He completely ignores what America in General, President Donald Trump and Melania have done in particular and will continue to do to protect Africa while ‘Lil Lee runs his mouth against the people who are parts of the solutions, not part of the problem…. a problem which, unfortunately includes Lee.
The nature of race requires an understanding of the similarities and differences. Those require in turn the identification of the nature of the races. While it’s OK to focus on separate and individual attributes and actions it’s far more important to study and understand the natures of the people involved, especially if a movie is using those differences or similarities because of the intimate nature of a movie and how individuals take the representations of the characters, the locations, the times and the stories of the individuals involved. Today, racism is regarded as a crime if practiced by white people but as an inalienable right if practiced by a minority, especially if practiced by black people and Spike Lee takes full advantage of his race to beat up on white people. We can learn from Ayn Rand.
“The notion that one’s culture is superior to all others solely because it represents the traditions of one’s ancestors, is regarded as chauvinism if claimed by a majority—but as “ethnic” pride if claimed by a minority. Resistance to change and progress is regarded as reactionary if demonstrated by a majority—but retrogression to a Balkan village, to an Indian tepee or to the jungle is hailed if demonstrated by a minority.”
Spike Lee is too biased to step back and grasp those differences, hence his representations are biased and therefore untrustworthy. Witness all this in action below.
Politics in America has always fundamentally been about two huge, fraught topics: race and class.
Don’t believe it? Just think about how in the span of just eight years the same country elected Barack Obama, the son of an African father, and Donald Trump, a billionaire real estate developer from Queens who parlayed racial and economic resentment into a seat in the Oval Office.
In the run-up to the Academy Awards, POLITICO sat down with an artist who has plumbed the depths of these topics over a more than 30-year career: Spike Lee. His 22nd feature, BlacKkKlansman—which tells the true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Klan in the 1970s—is up for six Oscars, including a historic shot at Best Director.
In a rollicking and unfiltered interview, Lee sounded off on (against really) Trump, the State of the Union, America’s moral reckoning with the racism of the past, and whether movies can make a difference. He didn’t offer much hope—“my job is to show what the fuck is happening,” he told us, not to offer Hollywood endings—but he gave us a singular perspective on being black in Trump’s America. Excerpts lightly edited for clarity:
POLITICO: There’s a scene in BlacKkKlansman where the Klan members are watching Birth of a Nation together and having a great time. When racists get together like that in 2019, what are they watching?
Spike Lee: They’re probably still watching Birth of a Nation. I mean, it’d be on the down-low …
POLITICO: Yeah—America has come a long way since the time of the film, but it’s not like racism has gone away. Look at what happened in Charlottesville. So, clearly you wanted to make it clear the problem is still very much with us.
Spike Lee: Well, it never went away. I was not one of those individuals who was hoodwinked or bamboozled into thinking that when my brother Barack Hussein Obama put his right hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible there would be a magical moment and we’ll enter the post-racial world. I wasn’t going for it. Hell no. I do not believe that for a second. Another lie, another false narrative. Because if that’s the case we wouldn’t be in the world we are today and you could say that a lot of stuff is a reaction to eight years of president No. 44 in the White House. Plus, there was some shenanigans going on in the voting in Florida.
See? Lee clearly steers clear of Africa. Why? Why not go to the source of one of the biggest solutions that America has ever succeeded in doing? Why not start in Africa? Why? Because the problem takes a very different shape when for example if he started in South Africa where white people must now live behind gated walls for protection from the black population where before the black population could at least count on protection from the government. . Where white farmers were murdered in Rhodesia which was re-named by Magube and where the murders of the white farmers was ignored and supported by the government. the same thing is and has been going on in Eastern South Africa where whites are being murdered so this entire race issue has a lot more to it than white people in America who don’t particularly like the way things were going so they started an abolition movement which is what eventually gave Lee the ability to make loads of money by ignoring the work of white American’s and actually attacking white people as he does all through this interview.
POLITICO: Wesley Morris wrote this interesting piece about race and the Oscars in the New York Times—you read it, right?
Spike Lee: A great piece. (No, it’s a rather uninformed piece about race in the movies, not race in reality.)
POLITICO: So I’m curious: What do you think of the argument that the elites in Hollywood really only feel comfortable putting up films about race that aren’t too edgy? I think about Morris’ point about “Do the Right Thing.” That was a movie that didn’t have much of a happy ending, right?
Spike Lee: It was. It was hard. That was a tough movie. It was obviously not easy. But whoa, whoa, whoa, listen, there’s different categories, right? The nominations were Danny Aiello for Best Supporting Actor, and he lost out to Denzel for “Glory.” And then I was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. So those were only two.
POLITICO: And this is a much bigger deal because you could be the first African-American to win Best Director.
Spike Lee: We’ll see.
POLITICO: But what did you make of what Morris says?
Spike Lee: Oh, I mean, he was very analytical. He broke it down, and, you know, he made you understand why we’re saying what he was saying. And made comparisons between “Driving Miss Daisy” and another film that’s nominated this year as well as another film that’s not new this year.
POLITICO: You were on Colbert last night and you were talking about how you were nominated and it probably wouldn’t have happened if the Academy hadn’t diversified …
Spike Lee: Well it’s two things, in order. The first was your sister, April Reign, with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, combined with another sister, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who was at that time president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Those two things together really forced the Academy to open up and diversify. So April and Ms. Isaacs should take a bow any time any person of color is nominated because what they did was crucial. “Moonlight,” “Get Out”—none of us would be winning nominations if they hadn’t opened up the voting.
POLITICO: So spinning that toward just U.S. elections in general, do we need to do the same sort of thing? Do you think there’s a sort of analogy there?
Spike Lee: It’s not about opening up the voting—it’s like, stop suppressing people’s vote. Voting for an Oscar, or for an award, is not going to change the world. One of these guys up here [points to Capitol Building]—like, don’t people understand this guy has the nuclear code? Hopefully, they gave him the wrong one, but we vote, and people get into powerful positions that affect our lives.
How many people no longer have loved ones because of the Vietnam War, or any war? Weapons of mass destruction, or some bullshit, people are dead. People lost loved ones because that bullshit was a lie. They knew, they had Colin Powell going in and lying. I mean, they put the brother in a tough space. [Laughter] They had him jammed up. But they all knew that was some B.S., and people have lost loved ones behind some bullshit. Some straight-up shenanigans.
Spike Lee: Right. I mean, people will be watching Bamboozled tonight.
POLITICO: So, what is it gonna take for people to understand that blackface is a no-go?
Spike Lee: It wasn’t cool, Al Jolson doing it in The Jazz Singer. It wasn’t cool, Judy Garland doing it. Mickey Rooney, Bugs Bunny, it’s just wrong. So I don’t want to hear about it, where someone’s alibi is, “Well, it was the ’80s.” That is no excuse. And it just goes to show you how entrenched racism is. It’s embroidered, it’s sewn into the flag by Betsy Ross. It’s part of the DNA of this country. And in my opinion, I don’t think we’re going to move forward and acknowledge the shaky history this country has. This country was built upon the genocide of Native Americans and slavery. That’s the narrative that’s the true foundation of the United States of America. The founders of this country owned slaves. I mean, let’s be honest. How old was Sally Hemings? She was 14! Thomas Jefferson. Why are young kids still being taught that George Washington chopped down a tree, and when confronted with it he said “I cannot tell a lie”? Why are young kids being taught about Christopher Columbus? Christopher Columbus was a terrorist. How could you discover people? Like, you show up and you discover somebody? You discover the land and the people? Again, these, “In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” or however the rest of that shit goes. They make kids recite that shit. People are being taught lies, and what’s really been something that I found out, that if you tell a lie right up here [pointing at Capitol Building] and keep telling a lie, people start to think that’s true.
POLITICO: So if people are telling lies, but then they learn the truth, do they get a pass? Like this governor in Virginia, does he get a pass, because now he may have learned something?
Spike Lee: Three words: Hell to the naw. [Laughter] Two words: Hell no. Not H-E-L-L. H-A-I-L. HAIL, no. Let me put a little Virginia on it, a little Virginia sauce. Hail no! [Laughter] It’s interesting that all this happens in Virginia, the cradle of the Confederacy. And let me make it deeper for you: This year, 400 years ago, the first slaves were brought on the James to Virginia—1619. And we need to start talking about that.
POLITICO: You did a press conference in Cannes, in which you called the president of the United States a “motherfucker.”
Spike Lee: Oh, yeah. Did you count ’em? It was more than one.
POLITICO: Yeah. So, that was a moment. Do you think there’s anything he could do to fix what happened in Charlottesville, what he said about it, and all the things he’s said since?
Spike Lee: I appreciate your question, sir. But how can a person fix what he said in Charlottesville, when he [previously] said Mexicans are rapists, murderers and drug dealers? I mean, the vile language he’s used about human beings … Did you see the thing last night [the State of the Union address]? Check this out—several times throughout the night, they stood up people who were survivors of concentration camps, they had somebody who landed in Normandy on the beach—as he said, the greatest battle of all time. The last time I checked, the Germans were occupying France. … That footage in Charlottesville? Those people were wearing and waving swastikas. So, there’s a disconnect for me. Because what [Trump] said last night, with who you introduced, it does not connect with me that you did not denounce those neo-Nazis, you would not denounce the KKK. You would not denounce the alt-right. He didn’t do it. And it’s been my belief that the president of United States of America, the most powerful man in the world, who is at the helm of the cradle of democracy, should speak for our nation against hate. He didn’t do it. That’s going to be, when all this shit is said and done, of all the fucked-up things [Trump] said, that’s going to be at the top. That’s the first one historians are gonna go to.
What we did so skillfully in the film was show the contrast between what he’s saying and what we’re seeing. And then, to show the real life David Duke, the former grand wizard, there [in Charlottesville] and saying, “This what Trump’s talking about, to take America back”? Then we see an act of homegrown, red-white-and-blue, banana-split terrorism. Homegrown. A car turned into a murder weapon. Speeding down a crowded street and murders Heather Heyer.
POLITICO: You called her mother.
Spike Lee: Well, I wanted to, for permission. And I mean, [Trump] was very disrespectful to her. I don’t want to get into it, but he didn’t do right with her.
POLITICO: How do we heal as a country?
Spike Lee: Well, here’s the thing, though. And this is the biggest criticism of Do the Right Thing: “Spike Lee, he didn’t provide the answer to racism! To prejudice!” That was 1989, and I’m not going to start in motherfucking 2019. That’s not my job.
POLITICO: What is your job?
Spike Lee: To show what the fuck is happening. And hopefully, through dialogue or whatever, people see what the hell is going on. But I will not sit in front of this microphone staring at the Capitol Building and tell you that Spike Lee has an antidote to cleanse the world of hate, and racism. I won’t do that. It’ll be a lie. I don’t have the answer.
Derek Robertson contributed to this article.
Doesn’t the answer have to at least look at Africa?