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Monday, January 14, 2008

The uselessness of hatred

Last night, I was watching the movie American History X. While watching this picture, I was reminded how something as simple as hatred of the color of another person's skin can make intelligent and educated people behave in such irrational ways.


The movie starts with a white supremacist ( played by Edward Norton) when he shoots and kills two black gang members who are trying to steal his car. For this, he is arrested and spends several years in prison. When he get out, he find that his kid brother (played by Edward Furlong) is very close to going down the same path that he did.


The younger brother, meanwhile, has been given an assignment by the teacher that his own brother had( played by Avery Brooks) to chronicle the effects that irrational hatred has had on his family. He traces the beginning of that reign of hatred to a conversation that his brother had with their father. Their father is complaining about how he had to take two black men on his squad (he is a fire fighter) in the place of two better qualified fire fighters who just happened to be white.


Soon after this conversation, the fatther is killed in the line of duty by a person whose life he had just saved.


When he starts this assignment, the younger brother writes about several incidents of increasing violence, including the riots after the Rodney King beating. These episodes lead up to the arrest of the older brother for the before mentioned killing. After he is paroled, the older brother decides he talks ot the younger brother about his experiences while he is in prison.
After Edward Norton's character is paroled from prison, he personally confronts the man who got him started down the path that he had followed and says that he is done with him and so is his brother.
The tragedy is that at the end of this movie, Edward Furlong's character is fatally shot in the bathroom by a black youth that he had an altercation before.

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