I guess releasing The Help, The Butler and Sally Hemings: The Musical didn’t salve their consciences enough to stick to the principles they had 10 years ago.
In 2003, ahead of a U.S. attack on Iraq, a robust anti-war movement in Hollywood included a TV commercial starring Martin Sheen and Sean Penn visiting Baghdad. There were online petitions signed by Ed Asner; letters to President George W. Bush pleading for peace were signed by Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Alec Baldwin; former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell fronted multiple press conferences where celebrities denounced war. In interviews, Janeane Garofalo stopped identifying herself as an actor — she preferred to be called a member of the U.S. anti-war movement.
And no one has heard from her since. Or from any of them.
“What he is talking about in Syria is a potential war crime,” Farrell said. “It will be illegal, and if citizens are killed it certainly could be considered a war crime.”
That’s Mike Farrell, who left acting to be a member of the anti-war movement before Janeane Garofalo was born.
“It will be a done deal before Hollywood is mobilized,” Asner said. “This country will either bomb the hell out of Syria or not before Hollywood gets off its ass.”
Another reason some Hollywood progressives have been reticent to speak out against war in Syria, according to Asner, is fear of being called racist.
“A lot of people don’t want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama,” he said.
As much as Obama is loved by Hollywood power-brokers, Asner says he doesn’t fear backlash by speaking against the president.
“Hollywood can’t mobilize for that either,” he joked. “If they try to punish me, what are they gonna do? Take away my pension?”
It’s safe to attack Obama from the left. And Ed Asner dropped out of acting to join the left before Janeane Garofalo’s mother was born. But it’s interesting that Ed Asner writes that they don’t want to “feel” anti-black, rather than be “seen” that way.
It’s a distinction that matters.