American History X

Essay by Ryankirkland April 2004

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In American History X gets the grip of what terror of fascists America. Not the militias or the red necks of the Kul Klux Klan, but the skin heads in suburbia. This is where Derek Vinyard the poster boy for the Aryan nation, comes from. The movie opens with him gunning down a pair of African Americans because they were trying to steal Derek's truck, just as most people would do in any circumstance. The only difference is that Derek was a skin head, marked with Nazi tattoos. His brother Danny saw nothing wrong, coming as he does from a neighborhood full of gangs, and wannabes, while Derek is worshipped as a hero by his peers for his jail time martyrdom. Danny starts to fall into the same mode of behavior. An example of this when he delivers a paper on Mein Kampf as a civil liberties treatise, the decision is made that something must be done and he get a new assignment from the principal Dr.

Swenny. He is given the assignment is to write a paper on his brother and how he became what he is.

Derek is smart, strong, committed. A straight A student concerned about his community, protective of his family. He's not just some red neck yahoo but he is the kind of guy that you're quite likely to know. Driven by misplaced hate, he just made a lot of bad choices, gone down the wrong path and ended up as unrecognizable, scarcely human and definitely inhumane creature that terrorizes his family and neighbors. The fact that Derek is an unapologetic figure for most of the film caused criticism that he glamorizes racism. His father was a significant part of his life. His father was prone to mouthing off about racial conspiracies while sitting...