In his scathing rebuke of the widely accepted mythos that is the history of western civilization, Raoul Peck, director of the Oscar nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016) employs various visual weaponry to deconstruct and challenge the false narratives originating from toxic Eurocentrism and white supremacist ideology in his four part docuseries Exterminate All the Brutes (2021).
Peck collaborates with his close friend Sven Lindqvist–the late Swedish author of Exterminate All the Brutes (1996)–the book on which the docuseries is based. He also enlist works by the late Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot author of Silencing The Past (1995), and American historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (2014) in delivering his well documented historical coup d’é·tat.
I’ve binged the series in its entirety not once, not twice, but thrice since its release on HBO Max, giving my full attention to Peck’s grim but gritty voice-over narration as he analyzed and scrutinized with razor-like precision bogus long held beliefs that have infested historical text, religion, science, and popular culture, which has led to the worst global atrocities known to humankind. Atrocities that are still ongoing.
Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way after being subjected to the highly sanitized filter of America’s public schools that I could not trust this country to tell the truth about it’s own sordid history. An early indoctrination into all things white blinded me to the gaping holes, the gaslighting, the blatant dishonesty, the unapologetic hypocrisy rampant in America’s origin story. It wasn’t until I started to attend college that I began to investigate my suspicions about the founding of this nation.
What Raoul Peck has done with Exterminate All the Brutes is nothing short of a call to arms. We must arm ourselves with facts and truth no matter how ugly they are or how uncomfortable they make us. We can no longer afford to leave history in the hands of those who are willing to celebrate genocidal maniacs, mass murderers, racist enslavers, violent white supremacist, and brutal colonizers recorded as though they are great men without a continuing legacy of death and destruction. Because, as Peck demonstrates, it is not possible to study the long, bloody history of western civilization and come to the conclusion that it is actually civilized.