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November 01, 1991 - Image 80

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

* -..ionsimmwoomprOMPOSSOIll ,

INSIGHT

Springtime for Hitler

"Blood in the Face," to be screened .Nov. 1 at the DIA, explores
the disturbing world of white supremacists

DAVID HOLZEL

Special to The Jewish News

M mutes into the
film, Blood In
The Face, which
documents a na-
tional gathering
of white supremacist groups
in rural Michigan, the
camera treats viewers to a
close-up of an attractive
young woman. Her hair spills
out of a black cap, she has tied
a light blue bandanna around
her neck, and over her black
coat she wears a Nazi arm-
band.
"You don't look like a
typical Nazi," the inter-
- viewer tells her. "You could
be in a Coppertone commer-
cial."
The woman smiles and
looks away, embarrassed by
a compliment that in any
other context would be a non
sequitur. Trying to dispel
her self-consciousness and to
show she isn't just a pretty
face, the woman changes the
subject to matters of
substance.
"I'm not just against Jew-
ish people," she says bright-
ly. "It's also blacks."
Throughout its 75
minutes, Blood in the
Face happily metes out
lengths of rope to the
hatemongers who gathered
in 1986 in Cohoctah, Mich.,
— a farm near Howell — and
invites them to hang them-
selves. Like the Coppertone
Nazi, many willingly comp-
ly.
It's Springtime for Hitler
meets cinema verite. But
filmmakers Anne Bohlen,
Kevin Rafferty and James
Ridgeway have done Mel
Brooks' The Producers one
better. Instead of creating
Nazi characters and
demolishing them through
their own foolishness, Blood
in the Face's creators have
demonstrated that real life

Former Detroiter David
Holzel writes for the Atlanta
Jewish Times.

80

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1991

is far more grotesque than
fiction.
Between family picnic lun-
ches, white supremacist
leaders — some wearing
battle camouflage uniforms
— voice their belief that
their race is drowning in a
sea of non-whites, homosex-
uals, communists and Jews.
The solution, stated both
implicitly and explicitly, is
revolution to restore
America to its white, Chris-
tian roots.
"I'm anti-mud people,"
declares one speaker. "I hate
Filipinos. I hate 'em all. We
won't take anyone in our
clan below Milano, Italy.
They're just not our people.
We're more Nazi than the
Nazis. All I can say is, sieg
heil and let's go eat."
"This—is the lunatic fr-
inge," says one film critic.
"They come across as ab-
solute wackos. You would
have to be utterly suscepti-
ble to their arguments to
buy into it at all."

N

of everyone agrees the
truths suggested by
Blood in the Face are
self-evident. (The title refers
to the belief that only whites
possess a conscience because
they are the only ones
capable of blushing.) The film
employs no narrator, no
statistics, and only the occa-
sional ironic juxtaposition —
such as showing footage of
Holocaust victims when a
speaker is denying the Holo-
caust happened.
This doesn't sit well with
the Anti-Defamation League
of B'nai B'rith. In August,
the ADL's southeast re-
gional office sent a letter to
its board, rabbis and others,
stating its objection to show-
ing the film in Atlanta.
"ADL rejects the theory
that reason and tolerance
are advanced by allowing
bigots to vent their hatred
without challenge or re-
sponse," the letter read in
part. "Although we do not
plan to protest . . . neither
will we be encouraging at-
tendance."

"Obviously we take an-
other position," said Anne
Dubler, museum currator in
Atlanta who pointed out the
film has been screened
around the country, often co-
sponsored by human rights
coalitions or as a fund-raiser
for Jewish organizations.
"The film forces us into a
direct confrontation, rather
than mediating with experts
and statistics that distance
us and makes us more com-
fortable. This way is scarier
and thus more instructive."
Filmmaker Anne Bohlen
says most viewers already
will have heard the opinions
expressed in Blood in the

Face.
"I've shown the film to
blacks, to Spanish-speaking
people, and most feel that
this is familiar. It's not news
to them," she said. "I feel
everybody has a context for
this."
She says the most
frightening thing about the
white supremacist move-

ment is its infiltration into
the American mainstream.
David Duke, a former grand
wizard of the Knights of the
Ku Klux Klan, is the most
prominent example. Mr.
Duke, a Louisiana state
representative, is running
for governor. "They're on
the rise and they're organi-
zing," Ms. Bohlen said.
"They're trying to get on
grand juries and organize
prisons. They run for office
just to get news coverage."
Like David Duke, many of
the movement's leaders are
anything but yahoos.
"Pastor" Robert Miles, who
organized the Michigan
gathering, "is very news
savvy," Ms. Bohlen says.
Interviewed in Blood in the
Face, Mr. Miles comes across
avuncular and softspoken.
He doesn't advocate violence
as do many of his colleagues.
But elsewhere in the film, he
is shown officiating at a
wedding, dressed in the hood
and robes of the Ku Klux

Latter-day Nazis in
Blood in the Face:
Do they really blush?

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