Mark Tapson is the Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
In a panicked move to signal its commitment to racial justice, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a gaggle of Los Angeles-based, international journalists, has booted 88-year-old member Philip Berk from its ranks. The South African-born Berk was not just a run-of-the-mill reporter in the association; he had belonged to it for 44 years and was an eight-time president there. His unforgiveable transgression? Last weekend he shared an email with HFPA members, staff, general counsel, and COO containing a cut-and-pasted article which slammed the powerful Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as “a racist hate organization.”
Berk reportedly did not cite the source or add the link in his email, but the Los Angeles Times identified the article in question as “BLM Goes Hollywood,” written by Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and posted at FrontPage Mag on Monday, April 12. The piece centers on Hollywood’s embrace of the BLM co-founders, particularly Patrisse Cullors, who has stirred controversy and even angered some BLM supporters recently by making her fourth home purchase, a $1.4 million compound in an affluent white neighborhood in Southern California. Cullors has also been signed by the powerful CAA talent agency and by Warner Bros. studio in a lucrative deal to develop scripted dramas and comedies, docuseries, and animated programming for children, young adults and families.
Typically for Greenfield, his article pulled no punches, condemning BLM as a “hate group” whose “race rioters burned buildings and terrorized communities” nationwide in 2020, and skewering its self-proclaimed Marxist leaders for their big-spending hypocrisy and cynical exploitation of white racial guilt.
One triggered HFPA member labeled Berk’s email “racist,” another “vile,” and a third called him “a thundering disgrace.” Member Rui Coimbra reportedly replied to Berk, “As a former HFPA President and still a strong and influential voice in the group, this is not the [type] of information you should be disseminating to HFPA members. Please remove me from any racist email you wish to send to the membership.”
Prior to Berk’s official expulsion from the HFPA, the organization released a statement damning Greenfield’s article: “The views expressed in the article circulated by Mr. Berk are those of the author of the article and do not — in any way shape or form – reflect the views and values of the HFPA. The HFPA condemns all forms of racism, discrimination and hate speech and finds such language and content unacceptable.”
The statement did not identify anything racist, discriminatory, or hateful in Greenfield’s article – but then, it didn’t need to; the mere fact that the article dared castigate the untouchable BLM was sufficient cause for the HFPA to hurriedly discredit it and distance itself from it. They must have found the article especially galling because the left regularly (and falsely) uses terminology like “racist hate group” to smear pro-American organizations like the Freedom Center, but they are unaccustomed to having it thrown back in their faces to describe anti-American radicals like BLM.
The HFPA, you may recall, conducts the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony. The show’s ratings, like those of other entertainment awards programs in our Era of Incessant Celebrity Virtue-Signaling, have been tanking recently: the 2020 show marked an eight-year ratings low, and this year’s program plunged to an all-time low in the crucial 18-49 age demographic. This hemorrhaging of viewers is largely because of showbiz’s left-wing politicization and support for extreme movements like Black Lives Matter. But wokeness rules corporate America today, so entertainment entities like the HFPA would rather continue to commit ratings suicide than be seen by fellow Progressives as an organization that would tolerate criticism of BLM from one of its members, even one as prominent as Philip Berk.
So last Tuesday, both NBC, which broadcasts the Golden Globes, and MRC, which owns the company that produces the ceremony, Dick Clark Productions, issued statements demanding Berk’s immediate expulsion from the HFPA. MRC declared, “We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, artists, journalists and executives who have been hurt or overlooked by the HFPA. We are disgusted by the racist rhetoric disseminated by a member yesterday.”
Racist rhetoric? There was none in Greenfield’s article. But again, that is irrelevant to Progressives: today’s black Democrat privilege means that any opposition to BLM’s push for the toppling of capitalist America is automatically deemed racist and puts you in the crosshairs of the left’s politics of personal destruction.
Another reason for such outrage is that the HFPA has been under scrutiny since a Los Angeles Times exposé earlier this year revealed there are zero blacks among its 87 voting members. That prompted the embarrassed organization to retain a diversity specialist and vow publicly to take concrete steps toward racial reforms. Then along came its former president Berk, distributing an article exposing BLM hypocrisy; damage control had to be swift and unequivocal.
“Effective immediately, Phil Berk is no longer a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” read the statement subsequently released from the HFPA board. “It’s unfortunate because he has been a big part of the organization—he was very important in the past, but it absolutely had to be done,” member Gabriel Lerman told Newsweek. “I don’t think anybody will disagree with that.”
No one will disagree with it because no one in the Hollywood press (or the broader mainstream media, for that matter) will dare break from leftist orthodoxy and give anything less than full-throated support for the feared Black Lives Matter movement and its violent supporters, lest he or she incur the wrath of the woke mob for whom any criticism of BLM is blasphemous. No one in Hollywood or the media wants to have his or her career cancelled like Philip Berk’s.
The truth is that Black Lives Matter is not a civil rights organization but “a hardcore Marxist movement whose overriding mission is to raze American society and its traditions to the ground, and to erect a Communist utopia upon those ruins,” writes the Freedom Center’s John Perazzo in his booklet Black Lives Matter: Marxist Hate Dressed Up as Racial Justice. “Toward that end, BLM works tirelessly to discredit the United States as an irredeemably racist wasteland founded upon nothing but slavery, genocide, and all manner of oppression.”
The only black lives that matter to BLM are the ones that can be weaponized politically in the service of that agenda. They don’t care about the lives lost in the epidemic of black-on-black violence in America, or the black lives disproportionately taken in the left’s sacred temples of abortion clinics, or the lives of black policemen like retired officer David Dorn, a father of five killed by a looter in the wake of a “mostly peaceful” protest of the death of George Floyd.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association very publicly shunned Philip Berk over an email shared internally, because the Freedom Center’s Daniel Greenfield told truths in it that left-leaning journalists rush to suppress. But the only force that can disempower the political and cultural juggernaut of Black Lives Matter is the truth, and the courage to speak it.