First, how the dustup started, per Huffington Post:
Clint Eastwood has advised rival film director Spike Lee to "shut his face" after the African-American complained about the racial make-up of Eastwood's films.
In an interview with the Guardian published today, Eastwood rejected Lee's complaint that he had failed to include a single African-American soldier in his films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, both about the 1945 battle for the Japanese island.
In typically outspoken language, Eastwood justified his choice of actors, saying that those black troops who did take part in the battle as part of a munitions company didn't raise the flag. The battle is known by the image of US marines raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi.
Ummm...I saw the movie, Clint. You had a lot more soldiers in there than just the few who raised the flag.
"The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn't do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people'd go: 'This guy's lost his mind.' I mean, it's not accurate." Referring to Lee, he added: "A guy like him should shut his face."Lee's response (well, part of it):
"I never said he should show one of the other guys holding up the flag as black. I said that African-Americans played a significant part in Iwo Jima," he said. "For him to insinuate that I'm rewriting history and have one of the four guys with the flag be black ... no one said that. It's just that there's not one black in either film. And because I know my history, that's why I made that observation."
Clint, meet Iwo Jima veteran Gene Doughty:
When African Americans were recruited into the Marine Corps, they were not sent to bootcamp at one of the traditional training depots. Instead, they were segregated, experiencing basic training at Montford Point. Roughly 20,000 African American Marines were trained there from 1942 to 1949.
During this period, two defense composite battalions, the 51st and 52nd, were formed and many of its units were sent to the Pacific front of World War II. Most of the African American Marines were assigned to depots and ammunition companies and were employed in shore parties at such places as Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa durning the island hopping campaign, Head said.
“The heroic actions of the Montford Point Marines during this period eventually earned them the respect of all Marines,” Head said. “By the war’s end, being a Montford Point Marine became a badge of honor.”
Doughty was one of the many Montford Point Marines sent ashore at Iwo Jima to experience one of the bloodiest and most famed battles in history. He even celebrated his 21st birthday on the black sands and remembers his squad receiving its first hot meal in almost a month that day.
And my favorite paragraph in this whole article:
“We fought just like everyone else and did our best to live up to the title Marine,” Doughty said. “At Iwo, it was said, and I quote, ‘The Negro Marine is no longer on trial. They are Marines.’ And my point is that this is not just black history. This is Marine Corps history.”
Hear that, Clint?