Clint Eastwood’s extraordinarily subversive Richard Jewell easily ranks as one of the year’s best films, if not its best. Eastwood, Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, and Kathy Bates are at the zenith of their craft; superbly scripted, acted, and shot, it stands with Gran Torino as a poignant memorial to our fallen and degraded nation. The word ‘subversive’ is apt, for only a man with the brand and power of Clint Eastwood could have made this film. Richard Jewell strips the emperor of his robe and lays bare the hypocrisy, ineptitude, ruthlessness, and sheer evil of ‘our’ ruling class. It exposes the corroded institutions of our media and federal law enforcement agencies, revealing their soulless swamp creature denizens for the pathetic yet diabolical hacks that they are.
Richard Jewell was a security guard working at Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He discovered Eric Rudolph’s bomb, and through his efforts saved hundreds of lives. The FBI zeroed in on Jewell as their prime suspect; agents leaked this to a sleazy journalist (sound familiar?), and Jewell’s trial by media began in earnest. This man, this hero, had his life raked over the coals and ruined by the corrupt CNN and Atlanta Constitution-Journal. They ridiculed his Southern accent and his lifelong aspiration of being a law enforcement officer. Were it not for the shrewdness of Jewell and his attorney, Watson Bryant, the FBI may have succeeded in destroying the life of an innocent man, as they have many times before. Though this is not included in the film, Jewell won several settlements from the jackals that attempted to railroad him, including Piedmont College, NBC, and the New York Post; CNN settled as well, but never apologized. The retractions and apologies that did occur often fell on deaf ears, as they were never prosecuted as vigorously as the salacious allegations were. His attorney in these defamation suits was none other than Lin Wood, who is currently representing Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High student tarred and feathered by the Washington Post and other outlets.
It is telling that the first person to believe Jewell in the film, other than his mother, is the Russian secretary for Jewell’s attorney. Having lived in the Soviet Union, she understood that often, when everyone in the government and the media proclaim a man’s guilt ‘dead to rights’, he is in fact innocent. This selfsame Soviet cynicism afflicts our citizenry today, in a world in which we cannot trust anything printed under the hallowed marquees of our most prestigious papers, nor anything spewed forth from the mouths of those manicured faces on our vaunted cable networks. Witness the Tawana Brawley race hoax, or the scorched-earth campaigns against Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman. Witness the tabloid circus that came gunning for Brett Kavanaugh. The famous remark of the sadistic NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria comes to mind: “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” These people are capable of sending an innocent man to prison for the rest of his life for nothing. They are capable of anything. We’ve witnessed the unraveling of our institutions into brazen corruption; in our two-tiered justice system, heroes are made villains and vice versa, while their despoilers walk away scot-free. Witness Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone. What about Steve Stockman? Or Waco and Ruby Ridge? And yet the Democrats who have just impeached President Trump have the gall to wave the Constitution in our faces, all the while asserting their prayerful reverence for the maxim that in America, nobody is above the law. All of this begs the disquieting question: How long have our institutions been rotten? The infection has only just begun to be visible. How far must it have progressed such that they no longer even try to hide it?
The term ‘ruling class’ is a more accurate descriptor than ‘elite’, for our rulers are most assuredly not elite, in any real sense. Our consecrated Ivy halls churn out Non-Player Characters capable only of parroting stale groupthink from the faculty lounge. They are incompetent but for their merciless willingness to annihilate; often they are incapable even of managing their own affairs, leaving in their wake a string of failed marriages and alienated children. Former FBI Director James Comey is their personification, a middle-aged Boy Scout (excuse me, Scout) suffering a martyrdom complex and delusions of grandeur. Jewell typified the sentiment that the citizens of a healthy, functional country should have toward their law enforcement agencies. He was raised to revere authority, to believe that government agents literally are the United States government. Jewell’s attorney pithily corrects him: these hollow men are not the government, but are rather pricks who work for the government. Near the end of the film, as Jewell is interviewed by several FBI agents, he launches into a beautifully righteous soliloquy. To paraphrase, he says that he used to think being a federal agent was the highest calling a man could have, but that now he is not so sure. He looks to the great seal of the Bureau emblazoned on the wall, the seal that once struck such awe into his heart; but no longer, his awe turned to ashes in his mouth.
Is it so hard for our rulers to believe in heroes? To believe that Jewell was motivated by nothing other than a genuine desire to serve? They reward apathy and malice, while simultaneously discouraging self-sacrifice; after seeing these consequences, what security guard will ever report seeing a bomb again? Why wouldn’t he just run? Good men are scared away from public service, leaving our institutions populated by the remainder. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
This film could not have come at a better time; a great deal of wisdom may be gleaned from it. We must especially encourage our children to see it, as it is not often that the truth slips through the censor’s sieve. What happened to this hero, who laid a rose at the site of the bombing each year until his far too early death, has happened to countless others. It will continue happening. It will only become worse if we do not heed Eastwood’s unspoken words. We are all Richard Jewell.
“Is it just me, or are things getting crazier out there?” So opens the film Joker, charting a broken man’s descent into a sort of cathartic, redemptive madness. Joker, though not set in 2019, quite accurately captures the undercurrent of rage that palpably saturates our society. We cannot pinpoint the moment that we broke, the moment we strayed from the path and followed the will-o’-the-wisp that Richard Taylor warned us of 140 years ago: “Traditions are mighty influences in restraining peoples. The light that reaches us from above takes countless ages to traverse the awful chasm separating us from its parent star; yet it comes straight and true to our eyes, because each tender wavelet is linked to the other, receiving and transmitting the luminous rays. Once break the continuity of the stream, and men will deny its heavenly origin, and seek its source in the feeble glimmer of earthly corruption.” The film Vox Lux uses a school shooting and the September 11th attacks to mirror the corruption of a young woman into a pop star, a carnival house image of our drug-addled and hypersexual culture. As America lost her innocence, the film seems to say, so did the girl. We do not need to know the moment we broke, however; we reap the consequences of the severance every day. Simply turning on the television reveals a world ready to explode, a Falling Down Michael Douglas ready to abandon his car.
Billionaire pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was almost certainly murdered, no matter what our betters in the media may proclaim. Perhaps the truth does not matter, as the public believes that it was a homicide; and how could they not? Every single safeguard in place failed. Any thinking man must find claims of rote bureaucratic incompetence ludicrous. Epstein was the procurer to and perhaps extortionist of some of the most powerful people on the planet. We will most likely never know his secrets now, the full depths of his and his friends’ depravity. This certainly adds grist for the conspiracy mill, as dark rumors have swirled for years of pedophilia and Moloch worship in the corridors of political and media power. The fact that these murmurings persist and appear to be acquiring purchase among even skeptical observers demonstrates Americans’ deep distrust of our institutions, our unshakably insidious feeling that perhaps our self-appointed elites might in fact be evil, their deracinated Weimar degeneracy seemingly boundless. What must it signify that the idea of our nihilist and hedonist leaders engaging in satanic rituals seems plausible? Healthy societies are not driven to these conclusions.
The minutiae are almost insignificant compared to the awful portent that this is. The death of Jeffrey Epstein is much more than a black eye for the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice; indeed, it is a sign not merely of the times, but of what is to come. The failed state on our southern border has effectively surrendered to the apocalyptic chaos of narco-terror; is Mexico the future? The cynicism and corruption of our elites seems to have reached new heights of brazenness, as the emperor sheds his cloak. Are we really to believe that the government of the United States cannot keep a man in federal custody, let alone a man of Epstein’s potential value, alive until his trial? Of course not. Our government is the most powerful in the history of the earth, with almost limitless mortal capability. What must this mean? We allowed this to happen.
Just as we have stood by as a tiny lunatic fringe minority of homosexual and transgender activists have taken control of our domestic policy, campaigning to normalizing pedophilia and eradicate sexual innocence. Just as we have stood by as both parties accede to the private equity disembowelment of our once-thriving small towns, to the opening of prisons, to the destruction of the First and Second Amendments, and to the eradication of our borders. Just as we have stood by as Leftist-controlled cities collapse into failed Third World states, overrun by filth and violence, as authorities stand by while Democrat brownshirts enforce mob rule on the streets. Just as we have stood by as the Constitution is ‘interpreted’ so penetratingly by unaccountable ideologues that it has become nothing more than a mockery of itself. Just as we have stood by as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been reduced to political weaponry, as high officials commit treason and walk away with media adulation, as incidents like the Las Vegas massacre are barely investigated and then forgotten. Just as we have stood by as terrorists have completely assumed the education of our children; for what else should we call those that hate everything about us and wish to see us and our way of life exterminated? Just as we have stood by and allowed the culture of death to permeate society, from our ongoing holocaust of infanticide to the promotion of suicide to the reign of opioid drugs across the land, the descendants of the pioneers plummeting like Icarus into addiction. Just as we have stood by as the news media have transformed themselves into political propaganda machines, thereby ruining the idea of truth for growing millions who live in manufactured ‘realities’. Just as we have stood by as atheists and Islamists wage a largely successful jihad against Christianity, graciously assisted by the ‘Christian’ Left. Just as we have stood by as hatred of law enforcement soars, patriotism withers, and the military becomes one more frontier for social engineering.
As our rights are lost day by day, as the term ‘American’ becomes a meaningless and contentless geographic designation, as our cities are transformed into unrecognizable outposts of the open society, as our political institutions appear more and more to be a grotesque farce, and as it becomes increasingly evident that it doesn’t matter who holds elected office, more and more Americans believe we approach ever nearer the precipice of civil war. In Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘America’, can we be blamed if we ask why we pay taxes, why we participate in the façade?
We, who are capable of so much, have done so little to arrest the motion of our dispossession, the machinery of which gains traction and speed minute by minute. We have allowed all of this to happen with only token resistance from the Republican sheep costumed as our representatives in Washington, the Delectos, Flakes, Grahams, McCains, and Sasses of the party. None of this was even the slightest bit necessary, let alone inevitable. Have we lost the will to live? Are we afraid of being called ‘haters’? Hatred may certainly exist without love, but love cannot exist in the absence of hatred. For if we truly love something, we must necessarily abhor those fighting tooth and claw to tear it asunder. We may only be ridden while our backs are bent.
Neil Kumar is a graduate of the University of Chicago and is currently a student at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, with roots in South Carolina that extend to the Revolutionary War. He calls Bentonville, Arkansas, home.