The ESPN series 30 For 30, available on Netflix, is really great. I think today I saw one of the best, if not the best. It was called Ghosts of Ole Miss and it covered the undefeated Ole Miss football team of 1962. More importantly, it also covered the bravery of James Meredith and the riots that ensued because of him being the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi.
However, if this was just a documentary about history, I don’t think I would be writing about it. (Even though it is a completely enthralling piece of filmmaking that covers a time period that many Americans would like to forget.) For anyone that doesn’t understand the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, or thinks that controversy is much to do over nothing, I think this is something you must watch. The film is also great at providing the missing link between the Civil War and modern day problems dealing with race. I also don’t think race is the only modern political situation this film is relevant to. At a time when we are seeing local and state politicians try to stand up to the federal government on the issue of gay marriage, one can’t help but see their historical counterparts in this film.
There is also a positive element to this film. Even though the film does not make the claim that all race issues are gone are settled in Mississippi, as they clearly aren’t there or anywhere else, the film does acknowledge that great strides have been made. As dark as the history showcased in this film is, there is hope that, over time, people can change.
9 Old Movies That Put Modern Horror To Shame
The link above is to a Cracked article that has clips from old horror movies from early in movie history. The title is theirs. However, I think the clips are interesting. They are visually striking and some of them are quite artistic. Plus, in looking at them you realize that there is this whole world of lost history out there, things that many people saw that you aren’t even aware of. It’s like looking through a portal into another time and place.
A Lie Agreed Upon – David Milch’s Deadwood
The other day I mentioned that I was watching the David Milch created Luck. While reading more interviews with Milch I came upon this fascinating article. There is a mini-documntary here that you can watch about Milch’s Deadwood, one of the greatest shows of all time. You can also read the script for the documentary below if you don’t feel like watching it. It’s truly fascinating not only for the information about the show, but the ideas inherent in the show and therefore the documentary as well dealing with our country. The title above has to do with the idea that history is a, “lie agreed upon.” I found the following passage really interesting and a good sample of the kind of ideas inherent in the show and article:
He said, “An agreement that creates a community is an agreement upon an illusion, an agreement upon an intoxicant. Our founding document jumps off from, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,’ which to me means a frank agreement upon illusion – not that these are self-evident truths, but that we agree upon an illusion that these are fucking truths.”
The Party of Jackson vs. the Party of Obama – NYMag
The above article is an interesting read about the history of the Democratic party. It also deals with recent events and the friction between different elements of the party. The other day I saw this map, which shows which areas of the country have the most racist tweets. I was surprised, maybe not totally surprised having grown up around that region, but at least slightly surprised that the region that looked the worst on that map was Appalachia. (I grew up in central Pennsylvania and went to college in West Virginia.) Now there may be reasons that this map is slightly misleading, though I have no proof of that. The fact that it is Twitter and not some kind of more scientific poll may change results. There are also less blacks in that region than in other parts of the country that are more traditionally thought of as racist, so maybe people feel they have less reason to hide what they are saying? Anyhow, anyway you cut it, it is deeply troubling for that region. (I should also add that as someone that travels a lot, no one should be stereotyped just because of the region they come from. There are great people in the South and Appalachia, just as there are terrible people in regions that are not as negatively stereotyped for racial issues.)
One of the things that the right has been so good at doing is dividing and conquering. Economically minorities and white working class voters would both benefit from a less conservative agenda. Having better access to good jobs, good education, and having more regulations, especially in areas of pollution, leads to a higher quality of life. However, these social issues have always been used to divide our country. United we stand, divided we fall, is now as true as ever. If we can’t overcome our differences in this age, when jobs can move anywhere in the world and environmental issues require a united front, we are truly doomed.
Take Down the Confederate Flag Now
I would never argue to ban a flag. Not because there are any flags that I’m expecting to wave anytime soon, but because I believe in freedom of expression, even the freedom to express views that are misguided. However, there is a big difference between giving people the choice to wave their own flag and putting it up over a statehouse, where it carries the weight of law with it. I know there are some that say the Confederate Flag carries history and heritage with it, but if you look at that history it is troubling to say the least. Up above Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the argument that the Confederate Flag should be taken down, with the weight of history on his side. I picked Coates because I know that he has done a great deal of time studying the history of slavery, The Civil War, and the legacy of those times. I’ve read him long enough to know that he has done the heavy lifting, the research, on these questions. Anyone can spout their opinion, but Coates has long been interested in these very things. I’ve read enough history myself that, while I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on such things, Coates words ring true to me in that they stack up with the things that I have read.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like culture wars for the sake of them and I don’t like acts of symbolism. I’d much rather know that racism was stamped out than to see a flag taken down. However, again the fact that this flag is hung up on a public building is what I find troubling. Taking the flag down in no way means that issues of institutional racism are stamped out. But at the same time flying a flag that has stood for institutional racism over an institution is a little strange, especially if you are one of those that claims there is no institutional racism. Taking it down is a symbol and a gesture and no more. It doesn’t solve anything in and of itself, but it at least says, “we’re working on it,” doesn’t it?
If you want to hang that flag on your house or put it as a bumper-sticker on your car, as they say in Deadwood, “That is between you and your god.” But I think, given what that flag has represented over the years, taking it down from government buildings is a pretty damn good idea.
When I was in Oklahoma a couple weeks ago I noticed, while we were driving through a commercial zone, that there was a car wash named after an Indian tribe. I don’t remember what tribe, but it struck me as both tragic and comic at the same time. Oklahoma was once the home of many tribes, including the Kiowa, Pawnee, and Shawnee. (There are obviously still Native Americans in Oklahoma, but not as they once were of course.) The white man came into Oklahoma, killed or displaced its indigenous people, and now uses their images and names to promote cheap commerce. It would be like Germans deciding to paint the faces of Jews on the inside of beer halls, just to provide some quaint atmosphere. Oklahoma is not alone, by any means, in this kind of behavior, it is just where the idea crystalized itself in my mind. People commit genocide and then name some tacky businesses after the victims. If that’s not insult to injury I don’t know what is. Next time you go to a family restaurant with your kids, make sure to tell them that the Indian on the wall was probably killed right there! That will add some interesting vibes to an otherwise drab family occasion!
Ireland has just voted in favor of gay marriage. This is a victory for sanity, dignity, and love. Ireland, a country that was oppressed by the Church for many years, is now officially more progressive than parts of our country on this issue. Although I know we will get there eventually, it is shameful that so many people here in the USA are still firmly rooted in the ideas of the past. All sane people know that those who were against Civil Rights in the 60’s will look eternally foolish when remembered in history books. So will those that oppose gay marriage now. However, today is a day to celebrate. Today brings the world one step closer to justice and equality.