Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Redford’s Weather Underground Whitewash

Earlier this year Robert Redford – former Hollywood heartthrob, founder of the Sundance Institute, and a progressive activist with connections to the leftist puppetmaster George Soros – released his first film as a director since 2007. The Conspirator was his thinly-veiled attack on Bush’s war on terror posing as a docudrama about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Now Redford seems poised to turn the lens of his historical revisionism on a whitewashing of the ‘60s and ‘70s domestic terrorists of the Weather Underground.

In addition to producing, Redford will be doing double duty on The Company You Keep, directing the screenplay adapted from a 2004 novel by Neil Gordon, and also starring as the novel’s protagonist, an ex-Weatherman whose former identity is in danger of being exposed. Still wanted for a deadly bank robbery in his militant past, he goes on the run and reaches out to old comrades. Along the way we are treated, at least in the book version, to the political pontifications and nostalgia of a '60s radical-turned-academic. Redford’s co-producer on the project, Nicolas Chartier of Voltage Pictures, describes The Company You Keep this way:

This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about real Americans who stood for their beliefs, thinking they were patriots and defending their country’s ideals against their government.

“Real Americans who stood for their beliefs”? “Patriots”? “Defending their country’s ideals against their government”? What ideals would those be? Proficiency in bomb-making? Penning a “Declaration of a State of War” against America – or as they called it, AmeriKKKa? Advocating the overthrow of capitalism, and killing any “diehard capitalists” who were beyond reform? Launching a race war? Because all of those “ideals” were part of the Weather Underground’s violent and radical agenda. Mr. Chartier has either an edgy sense of humor or a curious interpretation of what constitutes patriotism and our country’s ideals.

As the website The Blaze notes, “some of the WU terrorist group’s most prominent members remain belligerent and unrepentant to this day,” including its co-founder Bernadine Dohrn, who calls the American government “the real terrorist” in this interview from November 2010. Her husband and Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers, now a radical academic like his wife, and possibly the model for the central character in The Company You Keep, still has not denounced the group’s violence. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” he famously said in 2001. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Redford executive-produced The Motorcycle Diaries in 2004, his cinematic love letter to the young Ché Guevara, who would go on to become Fidel Castro’s cowardly psychopath and communist executioner – or as he is more popularly known, the face that launched a billion T-shirts. FrontPage contributor Humberto Fontova mentions that those who applauded The Motorcycle Diaries
were cheering a film glorifying a man who jailed or exiled most of Cuba's best writers, poets and independent film-makers while converting Cuba's press and cinema – at Czech machine-gun point – into propaganda agencies for a Stalinist regime.
The Company You Keep, set to begin shooting in Vancouver in September, looks likely to glorify, or at least attempt to absolve, President Obama’s old friend Ayers as well. And Redford’s other moviemaking efforts as a whole in recent years confirm his left-leaning cinematic messages.

Redford’s The Conspirator centers on the real-life trial of one apparent plotter of the Lincoln assassination, Mary Surratt, accused of providing shooter John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices with a location to plan their conspiracy (her boardinghouse) and with other assistance. Mary, who “kept the nest that hatched the egg,” as Andrew Johnson put it, ended up being the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government.

But that movie is less about Mary Surratt’s guilt or innocence and more about putting George W. Bush on trial. Time’s Richard Corliss hit upon the comparison The Conspirator draws between the government’s actions immediately after the Lincoln shooting “and the Bush Administration’s actions in the months and years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.”:
In this movie, [Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton is the stand-in for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld; he proposes lurid theories of revolution and, when challenged, replies, “Who’s to say these things couldn’t happen?” In a direct parallel to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq as a crowd-pleasing alternative to the fruitless search for Osama bin Laden, one Surratt sympathizer says that Stanton & Co. are trying Mary “because they can’t find John [her son, who temporarily escaped].”
Redford himself was cagey about discussing the parallel, but half-hinted, half-confessed that the movie “relates very much to the present, but it’s up to the audience to decide for themselves how.”

The Sundance founder’s previous directing effort was in 2007, the talky anti-war bore Lions for Lambs, starring Redford himself, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. Redford plays an activist professor who is appalled when two of his promising students decide to enlist and fight in Afghanistan instead of staying here to undermine the war effort by protesting on campus. When the two die alone on an Afghan plain, the message is that their patriotic choice was a waste and their lives could have been better spent at home (perhaps interning at Sundance or with Code Pink). Meryl Streep plays an openly left-leaning journalist who is cynical about American hubris, which is personified by Tom Cruise’s parody of a warmongering Republican senator. She weeps when she is driven past the headstones of a military cemetery.

Like Streep’s character, Hollywood mourns our troops but rarely acknowledges that war is sometimes necessary, that fighting for your country and your way of life is honorable, that evil exists and that this country is a force for good in the world. Instead, Hollywood more often undermines our war effort (including the war on terror), glorifies reprobates like Ché, and – as we can expect in Robert Redford’s upcoming movie – excuses the terrorists of the Weather Underground.

(This article originally appeared at FrontPage Mag here)