American History X

  • Category: American History
  • Words: 1144
  • Grade: 100
American History X



        Will racism ever come to an end or will its path go on infinitely? For the most part, the majority of people respect those who are different either in color, race, and/or heritage; however, there are those few that hold bigoted views towards people who are different than they are. The movie American History X by Tony Kaye displays an example of people who hold bigoted views. Derek, a Neo-Nazi leader, must contend with his actions relating to his past racist views and actions. This powerful movie explores its characters thoroughly and gives reasons why people become so callous and turn towards a racist group. It also exposes insight to problems that plague America when it comes to racism in everyday life, from schoolyards to basketball courts. All together American History X presents its watchers with an impressive theme that makes everyone who watches it take a step back and just say, "WOW!"

        The main characters are two brothers, Derek and Danny, and the way they became involved with the Neo-Nazist's ideas are different, yet the same. Derek the older of the two by five years, is first influenced by his late father. One night at the dinner table they discussed what he was reading in English and Derek told him Native Son. The dad had never heard of it and so Derek explained that it was black history month and so they were reading a book by a black author. His father did not like that very much and angrily talked that with affirmative action, and other such things, blacks were taking away from what was already established by whites. When a black drug dealer shot his dad when he

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was fighting a fire on duty as a firefighter, Derek blamed "blacks, brown, yellows, its all their fault" and that lead him down a dark path. Disgruntled and confused, Derek became a leading member in a Neo-Nazi group, which he called the D.O.C. Danny, his young brother, watched, listened, and breathed every word Derek spoke. He too bought into the world of hatred. During the time Derek spent in jail for killing three black burglars, Danny tried to do everything possible so his brother would respect him when he got out. But the time in jail transformed Derek. He rethought his whole life when his former black principal visited him in jail to ask, "Has anything you've done made your life better?" (Kaye).

        That question was the basis for the movie and a great question. If people asked themselves that simple question, lives would be drastically changed for the better. Derek realized that hatred towards people did not help him, his family, or the situation at hand. Instead of being negative and destructive, why not be positive. Hurting people and destroying property does not solve problems, but only makes them worse by causing more resentment and tension between people (Theriou). Nothing good has ever come out of a situation where one person has been the victim of a crime or abuse. Good things come out of situations where people show hospitality, good will, and compassion; not hatred.

        It is made very clear that Derek and Danny have no affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan. Derek calls the KKK a bunch of disorganized rednecks that very inanely run around with sheets on their heads. Instead they are part of a Neo-Nazi group in Southern California. In America today there are "estimated to be about 200,000 members

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associated with white power groups (included in these estimates are supporters and hard core members plus their families)" (Suall). That is a lot of people who are affiliated with known racist groups. When looking on the Internet a person can realize how much hate is present in our world. John Hron website has estimates of Neo-Nazis in countries and a little bit about how that country views Nazism. America has about 85,000 Neo-Nazi members compared with 47,000 German Neo-Nazis. Germany though has a lot more organization with some political parties openly expressing that they are Nazis. Denmark, Germany's neighbor, has only several hundred neo-nazi members, but with its laws granting very free speech, it produces CD's, newsletters, and pamphlets that promote Nazism's ideas, all which would be banned in other countries, including Germany. Neo- Nazis groups are located all around the world, all with different leaders and organizations. In America Neo-Nazi groups go under the names of, "Aryan Nations, White Aryan, Resistance Church of the Creator, Posse Comitatus, Third Position, Aryan National Front" (Hron). To me, it is funny how Christian orientated "clubs" or church can have such hatred towards people. Jesus does say in the bible love thy neighbor as yourself. "Christian" values and ideas those racist group holds are completely ludicrous. At the end of American History X both Derek and Danny realize the stupidity they have been living in.

        Danny's final problem is that his past racist action cost him the ultimate price, his life. In the end he realized that "life is too short to be pissed off all the time." But his realization happened too late, because he had already created his enemies who had yet to have his epiphany of anti-racism (McNeal). So what does it mean then? Elizabeth Allen

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thought if someone is a racist they should not change their ways because it could cost them their life. No. That is not the point. Instead the movie's theme consists of being happy with yourself and others, and not to hate. A person must be content with who they are, what they stand for, and where they are going with their lives. Once a person accomplishes that, he can then be open to others more easily (McDougal). Hate itself takes up a lot of energy. All that wasted energy could be channeled into other areas that are more rewarding such as helping others.

         For an explanation unknown to anyone, some people are inclined to hating others. Motives may perhaps be because they are insecure of who they are, feel threaten by someone, or an explanation which no one has. The movie explains a major reason why people hate is because they want to blame someone else for their misfortunes. It is always nice to put the responsibility on somebody else's shoulders. Hopefully in a near future people can begin to comprehend how foolish it is to hate all the time, and then start to love.



Works Cited:

        . Impersonal Interview. 4 March 2000.



Hron, John. "What does our future hold?" 10 March 2000. Available

http://users.powernet.co.uk/orion/nazicnt.htm



. Movie discussion. 10 March 2000.



        . Movie discussion. 10 March 2000.



Suall, Irwin. Skinhead International : A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi

Skinheads. Berlin. Anti-Defamation League of Bnai. April 1995



. Impersonal Interview. 4 March 2000.
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