Tinseltown tirades

Posted: Oct 18, 2002 12:00 AM
London -- When I was in London last, the British, especially the elites, were engaging in anti-American rhetoric the likes of which I had not previously witnessed. President Bush's leadership in the war on terror and his insistence that we rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction were irritants to Her Majesty's people. And Tony Blair's cooperation with the war on terror -- perceived by the striped-pants set as America's problem -- made it all the more vexing. Now, six months later, the situation is different. Recent terrorist attacks on a French tanker and a Bali nightclub -- where 33 British tourists were killed and 27 injured -- have forced the Brits to reconsider their once tepid support for the Bush/Blair war on terrorism. A Guardian/ICM poll released last week showed that in the aftermath of the Bali explosion, support for a military attack on Iraq increased 10 points to 42 percent of British voters. The British people are putting aside their differences with Tony Blair to forge a united front against an evil that threatens us all. But for some in the United States, politics trumps patriotism. For Hollywood residents, the Bali blast, which killed 188 and wounded over 300; the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, which killed 3,052 Americans; and the evidence that Saddam Hussein is still amassing weapons of mass destruction all pale in comparison to the atrocity that George W. Bush committed when he dared to win the 2000 presidential election. In London, I was reminded that their animosity has never subsided and their vitriol is intensifying. Woody Harrelson, the man who proudly portrayed pornographer Larry Flynt, is in London doing a stage show and published a venomous diatribe in last week's Guardian newspaper. In it he called himself "an American tired of American lies" and labeled President Bush and his administration as "warmongers who stole the White House." Apparently Harrelson's liberal logic leads him to conclude that the terrorists are blameless while Bush has "hijacked a nation's grief and turned it into a perpetual war on any non-white country they choose to describe as terrorist." When Bush was elected, more of Hollywood's enlightened elite were supposed to join Harrelson abroad. Director Robert Altman and actor Alec Baldwin promised to flee the United States if Bush beat Al Gore in 2000. Instead, they are still in Hollywood condemning the United States. Altman has denounced the U.S. government as "disgusting" and charged the Bush administration with starting a war "to protect their oil interests." He also called the American flag -- the banner under which our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardsmen are now fighting -- a "joke." Baldwin, a hard-line activist, equated Republican voters with terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, telling a Florida A&M University audience that "what happened in the 2000 (presidential election) did as much damage to the pillars of democracy as terrorists did to the pillars of commerce in New York City." When Democrat Barbara Lee became the only member of Congress to oppose using military force to dislodge those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, comedian Bill Cosby promptly rewarded her with a hefty campaign contribution. In spite of Lee and Cosby, our troops shipped off to the far corners of the globe to protect and defend this nation only to be condemned by ingrates like Harrelson, because, as he sees it, "America's war against terrorism is terrorism." Well, there you have it. No wonder actress Jessica Lange says she is "ashamed to come from the United States" and readily admits she "hates" and "despises" President Bush. Lange has no monopoly on Bush-hating. Actress Julia Roberts contemptuously told reporters that she finds President Bush "embarrassing" and added, "He's not my president, and he never will be, either." Actor Ed Asner accused President Bush of "desecrating" America and creating an "imperialist government." Danny Glover labeled the United States as one of the "main purveyors of violence in this world." Hollywood didn't always hate America. During World War II, Tinseltown sent its stars overseas to entertain the troops on the front lines. John Ford was at the Battle of Midway. Others, like Ronald Reagan, who stayed behind, performed patriotic roles on screen and toured the country for war bonds. During the Cold War, Marilyn Monroe visited with frostbitten troops in Korea, and musicians like Louis Armstrong toured the world promoting American culture and freedom. But that all changed during Vietnam. While John Wayne faithfully donned a green beret and opposed communism, Jane Fonda modeled Viet Cong jungle gear and took a turn on an anti-aircraft gun aimed at American pilots. By the 1980s and 1990s, anti-Americanism had become a mark of Hollywood success, as leftist celebrities like Martin Sheen blasted American foreign policy and Roseanne Barr deliberately butchered the national anthem at a major league baseball game. American citizens have always tolerated varying political opinions, but the animosity Hollywood "celebrities" are displaying toward America, her president, and her men and women in uniform today is more than a national disgrace -- it's demoralizing to those we send to defend us. If the Hollywood elites want the cash to keep on rolling in, they ought to confine their criticisms to pool-side cocktail parties instead of inflicting their juvenile tantrums on the wives and mothers of those fighting overseas to keep America safe.