‘BUTLER’ Director: America More Racist Since Obama Became President
‘People showing their true colors’
Lee Daniels, director and producer of the new film “The Butler,” lashed out on Monday’s Piers Morgan Live at Americans who are “angry that [Obama] is president” and who are “showing their true colors.”
Host Piers Morgan teed him up, asking if “America is a more or less racist country since Barack Obama became president?” Daniels responded that “sadly I think so.” Actor Lenny Kravitz had a more positive analysis but supported Daniels’ assertion about many Americans. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CLAIM: Film Distorts Race Relations
Next year, this nation will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That occasion will rightly give rise to many reflections about how far this nation has come and where it will go in the future.
One early entrant into this dialogue is The Butler, a new film by Lee Daniels. In the movie, Forest Whitaker plays the fictional butler Cecil Gaines, who worked for seven presidential administrations from Eisenhower to Reagan. The movie was inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who did in fact serve in the White House between 1952 and 1986 under eight presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. Days after Barack Obama was elected president, an affectionate account of Allen’s service was written up by Wil Haygood in the Washington Post. But Allen’s story stands in stark contrast to the fictional Cecil Gaines’.
A Tale of Two Butlers
Born in 1919, Eugene Allen grew up in segregated Virginia, and slowly worked his way up the butler profession, largely without incident. Unlike the fictional Cecil Gaines, he did not watch the boss rape his mother on a Georgia farm, only to shoot a bullet through his father’s head as he starts to protest the incident, leading Cecil years later to escape his past for a better future.
Instead, over a period of years, Allen rose from a “pantry man” to the highest position in White House service, Maître d’hôtel. His life was marked by quiet distinction and personal happiness. He was married to the same woman, Helene, for 65 years. He had one son, Charles, who served in Vietnam. During the Reagan years, Nancy Reagan invited Allen and his wife to a state dinner as guests. When he retired shortly afterwards, “President Reagan wrote him a sweet note. Nancy Reagan hugged him, tight,” according to the story in the Washington Post. During service, he never said a word of criticism about any president. Nor was his resignation an act of political protest.