Where is the Anti-War Hollywood?
And on the 250th day of the Trump presidency, God said to his people: “We have been attacked. We are at war.”
BAILEY T. STEEN | TRIGTENT | OCTOBER 2, 2017
Or so says an actor who once played God, now starring in the video released last week by The Committee to Investigate Russia, a “non-partisan” organization calling on President Donald Trump to be much more aggressive towards another global superpower, founded by When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner and prominent neoconservative political commentator for The Atlantic David Frum. Two elite figures who, with their mere involvement alone, crush the idea that this #NeverTrump effort is indeed non-partisan. Instead opting to hide behind the commanding presidential voice of Deep Impact actor Morgan Freeman to deliver this week’s propagandist two minutes hate that doesn’t even rise to the level of Duck and Cover:
Imagine this movie script: A former KGB spy, angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge. Taking advantage of the chaos, he works his way up through the ranks of a post-Soviet Russia, and becomes president. He establishes an authoritarian regime, then he sets his sights on his sworn enemy: the United States. And like the true KGB spy he is, he secretly uses cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world. Using social media to spread propaganda and false information, he convinces people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors.
And he wins.
Vladimir Putin is that spy, and this is no movie script.
We need our president to speak directly to us and tell us the truth. We need him to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and say, “My fellow Americans. During this past election, we came under attack by the Russian government. I’ve called on Congress and our intelligence community to use every resource available to conduct a thorough investigation to determine exactly how this happened.”
The free world is counting on us for leadership. For 241 years, our democracy has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to. And we owe it to the brave people who have fought and died to protect this great nation and save democracy. And we owe it to our future generations to continue the fight.
One must ask: is this the best they have? A Hollywood™ produced, overtly patriotic puppet show that I’m sure pleases the military industrial complex? Oh, darling. Classic artists are critiquing you in their graves. So who are these oh-so-ethical, non-partisan puppet masters?
Well, let’s begin with Rob Reiner, a man of the Hollywood elite who has called for an “all-out war” on the current president and compared “Russian meddling” to an attack on the scale of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor.
There’s the pro-Iraq War Frum, the neocon pundit who publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election while comparing Trump to the overthrown Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Max Boot, the writer for Foreign Policy who labeled Trump “Too Stupid to Be President”, despite echoing Mitt Romney’s 2012 gaff claim that “Russia is the number one geopolitical threat that America faces”.
And then there’s everyone’s favourite spy master James Clapper.
Yes, the former head of the NSA who lied under oath about the mass metadata surveillance undertaken by former President Barack Obama, and then has to the gall to chastise Trump/Russia for spreading “fake news” while lying to the public regarding the wiretapping of Paul Manafort, former manager for none other than the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
A truly ethical cast of characters, don’t you say? Please.
All this because of a Russian narrative with gaping plot holes and evidence that outright disproves it? Even Salon, of all places, isn’t buying it anymore! Releasing an explosive report that the supposed “Russian hacking attack” was actually a leak.
But you won’t find any from the neoliberal left defending this whistleblower.
How disappointing to see liberal and progressive cinema abandon their values, now one step behind remaking Dr. Strangelove as a governmental instructional video.
But it wasn’t always like this.
In 2003, ahead of a U.S. attack on Iraq, there was an ardent anti-war Hollywood resistant to the actions of then Republican president George W. Bush. TV commercials saw Martin Sheen and Sean Penn visiting Baghdad imploring: “Don’t invade Iraq. Inspections work; war won’t.” Now we see Sheen in commercials for Unite For America, a group that was advocating for the undermining of US democracy by switching electoral votes from Donald Trump to… well… anyone but the democratically elected president.
In interviews, Janeane Garofalo stopped identifying herself as an actor — she preferred to be called a member of the U.S. anti-war movement. Now we see her condemning “24” for being “anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda” that “was made to frighten you from a Hillary candidacy”.
Letters to President Bush, pleading for peace, were signed by the likes of Kim Basinger, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Lange, Saturday Night Live’s Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin.
It was even Rob Reiner who told CNN “those protesting war with Iraq are patriots”. The celebrities were all up in arms then, leading to the landslide election of President Barack Obama in 2008… who increased military force around the world in left-wing silence. With all of these celebrities endorsing or being silent on the actions of Obama and Secretary Clinton.
The hypocrisy of Obama turning 2 full scale wars into 7 interventions, with an estimated 26,171 bombs dropped in 2016 alone, seems to be lost on neoliberal Democrats these days. The Bernie Sanders left saw it. The Ron Paul right saw it. But did he receive any bit of the organised backlash Bush saw?
Not from his birthday party guests of the Hollywood elite, who are now caught in a hypocritical knot.
Do they revert back to anti-war principles under Trump, the president who is repeating the same interventionists policies, and be seen as the hypocrites they are? Or do they defend their rich political friend and resist at all costs, even when what they’re resisting is escalation with foreign powers?
The only progressive activists who seem consistent on the values of anti-war are Ed Asner, famous from Disney Pixar’s Up, and former M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell.
In 2013, Asner, 87, and Farrell, 78, both expressed extreme disappointment in Obama for his perpetual use of military intervention.
Responding to the 2013 proposal of using a US military response against Syria for a supposed chemical weapons attack against the rebels, Farrell said:
“What he is talking about in Syria is a potential war crime. It will be illegal, and if citizens are killed it certainly could be considered a war crime. This administration ought to insist that the international community charge [Assad] with a war crime and prosecute him, and in so doing Obama would be following the law instead of flaunting the law. It’s incredibly improper for the president to call for a strike. I have said it everywhere I can and I suspect a lot of others will do the same, but whether there will be an organized effort, I don’t know. We’re talking about the difference between an invasion in Iraq and a limited action in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Asner was much more direct in his observation about the complaof an anti-war Hollywood in 2013:
“It will be a done deal before Hollywood is mobilized. This country will either bomb the hell out of Syria or not before Hollywood gets off its ass. We had a million people in the streets, for Christ’s sake, protesting Iraq, which was about as illegal as you could find. Did it matter? Is George Bush being tried in the high courts of justice? We’ve been so God-damned stung in this country by false wars, repeatedly, that, how can you believe in any just war with the history we have had? Whether it’s a Republican or Democrat president, or Republican or Democrat Congress — and it doesn’t make a God-damned difference — it behooves us to get off our ass and ask these questions.”
And with all this, you can’t blame the new growing opinion that it’s the Deplorable-right that hold people to the fire on non-interventionism, where as people on the left, such as myself, must clean up our own side and regain the values that Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick warned us to stick by.
Let that sink in.
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia. To support this content, and more to come like it, the options include Patreon and Paypal, where I hope to keep this content free.
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