(crossposted at The Blue Herald)
A new documentary is coming out, entitled The U.S. Versus John Lennon, made by David Leaf and John Scheinfeld. Much of the film draws on the research of historian Jon Wiener and his book, Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files. Essentially, the FBI tried to shut Lennon’s political activism down, and they succeeded – even though one of their own reports, establishing that Lennon was a peace activist opposed to violence, contradicted their stated reason for going after him.
While J. Edgar Hoover is no longer around to abuse his nearly unchallenged power at the FBI, with news reports earlier this year that the Pentagon and other federal agencies illegally kept records on various peace groups because they considered them national security threats, the documentary is quite timely. It’s always struck me as sad and troubling that while dissent is a core America principle, fiercely fought for by our founding fathers, it seems there’s always a sizable faction in America that views peaceful dissent as unpatriotic. When peace activists demonstrate, legally and peacefully, the Secret Service, FBI, police or other agencies will not only survey them but often attempt to identify and monitor them as well. While it’s understandable to monitor a demonstration near, say, the White House, there’s a undeniable, long track record of deeper paranoia from the authorities regarding peace activists. (Although it must be said, some older sheriffs and police chiefs, former demonstrators themselves, exercise more common sense.) When people demonstrate peacefully, they are in fact showing the ultimate respect for the United States Government – it says they believe in the process of law, of dialogue, and are, for instance, not interested in the violent overthrow of the government. Despite this, some factions – most often, in the Defense Department or law enforcement – view them as threats. Thus may a middle-aged lesbian vegetarian be classified as a potential terrorist.
Jon Wiener discusses John Lennon and the FBI with Terry Gross on Fresh Air here.
He has a website dealing with the FBI files here.
The site for the documentary is here.
And the official John Lennon website is here.
The trailer is below.