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For Conservatives, "The Butler" is a Great Lesson in the Virtues of Being a "House Negro"


Some conservatives are not too happy with the new movie The Butler. As I  wrote here, The Butler is an extremely "conservative" and "American" movie that  the Right should love. Nonetheless, their complaints are expected.

The Butler features a predominantly African-American cast. The docudrama's storyline also dares to culminate with the  election of Barack Obama. These are two immediate strikes against its popularity among white conservatives.

Given that Barack Obama is the Right's version of Satan, The Butler is a logical focal point for Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Moreover, as  Fox News guest Erik Rush suggested last week Obama is apparently organizing gangs of black people to attack whites with the movie being a pretext that is:  

...part of a plan “to initiate widespread civil unrest at the president’s push of a button” and add to the “instances of black-on-white violent crime since Obama came into office.”

"Winfrey is promoting a new film, “The Butler,” which chronicles a black butler’s years of service in the White House during the Civil Rights Movement.

While the subject matter should make for interesting fare, given Winfrey’s sensibilities and associates (like the Obamas, for example) there is little doubt that the film will be used in the ongoing effort to rile black Americans. As I’ve said in the past, racial tension is one of the many circuits the administration has constructed that, when completed, may be used to initiate widespread civil unrest at the president’s push of a button."

The Butler also depicts historical events which suggest that the Republicans are not in fact "the party of civil rights" as their propagandists have taught the party faithful.

Such a belief is laughable and sad: populist conservatives drunk on Fox News, Glenn Beck, and the other toxic emissions of the Right-wing echo chamber actually believe that Dr. King would be a Tea Party member even while the Southern Democrats are now Republicans, and the Tea Party GOP, who are channeling the demons of Jim and Jane Crow, are working hard to overturn the voting rights won with blood by the Black Freedom Struggle.

If anything, the White Identity politics of the Republican Party are consistent in their talking points and revisions of history and empirical reality even if their fictions are dissonant with the truth.

And of course, The Butler shows Ronald Reagan--the "saint" that he was-- supporting Apartheid South Africa. Reagan was on the  wrong side of history on that (and  many other) issue(s). Again, The Butler is  "unfair" to depict such facts.

None of these products of the White Right's grievance and victimology industry are surprising.

But even by the low standards of the Right-wing echo chamber, the following complaint about The Butler  by John Boot of PJ Media was uncommon in its racist ugliness:

1. It casts the term “house slave” as something to be ashamed of.

“House slave,” “house negro,” or sometimes the even more vile term “House n—-r” has become a widely used insult deployed by blacks against other blacks  for supposedly being too willing to go along with an unjust system (as opposed to “keeping it real” by participating in riots or going to prison).

Channeling Malcolm X, self-styled radicals like Spike Lee throw the term at, for instance, Samuel L. Jackson, whom Lee once called a “House negro defending Massa” for working with the far more talented filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.  

Whitaker’s butler character is portrayed as the ultimate house negro, and is denounced as such several times. Though the butler is the hero of the film and is given excellent reasons in his back story for not wishing to be a troublemaker, The Butler isn’t subtle about pushing the audience to think there is something pathetic about a man who simply kept his head down and did his job for many years instead of agitating for change.