Actor Sean Penn has come under heavy fire for setting up a secret interview with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, Mexico's foremost drug lord, in October, just months after he escaped from prison.
Penn detailed the interview in a new article for Rolling Stone published Saturday
, one day after Guzmán was re-captured by Mexican authorities.
The episode is just the latest in a long line of Penn's strange political stunts — antics that are consistently anti-American, and seem to be designed to indulge the actor's ego more than anything else.
Gathered below are seven ways that Sean Penn's behavior has shown he hates America, and why he's drawn just as much hate in return.
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1. He interviewed El Chapo
— Vox.com, a liberal political website that is often sympathetic
to blaming America for the all of the world's troubles, could not bring itself to defend Penn during his latest bout of pseudo-journalistic derring-do. "Reading Penn's article, it's impossible not to see him as a useful idiot — a painfully naive man who gained access to Guzman because he's famous, and because Guzman knew Penn would portray him in a flattering light," Vox wrote.
The publication concludes that Penn is "an angry critic of what he sees as American hegemony in the world — and, therefore, a self-styled crusader intent on finding out whether the people America calls evil are really as bad as advertised."
The liberal Los Angeles Times said much the same
: "That Penn seemed to offer only minimal misgivings toward Guzman's crimes — or, for that matter, seemed oblivious to how the drug kingpin might use the sit-down to enlarge his own myth or folk-hero status — only made things worse."
2. He interviewed Raul Castro
— In 2008, when Fidel Castro's brother took over Cuba's presidency, Sean Penn traveled to Havana to pal around
with the dictator. He published an account of the trip in The Nation. Castro expressed interest in having a conversation with President Barack Obama, placing Penn in a de facto diplomatic situation for which he was not trained and had no authority to speak on behalf of America.
3. He met with Fidel Castro
— According to Time magazine, "In the 2008 [Raul Castro]
piece, Penn mentions that he had previously met with Fidel Castro. A year later, the actor and liberal activist reportedly flew to Cuba to meet with him again for a Vanity Fair assignment. It’s unclear if that interview ever panned out, since no article was ever published."
4. He befriended and defended Hugo Chavez
— According to CNN, Sean Penn traveled to South America
several times to meet with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. After Chavez died in 2013, Penn said, "Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have."
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He also suggested anyone who called Chavez a dictator should be jailed: "Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it. And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies," he told Bill Maher in 2010, according to The Guardian.
The U.K. newspaper also reported that Penn, Oliver Stone, and Danny Glover, have all expressed support for the socialist dictator, and "have remained steadfast" in that support through several humanitarian disasters the country has faced.
5. He insulted and lectured President Bush
— In 2002, Penn spent $56,000 to publish an open letter in The Washington Post criticizing President George W. Bush. The letter included personal insults like, "You lead, it seems, through a blood-lined sense of entitlement." The New York Daily News reported that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
later used Penn's letter to trash the U.S. in some of his own public speeches.
6. He met with one of Saddam Hussein’s top aides
— According to the New York Post, "During the run-up
to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the two-time Oscar winner infamously traveled to Baghdad to — in his words — 'pursue a deeper understanding of the conflict' and 'find my own voice on matters of conscience.'" While there, he reportedly met with Hussein's then-Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who would eventually surrender to U.S. forces and be found guilty of past murders and crimes against humanity.
7. He seemingly sided with Argentina regarding the Falklands
— According to CNN, "As Argentina and the United Nations
squared off over the [Falkland Islands] territory, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, Penn seemed to take the South American country's side. He reportedly described Prince William's 2012 deployment there on a military mission as 'unthinkable.' And on a visit to South America, he called the islands the Malvinas, which sparked criticism of the actor on the other side of the Atlantic."
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