Monday, May 7, 2012

How the media, hollywood, academia, and Woodrow Wilson helped the second rise of the KKK

I was recently contacted with regard to the membership of Woodrow Wilson in the Klan. If he was a member, I'm certainly not hitting the right key word search, or it just isn't true. And there's a lot of books out there that go over Wilson's lauding of 'The Birth of a Nation'(The Clansman). But setting out to find something almost always leads me to something else. For ease of reference, Wikipedia states that the second KKK existed between 1915–1944. The Birth of a Nation was released in 1915. Wilson screened it in the Whitehouse, and his view of it is very well known: "It is like writing history with Lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true."

But that's not where this ends. One movie and one presidential hurrah can do a lot to spur a movement, but it needs follow through. Like this article in the Woodland Daily Democrat from March 15th, 1916:

In spite of the fact that more than 200,000 people have witnessed the marvelous reproduction of Thomas Dixon's famous novel, "The Clansman", continued to pack Clune's Auditorium theater. In Los Angeles at almost every performance of its last week there.

And in New York and Boston, "The Clansman" has proven to be fully as popular; while from all directions come requests from theatrical managers that they be allowed to play "The Clansman" in their city.

Dealing as it does, with the most important question before the American people today, the race problem, and dealing with it in so delicate a manner as to cause no bitterness, is it so surprising that the American people, always patriotic, should be in sympathy with "The Clansman"?

Portraying as has never been done before, the great work President Lincoln had mapped out for himself; the work he would certainly have brought to a successful and happy conclusion had he lived, "The Clansman" is of great value from every standpoint, but particularly of historical value. Students of history will gain much from it, and be prepared for more, for "The Clansman" is but foretelling the great future of the motion picture. Every great critical event in the world's history can be brought much more forcibly to the student's mind, if portrayed by motion pictures in an intelligent manner.

Tonight and Thursday evening "The Clansman" will appear again at the Strand theater, and if the pioneer of the photo drama meets with such overwhelming success, what about those to follow?

This turns my stomach. As this racist movie was out there poisoning people's minds, the media was right there to help it along. And as this news article makes clear, it wasn't just "racist southerners". That's what modern progressives would have you believe about racism in America. Interestingly enough, both of these lauding articles come out of California. The Berkeley Daily Gazette from May 10th, 1915:(I've copied about half of the article below)

D.W. Griffith's latest achievement, "The Clansman, or the Birth of a Nation," in twelve reels is the attraction at the Macdonough theater for twenty-one days, beginning today with a matinee every day.

The film is based on the famous novel by Thomas Dixon Jr., but it deals more broadly on its historical side with the life of the American nation than does the play or book. "The Clansman, or the Birth of a Nation," is declared to be the greatest and most spectacular motion picture ever produced. It cost $500,000 to produce and seven months were consumed in staging it.

"The Clansman" represents the very acme of art and realism in motion pictures. It includes the most spectacular battle ever staged. In the battle scenes are shown 25,000 soldiers in action, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry.

The night battle scenes represent the greatest feat in photography in the history of motion pictures. The burning of the entire city of Atlanta at night is graphically shown in the picture.

The Famous Raids of the Ku Klux Klan, with thousands of these white-hooded riders in action are shown. Lee's surrender to Grant and Sherman's historical march from Atlanta to the sea are also graphically depicted.

The assassination of President Lincoln by Wilkes Booth is one of the principal features. R.A.Walsh, who has the role of Wilkes Booth, repeated the assassination scene twenty-six times before it was done to the satisfaction of Griffith.

The interior of the historical Ford's opera house at Washington, D.C., where the assassination took place, is the most gorgeous theater scene ever put on. It is an exact replica of the playhouse, including stage, orchestra pie, furnishings and all other equipment of the historical playhouse.

Historically and technically, "The Clansman" is declared to be perfect. A well-known professor of history in one of the California colleges worked three months in securing historical data for "The Clansman."

This is no different than what we see today. The colleges, hollywood, and politicians are out there pushing all of this rot, and the media's right there to put a shiny smiling face on it.

The rise of the KKK in 1915 doesn't surprise me one bit.

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