For this discussion, a celebrity is someone with a measure of public
awareness. Celebrities include entertainers, politicians, et cetera.
A lot was made of celebrities criticizing President Bush. I disagreed
with these celebrities but I supported their right to dissent. It’s not
unpatriotic to disagree with our leaders. Unfortunately, much of the
so-called criticism was no more than bashing and insult hurling.
Below are some points to consider.
Bashing or insulting someone personally is not the same as criticizing
his policies or positions. Hurling insults is never acceptable.
As a group, celebrities are no more or less knowledgeable about
domestic and foreign affairs than the rest of us. Their opinion is no more
or less valuable than yours or mine.
With the opportunity to speak out to a broad audience, celebrity brings
It’s not only what is said, but also how it is said. “You suck!” is not
The criticism I heard and read was nothing more than mean-spirited
name-calling. Invariably, celebrities had one of two answers to “What
would you do about Iraq?” The first answer was “give inspections a
chance,” as if a few more months of inspections would do what could not be
accomplished in the previous 12 years of on-and-off inspections.1 The second answer was “I
Some celebrities believe we want their unsolicited political opinions
at concerts or other performances. Do they think we buy tickets to hear
their political positions? When you go to the doctor, do you expect or want
to hear his political opinion? Probably not. As the title of a new book
pleads, performing celebrities should just “Shut Up and Sing.”
Most celebrities appear upset to learn speaking their mind may have
consequences. They seem to feel it’s OK for them to act according to their
conscience, but not for those who disagree with the celebrity. Apparently,
free speech is OK only for the celebrity and for persons who support their
If I disagree with a person, it’s my right to do so publicly and my right
not to buy his products. Would these same celebrities complain if their
comments made them more popular or increased their sales?
When radio stations boycotted some celebrities, the celebrities cried
about censorship and McCarthyism. These celebrities need to brush up on
their civics. First, the stations responded to the desires of their
customers and exercised their First Amendment rights. Popular
entertainers get airtime, the unpopular don’t. The First Amendment
addresses only government censorship. You and I can “censor” whatever we
want; it’s called free speech. Second, Sen. McCarthy investigated
communist spying in the federal government.2 The government had nothing to do with what happened
to this batch of critical celebrities.
Critics should be aware of those with whom they share a common
position. For example, International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End
Racism) organized Iraq war protests attended by some celebrities.
International A.N.S.W.E.R. is a front for the Marxist Workers World Party (WWP).3 Their protests were the same anti-American rhetoric they always spew. Much
of the bashing had nothing to do with Iraq.
While I doubt many celebrities are truly anti-American, they used many of
the same mean-spirited and baseless attacks as the WWP. If you’re on the
same side as the WWP in a debate, common sense dictates you find another way
to express your opinion. Fair or not, we’re frequently judged by the
positions of our allies.
During war and the period leading up to war, there are several other
things we – including celebrities – should remember.
It’s not unpatriotic to disagree with our leaders even in time of war
as long as we express the dissent appropriately.
Open criticism, especially mean-spirited, feeds the enemy propaganda
machine. This isn’t the 1800s. What we say is broadcast around the world
immediately. This means a terrorist in Iraq or elsewhere with a simple
satellite dish hears the same anti-American bashing as we do at just about
the same time. To a terrorist, this is evidence of internal strife and gives
him reason to believe his murderous acts will be successful because the
United States lacks resolve.
During a speech to The Brookings Institution on April 5, 2004, Sen.
Edward Kennedy (D-MA) referred to Iraq as “George Bush’s Vietnam.”4 This
wasn’t the first time Kennedy linked Iraq and Vietnam. Unfortunately,
Kennedy isn’t the only Democrat trying to equate Iraq and Vietnam.
On April 7th, anti-American Shiite “cleric” Muqtada al‑Sadr – with ties
to terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah – said, “Iraq will be another
Vietnam for America and the occupiers.”5 I hope Sen. Kennedy and fellow
Democrats are proud they are helping our enemies write their speeches and
pump up their followers, as did Vietnam anti-war protesters.
In a speech on October 16, 2003, Kennedy said we should learn lessons
from history when he said, “America learned it in Vietnam, and we must not
re-learn it in Iraq.”6 It’s too bad Sen. Kennedy didn’t take his own
advice and learn a lesson from Vietnam. When will we begin to hear our
soldiers in Iraq referred to as “baby killers?”
Criticism should be “within the family.” It’s one thing to criticize
policy at home; it’s bad form for U.S. citizens to criticize U.S. policy on
foreign soil, and traitorous when in the enemy’s country.
The President is the commander in chief of our armed forces. You can’t
say you support our troops while bashing or insulting their leader. Recent
letters from soldiers in Iraq make this statement as well. If you disagree
with the President, do so in a way respectful of the office regardless of
what you think of the President personally.
In time of war, misleading coverage can give false hope to the enemy,
lengthen hostilities, and cause more friendly, civilian, and hostile
casualties. Though Americans overwhelmingly supported military action
against Saddam Hussein, so-called peace protests received a disproportionate
share of coverage in the American press. When Iraqi TV -- controlled by Saddam
Hussein -- and other anti-American news outlets covered the protests, did they
mention over 70% of Americans supported military action? No. These were the
same outlets predicting Iraqi victory until the day Iraqis -- with help from
the U.S. Marines -- pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue in Paradise Square.
Remember “Baghdad Bob?”
1. Most persons didn’t understand the
inspection process. Many of us thought there were hordes of inspectors
running around Iraq looking for banned weapons. In reality, the process
depended on Iraq pointing out the banned weapons to inspectors or proving
the weapons had been destroyed. The inspectors did not have freedom of
movement and had to be escorted to sites by Iraqi soldiers. This procedure
had the fatal flaw of assuming Iraq would cooperate. As we now know from
Iraqi scientists, they had advance notice of inspections and were told to
move incriminating material for the duration of the site inspection. Without
cooperation, inspectors could have been in Iraq for another 100 years and
not found anything.
2. Though liberals like to attach
Senator McCarthy to the House on Un-American Activities Committee, as the
name says this was a House of Representatives committee. Senator McCarthy
was, well, a Senator. With respect to communist spies in the federal
government, decoded Soviet Cold War-era cables (the NSA’s VENONA program)
released during the 1990s show Senator McCarthy was right.
3. The WWP is a Marxist organization
(their description) working to eliminate capitalism in favor of communism.
Because communism is incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, I believe it’s
fair to say the WWP is anti-American. The WWP is a fan of countries like
communist China, Cuba, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, North Korea, Slobodan
Milosevic’s Serbia, and the former Soviet Union. Check the
WWP web site if
you have doubts.
Iraq as Vietnam? Not before, but
maybe now; Martin Sieff (UPI); The Washington Times; April 6, 2004.
Anti-American cleric al-Sadr warns
that Iraq could become 'another Vietnam' for America; Associated Press;
The Boston Globe; April 7, 2004.
Remarks of Senator Edward M. Kennedy
re Iraq; Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA); October 16, 2003.
2004 Robert W. Cox, all rights reserved.