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The Butler – Death of The Dream

posted Aug 20, 2013, 3:05 PM by Robert Alexander   [ updated Aug 25, 2013, 9:33 AM ]

Oprah Winfrey’s comparison of Emmett Till and Travon Martin is a grotesque insult to the memory of Emmett Till and the whole civil rights movement but it is also a demonstration of the current mindset of the movement and exactly why the face of real civil rights today is the much more pasty one of Glenn Beck.

Oprah’s new movie, The Butler, is a stirring depiction of the death of Rev. Martin Luther King’s dream of racial equality.  In it we see how the civil rights movement while under the leadership of MLK using Christ-like peace and nonviolence is able show right vs. wrong as clearly as black and white.  We then watch as the movement is distorted slowly and subtly transformed from right vs. wrong into black vs. white.

The Character of Cecil Gains is portrayed as a man of strong stable character while his son, Louis Gains takes on the role of the radical seeking change.   He first is with MLK where the peaceful civil rights movement is shown to be virtuous and profoundly effective, albeit too slowly, in changing the hearts and minds of Americans and the politically powerful.  After the death of MLK Louis turns toward violence and the “black power” path of Malcolm X.  His pursuit of equality is replaced by the pursuit of justice which soon is confused with vengeance.   Meanwhile Cecil struggles to sympathize with Louis.  Progress toward equality is shown to be too slow even for Cecil as he admits to being confused by the time President Reagan finally makes the pay in the Whitehouse staff equal for blacks and whites.

It becomes apparent that the meaning of civil rights has become confused in the minds of the movies characters as it has with many Americans including Oprah Winfrey. "Civil rights" has become exclusively about black power.  "Equality" today is only applied to how wealth is redistributed but has otherwise lost all meaning.

The movie ends on what should be a hopeful time, the election of our first black president.  But filtered through the history of divisiveness of this administration, the scene was a tragic depiction of a man and a country that has lost his strength of character and the will to seek equality, pursuing instead, vengeance for a collective.