A new DVD is a hit among white supremacists looking for a smart-sounding defense of their beliefs.
Contrary to its title, A Conversation about Race isn’t really a conversation about race at all, but a slick 58-minute documentary devoted to proving the thesis that racism is a bogus concept invented to oppress whites. Debut filmmaker Craig Bodeker — who appears in his documentary with a surfer-style blond ’do, collared shirt and jeans — is upfront about his project:
“I … can’t think of another issue that is more artificial, manufactured and manipulated than this whole construct called racism,” he says in a voice-over as the documentary begins.
Later, on camera, he continues: “This construct of racism is not an objective term. It has no concise definition. In fact, it’s used too often as a tool of intimidation, like a hammer, against Caucasian whites.”
Although we don’t believe that only whites can be racist, Bodeker’s efforts to refute the entire concept of racism are far from scientific. He interviews people he finds through a Craigslist ad (ambiguously titled “Ending Racism Now”) and on a street corner in Denver, Colo., where he lives. The interviewees, who represent a variety of races and ethnicities, earnestly answer Bodeker’s questions, clearly ignorant (at least initially) of his slant. When they say they see racism in their daily lives but fail to cite strong examples, the filmmaker feels justified in sticking a knife in racism. “All of these examples of this so-called racism that permeates our nation — none of them really amount to anything,” he says to the camera. Bodeker never says whether he believes that discrimination found by courts and government commissions also doesn’t “really amount to anything.”
As the documentary progresses, Bodeker asks his subjects whether black men are more skilled than white men at basketball. When some answer yes, but then refuse to say that whites score higher on standardized tests because they’re smarter, Bodeker has more ammunition. “I guess it’s OK to say that one race is better at something than another, as long as the one race is never white people,” he complains. He makes no effort to examine the scientific findings on intelligence and race, which have yet to produce convincing evidence that IQ differences are caused by genetics.
After trying to get interviewees to admit that blacks are more criminal than whites, he cites rape statistics in which black men were perpetrators and white women were victims. “If selecting people for discrimination based on their skin color is racism, and it’s a bad thing,” he says, “well, isn’t selecting people for rape because of their skin color also a bad thing? In fact, isn’t it a much worse thing?” What he neglects to mention is that it’s unclear how many, if any, of the black-on-white rapes were hate crimes — that is, motivated at least in part by racial bias. An offense isn’t a hate crime simply because the victim and perpetrator are of different races.
Moreover, Bodeker asserts that Latinos are deliberately taking away whites’ majority status. “If we object to the stated agenda of replacing whites as the racial majority in America with Hispanics, it’s us who get called the racists,” he says, “not the people who are openly and actively working to change the racial makeup of our country.”
Bodeker’s documentary has received most of its praise from hate publications and groups, including Vdare.com, The Occidental Quarterly, the National Policy Institute, American Renaissance and the Council of Conservative Citizens’ Citizens Informer. (One so-called mainstream fan of the film is the controversial black scholar Carol Swain, a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University and a member of the National Council for the Humanities. In a blurb posted on the documentary’s website, Swain calls the film “outstanding” and “meticulously done.” “[I]t offers people of all races a rare opportunity to engage in cross-racial dialogue,” she writes. “I highly recommend this film for social science courses dealing with race, class, and ethnicity.”)
The South Carolina Council of Conservative Citizens — a white supremacist group whose national conference Bodeker attended in June in Mississippi — recently hosted a big-screen showing of the movie in three locations. Since the documentary’s release last year, Bodeker has given interviews to the Romanian National Vanguard News Agency (motto: “International News for People of European Descent”), Mark Dankof (a radio broadcaster who also contributes to the anti-Semitic American Free Press), and The Political Cesspool, an overtly anti-Semitic, racist show whose guests have included former Klan boss David Duke, neo-Nazi April Gaede and Holocaust denier Mark Weber.
During these interviews, Bodeker manages to undermine his own argument, providing plenty of evidence that racism — the belief that one race is superior to another — really does exist.
On The Political Cesspool’s Jan. 31 show, for instance, one of the hosts asserts that “everything that is good about civilization — just about everything that is good, from literature to works of art to law is something that came from our [white people’s] minds.”
Bodeker’s response? “I have to agree.”