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Once the hype for the film was under way, Lee demanded that publications assign black writers to interview him.

"Why not?" he told King. "Robert Redford and Jack Nicholson won't talk to anybody they don't approve."
Many publications caved in to Lee. This pleased him.
"It gave work to some black writers," he said.

We all get the impression from Lee's earlier films that he is a street kid who battled his way to the top in Hollywood. In reality, he was always quite well-off. His great-grandfather graduated from Tuskegee Institute. Spike Lee went to Morehouse College and then the NYU film school. Lee's grandmother gave him $26,000 to make his first film. He is underprivileged in the same way that Scottsdale's Steven Spielberg is underprivileged.

@body:There were strange occurrences in the life of Malcolm X that we will never understand.

Several years ago, an exhaustively researched biography was written about Malcolm by a sociology professor named Bruce Perry.

He interviewed members of Malcolm's family still living who pointed out that many of the stories Malcolm told Alex Haley about his early life weren't true.

For example, his father's house had never been set afire by the Klan. The fire was actually set by his father after the family was ordered to leave the house for failure to make payments.

His father was actually a violent man who beat his wife and children. He died when he was run over by a moving streetcar that he was attempting to board. The Klan was not responsible for his death.

Perry even hypothesizes that it was Malcolm X himself who set fire to his own home in the last days of his life. The home was owned by the Black Muslims, who were forcing him to move out because he had broken with them. Malcolm set the fire, Perry believes, and then blamed it on the Muslims. It was a reenactment of his father's attempt to blame the Klan years before.

Perry also unearthed the information that Malcolm had been a street hustler as a youth, something he never wanted his followers to learn.

So we are left with a bloated, inaccurate version of a life that takes more than three hours to run. It must take this long, Lee assures us, because Malcolm was one of the greatest men who ever lived. And what was it that Malcolm X did?

He was a man who preached racism, who singled out the Jews as the worst of the white devils. He once rejoiced over a plane crash because so many white people were killed in it. When John F. Kennedy was murdered, he quipped: "The chickens are coming home to roost."

He was known variously as Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, Malcolm X and finally as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He was a hatemonger who was closer to being a Prince of Darkness than a leader worthy of respect.

"It's okay to hate," he said frequently in his speeches. "Anyone who doesn't think we're teaching hate is crazy. Even the children of those white snakes will have to be liquidated."
This is Spike Lee's man of the month. No thanks.

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Tom Fitzpatrick