A black man steps into a white man’s prison and puts a comforting hand on his shoulder. The detained man is alone and confused. The realization that his version of the truth is about to be destroyed causes him to collapse. On his body are tattoos that show the outside world that they are not welcome. The symbols stand for what we have tried to forget – a naked evil that came close to wiping out humanity. We remind us of the painful history not to make the same mistakes as our ancestors did. Still evil trickles up and tries to convince us of the same solution as we once tried and that gave catastrophic results in terms of human suffering.
In the Swedish parliament there are daily debates where professional politicians are forced to go to a low level of rhetoric and submissions to respond to the xenophobic party Sweden Democrats. They have to spend time and resources in response to politics that wants to foreclose human resources we need to continue to develop as a nation – time and resources that would need to be controlled in a different direction, such as health care, school, labour, and welfare. Sweden Democrats instead forces politicians to throw away valuable time on the most fundamental in a democratic society, that all people are equal. Without these core values the idea of expression ceases in itself and we are forced to leave the power over our own lives to someone else.
In a debate this week, I remember specifically a question addressed to one of the Sweden Democrats’ most public figures and it was about the responsibility they felt they had against growing racism in society. The answer came as quickly as it was crystal clear: We have no responsibility. This is very disturbing and I can not fail to make direct connections to the movie American History X. In the scene I am thinking of, the main character and the neo-Nazi Derek Vinyard feels he has no responsibility towards his younger brother Daniel ”Danny” Vinyard, who started to show the same trends as himself – to hate and blame others. The black man in the scene have experienced the same and has himself questioned everything and blamed others – the white man, society, and even God. None of it helped because he asked the wrong questions and then got the wrong answers.
Derek got help from the black man and got out of jail, but not unreservedly. To be free of his debt, he had to try to pay back to those he harmed and misled by his distorted truth. He succeeded to some extent but in the film’s final chapter disaster is a fact as his younger brother Danny is executed by a black boy who is just as frightened and confused as he is. Derek yells out his naked anguish with his brother’s bloody body in his arms, but no longer in hatred of others, but in despair over his own guilt in what happened. Once again the wrong questions had given the wrong answers.
Niklas Liiv november 16th 2014