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Bisbee 17 Is a Deceptive Propaganda Movie, Not a Factual Documentary

The Bisbee 17 movie is an attempt to use the documentary format to rewrite history. It is slanted toward “might is right capitalism” and glaringly derogatory in its portrayal of the striking workers. Its slant is very apparent in the way it portrays the political and labor climate in 1917. The movie tries to make the war profiteering mine baron’s action as something that was “necessary” for the public good and the war effort. It is ludicrous to consider forgiving the heinous actions of Walter S. Douglas, the mine president and “boss” of the company town, if one bothers to research what really happened. In 1917, the US president was Woodrow Wilson, a typical two-faced liar who ran on a peace platform, but actively sought to enter WWI. He vigorously crushed anyone opposing the war, deporting Emma Goldman and imprisoning Eugene Debs for encouraging young men to stay home and resist the unnecessary war. Do you know the reasons for WWI? The only one that has survived the test of time is the opportunity for capitalistic profit.

Copper mine barons stood to make a fortune exploiting the Eastern European refugees fleeing warring Europe and the Latin Americans fleeing the US destabilization of Central America for corporate profit. Like today with Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Ray McGovern and Medea Benjamin, there is no peace for the peaceful and anyone exposing or resisting the perpetual war machine is persecuted and called a traitor. Note how in this Bisbee propaganda piece, the Wobblies are described as “violent, communist, radical, and treasonous” without giving one example or any shred of evidence. This so-called documentary is actually a call to forgive the oppression, lies and needless war of yesterday so we can continue with the same today. The film does nothing to elucidate the demands of the strikers, instead portraying them as gap-toothed fools. The miners’ demands: “They asked for an end to physical examinations after shifts (used by the mine owners to counter theft), having two workers on each drilling machine, two men working the ore elevators, an end to blasting while men were in the mine, an end to the bonus system, no more assignment of construction work to miners, replacement of the sliding scale of wages with a $6.00 per day shift rate, and no discrimination against union members. The company refused all the demands.” “World War I led to a sharp increase in demand and therefore prices for copper. With prices higher, attention to safety became even less of a consideration. Immigration trends also played to the Company’s benefit. A new wave of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe created a near limitless supply of potential miners. Anyone protesting the working conditions in the mine was blacklisted – and easily replaced…. These inexperienced miners, many of whom spoke no English, created their own safety hazard. Having no training, there were numerous incidents in which miners died (and/or caused the death of others) on their first day on the job.” May 17, 1917, Workers give demands. June 8, 168 miners are killed in a mine accident in Butte Montana. June 26, a peaceful, state wide strike starts in Arizona. July 5, the illegal Jerome deportation. July 12, 1917, the illegal Bisbee deportation. Now, deportations, “rendering” and other disappearances. No, the psychopathic, hyper-capitalist mine baron, Douglas, his minions, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and before him, Sheriff Harry Wheeler, and the vigilante thugs involved in the “deportation” are not forgiven. After their heirs relinquish their ill gotten fortunes and work for a more compassionate society, try again. Until then, this movie is just capitalistic, “war is good,” mock the victims, crap, possibly a training film for modern small town vigilantes.