialism. We should set up our own enterprises without laissez faire capitalism as capitalism is exploitative and has harmed the masses of our people in diverse ways for centuries. We face racial and class oppression by the same evil forces that brought about the Maafa, the slave trade, etc. A revolutionary never worships capitalism. We need more scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and other scholars in our communities. Building up our own is commonsense. We want justice.

By Timothy

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