When Marlon Brando Refused Oscar award

Fifty years ago Marlon Brando refused to accept the Oscar protesting against the portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood

He sent a Native American female actor Sacheen Littlefeather to make a speech on his behalf voicing the protest

By Vidyadhar Date

Fifty years ago Marlon Brando refused to accept the Oscar protesting against the portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood. He sent a Native American female actor Sacheen Littlefeather to make a speech on his behalf voicing the protest. She was booed by a section of the white supremacist audience, John Wayne, the so called star of many films portraying native Indians, known for his racism, rushed to attack her at the ceremony. No less unbecoming was the conduct of Clint Eastwood.

She was not allowed to read the 15 page speech of Brando, one of the most liberal voices in the U.S. It was only last year that the Oscar establishment apologized to her for the treatment meted out to her.

Marlon Brando in 1950

The American establishment has a shabby record of ill-treating anyone suspected to be on the Left. It denied passport even to the likes of Charlie Chaplin and the famous black actor and singer Paul Robeson. Many people like me brought up in that period watched closely the discrimination in days when there was so much intellectual ferment, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations

We were naturally sympathetic to the likes of Oppenheimer. To many people today this is a sudden discovery brought on by the film Oppenheimer. Now after all these years when the Left has ceased to be a dominant force in the U.S. the American establishment gives us this film. So all the focus on Oppenheimer and a complete black out of the genocide of Japanese civilians. Nowadays erasure of history is very much in the news in India with the erasure of Mughal history from some text books. We are so rattled by that and rightly so. But we see nothing wrong in the sustained erasure of history of centuries by the West over the lands it subjugated, the cultures it annihilated.

Out of the international ferment came in 1968 from Latin America the film The Hour of the Furnaces, the ultimate ’60s cultural artifact: equal parts political agitation and bold formal experimentation, its rapid-fire montage of Frantz Fanon quotes and Vietnam War footage called on viewers to become historical agents and complete the film’s meaning with their own political interpretation. And there is so much more to the film.

Marlon_Brando_publicity_for_One-Eyed_JacksIn the context of the film Oppenheimer I read with interest Obama’s speech at the Hiroshima memorial when he was the U.S president.

He not only did not apologize for the killing of civilians, the first para of his speech makes it look as if the bomb fell from some unknown force. No mention of the U.S.

In the last few years international law has evolved and it makes such killing a war crime. Obama as a legal luminary obviously knew all this.

 The True Story Behind Marlon Brando’s Oscar Refusal

Archival record makes clear that killing large numbers of civilians was the primary purpose of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima; destruction of military targets and war industry was a secondary goal and one that “legitimized” the intentional destruction of a city in the minds of some participants. The atomic bomb was detonated over the center of Hiroshima. More than 70,000 men, women, and children were killed immediately; the munitions factories on the periphery of the city were left largely unscathed. Such a nuclear attack would be illegal today. It would violate three major requirements of the law of armed conflict codified in Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions: the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution. There could be great pressure to use nuclear weapons in future scenarios in which many American soldiers’ lives are at risk and there is no guarantee that a future US president would follow the law of armed conflict. That is why the United States needs senior military officers who fully understand the law and demand compliance and presidents who care about law and justice.

Archival record makes clear that killing large numbers of civilians was the primary purpose of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

Cutis Emerson LeMay , chief of the American air force, who had a role in the bombing of Japan, said we would have been tried as war criminals if we had lost the war.

Chris Hedges wrote in Truthout about the bombing – in 1945 the United States demonstrated that it was as morally bankrupt as the Nazi machine it had recently vanquished and the Soviet regime with which it was allied. Over Hiroshima, and three days later over Nagasaki, it exploded an atomic device that was the most efficient weapon of genocide in human history. The blast killed tens of thousands of men, women and children. It was an act of mass annihilation that was strategically and militarily indefensible. The Japanese had been on the verge of surrender. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had no military significance. It was a war crime for which no one was ever tried. The explosions, which marked the culmination of three centuries of physics, signaled the ascendancy of the technician and scientist as our most potent agents of death.

MV5BMTg3MDYyMDE5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjgyNTEzNA@@._V1_He wrote America is a stratocracy, a form of government dominated by the military. It is axiomatic among the two ruling parties that there must be a constant preparation for war. The war machine’s massive budgets are sacrosanct. Its billions of dollars in waste and fraud are ignored. Its military fiascos in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East have disappeared into the vast cavern accountability, licenses the war machine to economically disembowel the country of historical amnesia. This amnesia, which means there is never and drive the Empire into one self-defeating conflict after another. The militarists win every election. They cannot lose. It is impossible to vote against them. The war state is a Götterdämmerung, as Dwight Macdonald writes, “without the gods.”

As another observer pointed out Japan was in dire straits. It was about to surrender. So the bombing wasn’t about ending World War II. It was about setting the stakes of the Cold War by proclaiming American willingness to use weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations.

By dropping the bombs President Truman held a gun to the head of the entire world — and despite Obama’s empty promises about nuclear non-proliferation, that gun remains in place to this day.

Read More:

Indigenous Representation Is Still Scarce in Hollywood


Vidyadhr Date is a senior journalist and author of the book on democratization of transport

 Courtesy: Counter Currents (Posted on 21/08/2023)


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