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(June 9, 2008)

          Spike Lee, spike it. That's an old newspaper term, by the way, meaning to put copy that has already been processed on to a metal spike in order that it not be edited again. More or less.
          Spike, you are not only a buffoon in silly and very expensive glasses, not only a rather stupid man whose laconic pose does not disguise shallow thinking, but you are an arrogant racist. Oh, I forgot---"genius filmmaker." Right. Anybody can point a camera and yell "action" as actors follow a banal, low-common-denominator-pandering script. (Which yours happen to be.) But because you are an African-American with a hip(hop) name, growing up in an era of political correctness carefully policed by pop culture-directed media---a time when African-Americans have been celebrated, elevated, exalted for writing nursery-rhyme-simple verse about (mostly) things they hate---you have ascended to the realm of "icon."
          This means, Spikey, that you lead a life that is grander and more luxurious and privileged than most kings and queens in all of human history! Do you realize that? Wowee! This would never have happened in the 1960s, or before, when racism ruled the American roost. But you, Spike, were lucky to come along at a time when the country is heroically, neurotically trying to atone for past sins, so the big red carpet not only rolled out for you, it pounded on your door and dragged you off the can. Harvard-educated (white) film critics subsequently plumbed out bits of vocabulary that have never been seen outside of dank recessess of cobwebby stacks in order to describe your puerile "work." Yow! Are you grateful? Sure you are, every bit as much as Larry King understands the word, "humility." 
          Spike, er, that is, Shelton Jackson Lee (real name), has recently, as this entire planet and possibly a few others now know, put the knock on Clint Eastwood for making a movie about Iwo Jima without (gasp) including black soldiers. This is the legacy of egalitarianism-amok, folks, the caricatured result of bending over backwards to make nice to minorities. See, you eventually bend so far back that your head just goes right up your ass, and this is what happened to Uncle Sam. Not easily accomplished with a red-white-and-blue top hat, either, but our Sammy has managed it.       
          In other words:
          If you are a filmmaker/author/artiste who is focusing on any aspect of U.S. history today, you'd damn well better be sure that blacks/latinos/Asians/Native Americans/Eskimos/ downtrodden-minority-of-choice are included. Can't just focus on what minorities and self-hating white liberals like to call "dead white European males" and/or their descendants (unless you portray them as good ol' rape-and-pillage slave-owning killing machines.) If you do that, you're a racist, see. That's what Spike thinks. If you call that thinking.
          Dead white European males? You know, this is the hiphoppy sloppy university worse-ity way of labeling everyone from Beethoven to Schopenhauer to, pretty soon, probably, Rutger Hauer. I mean, if you're white and dead and of European ancestry, you're The Beast. Never mind if you cured smallpox or wrote "Hamlet." This has long been the starting point in attitude among the reactionary racist P.C. minority crowd, further promulgated by high school teachers and college profs looking to "connect" with their pop culture-brainwashed students.
          Two articles reflecting this stunning idiocy come randomly to mind: one, an L.A. Times guest commentary written by a "professor" (har) at Cal Sate Fullerton asserting that "Beethoven was a black man" because there are rumors that his mother had a touch of Moorish blood (hahahahahahaha!); the other, a recent film review by L.A. Times film critic Carina Chocano (not a food additive) in which she objected to the "Euro-centric focus" of the new film, "The Children of Huang Shi." Never mind that the movie was the TRUE story of an Englishman named George Hogg who almost singlehandedly rescued 700 children from Nationalists and Japanese in pre-WWII China. Gawd. Euro-Centric? Try Chicana-Centric, Chocano.
          But I digress.
          Shelton (let's spike the "Spike," for the sake of not pandering to celebrity) objected to Eastwood's lack of black characters (Shelton sarcastically used the term, "negro") in "Flags of our Fathers." "Apparently," said Shelton, "the negro version did not exist." This was in the context of Shelton promoting his own film about WWII, "Miracle at St. Anna," which documents---surprise!---the story of an all-black outfit in the then obscenely segregated U.S. military. Eastwood fired back  that Lee should "shut his face," as "Flags. . ." focused on the story of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, which did not involve African-American soldiers. What was he supposed to do, write some black characters into it? Have them break into "Thank You (Fallettin Me Be Mice Elf)" once that flag was a-flappin'? Here is part of Eastwood's comment:
          "I'm playing it the way I read it historically, and that's the way it is. When I do a picture and it's 90% black, like 'Bird,' I use 90% black people."
          Imagine that! And yes, you guessed it, my Confederate-flag-waving Stepin Fetchit-loving cracker readers, Shelton also complained about "Bird," Eastwood's great biopic of the great Charlie Parker starring the great Forrest Whittaker:
          "He was complaining," said Eastwood, "when I did 'Bird,'  Why would a white guy be doing that? I was the only guy who made it, that's why. He could have gone ahead and made it. Instead he was making something else."
          So in Spike---er, Shelton Lee's---world, only black people are allowed to make movies about black people, and only white people are allowed to make movies about white people. And if a white person makes a movie about white people based on an historical incident, he'd damn well better invent some black characters. I mean, Jesus, we've got an African-American presidential nominee, so how much longer do we have to put up with Superman and Batman as white males? Hmm? Gosh.
          To accuse Eastwood of racism is so wildly tweety-bird, so bizarre, so off-the-wall, so twisted---but wait, it isn't. That's the problem. It should be seen as such, but the media play this Eastwood/Lee exchange as a "balanced" story, giving equal time to both sides---as if this is a legitimate gripe. Well, it ain't.  Eastwood's fondness for jazz, of course, is famous. But here I'm getting into trouble. If I say, as a descendant of dead white European males, that jazz and blues were almost entirely the invention of African-Americans, I am being racist, or at least possibly patronizing, right Shelton? Only African-Americans and Ken Burns can get away with such "generalizations" with impunity. Yes, Eastwood must secretly long to round up nigras and lynch 'em! Never mind that he digs "Scrapple From the Apple." Hitler liked puppies.
          Well, that's perhaps just what Shelton thinks, considering his vicious, racist, outrageously inflammatory response to Eastwood's justified, thrilling instruction to shut up. The next paragraph of this commentary has been fully fumigated for your olfactory protection:
          "First of all," said Lee, "the man is not my father and we're not on a plantation either."
          I see. So if you are white, and you tell a black person to "shut up," why, you are a racist.
          In essence, Lee resorted to calling Eastwood a slave-owner. Can you believe it? Where is Mister Rogers when you need him? Can you say. . .enlightenment? Holy Mack'el, Lee, you sure are promoting racial harmony, understanding, and togetherness. We shall overcome. . . Dr. King would be proud (probably, to kick your smug ass.)
          "We're not on a plantation" would be the equivalent of Eastwood calling Lee a "nigger," yet this is perfectly acceptable in "reverse-Racist" 21st century P.C. America, where gangsta is king and banal black music that holds women as "ho's" and "bitches" and African-American men as "niggahz" is unassailable. Don't believe it? Why is Bill Cosby relentlessly attacked by "leaders" of the "black community" every time he denounces this crap, and kindly calls for greater literacy and responsibility among African-Americans?
          It all brings to mind a little incident I experienced a few years back. The short version: I found that the guy running a local copying store (which I used frequently in the prehistoric times of mailing articles to newspapers and magazines) was actually turning the clock in the store ahead(!) in order that he could leave 15 minutes early. What's more, he was chasing people out at the artificial 6 o'clock closing time---even if they were in the middle of finishing a job---including me. I angrily confronted him about this one day, and said, "Tell me your name." He said, "I'll write it down for you." I said, "Good. Write it down. You've just lost your job, pal." At that point, Pal, who was in his 30's, blew more fuses than the Pentagon in a power failure. Oh, did I mention that he was black? Here is what he said, er, screamed at the top of his lungs: "I'm not your SLAVE! I'm not your SLAVE!" True story. (And yes, I saw to it that he was soon fired.)
          Here's another incident: when I could not remember the name of a particular Chinese director, while conversing with a Chinese-American woman, she stuck her face right into mine and yelled---I mean yelled, with nearly spittle-releasing anger---"Yeah, they're all alike! They all look alike! All those Chinese names just sound the same!" Hey, I got a million of 'em.
          This is the poison of racism, and it is now rampant---among minorities. Despite well-intentioned, if tyrannical, political correctness. Despite Affirmative Action. Despite minorities employed by and elected to just about ever imaginable profession. Despite decades of movies/sitcoms/ comedians/TV shows belittling WASP America. Despite Barack Obama.
          But back to Iwo Jima. There were about 30,000 courageous Marines involved in that invasion, and 900 of them were black---shamefully relegated to carrying ammunition. These 900 simply did not figure, need it be said, into the story Eastwood meant to tell. That's all. And even if Eastwood had included a few scenes showing black soldiers, he probably would have been excoriated for trivializing them. Rendering them tokens. Hell, I'll bet Shelton thinks that blacks should have been included in Eastwood's other Iwo Jima movie, "Letters from Iwo Jima," which told the story of the invasion from the Japanese side. Why, that racist descendant-of-dead-white European males dirty Harry bastard---he hardly cast any white people at all in that version! Let alone blacks!
          Finally, I can't let this pass without noting that little Shelty barked a bit of gratuitous nastiness of another sort, invoking a healthy dose of what is known in P.C. land as "age-ism" (I just like to call it plain old-fashioned cruelty) in referring to Eastwood as an "angry old man." Really. Such is the nyah-nyah retreat of a puny-spirited, small-thinking young man. Young being a label that no longer fits Spike, considering he is 51 and hardly an enfant terrible anymore.
           More like just an enfant.

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