CIA recruitment ad draws ridicule—and quite rightly, although for the wrong reason

To those whose image of the CIA is based on Argo, “Alias,” and other CIA-friendly propaganda, this ad seems jarringly off-base—an instance of preposterous “pandering” to snowflakes.

What they don’t know—and how would they, since the schools don’t teach it, and the media has not reported it (or, with a very few exceptions, dramatized it)?—is that the CIA and FBI have long been variously working to depoliticize the left, such as it once was, and splinter it, by “neutralizing” radicals like Fred Hampton, and (yes) Martin Luther King, along with JFK and RFK, who had broad appeal, and replacing them the identitarian tribes that have been warring with each other, and turning most Americans off “the left,” for decades now, without ever talking about class, political economy, or (of course) the urgent need for solidarity.

This is what makes Judas and the Black Messiah such a miracle. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it ASAP. It’s beautifully done, and faithful to what really happened—and, amazingly, takes pains to show that Hampton was a threat because he was organizing blacks and poor whites and Hispanics, to forge a grand alliance of have-nots that would have had the clout to make life better for those people—and, because of that, the people overall—in Chicago.

Now, if you’re interested, and have the time (and stomach for it), after watching Judas watch The Trial of the Chicago Seven, Aaron Sorkin’s “woke” rendering of that trial. Notice how it reduces everything to stereotypes, cartoon-style, telling us repeatedly which characters are cool and which ones aren’t; and—worst of all—how it domesticates Fred Hampton, by representing him a BLM Afro-centrist, showing up in the courtroom, surrounded by a knot of other sullen blacks, to lend Bobby Seale their moral support—cuz, like, they’re black, like him, showing no interest whatsoever in allying in any way with the white radicals (including Abby Hoffman, as played with irritating smugness by Sacha Baron Cohen).

It was gratifying to see Daniel Kaluuya win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, for his portrayal of Hampton—though, for my money, it should have gone to Lakeith Stanfield, for his far more nuanced performance as the Judas, Bill Coleman. It was also a disappointment that Judas won no other Oscars, despite its dazzling cinematography, set design and score. On the other hand, the other two best movies of the nominees for best picture, the Korean Minari and the amazing Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland (which took the Oscar for Best Picture, while she won Best Director), both got due attention; while the two “wokest” pictures in that category, Sorkin’s Trial and the unwatchable Promising Young Woman, won zip.

I can’t recall a recent crop of Oscar nominees including three terrific movies, so it was gratifying, for once; and great that Judas got so much respect. (For another Hollywood production emphasizing solidarity between the races, and emphasizing class, check out The Free State of Jones, if you haven’t seen it.)

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