Although I watched the 1937 movie titled Black Legion because it was a vehicle for the early acting career of Humphrey Bogart, it very much reminded me of the shenanigans of modern-day white supremacists such as D. J. (Dishonest John) Drumph. If you get a chance, listen closely to the anti-foreigner diatribe and the blaming of the woes of all upright (white) Americans on someone else … often referred to as The Other.
Although the Black Legion was an offshoot of the more well-known hate-group, the Klu Klux Klan (KKK which is easier for the members to spell), the real message all Americans should be hearing in the movie or real-life screed is that these white supremacists are out to vilify and destroy anyone who is not like them. Depending on the period of history, this has included such groups as Italians, Poles, Irish, Jews, Muslims, Africans, homosexuals, gypsies, and anyone born South of the Border from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.
When I moved to St. Louis in the sixties to attend graduate school I was appalled to watch The Veiled Prophet Ball. They had a parade and covered the whole event on television like it was the World Series. I have to admit that my response at that time was total knee-jerk disgust without even trying to understand the history of the event; yet I’m fairly certain I would not be assuaged now, over sixty years later. To use a modern cliché, the optics sucked.
There’s a telling sign at the end of this film clip referencing another film of the time: Bullets or Ballots. This reminds me that more and more stories and television spots are suggesting that if the ballots don’t meet the wishes of a vocal group of white supremacists, the remedy would be bullets or, as I heard just last week, the election would be decided by some whack-job’s .357 Magnum.
There’s another important observation to be made about Black Legion: It turns out it was all a money-making scam perpetrated by the greed of wealthy individuals playing upon the fears and ignorance of simple Americans. I guess that trop will always be timely and relevant.
There will always be a Dishonest John trying to sink the Leakin’ Lena.