Tags: asner | hollywood | syria | obama | racist

Ed Asner: Hollywood Mum on Syria Over Fears of Appearing Racist

Sunday, 08 Sep 2013 09:47 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Liberals in Hollywood are not speaking out against President Barack Obama's call for military strikes against the Syrian government because they fear being called racists, veteran actor Ed Asner says.

"A lot of people don't want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama," Asner told The Hollywood Reporter.

But the fear of being labeled as racists is not the only reason actors aren't mobilizing to protest potential action in Syria the way they protested the Iraq War, which began under Republican George W. Bush's presidency, said Asner and fellow liberal activist Mike Farrell, of "M*A*S*H" fame.

And even though Hollywood isn't organizing for protests against strikes in Syria, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of actors against a military strike, said the actors, who both admit they're disappointed in the president they helped elect.

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

Back in 2003, just ahead of the U.S. attack on Iraq, Hollywood's anti-war movement included online petitions signed by Asner, and letters to Bush from stars like Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Alec Baldwin. Farrell himself fronted multiple press conferences in which celebrities denounced the war championed by Bush, who was highly unpopular in Hollywood.

This time around, conservatives are wondering where all the stars and their impassioned speeches are, reports Breitbart.

But Farrell told The Hollywood Reporter that the all-out war in Iraq was much more serious than potential missile strikes under Obama's direction.

Asner, now 83 and Farrell, 74, say Obama should be advocating legal action against Syrian President Bashar Assad, not military strikes.

"What he is talking about in Syria is a potential war crime," Farrell said. "It will be illegal, and if citizens are killed it certainly could be considered a war crime."

And even if there is irrefutable evidence that Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens, "this administration ought to insist that the international community charge [Assad] with a war crime and prosecute him, and in so doing Obama would be following the law instead of flaunting the law," Farrell said.

Calling for military strikes is "incredibly improper," Farrell continued. But he doesn't think there will be an organized effort to protest the strikes in Hollywood because "we're talking about the difference between an invasion in Iraq and a limited action in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria."

Asner, though, said that in addition to Hollywood insiders fearing looking like racists for speaking out against Obama, there is a matter of timing involved. Bush took months to make the case for war, while Obama is pushing for swift action.

"It will be a done deal before Hollywood is mobilized," Asner said. "This country will either bomb the hell out of Syria or not before Hollywood gets off its ass."

Asner said that activists are also feeling complacent because their efforts to stop the war in Iraq didn't work.

"We had a million people in the streets, for Christ's sake, protesting Iraq, which was about as illegal as you could find," said Asner. "Did it matter? Is George Bush being tried in the high courts of justice?"

But both stars said they are disappointed in Obama, although they had supported him for president.

"I voted for him, but I'm not proud," Asner said. "He hasn't thrown himself on the funeral pyre. I wanted him to sacrifice himself. Instead, he has proved himself to be a corporatist, and as long as he's a corporatist, he's not my president."

Farrell also said he's "deeply disappointed" in Obama's foreign policy, including his "war-making, his reliance on military rather than diplomatic responses, his use of drones, continued allowance of the Guantanamo prison. He's a disappointment to me and other people I know."

Urgent: Should U.S. Strike Syria? Vote Here

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