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Hot Post: Looking Back at “American History X” Provides Remedial Course in Racial Fallacy

Posted on August 1 2010 10:00 am
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Editor’s Note: Beginning today we’ll be rerunning some of the most popular posts of the week.

There are some movie experiences which are better left in the past. Certain films connect at a particular time, and should never be revisited. Disney’s Flight of the Navigator comes to mind, a quirky family time-travel adventure complete with a talking spaceship teeming with Muppets. I used to love that one as a kid. Then I watched it a couple of years ago and wished I hadn’t.

There are different reasons why a film first seen a decade or two before can spoil upon repeat viewing. In the case of Navigator, it was a product of and for its time, full of dated conventions and stale fashions. A movie like that can be endured for nostalgia’s sake. What is worse is realizing you only enjoyed a film because, when you originally saw it, you were less mature.

Thanks to A.V. Club writer Scott Tobias, I recently suffered the latter disappointment while re-watching American History X. I was prompted by his distasteful association between the film’s white supremacist protagonist and your everyday neighborhood conservative.

[Watch as] Derek [played by Edward Norton] aggressively confronts his mother’s liberal new boyfriend (Elliott Gould) over the rioting and looting after the Rodney King trial. Note how closely Derek’s argument dovetails with those of mainstream critics who condemned looting in the aftermath of Katrina or the fall of Baghdad:

Warning: Explicit language.

In this scene, Derek masterfully spins a rant on immigration into a pep talk for ransacking a Korean grocer:

Warning: Explicit language.

Much of the language Derek uses to persuade his skinhead followers and debate his adversaries is merely an n-word or two away from a modern talking head on cable news.

This is the unsophisticated thought process which Tobias passes for analysis. A character in a movie rattles off a few conservative talking points, then says the n-word, and we’re supposed to shutter in fear of the creepy parallels.

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