Excerpt from 'The Birth of a Nation' by David W. Griffith
A few weeks ago George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police. Although it may seem untrue, it is not an unusual event, a mistake or a personal or system failure, the police kill hundreds of blacks every year without the judges showing a singular interest in the crime: In 2019, the forces of the established order killed 1,100 people, of whom 800 were black. It is like a habit, as it was to kill Indians to the point of delirium, as it is to imprison, torture and kill Hispanics, as it is to exploit workers, cage migrant children or devastate countries that are thousands of kilometers away claiming that this is good for national security.
Today there is a lot of talk about failed states, there is one, the United States, the richest country in the world that lives thanks to the imperial army that devastates any part of the world to plunder its wealth and to an internal repressive system that fights to the death against poverty by eliminating it. physically or putting it in the shade: There are 655 people in prison for every 100,000 inhabitants, far more than in any country in Europe, five times more than in China, a country systematically denounced for human rights violations. It is not a new thing, the great Yankee propaganda instrument that cinema was its birth has shown us in thousands of films how that nation was forged.
Floyd's death has sparked worldwide protests against that American habit of shooting the Negro at his leisure, if he runs, if he stands still, does not get out of the car, if he gets out of it, if he is sleeping on a bench, if he is awake in a corner. It is an eminently cruel society that praises the villain capable of any atrocity and despises the one they consider weak, those who lack excessive ambition and greed or show empathetic feelings. The Talion law, heir to the Hammurabi Code, lives up to date in the States of the Union as if time had not passed, as if social relations had been anchored a few years before Walt Witman wrote his first poem.
The United States is formed after the defeat of the South in the civil war. In that contest two ways of life were confronted, the industrial of the north and the agrarian one of the south with their great plantations, their white mansions and their black slaves, who only had the rank of person if they showed extreme docility. In 1915 David W. Griffith released The Birth of a Nation, a film that has gone down in history for being one of the first to have a perfectly performed visual discourse. Griffith wanted to shoot the epic of a nation that had made itself through thick and thin thanks to the individual drive of thousands of white men who defied the elements to build the most powerful country in the world. It is a hymn to the white race, to violence, to wild individualism, to the animal law of the fittest, coming to glorify the role that the Ku Klux Klan played in creating the new order on which the good Americans would rule to make even bigger to your country. The good American does not get into politics although he puts politicians, he lives only and exclusively to enrich himself, if he succeeds he is a great American, if he does not succeed he is a failure, a weak person who only corresponds to accept his failure and obey. Black is not even that, he was born like a dog, to follow in the master's footsteps, relieve him of his sorrows and prevent him becoming overly fatigued. He lacks feelings, intelligence, and good emotions, he is only governed by the appetites of the jungle, but at the same time he is strong and can work day after day with hardly eating or sleeping. He is not a subject of rights because, given his animal condition, he would take advantage of them to bite the hand that feeds him and subvert the established order that cost so much to build white men of European origin.
Should a film so abject, racist and despicable be banned despite its impressive billing? No, never, never. The protests over the murder of Floyd have led to the elimination of cinema masterpieces certain television platforms that do not hesitate in the least to continue selling low-quality series and feature films aimed at controlling the thinking of the population. Like social media, digital platforms are part of a conglomerate of global manipulation of opinion. It does not make the slightest sense to remove Gone with the Wind, a masterful film and as essential as the other to know how that nation has been made, while maintaining hundreds of films and series of imperial war, sadistic police, asshole teenagers or of oligophrenic comedians.
Cinema is the ran effect of a time, at least it was until social networks arrived, networks that were given the correct name because they fulfill the same mission as those used to take fish out of the sea and turn them into fish. Today these networks have become a mirror of the alley of the cat, in a self-portrait of Francis Bacon, they are not a reflection of reality as cinema was until recently, but of chaos, of the general desire to teach without having learned, of speaking without listening, accepting lies for absolute and immutable truths. No, it is not dangerous to see The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind or Fort Apache, the dangerous thing is that you do not want to educate citizens who know how to distinguish between truth, lies and half-truths, between propaganda and critical thinking. Cinema, even the worst if it had not acquired the status of massive, instrumental and almost unique, helps us effectively to know our past since the Pathé brothers, the Lumière and Méliès brothers made the impossible possible: One of the best ways of knowing The savagery, the cruelty, the misery, the greediness and the mummification of Francoism is to see any film of that period, the infumable Race to the masterful El Verdugo or Calle Mayor, Agustina de Aragón to Mariona Rebull or Surcos. The problem is not the cinema but the eyes and the mind with which it is seen, and in our days, increasingly, those eyes and that mind are manufactured by social networks, capable of shaping the thinking, consciousness and attitude of thousands of millions of people against their own interests.