I went to see The Butler with friends over the weekend. Interesting movie, particularly for someone intrigued by politics and history. There are moments I liked more than others, but generally, I enjoyed it. I definitely need to read American history more, as I certainly refuse to let Hollywood “teach” me anything. But it was good entertainment.
It left me sitting there grappling with the different approaches to fighting for civil rights portrayed in the movie. The Butler himself adopts a slow and steady, hardworking approach and engages his superiors politely and earns their respect. His son goes on the offensive, sitting in cafeterias to break down racist laws telling him he can’t be served at a particular spot. He rides the “Freedom Bus,” which is bombed out at one point in the movie by members of the Ku Klux Klan. (By the way, they show real images of this, terrifying, and graphic, I might add.) He lands himself in jail on many, many occasions.
His father is dismayed and disappointed, with good reason. (The son’s attitude toward the dad is condescending.)
I see fighting against abortion as the civil rights struggle of our time–representing people who don’t and won’t ever have a voice. (There are other hugely important battles being waged, of course, but in my hierarchy of problems Canada faces, this is certainly a big one.) I struggle with the fact that I don’t do enough. Then I struggle with some of the tactics of those doing a lot more than I, for example, postcard drops or graphic images on the side of the road. I struggle with those tactics while admiring them at least a little (and, full disclosure, supporting them with a monthly donation).
At the end of the day, we all work to advance this cause. The Butler is a good movie for examining your conscience and ensuring that you do indeed pick one method of protesting this injustice, be it a more quiet diplomacy, or riding buses across the country and provoking people to re-think where they stand. Not everyone will be converted but everyone deserves the opportunity to turn away–if that is what they must do. I am reminded of the Wilberforce quote: ““You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”by