Friday, December 28, 2018

Spike Lee's Fake Klan History

The New York Times writes that "BlacKkKlansman is a furious,...blunt and brilliant confrontation with the truth."

In fact Spike Lee's Black KkKlansman avoids the truth by distorting history and the true story from which it was derived in a transparent attempt to score political points against the Trump administration.  In 2014 Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, published his memoir about his amazing life (  Stallworth is an American law enforcement hero who managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and embarrass the Klan's Grand Wizard David Duke.

Movies are not documentaries and one understands the need for dramatic license.  But Spike Lee fundamentally altered Stallworth's account in order to create a clumsy leftist agitprop against the Trump administration and all Republicans.

What did Spike Lee get wrong?  Nearly everything.

The first sentence of Stallworth's memoir gives us a clue -- "All of this began in October 1978."  The events in the film take place in 1972 with Nixon and Agnew election signs prominently featured with the Klan supporters.  In fact, however, Stallworth's undercover operation and David Duke's visit to Colorado took place in the late 1970s during the Carter administration long after Nixon had resigned from office.  Clearly the time was shifted in an attempt to blame Republicans for the despicable race hatred of the KKK.  The central historic fact about the Klan is that is that this organization was the extremist wing of the Democratic party in the South.  The KKK was a response by Southerners to the Reconstruction imposed after their defeat in the Civil War.  It was Democratic President Wilson who, after screening Birth of a Nation in the White House described it as "writing history with only regret is that it is all so terribly true."  Harry Truman paid $10 for his brief Klan membership in the 1920s.  David Duke himself was a member of Democratic party at the time of his visit to Colorado in 1979 and he ran for President in 1988 as a Democrat.  (It must be noted that Duke, a convicted felon, was a political opportunist and chameleon who has affiliated himself with the American Nazi Party, the Democratic Party, the Populist Party and the Republican Party.  His only electoral victory over the course of his sordid career was a one term as a Republican in the Louisiana State legislature.)

Read the book, Skip the movie!

According to Spike Lee's film, Klan members plant explosives and blow up a vehicle in Colorado Springs.  Thanks to the Black Klansman arrests were made.  This is all nonsense.  Stallworth explicitly notes that by the 1970s David Duke had, ironically, taken a page from the playbook of Gandhi and Martin Luther King by adopting the tactics of non-violence in his effort to fashion a new image for the Klan.   There were no explosions or violent incidents during Duke's visit to Colorado.  No arrests made as a result of Stallworth's investigation (though two stupid klansmen working for NORAD were re-assigned by their black Colonel).  And the overweight Klan wife and mad bomber portrayed byAshlie Atkinson was, in fact, based on a woman who was Mexican.

Spike Lee cast Adam Driver as Stallworth's white Jewish partner despite the fact that Stallworth's real partner, "Chuck" (a pseudonym) was gentile.  Lee portrays the KKK accurately as being rabidly antisemitic.

Spike Lee depicts Stokely Carmichael as a righteous Civil Rights activist with a bit of vaseline around the lens to preserve his halo.  Black KkKlansman features Carmichael protesting the Vietnam War during his 1974 visit to Colorado Springs ignoring the fact that the last American troops actually withdrew from South Vietnam in March of 1973.  Stallworth more accurately depicts Carmichael as a "Marxist revolutionary" who sought to "destroy the American political system."  Stallworth depicts Stokely accurately as an advocate of violence who told him "we're gonna have to kill whitey."  Neither Lee nor Stallworth mention Carmichael's virulent anti-semitism.  Carmichael infamously said, "I have never admired a White man, but the greatest of them was Hitler."  Carmichael even blamed the FBI for infecting him with the cancer that killed him.

It becomes very clear why Lee made this film towards the end.  Black KkKlansman has Klansmen chanting "America First" and even one of them muttering "Make America Great Again".  Lee is trying to impose a Trumpian construction on the events of Stallworth's account.  Lee is using Stallworth's account to launch, as the NY Times called it "a direct, furious protest against the Trump era."

We can admit that Trump's ham-fisted and tone deaf reaction to the 2017 events at Charlottesville were the moral low point (thus far) of his administration.  If Spike Lee was upset about Charlottesville he could have made a movie about Charlottesville.  Instead he chose to inject Charlottesville into a movie about events that took place during the Carter era.  If Donald Trump is guilty of all acts of racial hatred that occur anywhere in America, then surely Jimmy Carter was equally guilty of allowing David Duke to visit Colorado Springs in 1979...?

Ron Stallworth

Lee's many distortions of reality in this film rob what could have been a fascinating look into the life of man caught between his racial identity and his professional career of its central point.  In the late 1970s a pioneering black police officer made a fool of white supremacist David Duke and joined the KKK.  The truth shall make us free but Hollywood lies and distortions will keep us in bondage.

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