Tom Hanks is the highest-grossing non-superhero American film star. … Hanks is related to Abraham Lincoln and he has played American heroes, real and fictional: astronaut Jim Lovell, Walt Disney, Sully Sullenberger, Ben Bradlee, and Mr. Rogers, as well as Sheriff Woody, Forrest Gump, and Santa Claus. …
His appeal is that of a genuinely nice guy, someone so exceptional that he can convince you that he is average. You feel that Hanks could be your next-door neighbor. …
Hanks pushes the left’s narrative:
On June 4, 2021, Hanks published an op ed in the New York Times entitled “You Should Learn the Truth About the Tulsa Race Massacre,” that is, a 1921 event during which white Americans killed “between 100 and 300 people.” Hanks has a long history of activism for and donations to Democratic candidates and causes. Hanks’ call would appear to be above criticism, especially from his fellow leftists.
A week later, Hanks is pushed under the bus:
On June 13, 2021, tax-payer-funded National Public Radio published “Tom Hanks Is A Non-Racist. It’s Time For Him To Be Anti-Racist,” Eric Deggans’ criticism of Hanks’ op ed.
Deggans, a 55-year-old black man, has an extensive career focusing on race and social justice. “The toughest thing for some white Americans … is to admit how they were personally and specifically connected to the elevation of white culture over other cultures,” Deggans writes. …
“[Hanks] has built his career on stories about American white men ‘doing the right thing’ …It is time for folks like Hanks to be anti-racist.”
“His work, so often focused on the achievements of virtuous white, male Americans, may have made it tougher for tales about atrocities such as Tulsa to find space.“
It’s got to be about us, all the time, demand the sacred cows:
Deggans details how Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and Steven Spielberg made it impossible for anyone to make films about black people facing discrimination, because they all made successful movies that didn’t feature black people facing discrimination.
“Hanks and other stars need to talk specifically about how their work has contributed to these problems and how they will change. They need to make specific commitments to changing the conversation in story subjects, casting and execution. That is the truly hard work of building change.” Part of that work is to “dismantle” ideas of white American men being heroes.
Many were shocked by left-wing NPR’s publishing criticism of left-wing Tom Hanks. …
That even a leftist hero like Hanks is not above an attack from the left reminds leftists: you can never be too pure. …
“The toughest thing for some white Americans is to admit,” Deggans writes. Deggans can read white people’s minds. White people all think alike. And Deggans can speak for them. Any similar set of statements by a white man about black people would be taboo. Deggans, the White-Man Whisperer, says that “white Americans” can’t admit that Americans did bad things. That’s why we don’t know about the Tulsa Race Massacre. We only want to tell stories about heroes.
Making up factually incorrect stories of the past to get privileges today:
I have heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Those who haven’t have no one to blame but leftists. Leftists have dominated American education for decades. Americans are ignorant of history, period, including American heroes and atrocities committed against Americans. …
Deggans, like Kanye West in a famous quote, insists that Hollywood doesn’t care about black people, and the proof is that no one has yet made a film about the Tulsa Race Massacre. …
Here are some massacres that neither Tom Hanks nor Eric Deggans has ever heard of, and that no one is going to make a movie about. No one is going to make a movie about the 1813 Fort Mims Massacre, by Red Stick Creek Indians, of 400 white and mixed-race, white-and-Indian settlers, or the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre of non-Mormons by Mormons, or the 1897 Lattimer Massacre of striking Polish, Slovak, Lithuanian, and German coal miners, or the Lemont Massacre, and similar events in late nineteenth-century Chicago, in which black strikebreakers, armed with clubs and rifles, attacked and killed Polish striking workmen, sometimes by shooting fallen and injured men.
1917 saw Missouri’s “Hunky Riots.” “Hunky” is a slang word for Eastern European immigrants. “Wielding pitchforks, clubs, knives and guns … about 1,000 American miners rounded up men, women and children, anywhere from 700 to 1,500 … They beat many of the men in the process, ransacked their houses and stole their livestock.” Hunkies “were loaded onto St. Louis-bound trains … a man stood at the door and punched each foreigner in the ribs and kicked him … a fusillade of shots were fired into the roof of the car through the open door. Fifteen hours later, there was not a Hunky left.”
Mike McGraw, who wrote the above description, spent his childhood in the area. Growing up, he knew nothing about the Hunky Riots. Both victims and perpetrators chose to forget them. Yes, Eric Deggans, many people do choose to forget atrocities. The reasons are complicated and writing off amnesia as exclusively a problem of white skin or white privilege or white fragility or whatever the trendy racist term is this week is nonsense.
I practice amnesia. One of the best friends I’ve ever had is the son of two Nazis. Otto’s Nazi father won two Iron Crosses, one for service on the Eastern Front, where, my father told me, Nazis murdered his Polish family. My friends practice amnesia. Beloved friends Liron and Karen are Jews whose family members lived in Poland in the World-War-II era. Many of my fellow Polish Catholics were heroic, and many others harmed Jews. For us to love each other, we do practice amnesia. Like black conservatives, I recognize that America, my country, has done bad things, and I choose to focus on my country’s unique gifts and blessings, and a democratic system that makes atrocity less likely. Co-existence, and, indeed, personal happiness, require selectively applied amnesia. I know about the Hunky Riot and other atrocities. I don’t obsess on them. I don’t use the Lemont Canal killings to make invidious assessments of blacks I meet today. I don’t expect a black filmmaker to produce a cinematic reenactment of those killings.
A filmmaker would have to have a career death wish to make a film showing Indians at the Fort Mims Massacre torturing unarmed white civilians, or black strikebreakers shooting wounded Polish immigrants to death. The taboos one would break in creating such scenes would place a metaphorical price on the filmmakers’ heads. To make such a film would not benefit any powerful special interest group, and there is a limited audience for any film about atrocity.
In any case, Hanks and Deggans create a false picture. The Tulsa Race Massacre has been the subject of many books, films, and television shows. …
The woke suffer from the same misunderstanding as Karl Marx: that life is a zero sum game. No, the pie keeps growing.
The left is about envy and self interest, where as psychological studies show that right wing people tend to be more group oriented, more likely to do things for the good of the group.
I would tell my students a joke from communist days. “Comrade, my neighbor has two cows and I have none!”
“Don’t worry, comrade, the benevolent Soviet system will take one cow from your neighbor and give it to you.”
“Comrade, you don’t understand! I want you to kill both of my neighbor’s cows!”
That joke relies on the envy and fear of success in limited good societies.
I would also tell my students about an African village where I lived and taught. Western development experts had been in the country for generations, advising on well digging, fish farming, and disease prevention. For the most part, locals ignored everything the Western experts said, and, for example, continued to drink unfiltered water, and contract schistosomiasis. An insight into why villagers resisted change, including change that might save their own lives, was provided by the fate of one villager, a man I knew personally. When development workers advised the locals on how to improve their agricultural output, he carefully applied every suggestion. His farm prospered and he enjoyed a much higher yield than any of his neighbors. His neighbors burned his farm down. That’s limited good. This man, by increasing his yield, had monopolized all the good to be had in that village, and his action would result, his neighbors believed, in their farms doing poorly. …
Woke is a limited good worldview. It is a zero sum worldview. In this, it is contrary to the traditional American, capitalist, optimistic, Judeo-Christian, “the sky’s the limit,” worldview.
Deggans’ is a selfish, envious complaint:
Deggans expresses this worldview in his attack on Tom Hanks, whether he, Deggans, consciously realizes what he is doing or not. Deggans is back to that limited good, zero-sum worldview that insists, falsely, that one man’s success equates to the next man’s failure.
If Tom Hanks has two cows, Eric Deggans can’t have any cows. If Hanks’ farm is doing well, Deggans’ farm will wither. If Hanks’ baby is attractive, Deggans’ baby must be ugly. …
A paraphrase of Deggans’ limited good worldview: “Hanks made movies about heroic white men. Because Hanks made those movies, no one could make movies about heroic black men. Because Hanks made movies that featured white heroes, blacks were lowered.”
For Hanks to atone, he must lower himself, and elevate black people in the place he previously occupied. That’s being an anti-racist. That’s Ibram X. Kendi. That’s the “8 White Identities” chart that says that the only good white is a white who participates in the abolishment of whiteness. And it is a Maoist struggle session. Deggans calls for “Hanks and other stars to talk specifically about how their work has contributed to these problems and how they will change.” This is the self-accusation that occurred during Maoist struggle sessions. The less successful, fueled by their envy, publicly humiliate the more successful. …
Woke is fundamentally un-American:
I have lived in limited good villages, in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. This worldview lowers the horizon. It darkens the sun. It thwarts innovation, humiliates winners, shames the beautiful, and punishes the exceptional. No one wins, including those demanding that others make themselves small so that they can feel big.
“The sky’s the limit,” and “there’s more where that came from:” two American phrases that Alan Dundes said encapsulate the unlimited good worldview. We should not silence these phrases, we should pass them on. These phrases should not intimidate; they should inspire. What others have done, we can do, too. And we can thank them for inspiring us.
Read it all.
hat-tip Stephen Neil