ON-Lion Letter

This Fall, PBS is presenting a Sundance Film Festival documentary, The Black Panthers:  Vanguard of the Revolution, on its "Independent Lens" series.  Directed by Stanley Nelson, the film explores the history of the Black Panthers.

"I can attest that Nelson is a skilled filmmaker," according to a July PJ Media column by Ron Radosh.  "But despite the claims of PBS publicity, The Black Panthers is anything but an exemplary documentary that accurately depicts the once influential black revolutionary group.

"What the film actually does is whitewash and praise what was in reality a group of Stalinist thugs who murdered and killed both police and their own internal dissenters," Radosh continues.

Radosh is an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports his work.

"In airing this film, PBS is going down the road taken by Oliver Stone and Howard Zinn -- that of airing propagandist documentaries meant to glorify leftist figures of our past as both visionaries and fighters for justice," he writes.  "But in the case of the Panthers, the film goes their efforts one better.  A leftist might be able to make a case that an anarchist like Emma Goldman and a Socialist like Eugene V. Debs faced persecution for the beliefs they held and the words they spoke.  But the Black Panther Party of Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale is a different story.

"What is truly stunning," Radosh concludes, "is the revelation that some of those very Panther thugs are now professors at some of our most cherished institutions of higher learning.  A man named Jamal Joseph, who went from the Panthers to the infamous Black Liberation Army, and who served twelve and a half years in prison for being part of the 1982 Brinks armored car robbery, in which three police officers were murdered in Nyack, New York, is now a film professor at Columbia University."

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