Let's Get This Party Started
I do not write movie reviews, primarily because by the time I see a feature, it has been out for some time. Race is just such a film, having been released in February of this year, and now available on commercial television. As these matters sometimes work out, the timing is impeccable.
Jesse Owens was a childhood hero of mine, having performed his athletic feats in Berlin, in 1936, only sixteen years before I burst(!) onto the scene. I read books about him as a kid and idolized him, not for his athletic accomplishments, so much, as for the statement he made in Berlin, in the face of the Nazis.
In an atmosphere of rabid racism (Is there any other kind?), Owens took the concept that the Aryan Race was superior to all others, and rammed it down the collective throats of the Nazis, much to the delight of the world, and the German population viewing the action, all 110,000 of them.
Production on Race began in mid-2014 and was completed in 2015, long before the Republican Party had any inkling that it would feature as its primary candidate in 2016, an individual who would exhibit striking similarities in leadership, to the dictator of Germany prior to the start of World War II.
Race reveals for the viewer, themes that not only correspond to those we are contending with in the aftermath of the recent election, but concepts and ideals that are inherently ingrained in the fabric of our culture. These ideals were severely compromised during the course of the film, much as they are being compromised today, and Race is the resulting story.
As for the athletic competition, there was no suspense: Jesse Owens won an unprecedented four gold medals. We knew that going in. The drama resulted from taking the magnifying glass, and examining Owens’ role in navigating his tortuous route through prejudice and hatred, and then to revel in his victory alongside of him.
To take in this drama and not feel a stirring reaction, would be contrary to what I would expect from someone raised in our culture. As a black man, Jesse Owens faced adversity every step of the way to success in Berlin, absorbing scathing abuse at the hands of his own teammates at Ohio State (“Niggers shower after we are through…”), before ultimately being scorned by German leadership, after his record-breaking performance on the track.
It is historically accurate that even the crowd present for the events, responded enthusiastically every time Owens stepped foot on the track, and went delirious after each of his victories, lending credibility to the notion that the German people were not the persecutors of Jews, the Nazis were.
Throughout the film the Nazis, paragons of racism and hatred, were accurately portrayed as the villains they were. The entire world rose up in opposition to the eradication policies already being carried out by the Gestapo, and Germany faced the real possibility that a boycott would derail the games before they ever got started.
The film centered on efforts by Avery Brundage to smooth the path for the games to proceed according to plan. He fought hard as a sports administrator against an American boycott, facing an emotional battle from those who wanted to make a political statement to Nazi Germany, that racism would not be tolerated at the Olympics.
Brundage’s personal feelings about racism are presented in an ambiguous manner in the film, leaving the viewer unaware that in reality, historical evidence from both 1936 and 1972, indicates that Brundage indeed, shared the Nazi view that Jews had no place in the competition.
As Olympics president from 1952-1972, Brundage was responsible for continuing the games after the murder of eleven Israeli athletes by terrorists, in 1972. Applauded by those in attendance, Brundage’s decision that the “Games must go on” later came under heavy criticism, his seemingly anti-semitic stance unacceptable to his critics.
How timely is this film? Every day a new horror story unfolds, as President Malproddunt assembles his Cabinet of Hate. Intolerance, hatred, self-centeredness, greed and a rejection of basic human rights, presented so powerfully in Race, are all part of the new regime’s platform, and once again, there is worldwide objection.
That the fraudulently-elected president is a racist, is undeniable. That he cannot possibly carry out his Constitutional responsibilities as leader, is patently obvious. That he is a fraud has just been determined in a court of law, when he agreed to pay back $25 million of the $175 million dollars, he bilked students out of in his scheme to teach his students how to get rich.
Malproddunt taught them all right; you get rich by cheating students out of their money. And this man is the person we are all supposed to look up to.
Whether I like him or not is irrelevant; I have no respect for him as a human being. He is attempting to emulate Adolph Hitler, one of the most vile antagonists the world has ever seen, and I will not stand for it, just as millions of others will not stand for it.
People wonder how the Gestapo was able to round up six million Jews, without the German people “doing something about it.” Didn’t they care? As we now know, German people who stood up for Jews, were simply rounded up with them, carted off and never seen again.
We are not to that point here-yet-but with discussion of requiring non-Christians to register, deporting Muslims and building walls, we are not that far away.
This is the time to raise your voice and protest that this is not Nazi Germany and we will not stand for an intolerant and illegal president. Make phone calls, write your representatives, and let’s get this party started.
We are already more than half-way there, since opponents of President Malproddunt out-voted his supporters. What we need now is enough Malproddunt supporters, who have seen the egregious error of their ways, to join in the fight.
Unlike Hitler, who had supreme control, Malproddunt is still lining his cronies up, so there is a window of opportunity before they start showing up in the night.
When no one will be there to stand up for you.