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Edward Norton portrays a menacing neo-Nazi skinhead--his chest emblazoned with a huge swastika--who rages for retribution over the murder of his father and despair over the America of his childhood that he sees slipping away In the film there are unnerving scenes of racial violence of black youths kicking a helpless white student in a high school restroom of a Korean-owned grocery store terrorized by skinhead thugs of an African American whose skull is split open by a skinhead who orders him to lie face down on a curbIn its early years Hollywood rarely dealt with racial and religious prejudice although there were notable attempts in such films as Crossfire 1947 Gentlemans Agreement 1947 and To Kill a Mockingbird 1962Experts who track hate crimes say society benefits when Hollywood tackles such difficult subjects as bigotry and hateToo often they say filmmakers fall back on stereotypes to depict perpetrators of hate crimes--stereotypes that audiences often have difficulty identifying with I think when we associate hate crimes with neo-Nazis skinheads and real Nazis we put our concept of these perpetrators far away and we can say Theyre nobody I know but I think that is a disservice said Lester Olmstead-Rose executive director of Community United Against Violence a group that works on violence within and against San Franciscos gay community Mainstream America sees this sort of right-wing neo-Nazi movement as being part of a fringe part of an extreme as opposed to seeing how some of the practices and ideas commonly held in America create fertile territory for these ideas to grow and festerWhen their father is murdered by a black Derek is consumed by pain grief and anger eventually leading him to the skinheads When he murders two blacks trying to steal his car he is sent to prison where he undergoes a transformation and leaves a changed man who attempts to rescue his younger brother from a similar fateAmerican History X is a no-holds-barred
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