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"American History X", The Aftermath Essay

1604 words - 6 pages

The title of American History X is derived from the name of a class Danny (Furlong) is forced to take after writing a controversial essay on Adolf Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf. When his Jewish teacher (Gould) becomes outraged, he bursts into Principal Sweeney's (Brooks) office and complains. Danny is called into the office and is told that he must write about the life of his brother, Derek Vinyard, and have it on his desk the next morning or face immediate expulsion. Danny continually complains that his neo-Nazi ways have nothing to do with his older brother, but even though Dr. Sweeney believes him, as he knows who and what Derek is, he still forces him to write the report and sends him on his way.This film tells the story of Derek Vinyard sometime after the Los Angeles Race Riots. An extremely bright and charismatic student, Derek is drawn into the neo-Nazi underground after his father, a firefighter, is shot and killed by a black drug dealer. Derek concludes that blacks are poverty stricken for a reason, and that they are holding back the white race and killing each other off due to what he came to believe was an innate unintelligence and lack of forethought. He becomes second in command of the Venice Beach neo-Nazi gang, The Disciples of Christ, which entices young whites to join by promising protection from predominantly Mexican and black gangs who are essentially in control of the area. He and Cameron Alexander, the number one D.O.C., eventually regain control of the boardwalk, basketball court and beach area, and maintain a large presence at the high school. Alexander uses Derek to recruit other members who the film claims have become frustrated at being attacked by other gangs of different ethnicities to them and see this as a way to defend themselves. The D.O.C. becomes a symbolic gang in Venice Beach. However, under the influence of Derek, who himself is following the orders of Cameron Alexander, the gang does not merely defend themselves from other races. They begin attacking them. They violently attack workers in a convenience store that Derek claims are 'border jumpers' (illegal immigrants) who have taken the jobs of white Americans, who rightly deserve those positions in society. Whether this is true or not is not explained but there is no indication that these 'border jumpers' have attacked white people and therefore this is an unprovoked attack. In short the D.O.C. have become like all the other gangs in Venice Beach.His hatred becomes a crucial breaking factor in his family life as well. When his mother invites a Jewish teacher into her life (the same teacher Danny had, who disapproved of his "Mein Kampf" report), after their father died, Derek becomes more and more obsessed with white supremacy. His anti-Semitic rants culminate in an argument at dinner, where he flashes his swastika tattoo at the man and says "See this? It means 'NOT WELCOME!' The man leaves offended and disgusted, much to the fury of Derek's mother. One...

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