“BlacKKKlansman,” by Spike Lee, 2018
This mostly true story is based on the book by Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the Klan in Colorado Springs, Colorado with the essential help of a white fellow police officer, Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish cop. Flip had to do the in-person Jew, *igger and homo baiting and put up with the personal danger. Ron had many conversations with David Duke over the phone, and fooled the Klan until Flip was discovered by the most suspicious Klansman, Felix. Ron saves him at least once. The actor playing Felix also shows up in The Vikings as a starry-eyed Viking thug, so don’t be thrown. The movie does not detail the period in which it took place, but Nixon re-election posters and Stokley Carmichael changing his name to Kwame Ture tip you off that it is probably 1972. Lots of Afros, lots of Black Power salutes, lots of ‘black is beautiful’ rhetoric. The 1960’s didn’t end until the mid 1970s, folks. Saigon was taken by the NLF in 1975 for Chrissakes.
|The Real Stallworth With His Klan Membership Card|
The cops or ‘pigs’ come out looking pretty damn good. While the whole film foreshadows conditions now – Black Lives Matter, Trump’s racist appeal, Charlottesville (which ends the film) – the police in Colorado Springs seem like the ACLU. They hire a black guy, promote him twice, give him a go at the Klan, support him, laugh at the racists and Duke, even setup and ‘arrest’ the one sole racist cop in the department for sexual assault or some such thing. Believable? Hmmmm…
Ron falls for the head of the Black Student Union at the local college, Patrice, who is a younger version of Angela Davis. She’s political to a ‘T’ to Ron’s somewhat clueless approach to politics. They are friendly until she is repulsed when she finds out he is an undercover pig/cop, but he’s just saved her life from a Klan bomb set by an incompetent Klan wife, so … The black ‘radicals’ look like mostly naïve loudmouths waving signs and radical rhetoric. Ture comes off as somewhat of a phrase master, but not much else. (Which might be accurate or might not…) Harry Belafonte appears to tell a story about a lynching thoroughly approved by all the powers of a small southern town. But through it all, the real hero is the black cop Stallworth. You see he’s ‘onboard with the liberation of Black People.’ Yup, same black cops who are busy choking black men in New York or bashing black men in police vans in Baltimore. I wish hiring black cops made a difference overall, but it has not.
So the choice of this exceptional story ‘colors’ the whole narrative, making cops look like saviours against racism. Really, at this point Spike? I think he’s getting soft.
But the ending takeaway is that 1972 looks like 2018. Which means that racism – which should really be called INSTITUTIONAL racism, is built into the system. It is not primarily a personal problem. Given the advent of slavery prior to the American revolution, I’d say it is in-built into the United States and won’t be eliminated until the U.S. is fundamentally changed – maybe when it is called the United Socialist States of America (USSA).
Medora, North Dakota,
September 19, 2018