Errol Morris has contributed a new short documentary for the New York Times’ “Op-Doc” section called “The Umbrella Man.” Like much of Morris’s work, the film explores questions of truth and understanding, and the way in which people interpret — or misinterpret — historical events. I’m not sure if Morris saw the odd relevance to the Occupy protest movement, but there’s an intriguing subtext to “The Umbrella Man” that dovetails nicely with mainstream beliefs that passive protest movements are somehow linked to dangerous acts of subversion or worse.
You’ll have to watch the six-minute short to know what I’m talking about, but the interview with Josiah Thompson, a Yale-educated Kierkegaard scholar who quit his day job as a professor of philosophy at Haverford College to write the definitive book on the Zapruder film, “Six Seconds in Dallas,” offers this key nugget.
“If you have any fact that is really sinister, that can only point to some sinisiter underpinning, forget it. Because you can never figure out on your own all the non-sinister explanations of that fact.”