Superstar and liberal activist George Clooney writes in the HuffPo today:
I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I’m proud of it.
Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you’d whisper “I’m a Nazi.” Like it’s dirty word. But turn away from saying “I’m a liberal” and it’s like you’re turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake. And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11.
This is an incredibly polarized time (wonder how that happened?). But I find that, more and more, people are trying to find things we can agree on. And, for me, one of the things we absolutely need to agree on is the idea that we’re all allowed to question authority. We have to agree that it’s not unpatriotic to hold our leaders accountable and to speak out.
That’s one of the things that drew me to making a film about Murrow. When you hear Murrow say, “We mustn’t confuse dissent with disloyalty” and “We can’t defend freedom at home by deserting it at home,” it’s like he’s commenting on today’s headlines.
The fear of been criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved in the run up to the war. In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, “We were misled.” It makes me want to shout, “F*** [edited for language – ST] you, you weren’t misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic.”
Bottom line: it’s not merely our right to question our government, it’s our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can’t demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, But please don’t say bad things about us. You gotta be a grown up and take your hits.
While I take issue with some of his supposed ‘factual’ statements (most noteably surrounding Iraq and their ties to Al Qaeda) I agree with the overall sentiment behind what he’s saying: don’t be afraid to say who you are and what’s on your mind simply because you’re worried you’ll be judged/criticized unfairly and/or unjustly. At the same time, though, if you’re someone like, say, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), you might want to carefully consider what you’re thinking about saying before you actually say it because it may justifiably backfire on you, as is what happened with him when he made the following comments regarding our troops at Gitmo based on the unverfied statements of one FBI agent:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regimeâ€“Pol Pot or othersâ€“that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Questioning the President (any president), as well as our Congresspeople is indeed our patriotic duty and obligation as citizens. Even in a time of war. While the yummy-to-the-eyes Clooney’s rhetorical rallying cry to liberals is sure to stir the masses, what Clooney and others like him don’t seem to get is that anytime but especially in a time of war – which we are in fact in – words have meanings and certain things said reverberate around the world and serve only to make the speaker of those words look foolish and, if said in a time of war, give aid to the enemy (see Durbin’s comments above as an example of that). Legitimate concerns are one thing but crossing the line into lying about your position on issues related to the war on terror and manufacturing scandals just to score cheap political points against a wartime president is not good nor should it be encouraged or praised – it only serves to weaken support here at home and embolden our enemies abroad.
Sidenote: I should point out that I don’t share the fond adoration that so many other females I know have for Clooney. I read an article recently in People magazine about how Clooney supposedly defended the honor of Prince Charles’ wife Camilla Parker Bowles after someone he knew made a disparaging remark about her. Such a piece a few years ago I probably would have found swoon-worthy, but I can’t get beyond what he said about Charlton Heston back in 2003:
In receiving a special filmmaking achievement award from the National Board of Reviews, actor George Clooney joked that “Charlton Heston announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s.”
Clooney still had a chance to apologize for the bad humor day. When questioned about the remark by New York Newsday, Clooney sputtered: “I don’t care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association. He deserves whatever anyone says about him.”
To Clooney, saying someone was ugly was a huge no-no but making fun of the Alzheimer’s suffering of an actor he disagreed with on gun issues was ok.
Yes, Mr. Clooney, the right to speak your mind in this country is a wonderful thing, but with that freedom comes responsibility. Be more responsible with what you say. Some things shouldn’t be said, some things are better left unsaid, while other things could be better said. As I’ve written before: it’s not about the right to say something but instead whether or not that something is right to say. Think about it.