Last night VH1′s ongoing celebrations of the Sixties hit a high and a low. The high was hit by an edited version of Monterey Pop (Canned Heat and Ravi Shankar hit the cutting room floor) which captures the delightful absurdities of the decade, although the drug fog which was not so delightful is much in evidence in the glazed expressions of the attendees. I can’t think of any more exciting live performance caught on tape than Joplin’s show stopper “Love is Like a Ball and Chain.”
But right after this came a promotional film for the Black Panthers who raped and murdered their way through the end of the decade, becoming icons of credulous progressives in the process. My friend Ron Radosh has blogged the film admirably,Â although he misses one salient point. This film is certainly dishonest but also not a little absurd in its attempt to make an alcoholic half-wit the hero of the Panther story.
Bobby Seale was a blowhard even in the Panther hey day and had no influence on the direction of the party despite his title of chairman, because he was simply Huey Newton’s punk. Newton was a thugÂ who physically dominated and intimidated Seale, who didn’t leave the party in disgust over Newton’s drug addiction as he claims in the film but was beaten up and then buggered by Newton and thrown out over a ludicrous quarrel about a film Huey wanted to star in.
The aggrandizement of pathetic as well as criminal behavior when the perps are black is so essential to the leftist religion, that even fifty years later progressives cannot handle the truth. The much-maligned George Bush once referred to the racism of low expectations, but even he couldn’t imagine a film promoting black revolutionaries and stone-cold killers which blames every single bad turn in theirÂ history on clever white cops.
Did Eldridge and Huey go to war over whether to start an armed struggle in America? J. Edgar Hoover made them do it — and he did so by writing fake poison pen letters and dropping them in their mailboxes! Did Ericka Huggins boil water so Alex Rackley’s torturers could pour it on his chest before the Panthers took him into the woods to execute him? An “informant” made her do it. (Well, to be honest the fact about Ericka is omitted from the VH1 travesty, which, however, ascribes the entire Rackley affair to the police.)
This film was obviously the work of Seale and Kathleen Cleaver, who once referred to Stalin as “a brother off the block” and who backed her husband — a covicted rapist (also not mentioned in the film) — through at least one gangland execution in Algiers. It is a pretty savage (and petty) payback to Newton, not to mention other prominent members of the Panther’s gang, including Elaine Brown, Masai Hewitt, David Hilliard and Geronimo Pratt, all of whom are missing from the film. Shame on VH1 for trafficking in this muck;Â andÂ on enablers like Gerald Lefcourt and promoters like Chuck D for being such diehards in so sordid a cause;Â and on actor James Cromwell for actually weeping on camera over a bunch of sorry-assed thugs.