Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 23, 2013

During the past week we saw the CIA admit that it participated in the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Iran in —- 1953(!!!!). Meanwhile “Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’” is setting box office records which is fine as long as no one thinks that they are getting the full story of black people in the White House. And finally, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is being celebrated on August 24th, what a difference a half century can make.

It’s About Time

The CIA recently announced something that it has denied for years. It turns out that in 1953 the United States did participate in the overthrow of the democratically elected government and its Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and replaced him with the Shah. This subversion of democratic principles was done at the instance of U.S. and British oil companies who thought that the elected president might have socialist leanings and nationalize the oil industry.

The Shah turned out to be a repressive and brutal dictator who was also completely subservient to American dictates. The overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddegh is one of those things that Iranians resent even though it took place sixty years ago.

That may seem like a long time to hold a grudge until you ask some of our friends in Mississippi and Alabama how they feel about the Civil War that ended almost 150 years ago.

Did the Butler Really Do it?

From the reviews that are out it appears that “Lee Daniels’ ‘The Butler’” is the fictionalized story of the life of a real African American butler who worked for eight presidents in the White House. In the movie, the black butler becomes more than a servant; he becomes an offline advisor providing useful insights and suggestions sotto voce.

While some may be growing tired of the seemingly endless stream of Hollywood movies that depict black people serving white people – see “Driving Miss Daisy”, “The Help”, etc., it might be useful to point out that there is a movie about black people in the White House that has yet to be made.

For example – E. Frederic Morrow was the first black advisor the President of the United States. He actually did advise President Eisenhower in the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education case and he played a pivotal role in the decision making process that sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas.

So it may be that there is no need to fictionalize the importance of black people in the White House. The story is already there, waiting to be told.

Another March on Washington

The fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington will be commemorated on August 24th. Hundreds of thousands of people are certain to gather and remember an important moment in American history.

The thing is…..in 1963 we were marching for some very important things like basic civil rights, voting rights. The goals of the 2013 March on Washington are more difficult to articulate after righteous memorial.

Something to think about.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!




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