Quentin Tarantino Calls Confederate Flag an "American Swastika"

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The 'Hateful Eight' director talks about how his film was influenced by the Charleston church shooting, saying that "it's about damn time" people start questioning things like having statues of Confederate generals in parks.

Quentin Tarantino thinks it's "about damn time" Americans condemn the Confederate flag as an emblem of racial division and hatred, a symbol he sees as an "American Swastika." 

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the Hateful Eight director minced no words in describing his feelings about the flag and also opened up about the intersection between his brutal new film — a Western set in the post-Civil War era — and its increasing relevance to the present American moment.

Tarantino says that he deliberately shaped Hateful Eight to "tap into" modern racial strife and violence and the sense that often "the law" is on the wrong side of justice.

"But then as we were making it," Tarantino tells The Telegraph, "as the events of the last year and a half just kept happening, the movie became more relevant than we ever could have imagined." In particular, Tarantino points to the pervasive unrest that followed the fatal 2014 shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo.

But Tarantino says that the event that affected him most deeply was the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C., during which eight African-American parishioners and their pastor were shot and killed during a prayer meeting by — as Tarantino describes — "a white supremacist asshole … who wraps himself up in the Rebel flag."

Tarantino explains that the Mother Emanuel shooting actually brushed up against his fictional story so closely that, for the first time, the unfolding of actual events made a line he had written too obvious: At the beginning of the film, Walton Goggins' sheriff delivers a diatribe that ends with the line, "When n— are scared, that’s when white folks are safe." Originally, the line referenced the sheriff's own killing of blacks during the Civil War, with him instead saying: "You ask the white folks of South Carolina if they feel safe."

The director adds that he was surprised by what happened after the shootings.

"All of a sudden, people started talking about the Confederacy in America in a way they haven’t before," says the director. "I mean, I’ve always felt the Rebel flag was some American Swastika. And, well, now, all of a sudden, people are talking about it, and now they’re banning it, and now it’s not OK to have it on f—ing license plates and coffee cups and stuff.

"And people are starting to question about stuff like statues of Bedford Forrest [the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard] in parks. Well, it’s about damn time, if you ask me."