Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Weekly Jackass Number Eight - Tim Robbins

This week's honoree is a true gem, the very personification of the 'bleeding heart liberal'. Mention Tim Robbins, and you'll see the red-state, blue-state divide in action: half the country will swoon in admiration, the other half will run from the room screaming. Usually, I take a series of wrong-headed statements to illustrate the 'jackassedness' of my selections, but with Robbins, I think we'd get a better glance at his foolishness by fisking a single speech he gave to the National Press Club:

For all of the ugliness and tragedy of 9-11, there was a brief period afterward where I held a great hope, in the midst of the tears and shocked faces of New Yorkers, in the midst of the lethal air we breathed as we worked at Ground Zero, in the midst of my children's terror at being so close to this crime against humanity, in the midst of all this, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the naive assumption that something good could come out of it.

��the na�ve assumption that something good could come out of it�. I�m sure my definition of something good is drastically different from Tim�s, but I don�t look at 9/11 as a chance for America to reform itself. There�s no silver lining, none, to terrorism. To those who say the attacks brought out the best in America, I say the best was always there, now and forever. Sometimes we just have a bigger stage to show it on. Taking Tim�s comment at face value, though, what about the newfound rights of Afghan women, freed now from the brutality of Taliban rule? What about the dismantling of the terrorist training camps? Of course, we have the upcoming Iraqi elections, though Tim spoke on April 15, 2003, so that�s not a fair example in this case.

I imagined our leaders seizing upon this moment of unity in America, this moment when no one wanted to talk about Democrat versus Republican, white versus black, or any of the other ridiculous divisions that dominate our public discourse. I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields. I imagined leadership that would take this incredible energy, this generosity of spirit and create a new unity in America born out of the chaos and tragedy of 9/11, a new unity that would send a message to terrorists everywhere: If you attack us, we will become stronger, cleaner, better educated, and more unified. You will strengthen our commitment to justice and democracy by your inhumane attacks on us.

I can�t imagine a better example of the fuzzy-headed thinking that passes for liberalism among today�s �progressives�. What the hell do community centers, old-age homes, and baseball fields have to do with the nineteen bastards who used airliners as missiles? Osama would be mighty intimidated by those clean parks, wouldn�t he? This is known as the �Jim Hightower� maneuver � when you don�t have a solid argument, throw out everything in sight and hope something sticks. Read that last paragraph a few times, seriously; let it sink in � in those few lines you can see the heart of the problem with �progressives�. We�ll shame the terrorists into submission with our liberal guilt, implies Robbins.

And then came the speech: You are either with us or against us. And the bombing began. And the old paradigm was restored as our leader encouraged us to show our patriotism by shopping and by volunteering to join groups that would turn in their neighbor for any suspicious behavior.

In the 19 months since 9-11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred. Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear. A unified American public has grown bitterly divided, and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.

This past weekend, Susan and I and the three kids went to Florida for a family reunion of sorts. Amidst the alcohol and the dancing, sugar-rushing children, there was, of course, talk of the war. And the most frightening thing about the weekend was the amount of times we were thanked for speaking out against the war because that individual speaking thought it unsafe to do so in their own community, in their own life. Keep talking, they said; I haven't been able to open my mouth.

You remember the good ol� days, don�t you, when we enjoyed due process, basic rights, the sanctity of the home � before we became a rogue state like the Soviet Union? I find it unbelievable that Robbins and others of his ilk continue to haul out the canard that people aren�t free to speak in opposition to the war. Robbins said this during a speech to the National Press Club!!! Sorry to muzzle you like that, Tim, must be hell living that rough life of yours.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

Yes, Tim, every day the airwaves are filled with spewed invective and hatred � but it is directed at the Bush administration by Leftists such as you.

I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war. Hollywood's heavy hitters, the real power brokers and cover-of-the- magazine stars, have been largely silent on this issue. But Hollywood, the concept, has always been a popular target.

I remember when the Columbine High School shootings happened. President Clinton criticized Hollywood for contributing to this terrible tragedy -- this, as we were dropping bombs over Kosovo. Could the violent actions of our leaders contribute somewhat to the violent fantasies of our teenagers? Or is it all just Hollywood and rock and roll?

Tim, logic is not your strong suit. The action in Kosovo was a HUMANITARIAN one, requested by the European leaders who were too weak politically and militarily to bring an end to the slaughter in the Balkans. Sometimes, Tim, you have to kill some bad guys in this world � and sometimes, unfortunately, some innocent people die, too, in order to save what remains of civilization. It has been so always�

There�s a depressingly large amount of other filler in this speech, but you can easily see the contours � the martyr Tim Robbins, standing up in front of a room full of people who applaud his �courage� in confirming their own prejudices, all the while decrying the oppression of the fascist state that allows him to prattle on endlessly while earning millions. Yep, Tim, you�re a Jackass, all right � this week and always.

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