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Tribal exceptionalism

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Roman Polanski and Barack Obama: One is a rapist and the other awinner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Could any two men be more different? And yet they are similarly blessed — with a certain kind of attention.

The moist eyeballs and loud applause come from their respectivesupporters . . . two groups not all that dissimilar. And the manner ofthat attention says a whole lot about what it means to be human.

Through a Special Lens
The story was big newslast week. Filmmaker Polanski trekked to Switzerland to accept anaward, but was waylaid at the airport, nabbed for a crime to which hehad pled guilty decades earlier. He had fled the U.S. before sentencingand been on the lam for 30 years. In the interim he had made a numberof movies, some quite renowned.

But the rape charge was still there, and a recent documentary aboutthe case had spurred the interest of his California prosecutors. Theydecided that his freedom in Europe was a slap in the face, a badexample. So they went after him.

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin FREE

That was merely interesting. What followed was fascinating.Hollywood folk from Ms. Debra Winger and Mr. Woody Allen to the greatHarvey Weinstein were appalled that an important artist would behounded so. A petition of protest made the rounds. Whoopi Goldberg went so far as to say that the charge to which Polanski pled guilty wasn’t “rape rape.”

True, sorta. He pled guilty to having sexual relations with a minor.Yes, there is a difference between forcible sexual relations and suchrelations declared unlawful because of age differences. But this is notthe case upon which to hang the extremely dubious case againststatutory rape laws. The court documents in the Polanski rape case showthat what the man actually did was “rape rape,” to useWhoopi-ese. Polanski plied a 13-year-old girl with drugs and alcoholand continued his course even after she told him “no.”

I am pretty sure neither feminism nor common sense has undergone amajor transformation, downgrading rape from crime to “no-no” on thegrounds that “no” doesn’t always mean “no.”

Thankfully, the Hollywood response was not univocal. Chris Rock expressed incredulityover those who defended a director just because he had made good films.“Even Johnny Cochran don’t have the nerve to go ‘Did you see OJ playagainst New England?’”

But the typical Hollywood response does show us something. It showsus that a bunch of oh-so-correct eco-feminist proud-to-be-liberalcelebs can make an exception . . . for one of their own.

You Have Got To Be Kidding
I wonder who was moresurprised at the Norwegians’ Nobel Peace Prize announcement, PresidentBarack Obama or every other intelligent person on the planet.

Obama himself expressed shock. But some people weren’t all thatsurprised. They couldn’t be, you see. They were just so gushed up withlove and pride and the “yes, we can” spirit.

That Obama hasn’t actually done anything to deserve thisaward — all he’s done is make a bunch of speeches convincing peoplethat yes-oh-dear-me-yes, he was for peace — is painfully obvious. Hewouldn’t be the first recipient unworthy to press his soles into thefootsteps of the first Peace Prizewinner, Frédéric Passy.

The line of prizewinners do not uniformly line up as men of peace or good will. Kissinger? Arafat?? Woodrow Wilson???

One needn’t plumb the depths of the Scandinavian soul to figure outwhy Barack Obama was chosen. Surely it’s nothing other than that theNorwegians are just so darned relieved to have that cracker Bush out ofoffice, and giddy to have a like-minded Euro-socialist ally as leaderof the free world.

Silly, yes. Idiotic. But so was the Hollywood defense of Polanski.

It’s just proof of man’s tribal nature. The oh-so-cosmopolitansocial democrats may think they have evolved beyond a barbaricin-groupthinky mindset, but they would be wrong. In their very acts ofdefining who’s in the group — which deviant to hold their noses anddefend (Polanski) and which exemplar to fard up to godhood (Obama) —they show themselves unable to demonstrate a truly civilized dedicationto principle.

Rule of law? Not for Polanski.

Award on merit? Not for Obama.

As with the Republicans during the Bush years — when principles went out the window because the Big Spenders and obvious enemies of freedom were said to be “basically good guys,” and “ours” — fellow feeling and social identity overshadow all else.

Luckily, it looks like Polanski’s going to prison. And the NobelPeace Prize? It doesn’t really matter; it doesn’t mean much ofanything. Not any more. 

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