In an interview with The Telegraph about his latest film The Hateful Eight, a western set sometime after the American Civil War that stars Samuel L. Jackson as a former Union solider seeking refuge from a blizzard in a stagecoach stopover with a number of former Confederate soldiers, the controversial filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino waded deeper into the culture war.
The Academy Award-winning director took aim at the Confederate battle flag, labeling it the “American Swastika.”
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 2, 2016
The Confederate battle flag has been a source of heated debate in recent times, with some viewing it as a symbol of racism and calling for the wholesale removal of the flag from society, while others feel it’s simply a part of Southern heritage and has legitimate historical significance.
After the South Carolina church massacre at Mother Emanuel, the tone and direction of public discourse came as a welcome surprise to Tarantino.
“All of a sudden, people started talking about the Confederacy in America in a way they haven’t before,” Tarantino said.
“I mean, I’ve always felt the Rebel flag was some American Swastika. And, well, now, all of a sudden, people are talking about it, and now they’re banning it, and now it’s not OK to have it on f***** license plates, and coffee cups and stuff. And people are starting to question about stuff like statues of Bedford Forrest in parks. Well, it’s about damn time, if you ask me.”
Tarantino is no stranger to controversy, as his recent public stand against rampant police brutality in the United States gained widespread condemnation from police organizations across the nation.
In October 2015, Tarantino attended a Black Lives Matter rally and publicly commented on police brutality in the United States, saying, “When I see murders, I do not stand by… I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”
Tarantino’s comments received national media attention and several police groups in the United States pledged to boycott The Hateful Eight and his other films. He responded to the contrived controversy by noting that he’s not a “cop hater” and would not be intimidated by the police bully tactics.
For all the bluster by police organizations nationwide, the threatened boycott either never materialized or were so insignificant that no one even noticed them.
During the interview with the Telegraph, Tarantino admitted that the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which killed eight people attending a prayer meeting, and the senior pastor, had the greatest impact upon his thoughts.
The mass church shooting caused Tarantino to self-censor his work for the first time in his quarter century of filmmaking, as he felt a line in the dialogue would have unintended meaning in light of the South Carolina massacre.
The censored line was that of Walton Goggins’ sheriff’s speech near the start of the film, in which he said, “you ask the white folks in South Carolina if they feel safe.”
Tarantino made the extremely astute observation that America “hasn’t been as divided with itself since the Civil War.”
Over the past 2 years, a peaceful resistance to police brutality and misconduct has risen up in the United States. This resistance is entirely bipartisan, although some will attempt to claim otherwise for their own political agendas.
On both the right and the left, there have been heartening examples of unlikely groups of citizens coming together to peacefully resist the police state. However, there are also those on both sides who dangerously call for violence, the removal of due process, and the use of state force to implement their own version of tyranny.
As Donald Trump calls for banning Muslims entering the United States, hate-filled bigots set Mosques ablaze across the country.
As the so-called ‘militiamen’ take over the refuge in Oregon, calls for their removal of due process and all out slaughter, fill the internet, in spite of them not causing physical harm to another human.
As black live matter protesters peacefully take to the streets to protest police killings, insane racists refer to them as animals and call for their deaths.
It seems that both sides of this two-party facade of democracy have been so blinded by state-sponsored hate and entitlement for their cause, that they have lost all reason and compassion for their fellow human. This country is indeed leading to a level of divide, like Tarantino stated, not seen since the Civil war.
To prevent an actual civil war, Americans would do well to remember that their hate and violence will only serve to stoke more of the same. As the great Martin Luther King Jr. famously said:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, Raw Story, MintPress News, as well as many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.