Movie of the Week: “Blood in the Face” (1991)

There are people who would have you believe that racism does not exist in the United States anymore, that the Civil Rights movement eliminated the capacity for racial and ethnic hatred in America by Americans. Given, racism in 2011 has taken on insidious and less obvious forms, most notably in the form of “English Only” rhetoric and heavy handed legislation intended to single out undocumented workers, not due in the least to decades of denial by racists and Americans who choose not to see it.

In the late 80’s, I heard about the book “Blood in the Face” from Michigan racists, who took it as an affirmation of their hate based faith. “Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, the Rise of a New White Culture” by James Ridgeway dissects the then growing trend of white power groups throughout the United States. It was a terrible time, coming on the heels of the end of America’s manufacturing era, and I feel very unfortunate to have ever crossed paths with these morons.

Ridgeway, an investigative journalist, traveled to the bowels of an insignificant township in Livingston County, Michigan to attend a sparesely attended KKK convention. Tagging along was lefty idol Michael Moore (back when I liked him), who engaged members of these groups in pointed interviews. Some of these groups state their message of hate clearly, A buffoon in a pseudo SS uniform stupidly calls for a reservation style, “whites only” takeover of Idaho.

Others, including the girlfriend of racist murderer Bruce Pierce, attempt to dress it up in guises of “cultural pride” and skirt away from the true issues of violence, hatred and exclusion. This, despite that her boyfriend clearly and savagely murdered a Jewish radio announcer, Alan Berg, simply because of his particular religious and political affiliation.

Telling are interviews with the largely aged “movement leaders” who apparently have nothing better to do than sit idle all day watching television. One laments increasing appearances of minorities on television comedy shows, of course neglecting to mention decades of systematic exclusion in Hollywood. Another believes that “Wheel of Fortune” should stop asking questions about the Holocaust.

Most bizarre, are interviews with a so-called pastor of “Christian Identity,” whose racist theology is based solely on the Hebrew meaning of “Adam.” The Biblical knowledge of everyone in this film is suspect; they constantly grab at straws for even the most basic of Biblical parables. Supposedly, “Adam” means to become red in the face. Redneck logic attempts to imply that since Caucasian people, more precisely defined as those above Milano, Italy, are the only people that can blush, Adam must have been white. I guess he’s never been out drinking with Japanese people.

The movie is laughable, and supporters may say that these groups have been misrepresented. I don’t see, however, that it is possible to skirt around the issues of race based violence among these groups, nor around the greater issues of race, ethnicity and exclusion that dominate every facet of life in the United States.

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About Pete Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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