Nazis, you’re in for a beating.
That was the position staked out by Brooklyn Paper Radio co-host and noted pacifist Gersh Kuntzman as this week’s show dove head first into the controversy over the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville.
Kuntzman and co-host Vince DiMiceli chatted with filmmakers Cary Murnion and Jon Milott, whose new film, “Bushwick,” eerily centers on a white supremacist takeover of the hipster neighborhood — and their conversation could not have been more timely.
“My favorite part of the movie is when the hipsters, the Hasids, and the Hispanics all start fighting the Nazis together,” Kuntzman said. “It’s a great moment because it shows that Nazis really do bring us all together.”
Murnion and Milott noted that the film, which opens on Aug. 25, is meant to be a cautionary, fictional story, but Kuntzman was having none of it, channeling Woody Allen’s old joke about how to deal with Nazis: “A satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really get right to the point of it.”
“Why should I feel bad if I want to beat up a Nazi at a rally?” said Kuntzman. “In your movie, they do it.”
“I would not throw the first punch,” Murnion said. “If the Nazis march in New York, I hope people here would say, ‘It’s not right,’ but not go down the road of violence.”
Kuntzman disputed the notion that you can reason with Nazis, pointing out that the white supremacists that President Trump called “very fine people” were chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil” — and that was at the supposedly peaceful march. Kuntzman then quoted Franklin Delano Roosevelt — “We believe the Nazis and the fascists have asked for it and they’re going to get it” — and Winston Churchill — “We will fight on the beaches” — to make his point that Nazis need to be beaten whenever possible.
Murnion, Milott, and DiMiceli called for non-violence, but Kuntzman persisted.
“Look at all of you, appealing to the better angels of my nature,” Kuntzman said. “I’m not Abraham Lincoln. I’m Gersh Kuntzman, Nazi hater. By definition, the Nazis threw the first punch. That said, I’m also a card-carrying member of the ACLU, so I support getting them a permit to march. But all that means is I’m a duplicitous hypocrite when I throw that first punch when I see the Nazis here.”
Kuntzman’s call for violence was also not shared by former (and legendary) Brooklyn Paper reporter Andy Campbell, who called in to share what he saw when he covered the race war in Charlottesville for his current employer, The Huffington Post.
Campbell’s reporting made him number one in our hearts — and number two in our noses.
“I was hit by a bomb of raw feces,” he said, when asked about the challenges of covering the weekend events in the home of the University of Virginia.
Campbell sort of backed up President Trump’s assessment that there were wrongdoers on “both sides.”
But he blamed the cops.
“Charlottesville police did not respond quickly enough,” he said. “Everyone was there to battle. It was a terrifying example of hate. But the police did not keep these groups apart.”
Campbell said he saw better police work at a similar white supremacist rally in Portland, Ore. “In Portland, the groups were kept apart, but in Charlottesville, the police made the alt-right guys push through a group of counter-protestors. And for two hours, the cops just watched these two groups fight. They didn’t intervene.”
And then, unprovoked, Campbell admitted that he learned everything he needed under the tutelage of Kuntzman and, to a lesser degree, DiMiceli. “I learned from the best,” he said. “You guys taught me how to report on what people care about and what they don’t care about.”
Eventually, the conversation did get back to Murnion and Milott’s forthcoming film, which stars Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Brittany Snow (“Pitch Perfect”) as two people trying to survive a new civil war as Southern secessionists invade Bushwick.
The edgy, seat-of-your-pants film was shot over 15 days last year in Bushwick.
Kuntzman, of course, wanted to know how two young filmmakers from Clinton Hill could secure $3.2 million in financing and land those big-name stars.
The answer: deep-pocketed “financiers.”
“They loved the script,” Milott said.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, they fell in love with the script,” Kuntzman said. “That’s what you Hollywood types always say. But how’d you get the money? Because Vince and I always have lots of ideas — and, of course, I’m referring to my hit show, ‘Murder at the Food Coop,’ but we can never get the money.”
“Our producers get it from financiers,” Murnion said.
“Now there are two nouns I don’t know. Who are these producers? Who are these financiers? Vince and I can’t even raise $20 for lunch.”
Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 4:45 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on Brook
The boys will be on vacation for the next two weeks, so see you in September!