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Michael Fauntroy

Michael Fauntroy

Posted: November 18, 2007 10:04 PM

Pathetic Propaganda Posing as a Documentary


I recently saw a pathetic, ridiculous, half-baked, truth-avoiding, poorly-produced "documentary" that nearly led me to explode. Emancipation, Revelation, and Revolution purports to fill the void in Black political discourse by telling the "true" story of the GOP and its position as a salvation for Black America. In reality, it is propaganda masquerading as an educational documentation of the history of America's political parties relative to Black America.

Alveda King, a niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was featured in the film and was also one of its apologists. In response to a comment at a post-screening forum that the film wasn't balanced, King called it a "balancer" relative to whatever else is in the marketplace of ideas. Even the film's producer/director, Nina May, didn't hide the imbalance in the piece and didn't dispute the contention that the film was political propaganda.

This film is disgraceful. It's more one-sided than anything you'll see on Fox News - prime time or otherwise. Virtually no dissenting voices; nearly all of the 28 people featured in the film are well-known conservatives who are in line with the Republican Party. No historical context and a slanted view of history that is designed to leave viewers with the belief that a single politically opportunistic telephone call from Senator John Kennedy to Coretta Scott King after the arrest of her husband, Dr. King, was the event that led Black people to vote for Democrats. History demonstrates otherwise but the film doesn't deal with any of the real reasons why African Americans left the Republicans.

The film glosses over or ignores contributing factors such as the Hayes-Tilden Compromise, GOP capitulation to southern conservative "redemption," the southern strategy, the embrace of disaffected racist Democrats, opposition to the Martin Luther King holiday bill, constructive engagement in South Africa, vetoing civil rights legislation, and so many other examples where the GOP came up small with Black voters.

The "documentary" also traffics in odd, cheesy subliminal messages. Ominous background music underscored discussions critical of Democrats, while uplifting music played in the background when praise of the GOP was spoken. Then, inexplicably, the film pivots into a 15 minute condemnation of same-sex marriage, an issue that ranks low on the list of priorities among African Americans.

In arguing that the Dems were racist and that the GOP has been miscast by the liberal media as the enemy of Black people, Emancipation, Revelation, and Revolution completely overlooks the role of ideology in policymaking. Conservatives have long opposed Black progress. Conservatives opposed Reconstruction and civil rights. Conservatives pushed the "Lily-White" movement that purged Blacks from leadership of state Republican parties throughout the South. Conservatives have pushed for the maintenance of a racial status quo that held down Blacks and then blamed them for the lots in life.

Republican activists such as those in this film would rather that Black voters focus on party labels rather than ideology because the GOP is now the home of America's conservatives and rode to prominence in the 1960s on the strength of conservatives who left the Democratic party and embraced by the Republican Party.

Michael K. Fauntroy is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University and author of the recently published book Republicans and the Black Vote.

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