William Jefferson, New Orleans' congressman for the last 16 years, has been under FBI investigation over the last year under bribery charges. However, Jefferson is a Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. To shine a light on his possible, and likely, neglect of representing his constituents' interests would have distracted from the single message that Bush was the evil genius behind this tragedy.
Of course, no mention is made of Jefferson's trip home, when he commandeered a National Guard truck in the middle of rescue efforts to take him to his house to retrieve personal property.
Given what Lee leaves out, it's particularly cheap and sick that he felt it relevant to include footage of Condoleezza Rice supposedly shopping for designer shoes at the time the disaster was sweeping New Orleans. As we know, Condi is our secretary of state, who has no responsibility for any of these matters.
After showing what appears to be a disengaged Bush, assuring that help is on the way, Lee pans, in contrast, to Harry Belafonte, who talks about the generous offers of help that came from President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
I have written previously of the love of affair of the black left, particularly the Rev. Jesse Jackson, with Third World dictators. There is virtually no freedom of the press and speech in Venezuela. If Lee were a citizen of Venezuela and made a similar film attacking Chavez, he would disappear forever after the first showing.
Perhaps most sad is that in four hours Lee has nothing positive to say about America and Americans. No mention is made of the $700 million from private citizens and churches that were committed in the first few days of the tragedy. No mention is made of the thousands of homes across the nation that welcomed evacuees. No mention is made of the tens of thousands who have successfully rebuilt their lives.
Spike Lee clearly has little affection for the country that gives him free expression and has made him wealthy. He has produced a self-indulgent, deceitful and exploitive film about a tragedy. His message will give poor blacks more reasons to feel powerless, to feel lost, to feel that others bear responsibility for their lives, to hate, and to stay poor.
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