The “Republicans are racist” propaganda program continues apace, along with other revisions of history. The Soviets would be so proud!
The latest entry appears to be “The Butler,” which misrepresents President Reagan…as, at best, insensitive to blacks, and at worst as racist. Eugene Allen, the actual White House butler on whom the film is supposedly based, kept signed photos of Ronald and Nancy Reagan in his living room (pictures of the other presidents he had served hung in the basement).
…[Allen] did not, as the movie portrays, resign to protest Reagan’s policies on civil rights or South Africa…The filmmakers also insert a horrific childhood “memory” for Allen — his mother being raped and his father shot by a white landlord. Didn’t happen.
Would it interest black moviegoers to know that under Ronald Reagan’s policies, median African American household incomes increased by 84 percent (compared with 68 percent for whites)?…[T]o smear Reagan — a man who deeply loathed bigotry in any form and actually improved the lives of all Americans including blacks — in an attempt to prop up the drooping Obama standard, is contemptible.
We can call it “contemptible” all we want, and of course it is. But that sort of historical rewrite is one of the most commonly-used tools of liberals and the left. The reason is quite simple: it is astoundingly effective.
If one considers the historical Eugene Allen and the facts of his actual life versus the film “The Butler,” and compare the numbers who will learn the former story versus the numbers who will watch the latter fantasy and consider it history, we all know which group will win out by a mile. Multiply that by many thousands of similar messages per year (or even per day; I can’t even begin to estimate) and you have the situation we face.
Propaganda is extraordinarily powerful. It exploits hearts, it shapes minds, and it affects history. Films are just one form of propaganda, but an exceptionally popular one that often reaches people who are disinclined to dig deeper and find the historical truth, and yet still vote.
As Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Nowadays the only revision I’d make to that comment is that the lies travel even faster and further.
How are we to counter this? Yes, there’s the internet and conservative newspapers and TV and talk shows and even movies and books. But they are few and far-between compared to the absolute barrage of the opposite messages, plus of course what is delivered every day by the school system.
Back in the 40s, the House Un-American Activities Committee (often confused with Joe McCarthy’s Senate campaign against Communists in the State Department and other organs of government) turned its attention to the leftist influence in Hollywood and tried to counter it. The Committee was heavy-handed and there was a backlash against its efforts. But what is the best way to counter propaganda from within the entertainment world when that world is dominated by, and seems to attract, the left?
Making movies to counter the propaganda on the left has for the most part been remarkably unsuccessful these days, although I’m not sure why; it used to be far more popular. Perhaps it’s merely that there are not too many people trying to do it anymore (PJ founder Roger Simon is one of the few), and they most likely have trouble getting investors and distributors and good press; the prevailing tide is against it. It’s also not easy to do well, and for the most part people will not go to boring, didactic movies. So recent conservative entertainment is too often just preaching to the choir.
Back in the 1940s, conservative thought was more mainstream in Hollywood, and there was even a group known by the quaint title of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. This was a portion of their mission statement:
As members of the motion-picture industry, we must face and accept an especial responsibility. Motion pictures are inescapably one of the world’s greatest forces for influencing public thought and opinion, both at home and abroad. In this fact lies solemn obligation. We refuse to permit the effort of Communist, Fascist, and other totalitarian-minded groups to pervert this powerful medium into an instrument for the dissemination of un-American ideas and beliefs. We pledge ourselves to fight, with every means at our organized command, any effort of any group or individual, to divert the loyalty of the screen from the free America that give it birth. And to dedicate our work, in the fullest possible measure, to the presentation of the American scene, its standards and its freedoms, its beliefs and its ideals, as we know them and believe in them.
The Alliance had a great many members, some of them very well-known such as Gary Cooper, Cecil B. DeMille, Walt Disney, Irene Dunne, Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, Ginger Rogers, Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, and John Wayne. There are some Hollywood personalities today who are on the right (Clint Eastwood comes to mind, of course). But it would be very difficult to assemble a list of luminaries of similar length and status.
The Wiki entry for the group says it disbanded in 1975. It doesn’t explain why, but going to the source it quotes we see that the apparent reason was that the House Un-American Activities Committee had been dissolved that year.
My guess is that if that was the reason, it was hardly the only one. The real reason was probably that many of the supporters and members of the Alliance were getting well on in years (or dead: for example Disney) and were not being replaced. The early 70s was a time of increasing leftism, anti-Vietnam War activism, and general disillusionment with the US, culminating in the election of Jimmy Carter.
The Alliance probably just wore out, and the left achieved greater dominance in Hollywood and elsewhere in American life. It may indeed be time for a new Alliance (if one could even be scraped up), because it’s late and getting later.