Friday, January 23, 2015

"Selma" 2014 Accused of Erasing Jews and Rewriting LBJ

By the way, the Catholic sister at the left is "identified" as "unidentified nun"
"Bieganski" describes how official history is revised to serve political and ideological ends. 

Thus I am fascinated by the current brouhaha around the 2014 Academy-Award-nominated film "Selma." 

"Selma," an Oprah Winfrey production, purports to tell the true story of Martin Luther King's historic 1965 Selma, Alabama, march for voting rights for African Americans in the South. 

I am a huge fan of the Civil Rights movement and can't recommend highly enough a PBS documentary entitled "Eyes on the Prize." 

I have not seen "Selma" and I think I will wait for the video. I've been troubled by reviews I've read that indicate that it is a historical revisionist film. 

If what I've read is accurate, "Selma" downplays white contributions, depicts LBJ, an ally of Civil Rights, as a foe of Civil Rights, secularizes what was a very religious movement, and erases the contributions of Jews.

Again, I have not seen the film so I cannot state whether these accusations are accurate or not. 


Some theorize that "Selma" commits these alleged historical revisions in order to claim the glory of the Civil Rights movement for blacks alone. 

Any such claim is just not accurate. African Americans make up c. 13% of the population. They were disempowered. They could not have achieved all they did, in as short a period of time, without significant and committed whtie allies, including many white martyrs who gave their very lives for Civil Rights, including William Lewis Moore, Rev Bruce Klunder, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwermer, Rev James Reeb, Viola Gregg Liuzzo, and Jonathan Myrick Daniels. Many more whites risked their lives in Freedom Rides, like Jim Zwerg, who was badly beaten and almost died. 

Why readers of "Bieganski" might care about "Selma"'s alleged revisionism: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was, of course, born in Warsaw and was visually immediately recognizable as a Jew, has been, it is alleged, erased from the march. This is especially striking given the above photograph that makes it abundantly clear that Rabbi Heschel was right there, front row center, along with a Catholic sister whom the Huffington Post, which ran this photo, identifies only as an "unidentified nun."

Why erase Jews? Jews, who made such an historic and significant contribution to Civil Rights?

I would really like the answer to that question.

There is a Huffington Post article that covers the pertinent facts, Selma's Missing Rabbi by Peter Dreier at the link here


Here's a quote:

"In January 1963, as the civil rights movement was gaining momentum, the National Conference of Christians and Jews sponsored a conference in Chicago entitled "Religion and Race." It was there that Heschel (who was asked to deliver the opening address) first met King (who gave the closing speech) .

Heschel began his speech by linking biblical history to contemporary struggles:
'At the first conference on religion and race, the main participants were Pharaoh and Moses. Moses's words were, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to me.' While Pharaoh retorted: 'Who is the Lord, that I should heed this voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go.' The outcome of that summit meeting has not come to an end. Pharaoh is not ready to capitulate. The exodus began, but is far from having been completed. In fact, it was easier for the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea than for a Negro to cross certain university campuses.'"

1 comment:

  1. I find it quite ironic to hear complaints that Jews have been erased, in view of the fact that it is almost always the Poles who are erased in pertinent historical events.

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