A prominent human rights activist says Hollywood films and other media
portray a false account of US history, perpetuating great harm to
Americans and the rest of the world.
On the latest episode of Press TVís Cinepolitics, panelists discuss
Hollywoodís impact on global politics and society, with a particular
examination of Steven Spielbergís use of psychological manipulation and
disinformation in his recent film ďLincolnĒ.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Ken OíKeefe, human rights activist,
to further discuss the issue. OíKeefe is joined by Maria Duarte, a film
critic with The Morning Star
. The following is a rough transcription
of the interview.
How accurate was this portrayal?
It was another nauseating example of Hollywood propaganda
and it really has no resemblance to the truth.
In fact, there was another Lincoln movie that came out earlier that year,
Lincoln the Vampire Slayer, and I reckon that there was just about as much -
Iím not kidding when I say thereís just about as much evidence to support
Lincoln as a vampire slayer as there is about him wanting the end of slavery
and freeing black people. Thereís no historical truth to that whatsoever.
Lincolnís life is a testament to the fact that he was a man of his time. He
used the word n***** repeatedly in his life. He never had any kind of an
epiphany and changed his perspective. He never cared anything about freeing
This was all about concentrating power, maintaining the union and
concentrating more power in the Federal government.
The implications of that bloody war, Civil War, and concentration of power
into the Federal government, we see to this very day. Thatís why Iím not
going to forgive Spielberg or the propagandists of Hollywood for this kind
of junk because it perpetuates myths that cause great harm in this world.
I have a letter from president [Lincoln] himself to Horace
Greeley where he says, ďMy paramount object in this struggle is to save the
union; it is not either to save or to destroy slavery.Ē He goes on to say,
ďWhat I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it
helps to save this union.Ē
...Do you think that this Lincoln movie corrects his image? -Because
historically, I believe that he was shown as a villain.
Well, thereís no question that in America thereís a cult
surrounding the mythological Lincoln and it protects him very, very well.
I suppose there are many important reasons why the powers that be want
to maintain this myth because the American people in general donít want
to face many facts about their country. Hell, theyíre not even able to
understand the fact that itís not actually a democracy; itís a republic.
Under a republic, the states are supposed to have rights.
In fact, the Federal government - the original founding fathers envisioned
the United States of America, i.e. nation states of America, was that the
states would be able to determine their own political reality and that the
Federal government would only have so much power as would be required for it
to maintain certain duties.
Instead, what we have, and thatís where the implications of this film are
quite so profound, is the beginning of the concentration of power to the
point that we see the American empire now at this point in time running
roughshod over the world.
If that Federal government had been kept in check and the states had been
allowed to make up their own minds and decisions, slavery would have ended.
Let us not mistake the fact that Americaís the only nation in the world that
had a bloody civil war that had to deal with slavery.
Every other country in the world managed to do this without such a bloody
war. They did it before the United States, as well.
Lincoln was not this great emancipator.
In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves at all. It
only provided the means for slaves in the South that were rebelling against
the Union because they were trying to increase taxes and so on and so forth.
Thatís the only people that it dealt with.
It didnít do anything to free the slaves up North, and there were slaves
there as well.
Really, thereís just so many myths. Again, the implications of
maintaining these myths is that the American people and others around
the world continue to be in the dark about the real reality of American
history. I think thatís an important subject for us to be aware of.
Ken, what do you think about that scene [in the beginning
of the movie]?
It was a noxious scene, and it was the first scene in the
There is simply no way that black men would have had an audience with the
president in that kind of context and actually been affectively sort-of
chastising Lincoln for more equality not coming that much quicker. Itís
I can see how it would work on much of the American population because itís
been so dumbed down that most people will swallow whatever is put into their
mouths no matter how much rubbish it is. That was an absolutely ridiculous
scene. Thereís more such scenes like that later on in the film.
Ken, what do you think [of the relationship between Lincoln
and his wife]?
Wherever it can take liberty with issues that we canít
possibly know the real details, it does. And where it comes to historical
realities, it just blatantly, intentionally, willfully deceives the viewers.
I wouldnít be surprised if these kind of exchanges are so far from the truth
that it bears no resemblance to anything that actually happened. At the same
time, I donít know enough about their personal relationship to say itís
accurate or not.
In the House of Representatives thereís obviously a lot of
interaction - the Republicans and Democrats are actually at each otherís
throats. How do you think theyíve been portrayed? Was it accurate, their
view towards slavery?
Party politics obviously was a factor then as it is now. So,
that was definitely somewhat accurate, I would say.
The truth of the matter is that the abolitionists were clearly in the
minority. This idea that all the Republicans were very much in agreement
about freeing slaves and what not is again completely ridiculous.
Again, when we see these sort of debates and the idea that Republicans are
for this and the Democrats are against it, thatís simply not true.
The abolitionists - if you want to give credit to anyone in America for
actually helping to bring about the end of slavery or at least get that
issue to the floor, it is a very small minority of abolitionists who really
did stand for that. It certainly wasnít Lincoln, thatís for sure.
Somebody, I think a historian, accused the film of
exaggerating the possibility that by January the war might have ended with
slavery still intact. Do you think thatís an accurate statement to make?
Itís true but the fact is that slavery would have ended one
way or the other. In fact, it was becoming quite unprofitable.
The Civil War was really sort of a tax revolt. The union, the Federal
government, was exercising powers that were being abused and those abusive
powers were translating into higher taxes for the Southerners. This was
making life too difficult for them. That is why, ultimately, they revolted.
Thatís really what this is about.
And the wealth was actually in the South, the cotton mills,
Do you think that Spielberg is guilty of presenting possibly a utopian
vision of the US?
Yeah, itís perpetuating the myth. The myth of America is
freedom and democracy and so on and so forth. In fact, itís an empire. Itís
the latest empire. Like all other empires, itís falling and itís going to
continue to go down.
Also, in that scene it shows another one of those lies, that Lincoln was
somehow a most adored and loved president. Actually, he was probably one of
the most hated, certainly one of the most hated.
Mary says this on the film. His wife, she says youíre one
of the most loved.
Yeah, thatís not true at all. Only after he was killed did
we find some sympathy for him. Actually, many people in America, in facts
large numbers of people would have celebrated his death. He was in fact one
of the most hated presidents.
This is just another blatant lie. You cannot say that that is an accident.
Itís intentional. Itís a willful intent to deceive the audience.
I read an academic online. She said she was going to be
using this film as part of an aid in her history classrooms. I thought, is
this the version of events thatís being presented to future generation in
I think there are some good teachers out there who will
teach in a more accurate understanding.
But largely there is a cult protecting the myth of not only Lincoln but
of the US as a whole. Of course, it would be no surprise at all that
students are being cheated out of a real understanding of history and
ultimately being told this sort of rubbish. This will help perpetuate
that kind of misunderstanding.
Youíve mentioned something earlier. Yes, the acting was
superb but if youíd done it with the accurate facts, it would have made it
all the more better.
With that kind of resource, you know, that kind of acting
talent, the producers, everything thatís involved in a movie of that
magnitude, if it were done accurately, it would have been a hugely important
and beautiful film. Iíll agree, the acting, itís incredible.
But if you had given the actors a real script that reflected an honest
understanding of what had really happened, then it would have been a
Of course, Spielberg is not in the business of making historically accurate
films. Heís in the business of propaganda and heís done it well once again.