I created this piece for the recent Alternative Facts show at Works/San José. This is a reaction to the Trump and GOP campaigns hinting at violence against those who disagree with them, and feigning ignorance about what they promoted. I used the visual language of the intertitles from a silent movie, The Birth of a Nation, for two reasons: because of its melodramatic emoting, and because of its role as white supremacist propaganda.
The Birth of a Nation (1915) by D.W. Griffith is remembered for both its dramatic and film innovations as well as its demonization of black people and promotion of white supremacy. This film stereotyped black people as unintelligent and sexually aggressive. It showed the KKK as a heroic force fighting against their participation in society from voting to mixed-race relationships. While there were protests and calls for censorship, this distorted story was also adopted by the KKK as a recruiting tool.
The tactics of urgently stoking fear of “others” incites violence and continue to be used by Donald Trump and the Republican party that supports him. These vague threats justify policies that are actively targeting African-Americans, muslims, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people.
“I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself, or if other people will.”
Trump at a press conference reacting to Black Lives Matter protestors taking over at a Bernie Sanders rally – August 9, 2015
“Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
Trump at a rally in Birmingham, AL – Nov 22, 2015
“I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks.”
Trump at a rally in Las Vegas, NV – Feb. 22, 2016
“They used to treat them very, very rough, and when they protested once they would not do it again so easily.” At press conference: “The audience hit back and that’s what we need a little more of.”
Trump at a rally in Lafayette, NC – March 11, 2016
“I’m just expressing my opinion. What have I said that is wrong?”
Trump in an interview with Chuck Todd, Meet the Press (NBC) – March 13, 2016
One year later, in response to provably false allegations used to support policy changes:
“So what have I said that was wrong?”
Interview with Michael Scherer, Time Magazine – March 22, 2017