I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free: On Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes And The Help – Part III
Go back toÂ Part II.
When I went to seeÂ Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I ran into a black gay friend of mine I hadnâ€™t seen for years, Darren, and his white partner. I had just come outÂ Rise of the Planet of the ApesÂ with mine. The four of us exchanged greetings and introductions, two interracial couples, and, in anticipation of this piece, I bought a ticket and joined them in line forÂ The Help. Adam told me as we waited for the film to start that the book was so good that he had literally considered taking off work the day he started in order to finish. When the movie was over and we compared notes, my friend asked me what I thought, and I told him I thought the film was ludicrous. Adam looked slightly wounded, and without looking at me again turned to my friend and said, â€œLetâ€™s get out of here.â€
I followed them into the lobby and at one point Adam and I were alone when Darren realized heâ€™d left his bag in the theater. As we stood there in what now felt like hostile silence, Adam very decidedly focused on his phone. When I asked him, â€œWhat did you think of the movie?â€ he shrugged without looking up and said, indifferently, â€œIt was good.â€
I left the theater despising him, myself, andÂ The Help. I felt degraded by the whole experience, right down to the shit in the chocolate pie, and thought, â€œThe men and women who fought in the Civil Rights Movement deserve better than a movie that goes down as easy as popcorn, and is pretty much forgotten when you hit the street.â€ As I walked up Broadway before catching the subway, I tried to repair my memories. I thought about my friend, Iyatunde Folayan (LaTrice Dixon), and her filmÂ My Grandmother WorkedÂ â€“ detailing her experience one year as a nanny, and the two generations of white children her grandmother raised. I thought about the black women Iâ€™ve seen in the almost twenty years Iâ€™ve lived in New York, taking care of white children on the Upper West Side, and gossiping together in the park, the articles written about their being underpaid, underfed, dealing with sexual advances and temper tantrums from employers, even violence. I remember asking myself so many times, particularly when they became aggressive with the kids in their charge, Why would you lowball someoneâ€™s salary, abuse them, and then entrust your child to them? I wondered if the employers felt they knew these women at all, and what were the womenâ€™s private thoughts about the children they raised.
I remembered the song â€œPirate Jennyâ€ by Bertolt Brecht, and what a different timbre it took on when Nina Simone sang it:
â€œYou people can watch while I’m scrubbing these floors
And I’m scrubbin’ the floors while you’re gawking.
Maybe once ya tip me and it makes ya feel swell
In this crummy Southern town
In this crummy old hotel
But you’ll never guess to who you’re talkin’.
No. You couldn’t ever guess to who you’re talkin’.â€
How could I see myself inÂ Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and feel completely absent fromÂ The Help? (There are no black men inÂ The HelpÂ except for a grinning preacher, a benign soda jerk, and a husband heard over the phone.)Â The Help, cleverly and conveniently, gives Minny the young children in the film, while Aibileen has only a grown son who has died as a result of racist indifference. By not giving Aibileen daughters, the viewer is spared the kind of devastating scene found in Toni Morrisonâ€™sThe Bluest Eye, as the young black girl Pecola is humiliated by her mother, whom she calls Mrs. Breedlove, in front of the white girl her mother works for (and who calls Mrs. Breedlove by her first name, Polly.) Pecola accidentally tips over a pie her mother has baked for the white family. Morrison writes,
â€œIn one gallop she was on Pecola, and with the back of her hand knocked her to the floorâ€¦â€™Crazy foolâ€¦my floor, messâ€¦look what youâ€¦.workâ€¦go on outâ€¦.now thatâ€¦.my floor, my floorâ€¦.my floor.â€™
â€œThe little girl in pink started to cry. Mrs. Breedlove turned to her. â€œHush, baby, hush. Come here. Oh, Lord, look at your dress. Polly will change it.â€ She went to the sink and turned up water on a fresh towel. â€œPick up that wash and get on out of here, so I can get this mess cleaned up.â€
Mrs. Breedlove comforts the frightened white girl, and Pecola lets herself out while taking the familyâ€™s laundry home. Itâ€™s a grotesque and horrifying scene, and anything like it in the film would shatterÂ The HelpÂ and its romance.
When I got home, I watched Jesse Jackson, in his 1984 speech for the Democratic National Convention, address the audience with memories from his childhood:
â€œPeople say, â€˜Jesse, you donâ€™t my situation.’ I understandâ€¦.They see me running for the White House, (but) they donâ€™t see the house Iâ€™m running fromâ€¦
â€œMy mother, a working woman, so many days she went to work early, with runs in her stockingsâ€¦she knew better, but she wore runs in her stockings so my brother and I could have matching socks and not be laughed at at schoolâ€¦at three oâ€™clock on Thanksgiving day we couldnâ€™t eat turkey, because Mama was preparing somebody elseâ€™s turkey at three oâ€™clock, we had to play football to entertain ourselves, and then around 6 oâ€™clock she would get off the bus and we would bring up the leftovers and eat our turkey, leftovers, the carcass, the cranberries; I really do understand.â€
Loving ainâ€™t easy. James Baldwin once said, â€œWe try to treat people like the miracles they are while protecting ourselves from the disasters they have become.â€ As Americans, white and black, some of us are trying to have – have succeeded in having – loving relationships, despite the brutality of the past. And sometimes we are scared, and confused, and searching, and guilt isnâ€™t the answer, honesty is. And art, when it is authentic, when it is truthful, can lead us. When it lies, or withholds, strictly to make money or to reassure, then it betrays us.
There is love in Viola Davisâ€™ performance, and Emma Stoneâ€™s as well, but it simply isnâ€™t enough. This period in our history had women and men, both black and white, who were brave, many of whom lost their lives; and they, and we, deserve a whole lot better than the bullshit science-fiction found inÂ The Help. And if thereâ€™s a choice between the unreal, pastel-colored South of the film and its paternalistic treatment of blacks, and the movie â€œrealityâ€ of primates who have the courage to liberate themselves, then Iâ€™ll stand with the apes.
Go back toÂ Part II.
Max Gordon is a writer and activist. He has been published in the anthologies Inside Separate Worlds: Life Stories of Young Blacks, Jews and Latinos (University of Michigan Press, 1991), Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of African-American Lesbian and Gay Fiction (Henry Holt, 1996) and Mixed Messages: An Anthology of Literature to Benefit Hospice and Cancer Causes. His work has also appeared on openDemocracy, Democratic Underground and Truthout, in Z Magazine, Gay Times, Sapience, and other progressive on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally.
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‘We Are Not Going to Stand for It’: McCarthy Defends Trump – Vows to Use Jim Jordan’s Committee to Target Attorney General
The Republican Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, barely hours after the U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed a 49-page, 37-felony count criminal indictment charging Donald Trump with violations of seven federal laws, decided to double-down on his defense of the ex-president by threatening to target the Attorney General of the United States and declaring House Republicans “are not going to stand for” the criminal prosecution of the ex-president.
McCarthy went on Fox News Friday afternoon, saying “this judgment is wrong by this DOJ. That they treated President Trump differently than they treat others. And it didn’t have to be this way. This is going to disrupt this nation because it goes to the core of equal justice for all – which is not being seen today and we are not going to stand for it.”
McCarthy: This is going to disrupt this nation because it goes to the core of equal justice for all which is not being seen today and we are not going to stand for it. pic.twitter.com/B0Z1c81yOn
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 9, 2023
McCarthy, a California Republican who cobbled together a tenuous pact with far-right extremists to win his speakership on the 15th try, is incorrect on the facts.
RELATED: DOJ Unseals 37-Count Trump Criminal Indictment – Legal Expert Calls It ‘Egregious’ and ‘Devastating’ (Full Text)
The Dept. of Justice does not pass judgment, the courts – in this case a jury, does. The Dept. of Justice did not treat Trump “differently,” except to give him multiple opportunities over an approximately two-year period to return national secrets he allegedly unlawfully removed, retained, and refused to return, even after being served with a subpoena and a search warrant.
What McCarthy does not do is claim Trump’s actions were legal or reasonable, because the damning indictment makes clear they are not.
Later, McCarthy took to Twitter to effectively declare he would target the Attorney General of the United States, Merrick Garland, who – for nearly a quarter century – served as a federal appeals court judge and chief judge before being nominated to serve at Main Justice.
(Garland was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow the confirmation to move process forward.)
“Many officials, from Secretary Hillary Clinton to then-Senator Joe Biden, handled classified info after their time in office & were never charged,” tweeted the Speaker, not just wrongly, but grossly and dishonestly characterizing the allegations against Trump.
“Now Biden’s leading political opponent is indicted—a double standard that must be investigated,” he again dishonestly declared.
READ MORE: ‘Fail’: Critics Blast Youngkin for Claim Trump Is a Victim of ‘Politically Motivated Actions’ Just Like ‘Parents in Virginia’
President Joe Biden had nothing to do with the decision of the Special Counsel to ask a Florida grand jury for an indictment. Nor was the President even told before Trump was indicted – like every American, President Biden learned of the Trump indictment through news reports. Attorney General Garland did not sign off on the decision to ask a grand jury for an indictment.
McCarthy, meanwhile, vowed House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and the House Republicans “will get answers.”
“Merrick Garland: the American people elected us to conduct oversight of you. We will fulfill that obligation,” he declared.
McCarthy made those remarks atop a Friday letter from Jordan to Garland that begins: “The Biden Department of Justice is reportedly about to indict a former president and President Biden’s chief rival in the upcoming presidential election.”
“According to reports, the Department will indict President Donald Trump, despite declining to indict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information and failing to indict President Biden for his mishandling of classified information.” (The letter does not mention former Vice President Mike Pence, who is not being charged for his mishandling of classified information.”
On Thursday a defiant and angry McCarthy, after Trump was indicted, wrote: “Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America.”
“It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him,” he said, which is egregiously false – Biden did not indict Trump, nor did his Attorney General or even Special Counsel; a grand jury of Florida citizens did.
“Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades,” McCarthy charged, which is a legitimate claim and there is a current federal investigation underway. The difference is Biden did not take the documents, did not know they were among his papers, and immediately upon learning they were, contacted the National Archives to arrange their return.
Donald Trump, we now know, according to the indictment, packed some of the boxes himself, not only refused to return the documents but hid them from the Dept. of Justice and National Archives, lied about them, and kept them at times in public areas of his Florida resort and residence.
“I, and every American who believes in the rule of law,” McCarthy wrong declared, “stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”
READ MORE: SCOTUS ‘Surprise’ Voting Rights Decision Could – and Did – Have Big Implications for Democrats, Legal Experts Say
In response to McCarthy’s remarks, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) posted a photo from the DOJ’s indictment of Trump.
“These are the secrets that protect our troops. And Kevin McCarthy thinks it’s perfectly OK that Donald Trump stole and stored them like this,” he charged.
These are the secrets that protect our troops. And Kevin McCarthy thinks it’s perfectly OK that Donald Trump stole and stored them like this. pic.twitter.com/oFid5ViCdr
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) June 9, 2023
Watch the video and see Rep. Swalwell’s tweet above or at this link.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Fail’: Critics Blast Youngkin for Claim Trump Is a Victim of ‘Politically Motivated Actions’ Just Like ‘Parents in Virginia’
Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, a possible 2024 presidential candidate, is under fire after remarks he made Friday morning defending Donald Trump after the ex-president was indicted on what has now been revealed to be 37 federal felony counts related to the Dept. of Justice’s criminal probe into his handling of hundreds of classified and top secret documents.
Youngkin Friday suggested that the prosecution of Donald Trump, which includes Espionage Act charges, conspiracy charges, and obstruction of justice charges among others, was just like the alleged prosecution of parents.
Gov. Youngkin, often wrongly portrayed in the media as a moderate Republican, may have been attempting to invoke the false yet viral far-right claim that Attorney General Merrick Garland was investigating and prosecuting parents for merely speaking at school board meetings. That claim came about after Garland issued a letter asking the Bureau to come up with strategies to address violence and violent threats directed at school board members. Some who have promoted that erroneous claim, including Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, have falsely claimed Garland called ordinary parents “terrorists.”
On Friday, Youngkin tweeted about the Trump indictment, saying, “These charges are unprecedented and it’s a sad day for our country, especially in light of what clearly appears to be a two-tiered justice system where some are selectively prosecuted, and others are not.”
“Parents in Virginia know firsthand what it’s like to be targeted by politically motivated actions,” he added.
“Regardless of your party, this undermines faith in our judicial system at exactly the time when we should be working to restore that trust,” Youngkin concluded, remarks that themselves could undermine faith in our judicial system.
Days before his election, Youngkin also promoted the false Garland claim, even after the Attorney General that same day explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee his letter directed the FBI to investigate not ordinary parents, but people who were organizing attacks on school board members.
Candidate Youngkin appeared on Fox News in October 0f 2021 (video below) and falsely told Tucker Carlson, “What happened today was, of course, Merrick Garland doubled down. He said, ‘No, I’m absolutely maintaining my position that the DOJ and the FBI should be investigating parents.’ Parents who are trying to stand up for their children when there’s been a sexual assault in a school bathroom. We have a board of education and in Loudoun County that tried to hide it from parents, hide it from hiding from the public, and they move this child into another school and then that child again committed another sexual assault.”
READ MORE: DOJ Unseals 37-Count Trump Criminal Indictment – Legal Expert Calls It ‘Egregious’ and ‘Devastating’ (Full Text)
Youngkin made education and “parents’ rights” a campaign issue when he ran in 2021. His opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, during a debate said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” While experts claim it didn’t swing the election for Youngkin, it at least established him nationally as focused on education and “parental rights,” a mantle Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis quickly co-opted.
The Washington Post, alternatively, on Friday focused on Youngkin’s “two-tiered justice” remarks, reporting: “Youngkin’s suggestion that a rich White man — he didn’t actually name Trump — had been victimized by a ‘two-tiered justice system’ drew fierce pushback, with many critics noting the governor’s opposition to the notion that racial and ethnic minorities face systemic racism. The Republican won the governorship on a promise to purge ‘critical race theory’ from K-12 classrooms, though it was not part of any curriculum. Once in office, Youngkin launched a tip line for parents to report on teachers discussing ‘inherently divisive’ concepts in schools.”
Youngkin, who technically is a “populist conservative” but swings far-right on social issues, was quickly chastised for his tweet.
“You know what you are staying is wrong and incendiary. Shame on you,” declared former CIA officer John Sipher. “These charges stemmed from a grand [jury] of Florida citizens. Trump will have access to a Fair process. But instead you spread information to anger and confuse people. You are stoking misinformation and violence.”
READ MORE: SCOTUS ‘Surprise’ Voting Rights Decision Could – and Did – Have Big Implications for Democrats, Legal Experts Say
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes took a different approach, mocking the Virginia Republican.
“It’s the pivot to ‘Parents in Virginia…’ in the third sentence that elevates this to art,” he wrote.
“The moderate, genial suburban dad in a fleece vest suggests that the only way to restore confidence in the justice system is to place Trump above the law,” wrote The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, also mocking Youngkin.
“Youngkin is pro-Trump, as usual–even though Virginia voted heavily AGAINST Trump in both 2016 and 2020. When it comes to Donald Trump, Liz Cheney has more courage in her pinky than Youngkin does in his whole body,” observed Larry Sabato, the well-known professor of politics, political analyst, and founder and director of University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
The vice president of research for the liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, Liz Charboneau, called Youngkin’s tweet an “especially stupid statement when a large portion of your state has a security clearance, handles classified documents, and has never been charged under the espionage act.”
Conservative Mona Charen, a syndicated columnist and Policy Editor at The Bulwark: “So here’s our answer as to whether Youngkin is a man of character. Fail.”
The Lincoln Project’s Michelle Kinney tweeted, “Youngkin twisting himself into pretzel to weave a vaguebook repudiation of Trump indictment and his weirdo anti vaxx anti trans ‘parents rights’ obsession into one tweet. It reads like Veep dialogue.”
Historian, professor, Holocaust expert Dr. Waitman Wade Beorn tweeted, “Hey dude, the Pentagon is literally in your state. Maybe stop in and have a chat…”
Watch the video above or at this link.
Watch Live: Special Counsel Jack Smith Holds News Conference After Trump Criminal Indictment Unsealed
Special Counsel Jack Smith will hold a news conference Friday at 3:00 PM ET, after the U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed its 49-page 37-criminal count indictment against Donald Trump. The indictment also names a Trump aide.
Legal experts reviewing the indictment were stunned at not only the level of detail but the manner in which Trump treated classified documents, including allegedly storing them in boxes on the stage at Mar-a-Lago, in a bathroom, a shower, and a bedroom.
Former Dept. of Defense special Counsel Ryan Goodman, now an NYU professor of law, calls the indictment “devastating,” and concludes: “Extraordinary risks to U.S. national security. Foreign adversaries would pay tens of millions for that info.”
READ MORE: ‘Disgraced’ Trump-Appointed Florida Judge Initially Assigned to Oversee Ex-President’s Criminal Case: Report
Smith, who was appointed by Donald Trump as an acting U.S. Attorney, also prosecuted war crimes cases at The Hague. he also was the head of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.
Watch video of his full news conference below or at this link.
WATCH: Complete statement from Special Counsel Jack Smith: “Today an indictment was unsealed charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations of our national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.” pic.twitter.com/llUlrvpVe4
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 9, 2023
This article has been updated to include full video of the completed news conference.
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