Wednesday | April 16, 2003
Tim Robbins at the National Press Club
Actor Tim Robbins spoke at the National Press Club in Washington yesterday, the topic being the drama at the Hall of Fame, where its Reaganite director cancelled a celebration of the movie classic Bull Durham because actress Susan Sarandon opposed the war.
Salon reprints Robbins' speech.
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. 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. I haven't been able to open my mouth."
A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another teacher in a different school asks our niece if we were coming to the school play. "They're not welcome here," said the molder of young minds. Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer. A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a T-shirt with a peace sign on it. And a friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down South as the talk radio host calls for the murder of a prominent antiwar activist.
Death threats have appeared on other prominent peaceniks' doorsteps for their views against the war. Relatives of ours have received threatening e-mails and phone calls. My 13-year-old boy, who has done nothing to anybody, has been embarrassed and humiliated by a sadistic creep who writes, or rather, scratches, his column with his fingers in the dirt. Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers and by their "fair and balanced" electronic media cousins 19th Century Fox. Apologies to Gore Vidal. Two weeks ago, the United Way cancelled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership and both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame. A famous rock and roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."
There's more. This is good stuff.
Posted April 16, 2003 02:13 PM | Comments (121)