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The Birth of a Nation

3,246 words

Intertitle-North & South Aryan birthright [1]The landmark of American motion pictures is an epic, 3-hour long, intersecting story of two white families, one Northern, one Southern, across three periods of time: the antebellum years, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

It was based on an intensely exciting best-selling novel: ex-Baptist preacher Thomas F. Dixon’s The Clansman (1905).

Jewish film historian Ephraim Katz called Birth

a superlative epic of the Civil War which many historians consider the single most important film in the development of cinema as an art. It was certainly the most influential, a stunning summary of all that had been known about filmmaking at the time, and, much more, an elaborately constructed, complex production that remains effective to this day. Unanimously hailed as a great work of art, it was also an outstanding financial success. (The Film Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., HarperCollins, 1998)

Katz added that Birth “generated criticism and stirred up a rage of controversy over its positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan [i.e., whites] and negative portrayal of African-Americans.”

Among many other mind-boggling innovations, Griffith had intended to shoot his silent epic in Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, but ran out of funds. As a fallback he utilized color tinting for dramatic purposes.

The wildly popular movie was so expensive to produce that, in an attempt to recoup his costs, Griffith charged $2 per ticket—about $46 today.

In New York City [2]

the film’s producers planned a huge opening on March 3, 1915, at the Liberty Theater near Times Square. Using advance ticket sales, reserved seating, huge Times Square billboards of Klan nightriders, special trains to transport white movie patrons from Connecticut and New Jersey, and horsemen dressed in Klan regalia riding through city streets, the producers managed to attract thousands of New Yorkers in the first few weeks after the film opened. Despite daily picket lines outside the Liberty Theater, The Birth of a Nation quickly became the most successful film ever shown in New York City during the silent film era.

The Northern family in the film is Pennsylvania abolitionist and Radical Republican Congressman Austin Stoneman, his daughter and two sons. The Congressman is a fictional representation of U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (R.-Penn.).

A fanatic Negrophile, miscegenationist, and racial egalitarian, Stoneman has a clubfoot and vainly sports a hairpiece.

The Stonemans’ Southern friends are the Camerons of South Carolina, a father and mother, their three sons, and two daughters. The Camerons are city dwellers, not plantation owners.

The sons and daughters of the two families fall in love and eventually marry, underscoring the racial unity of the two sections of the country despite ideological differences.

Several intertitles cite nonfiction books as authority, or announce that certain scenes are historically accurate.

For example, we read of the Ford Theater set, where the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by 26-year-old actor John Wilkes Booth (played by future Hollywood director Raoul Walsh) is enacted: “An historical facsimile of Ford’s theatre as on that night, exact in size and detail, with the recorded incidents, after Nicolay and Hay in ‘Lincoln, a History.'”

Other intertitles quote passages from historical works, including Virginia-born Woodrow Wilson’s A History of the American People (5 vols., 1902); Wilson was the Democratic President of the United States at the time the film was released:

The policy of the congressional leaders wrought . . . a veritable overthrow of civilization in the South. . . . in their determination to “put the white South under the heel of the black South.” Woodrow Wilson. (Emphasis in intertitle.)

Clansman author Thomas Dixon arranged a pre-release screening of Birth of a Nation at the White House for President Wilson, members of his cabinet, and their families—reportedly the first film ever screened in the White House. Later, however, the President distanced himself from the movie as Left-wing pressure against it mounted.

Dixon and Woodrow Wilson both exhibited a familiar pattern among white Southerners [3]: anti-black prejudice combined with philo-Semitism. They believed in a natural racial hierarchy in which Jews were on top (technically, they probably viewed Jews as near-equals to themselves—but such, in life, will never be), whites and other non-blacks in the middle, and Negroes on the bottom.

Depiction of Race

Contemporary violence, rapes, murders, and black governance in the US, Africa, and elsewhere makes Birth a rather tame reflection of reality. (I said reality, not media-induced mesmerism.)

And yet, as proven by innumerable reviews, analyses, and comments about the film, every one of which expresses dismay over “racism” in its familiar stereotyped, hypocritical form, whites are psychologically and emotionally unequipped to deal with racial reality in a mature manner. That such writers combine enthusiasm for Django Unchained [4] with moralistic hand wringing over the “racism” of a seldom seen century-old movie speaks volumes about their spiritual shallowness.

The Little Colonel (actor Henry B. Walthall) spikes a Union cannon with the Confederate battle flag [5]

The Little Colonel (actor Henry B. Walthall) spikes a Union cannon with the Confederate battle flag

The racial dynamics of Birth seem somewhat archaic, involving as they do only blacks, whites, and mulattos. Our problem today is much larger.

Blacks are portrayed as essentially primitive. They have a nature that whites can tame and control, but not fundamentally alter. So long as social and racial subordination and close white supervision are maintained, blacks can lead useful, productive lives in harmony with white society.

But, released from time-tested social norms that maintain the delicate balance between the two races, and placed willy-nilly into positions of power as legislators and ostensible “equals,” they revert to their natural, primitive ways, which are incompatible with Western civilization.

Quickly they relapse into violence, oppression, and aggression against white women, whom they sexually covet.

Under Radical Republican prodding, the black South Carolina legislature passes a bill providing for the intermarriage of blacks and whites.

In a famous scene, Gus, a Negro played by Walter Long in blackface (an actor familiar to Laurel and Hardy fans as the heavy in many of their films), driven by lust, pursues young Flora Cameron (Mae Marsh), proclaiming his desire to marry her. To avoid being raped, she leaps to her death from a cliff.

The intertitle reads: “For her who had learned the stern lesson of honor, we should not grieve that she found sweeter the opal gates of death.” (Emphasis in original.)

Compare these anti-miscegenationist sentiments, widely-shared in 1915, with today’s massive flood of interracial porn and mainstream media propaganda and what they have wrought psychologically and behaviorally among our people.

Through control of the media and the legal system, Jews have altered our race’s innate cultural behavior 180 degrees within a few short decades. In my lifetime alone, anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books, and black male/white female hybridization was almost nonexistent.

It is easy to overthink our present crisis. Ultimately it boils down to power, power, power—and will (“the triumph of the will”).

The Klan subsequently captures, summarily tries, and executes Gus, contemptuously dumping his body on the steps of mulatto Lt. Governor Silas Lynch’s home.

Another theme in the movie is a “good blacks/bad blacks” dichotomy. The existence of decent blacks who remain loyal to their former owners, aiding them even against black lawlessness under Reconstruction, is acknowledged. This recapitulates the theme from Griffith’s 1911 Biograph shorts His Trust and His Trust Fulfilled.

Mulattoes are portrayed as particularly treacherous. Scheming and malicious, they possess a unique ability to manipulate whites and full-blooded blacks alike for their own purposes.

Lydia Brown (actress Mary Alden in blackface), plays Austin Stoneman’s socially powerful mulatto mistress and housekeeper. Radical Republican Senator Charles Sumner (Mass.) is depicted as more lenient toward the defeated South than Stoneman, and uncomfortable in Brown’s presence, reluctant to show her respect. (A wishful misreading of the real-life Sumner, I suspect.)

Lydia Brown joins forces with the chief villain of the piece, Austin Stoneman’s protégé Silas Lynch (actor George Siegmann in blackface), a mulatto leader who, through Stoneman’s influence, is elected Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. In a memorable scene, Stoneman instructs Lynch not to behave deferentially toward him.

Lynch develops soaring political ambitions and secretly schemes against his mentor to enhance his own power.

He also desires to marry Stoneman’s daughter Elsie (Lillian Gish), telling her, “My people fill the streets. I shall build a Black Empire, with you as Queen by my side.”

In an unconvincing plot twist, Austin Stoneman realizes the error of his ways near the end, when Lynch stuns him by asking for Elsie’s hand in marriage.

Abraham Lincoln, the Union, and Reconciliation

Thomas Dixon and D. W. Griffith were anti-slavery and pro-Union. It is important to understand that the nation whose birth the film depicts is Lincoln’s.

The conflict is cast in terms of states’ rights, not slavery: “The power of the sovereign states, established when Lord Cornwallis surrendered to the individual colonies in 1781, is threatened by the new administration.”

And: “Abraham Lincoln uses the Presidential office for the first time in history to call for volunteers to enforce the rule of the coming nation over the individual states.” (Emphasis added.)

Abraham Lincoln is portrayed sympathetically throughout Birth. He is referred to as “Great Heart,” and magnanimously intervenes to stay the execution of Confederate prisoner of war Ben Cameron, the soon-to-be founder of the KKK.

When fanatical Radical Republican Congressman Stoneman protests the President’s policy of clemency toward the South, declaiming, “Their leaders must be hanged and their states treated as conquered provinces!” Lincoln firmly replies, “I shall deal with them as though they had never been away.”

When news of the President’s assassination reaches South Carolina, old Colonel Cameron laments: “Our best friend is gone. What is to become of us now!”

This is consistent with Dixon’s novel, in which Lincoln is seen as a sympathetic character who sought to restore normalcy by shipping former slaves back to Africa [6].

Griffith later extended this treatment of his fellow Kentuckian (it’s puzzling that people should think Lincoln was a Northerner) in his first talkie (and penultimate film), Abraham Lincoln (1930) starring Walter Huston.

Abraham Lincoln looks antique today. Particularly discomfiting are the cheap miniatures at the beginning, in shocking contrast to the productions of the director’s glory days. By 1930 the studio system had robbed Griffith of his independence and creativity.

In the restored prologue to the Lincoln DVD, Griffith shows the inhumanity of the slave ships, takes viewers inside the holds, and deplores the slave traffickers’ indifference to life, stressing the need for a knight (Lincoln) to cleanse America of its stain.

A mainstream reviewer hostile to whites saw Abraham Lincoln (correctly, I think) this way [7]: “Fourteen years after Intolerance, Griffith is still atoning for Birth of a Nation and, indeed, the whole film comes down in Lincoln’s favor, not just on the question of Union, but also on slavery, leaving little doubt as to how Griffith feels about abolition.”

In Birth, his attitude is tersely summarized at the very outset: “The bringing of the African to America planted the first seed of disunion.”

It is the second half of Birth of a Nation in particular, the story of Reconstruction and the hard-riding Ku Klux Klan, that makes contemporary goodthinkers cringe: “Second Part—Reconstruction. The agony which the South endured that a nation might be born.” (Emphasis added.)

Klan riders break the power of blue coated, white-led Negro enforcers of martial law [8]

Klan riders break the power of blue coated, white-led Negro enforcers of martial law

A Griffith intertitle here cautions: “This is an historical presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period, and is not meant to reflect on any race or people of today.” (Emphasis added.)

Exactly how this statement is to be interpreted is unclear.

I have read that as early as 1921 Griffith released a shortened, edited version of Birth eliminating any references to the KKK. I would not put it past him, but do not have any hard information about this alleged bowdlerized version. It would certainly be a monstrosity.

Ultimately, the Klan’s defeat of Radical Republicans’ black supremacy orchestrated by white scalawags and carpetbaggers who “cozen, beguile, and use the negroes” leads to the birth of a new nation founded upon racial reconciliation, distinct from the original federation established in 1776.

The very title of the film thus refers not to the birth of the Confederacy, but to the birth of the Union after the Civil War: “The former enemies of North and South are united again in common defence of their Aryan birthright.”

Racial reconciliation is symbolized also by the double wedding uniting the Northern Stoneman and Southern Cameron children at film’s end.

Griffith closes Birth with Massachusetts’ Unionist Senator Daniel Webster’s ringing cry: “Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever!” (Emphases in intertitle.)

Precisely the same expression occurs midway through the film as well, when Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, preceded by the impassive statement: “The end of state sovereignty.”

A tacked-on ending resembling that of Griffith’s next film, Intolerance [9], provides yet another sanctimonious message of pacifism from a man who all too often glorified, and in at least one instance (Hearts of the World) intentionally incited, war. (An anti-war intertitle opens Birth, and war is referred to within the film as “the breeder of hate.”)

This allegorical epilogue prophesies the coming of the “Prince of Peace”: “Dare we dream of a golden day when the bestial War shall rule no more? But instead—the gentle Prince in the Hall of Brotherly Love in the City of Peace.”

Throngs of suffering people and piles of dead corpses symbolic of the demonic forces of war are dispersed and dissolved, replaced by angelic people in flowing robes. The benevolent image of Christ emerges, signifying the vanquishment of war and establishment of everlasting peace, unity, harmony, and brotherhood throughout the world.

War is contemptible [10]. Even so, grownups who indulge in such maudlin fantasies should be severely chastised. Children should be spanked.

Censorship & Suppression

Even prior to Birth’s release, a sophisticated, well-funded effort to suppress it, or at least censor major portions of it where outright suppression proved impossible, sprang into existence.

The censorship program was fronted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), but other groups were also involved. For example, the mostly Jewish Communist Party USA promoted suppression for decades.

Even while Griffith was still completing work on the film in Hollywood, censors laid careful plans for a nationwide campaign to stifle it. The Los Angeles branch of the NAACP launched a series of unsuccessful attempts to coerce local government officials to spike the film.

Before its New York premiere, the NAACP pushed both the motion picture industry and national censors to condemn the picture.

A full-scale riot was staged in Boston. Riots by non-whites were organized and carried out in other large cities as well, and the the film was refused exhibition in eight states.

In New York in 1922 a concerted effort was made to prevent the film’s re-release, including protests by the NAACP, public meetings, costly legal actions, and sympathetic articles planted in mainstream newspapers. Ultimately, the New York Censor Board ordered numerous scenes cut. (Again, this was 1922.)

Organized protests and legal challenges stalked every attempt to re-release the film through 1938.

Ever since, showings of the film have frequently been squelched, often by the use of criminal violence (e.g., at the University of California, Berkeley in 1980).

An Atlanta censorship board banned the film in 1959, and the town of Riverside, California canceled a showing at its museum in 1978. The right to exhibit Birth in the “land of the free” was challenged at least 120 times between 1915 and 1973.

This unceasing (indicative of intense, long-term focus on such matters only Jews seem capable of), multifaceted program to suppress and censor Birth over many decades was almost certainly a disguised Jewish campaign.

To argue otherwise requires a belief that blacks in 1915 and after were better organized and more capable of engaging in sophisticated, long-term anti-First Amendment activity than whites have been at opposing unprotected speech (pornography) or Left-wing domestic terrorism, riots, and the burning of cities.

What’s more, the NAACP was dominated by Jews from its inception until the 1970s. Jews occupied top executive positions within the organization, selected its black figureheads, and furnished its legal muscle, lobbying, and media clout. (For background on the Jewish domination of the NAACP and other “black” organizations in their heyday, see, e.g., “The Negro-Jewish Rift, Part 1 [11],” Instauration, June 1994, pp. 5–7.)

Griffith’s characteristic response to the attacks was to insist on the sincerity of his art and associate his cause with free speech and a free press:


We do not fear censorship, for we have no wish to offend with improprieties or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right [emphasis added], the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue—the same liberty that is conceded to the art of the written word. (Introductory intertitle to The Birth of a Nation)

A weak reed, unfortunately, against determined foes who don’t give a damn about law or free speech, and are determined to have their way no matter what—up to and including smashing your face bloody.

Among other things, Griffith released an annotated guide to the film that drew heavily on the work of contemporary academic historians such as Columbia University’s William Dunning.

Since then the academic Left has assiduously rewritten the history of Reconstruction to justify its racist horrors, and now refers disdainfully to the “Dunning School” [12] of Reconstruction scholarship.

A Cautionary Tale

One can see from the foregoing how incredibly important it is for Jews to micromanage public discourse and dissemination of social views with an iron hand. They are utterly tireless (and ruthless) in pursuit of this objective, letting neither law nor morality stand in their way. Control of information and opinions is the cornerstone of their power over others.

Despite their immense popularity, Thomas Dixon’s 1905 novel, and the play based upon it, did not achieve the mass impact of the movie. Not until The Birth of a Nation conveyed Dixon’s racial message in the emotively powerful form of cinema did pro-white views attain the critical mass necessary to influence the American public.

Illustrating the importance that power plays in social relations, an unforeseen effect of the film was the birth of the Second Ku Klux Klan.

The new Klan boasted significant membership in the North as well as the South; in Indiana, 30% of adult males were registered members. Klan recruitment reached 5–6 million at its peak. Its iconography, including the standard white costume and lighted cross, derived from Griffith’s film, not the original KKK.

A powerful, nationwide newspaper campaign initiated the process of bringing the movement to heel.

A 21-article investigative “exposé” launched by the Jewish Pulitzer family through their New York World (edited by the Jew Herbert Bayard Swope) and St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspapers won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1922; in 1999 a group of academics voted it one of the top 100 journalism stories of the 20th century.

In short order (by 1925–’26), the Second Klan had been broken, impressive proof of the enormous power of the anti-white element in the US even at that date.

Jewish and Left-wing obsession with the film is due to a keen realization that cinema, and subsequently radio and television, is far more powerful at instilling beliefs and altering behavior than print or plays ever were.

Intertertitle-White men roused by instinct [13]Incensed that such a viscerally powerful pro-white message had been disseminated to a mass audience, and observing its powerful effect, they determined that such a thing would never happen again.

That, not “racism,” is what the continuing fuss over Birth of a Nation is really about.