Taxpayer-funded PBS aired a documentary Tuesday night titled Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and – surprise! – it’s a whitewashed piece of propaganda about the radical black nationalist group.
The film comes in the middle of Black History Month, and just a little over a week after Beyoncé Knowles and a troop of dancers costumed in outfits that were somewhere between “Black Panther” and “streetwalker” raised their fists during the Super Bowl halftime show. As the new PBS film aired, it quickly became the number one trending topic on Twitter for the entire country.
The frightening thing is that films such as Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution act as history lessons for passive viewers, creating the illusion of education while actually working as propaganda.
The film clocks in at nearly two hours long and is filled with too many deliberate omissions, mangled timelines and outright falsehoods to try to cram everything into one article, so let’s just explode five myths from the films first 25 minutes.
1) Buries The Black Panther’s Communism
Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution sanitizes the radicalism of the Black Panther Party. The first example comes about 13 minutes into the film, when they briefly (very briefly) go over the Black Panthers core manifesto, what the group called its 10 Point Program.
You wouldn’t know this from watching the documentary, but the Panther’s 10 Point Program is an explicitly communist, black liberation document. For example, Point 2 reads:
We Want Full Employment For Our People.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
You can’t get much more communist than advocating taking the means of production from “white businessmen” to give full employment or a guaranteed income to black American
Point 3 is “We Want An End To The Robbery By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.” You get the idea.
There is a bare hint of this, when a couple of activists in the film say that the Black Panthers wanted to dismantle capitalism, but in the age of Obama that message doesn’t sound so radical. It’s exactly the same tripe being peddled by Bernie Sanders and Michael Moore.
The outright communism, including taking over the “means of production” gets smothered. Instead, off-camera voices read four phrases ripped from the 10 Point Program that make it sound like polite, reasonable requests.
The quotes are:
We want freedom.
We want decent housing.
We want an education for our people.
We want an immediate end to police brutality.
That’s it. No mention that they want all this stuff free, and taken by force.
2) Covering for Huey P. Newton’s Cop Killing
Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton was indicted for killing a police officer, John Frey, in 1967. Newton was charged with first-degree murder, assault and kidnapping but the PBS documentary completely leaves out all the details.
Instead, they briefly show news footage that mentions the death of Frey for about 4 seconds and then the film goes into a five minute segment about the “Free Huey” movement.
Why free Huey? Did Huey deserve to be freed? What did he do exactly?
These questions are simply never answered. Instead, the film shows people chanting and kids singing and white people joining in the protest, all to “Free Huey.” The film also discusses (and I am not making this up) how sexy the Black Panthers were in this segment.
The dead cop, John Frey? Nothing.
No details from the film at all about how Frey was murdered and his patrolmen partner was injured after they stopped a car that Newton and a friend were in.
The film also never mentions Newton’s other run-ins with the law, but, whatever. Free Huey!
Newton was found guilty of manslaughter.
3) No Mention of Eldridge Cleaver’s Rape Brags
Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution spends a lot of time talking about Eldridge Cleaver, the Minister of Information for the Black Panther party who became the group’s primary spokesman after Huey P. Newton was sent to jail for killing John Frey.
The PBS documentary describes Eldridge Cleaver’s appeal to intellectuals, both black and white. They cite his book Soul on Ice as the reason for Cleaver’s popularity with the smart set.
The film makes no mention, however, that Eldridge Cleaver bragged in Soul on Ice about how he targeted white women for rape after first practicing rape on black women.
As President Obama’s friend and mentor Henry Louis Gates wrote in his book African-American Lives:
“…(Eldridge Cleaver) writes in Soul on Ice ‘I arrived at the conclusion that, as a matter of principle, it was of paramount importance for me to have an antagonistic, ruthless attitude towards white women.’
At this time, Cleaver later recalled, he believed that rape, especially against white women was a political act.
Meanwhile, in 1958 Cleaver was arrested for the attempted rape of a nurse and again sent to prison. There he read voraciously, including works by Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Karl Marx and Richard Wright. He also joined the nation of Islam, whose most prominent spokesmen, Malcolm X., had been, like cleaver, a petty criminal who discovered radicalism and black nationalism in prison.
None of the material about the rapes, Nation of Islam or Karl Marx makes it into the PBS film.
And that’s just the first 25 minutes.
The film’s lies of omission bring to mind the current Black Lives Matter movement, the racially divisive activist left movement built on fables about “hands up, don’t shoot” and repeat offender Sandra Bland. Truth simply doesn’t matter, only the radical leftist political agenda does.
Your tax dollars are being used to glorify rapists, murderers and communists…truly horrible people being touted as heroes for a new generation of angry youth, both black and white.
The ombudsman whose job it is to review commentary and criticism and uphold the PBS standard of editorial integrity is Michael Getler. According to the PBS website, if you have a comment related to the journalistic integrity of PBS content, you can send an E-mail to Michael Getler using this form or contact him at 703-739-5290.
Hear the an interview about the documentary: