Or, why far-right pundits lambasting the film should watch it again.
I have read with growing dismay the cynical pans heaped upon Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave from the far-right peanut gallery and led most notably by Rush Limbaugh. The brickbats are misplaced. This is a fundamentally Republican picture, for several reasons.
1. The hero is a self-made man, educated and devoted to his family, working hard to better himself. That sounds pretty Republican.
2. The film underscores the justice that underlies the key act in the founding presidency of the Republican Party – Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – thus reminding each of us that our party is at its deepest roots about freedom, of justice, and mercy.
3. The meta message of the film was not “damn those white devils, but “institutionalized injustice corrupts everyone touched by it.” When the government operates in a manner that favors one group over another, everyone loses. That, too, is a Republican value.
4. This is not a “Caucasians bad/African-Americans good” film. McQueen could have played the race card, and didn’t. Great example for all politicians, but especially for our party as we become inclusive again.
5. This quote, delivered by Brad Pitt playing Bass: “Laws change. Social systems crumble. Universal truths are constant. It is a fact, it is a plain fact that what is true and right is true and right for all. White and black alike.” The case of American slavery proves the bankruptcy of moral relativism.
6. It’s a history film. All good Republicans like history.
There are enough films out there that denigrate American values. This is a film we should all watch to remind us of the virtues of the principles we hold dear.