MEMO FROM MIDDLE AMERICA: Reviewers (And Director Martin Scorsese) Wrong—KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON Not An Anti-White Film
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Killers of the Flower Moon is the biggest-budget movie ever made in my home state of Oklahoma. Filmed in Osage County with its beautiful, rolling prairie, the movie is based on David Grann’s book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. The book and film explore the murders of oil-rich and wealthy Osage Indians in the 1920s, investigated by the then newly created FBI. Personally, I don’t see the book or the movie as particularly anti-white. Yes, the bad guys were white. Then again, so were the good guys! But of course communists are using the movie to portray American history through the red lens of Critical Race Theory.

The Osage Indians lived, hunted, fought, and traveled where Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri come together, and eventually were settled on a reservation in northern Oklahoma.

The War Between the States divided the Osage, just as it did the entire country. A Confederate Osage Battalion didn’t surrender until June 23, 1865, along with Cherokee Confederate General Stand Watie, two and a half months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox.

While still in Kansas, Osage were evangelized by Dutch Jesuit Catholic missionary John Schoenmakers, the “Apostle to the Osages.” A Catholic church in Pawhuska called the Cathedral of the Osage boasts a stained-glass window, custom-made in Munich, Germany, portraying Schoenmakers’ preaching. The priest’s audience includes four chiefs, including the great Chief Bacon Rind, sporting their otter-skin caps. Because the window included then-living persons, a special dispensation from the Vatican was required to make and install it.

Three famous Osage:  Major General Clarence Tinker, namesake of Tinker Air Force Base, and the Tallchief sisters, Maria and Marjorie, world-renowned ballerinas.

Contra the Supreme Court’s awful McGirt ruling, all of Oklahoma’s Indian reservations were abolished by statehood in 1907. The Osage Reservation became Osage County. Individual Osages received private property allotments. But, in contrast to other tribes, the Osage insisted on and successfully retained the sub-soil mineral rights to the entire county, Oklahoma’s largest.

It turned out that a lot of oil was under Osage County. By the 1920s the Osage were extremely wealthy. Indeed, they were wealthy enough to afford chauffeur-driven cars.

Yet their oil wealth made the Osage a target for unscrupulous and greedy whites, and in the 1920s a significant number of Osage Indians were murdered to obtain their petroleum “headrights,” which could not be sold but could be inherited. Thus, spouses sometimes were involved in these murders. The exact death toll is unknown, but might have been in the hundreds.

Killers of the Flower Moon revolves around Osage woman Mollie and her family.

Mollie is portrayed by Lily Gladstone, an actress who belongs to several Indian tribes—but not the Osage—and is part-white. As her surname suggests, she is distantly related to 19th-century British Prime Minister William Gladstone. Mollie’s husband is Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio). He helps his uncle, prominent rancher and county crime kingpin William King Hale (Robert De Niro), engineer some of the murders to gain oil rights.

Corrupt local officials impede a police investigation, so J. Edgar Hoover of the Bureau of Investigation, which became the FBI, sends agent Tom White to investigate. White is portrayed by Jesse Plemons, who ably played the quiet and childlike murderous sociopath, Todd Alquist, in Breaking Bad.

As they were in real life, Burkhart is sentenced to life imprisonment, as is William King Hale (who should have gotten the chair). Eventually, both were released. Many other cases were never properly investigated. But the murders for oil rights ceased.

The story is part of Oklahoma’s and America’s history. I believe it cannot and should not be whitewashed. But neither should it be used to bash whites as irredeemably evil.

But that’s not what Lex Briscuso, writing at Slashfilm [Tweet her], thinks. She got right to her point:

Time and time again throughout history, the white man has proven he cannot be trusted. In Martin Scorsese’s twenty-sixth film ”Killers of the Flower Moon,” he shows us another staggering real-life example of that very warning.

Killers Of The Flower Moon Review: A Cautionary Masterpiece On The Insidiousness Of White Men [Cannes 2023], May 20, 2023

Maybe Briscuso should tell us how she really feels!

In her final paragraph, Briscuso asserts that

white supremacy—and the idea that the individuals after the almighty dollar are more worthy than the ones who are rightfully owed it—tends to settle itself firmly within that spectrum, and the only way to fight it is by arming ourselves with the knowledge of how it spreads and poisons as much purity as possible.

This conventional Leftist nonsense also oozed out of an editorial in Oklahoma’s Tulsa World, which linked the murder of Osage Indians to what “white supremacists” are allegedly doing in Oklahoma today.

The editorial cited an interview with Yancey Red Corn, who played an Osage chief in the movie and is the descendant of a murder victim.

“It is about white supremacy, which is making a strong resurgence right now,” Red Corn told the interviewer. “I hope it lets people look at themselves … But, you know, we always repeat ourselves.”

That bit of Indian wisdom segued into this compilation of data from the notorious Anti-Defamation League (formerly of B’nai B’rith:

White supremacists targeted Oklahoma communities 169 times in 2022. The Anti-Defamation League’s annual assessment of propaganda activity said that’s an increase of 164% from the previous year.

Twenty-nine of those incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution and events happened in Tulsa. Oklahoma City saw 21.

Add up the incidents across the country, and it’s an all-time high: 6,751 incidents in 2022, a 38% increase over the previous year.

[Editorial: Killers of the Flower Moon’ is our chance to learn from white supremacy, June 4, 2023]

It sounds really bad, doesn’t it?

But “distributing propaganda” is protected by the First Amendment. Nine of the 11 “antisemitic incidents” involved exactly that: propaganda distribution, posting stickers, swastika graffiti, and an “antisemitic job application.”

Granted, two of the incidents were crimes, but they were bomb threats—nothing actually happened.

The ADL map lists two “extremist murders” in 2022, but they involved members of prison-based gangs. One murder was over a drug debt, committed by a member of the Oklahoma-based Universal Aryan Brotherhood.  The other murder was perpetrated by a member of the United Aryan Brotherhood, who sexually assaulted and murdered a    two-year-old girl. 

So neither of these murders were motivated by ideology or “white supremacism.” (See also Steve Sailer’s ADL Counts Murders As ”Extremist” When White Criminals Kill Each Other, Blacks And Latinos Not So Much).

But let’s move to the director, Martin Scorsese. The Goodfellas and Raging Bull director said the story is “a sober look at who we are as a culture” [Martin Scorsese Still Has Stories to Tell, by Stephanie Zacharek, Time, September 12, 2023].

You don’t have be an Osage medicine man to know what that means!

Then again, we are also assured that Killers of the Flower Moon is not a dreaded “white savior” movie.

White savior is “a critical description of a white person who is depicted as liberating, rescuing or uplifting non-white people,” Wikipedia explains:

It is critical in the sense that it describes a pattern in which people of color in economically under-developed nations that are majority non-white are denied agency and are seen as passive recipients of white benevolence.

So it’s bad for whites to hurt non-whites—but it’s also bad for them to help non-whites!

In cinema, Wikipedia continues, “the white savior is a cinematic trope in which a white central character rescues non-white (often less prominent) characters from unfortunate circumstances.”

So the white savior is the obverse of the Magical Negro, who rescues or imparts wisdom to whites.

Movies fingered for the White Savior Trope:

Many of the tough-teacher movies—Hilary Swank’s Freedom Writers, Meryl Streep’s Music of the Heart, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Dangerous Minds—follow the same narrative.

But Gladstone denies that the White Savior narrative is part of Killers of the Flower Moon.

“It’s not a White-Savior story,” she told Vulture’s Alison Willmore. “It’s the Osage saying, ‘Do something. Here’s money. Come help us’” [All Eyes on Lily Gladstone, Fall Preview 2023].

But my question: in what sense is it not a white savior movie?

Federal agent Tom White, who finally cracked some of the cases, is a white savior, as is his entire team, which was all white with the exception of an Indian.

White juries convicted Hale and Burkhart.

And if whites hadn’t invented the Industrial Revolution and oil exploration, none of that “black gold” under the ground would have done the Osage a bit of good.

So I think it’s hard to dismiss the White Savior Trope—aka fact.

Amusingly, though Gladstone disavowed the White Savior Trope, she herself presented Director Scorsese as a sort of White Savior.

“Who else is going to challenge people to challenge their own complicity in White Supremacy … except for this man here?” she said. “Other artists are doing that work—people listen to what this one says. We need these allies” [’Killers of Flower Moon’ star says Native Americans need allies like Scorsese, Reuters, May 21, 2023].

When you get right down to it, the whole Woke, Leftist, anti-white ethos is itself a White Savior Trope.

Whites of 2023 are supposed to blame themselves for all the problems of non-whites, to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves, and to subsidize the Great Replacement to “save” non-whites. Sounds like a White Savior Trope writ large.

The Killers of the Flower Moon is a great piece of cinema. But it’s not descriptive of what’s happening today.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan‘s wife is from Mexico and is now a U.S. citizen, their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Border Hawk blog archive is here, his website is here.


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