Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mr. Smith went to Washington and became a Real American Hero

Another of my facebook notes I'd like to share briefly, this time about a movie.

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" was an excellent movie, this country definitely needs A LOT more men and women like Jefferson Smith today.  Its kind of like "Legally Blonde 2" in that he is very optimistic yet naive about politics and that he fights strongly for his beliefs but it doesn't have the same silliness or odds that were stacked against Mr. Smith; he doesn't even have the same education Elle Wood have, he was a small town guy thrust into the position of some power he barely had any knowledge of.

The movie is about a Mr. Smith who is made senator after the death of another senator because he knows nothing about politics and so the politicians and political machine of his state want to use him to just sit in, do what they say, and not cause trouble. However, he decides to make a bill and when the conflicts with their plans, Mr. Smith finds the dirty workings and tries to block them but is then set up with fraudulent charges to discredit and dissuade him from going further.  Initially broken, he regains his confidence through a friend he makes in DC and fights to his last in the Capitol Building despite the vicious tactics that the machine employ to smear him in the state and in the senate.

People know there's corruption today but they think of political machines and either laugh at it being of the past or wonder what's a political machine but the more I look around, the more I see it is still an ever present force in politics. In fact, looking at the problems that Mr. Smith faced, today it seems like they're magnified 1000 times more or so not in the same violent way maybe but certainly in the same political and social way.  They are certainly a lot more clever about it because of the expansion of both the bureaucracy and economy.  The violence they showed I must say may have been over the top not in the sense that it doesn't happen anymore but that it was happening in broad daylight almost mafia style.  Then again, this was set in the 30s or 40s I think so maybe it wasn't far off.

Mr. Smith chose not to give up because he was shown that he could not live with himself or bear to tell the kids in his home town the truth about how modern politics treated the American ideals and truth and justice.  He also could not be bought off with more years in office or threats that he would be ruined for speaking his mind about what happens in his country because he believed in the truth.  A lot of people say they stand for the truth but I wonder how many would stand up like he did to fight for it when the odds are up against them instead of caving in to bribes, threats, and "scandals".  They either can't stand to go the distance or they truly value something more material such as an office, money, or the minimal of what they asked for.  I sincerely hope I would not be that way because I feel that there is no other thing I idea I value higher than the truth.

The truth is a valuable asset, lies are like a house of cards and in time, I believe they always come crashing down on themselves.  As long as there are people out there who believe in it and those who believe in it in our government, I believe things will turn out alright even if we do have to go through hell and back like Mr. Smith.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) was awesome

I put this in a facebook note last year and is partly the reason I started blogging.  I think maybe other people would like to hear what I think on it too.

The personage of Malcolm X has been severely distorted after his death, something he himself saw coming, as one of being one who propagated violence. In truth, he taught obedience of the law but if there is anarchy or someone is attacked against the law, they are entitled to self defense irregardless of race. That too is upheld in the law.  This was the case even when he was part of the Nation of Islam, it was just racist attitudes prevalent at the time that helped to demonize him as he was a strong opponent of many mindsets of different races held to be normal at the time.

I also disagree very much that his approach to the race problem and Dr. King's problem had varying degree of results because both of them were approaching it differently at different points.  This is in response to a poster I saw at the UMD book store which stated "Dr. King's message" was more successful than "Malcolm X's message".  Its also worth noting that a lot of people also ignored whatever they were saying altogether in the way a person agrees with someone wholeheartedly to their face but refuses to change because that's how its been for him always or he doesn't have the guts to take action.  Also, those further away in time from a certain message will forget it also like followers of Prophets and their messages.

The former more strongly approached the social change, first in just the African Americans themselves and then, when his views changed, people all around but he still focused his efforts mostly on blacks because he identified very strongly to them and knew they needed unity.  At first it was very extremist in the sense that he generalized about a people the way they did him and irrelevant of how justified he may have been, it was wrong.  He also followed a version of a belief that was changed by people to fit one cause but was not only for that cause originally and he found that out later.

Dr. King had all of that but he also pushed for the political change with such bills as the various Civil Rights Bills that were passed but those things by themselves did not foster the change in the minds of the people which would lead them away from racist ideology.  He also seemed to be more of the mind of let alone whatever happened and lets move on which is a good attitude and mindset but when wrong things have been done, most people can't just pretend they didn't happen and eventually they have to be faced.

I think that in the end, they both had a fair amount of success but Malcolm X is less remembered by everyone b/c of his past with the Nation of Islam where he admitted he was not right on many things, particularly of the reverse hate of whites.  It eventually led him to a greater truth but people find it hard to let go of somethings, particularly the media which never portrayed him in a good light and were at the forefront of pushing that everlasting bad image of him.  He also followed a religion which the majority of people in this country can't relate to while on the other hand, people all over Muslim countries know him as well as they knew Muhammad Ali because of his faith.

By the way, the popular poster of him holding a rifle with the caption "By Any Means Necessary" is such misrepresentation and I was surprised to find out that it wasn't even people who hated him that started that if I recall correctly.  He was afraid for the lives of his family and if he had enemies before leaving Nation of Islam, they multiplied afterward.  He believed in self-defense as stated and and also stated is its legality in the law.  If its saying I'll protect my home and family by any means necessary, that's perfectly fine.