Martin Sheen is the television star of the West Wing, where he portrays a US President mirroring current crises.
I virtually never watch the West Wing. Somehow I think it is somewhat insulting to pretend that there is a parallel White House that has all the simple and dramatic answers in a very complicated world.
However; the few times that I have watched an episode, I’ve witnessed Martin Sheen, AKA the President, making “hard” decisions to incredibly serious problems which under real circumstances would have unbelievable consequences. In his role as President; Sheen is steadfast, brave, and confident. Just like the REAL President he demeans in real life.
The difference however between the REAL President George W Bush and PRETEND President Martin Sheen, is that one really does carry the weight of the world upon his shoulders, while the other worries more about winning television awards.
A couple of weeks ago, Sheen took part in a massive demonstration opposing the US plans to go to war against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. At this “anti-war” demonstration, just like all the others, there were no shortage of America and Israel haters.
How could he possibly feel comfortable in such a crowd, unless he shares at least some of their beliefs? I believe Sheen is more in tune with the demonstrators than he is with his own television character.
Regrettably, there are no shortage of STUPID people who can not separate the television persona from the real thing.
Mike Farrel of M.A.S.H. fame, also recently participated in one of the mass “anti-war” rallies. He too shared the stage with some very loopy Do Nothing Do Gooders. His argument was: let’s give peace a chance. Was he speaking to Saddam Hussein, the despotic Butcher of Bagdad, or to President George W Bush, the elected leader of the world’s greatest democracy?
Mike Farrel’s “legitimacy” comes from his multi-season television stint where he portrayed a US army doctor during the Korean “police” action. In his role as captain Honeycut, he was very much opposed to the war, even though he dutifully did his thing. And as one of the two main characters, Mike Farrel was a television hero.
Here too, far too many people are too STUPID to draw a very finite line between what is pretend, and what is the real deal. Mike Farrel is not, was not, and to the best of my knowledge was never the real deal. He is an actor, albeit a very good actor.
This past weekend, I watched a television series called the Agency. It stars Beau Bridges as the Director of the CIA. In this episode, A Palestinian spy visits Bridges’ office unannounced to set up some kind of cooperation between the CIA and Palestinian security, in order to take on Hamas. Now there’s a fantasy in itself.
Not to miss an opportunity, Bridges, the pretend Director of the CIA coerces a top level Mossad officer to enter into some kind of clandestine negotiation that will bring a whole new level of cooperation and peace between the two Middle East antagonists. If real life was only as simple.
The director and writers of this episode cast the Palestinian as a reasonable man looking for a way out of the quagmire. The Israeli on the other hand was portrayed as a bellicose and uncooperative belligerent who spoke with a very unconvincing Israeli accent.
On the way to a secret meeting somewhere on the West Bank, the CIA Director’s car was attacked and blown up by Palestinians wearing Israeli uniforms. Everyone but the attackers and the Israeli security force survived. Although badly wounded from a bomb that was placed under the CIA limousine, the three CIA agents rallied to take on the bad guys.
As it turns out, according to the plot line, the HIT was carried out by BOTH Hamas and a secret rogue Israeli paramilitary in order to keep both sides from making peace. And worse than that, the mastermind behind this deadly conspiracy was an evil Golda Meir type woman who was amongst the very top of the Mossad food-chain.
To me, this is make-believe of the worst kind. Millions of people watched this show, which created a situation that has NEVER existed.
The Producers, Director, Writers and Actors created a dishonest and distorted equivalence between a REAL TERRORIST GROUP in the name of Hamas, and a PRETEND terrorist group of fundamentalist driven Jewish murderers, who were only too happy to kill their own. Not to mention the Director of the CIA and his staff.
What was equally offensive, was when one of the key Jewish perpetrators was caught. Instead of asking for a lawyer, he purportedly asked for his Rabbi. Once again creating an illusion of equivalence between Jewish extremists and the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group Hamas. No arrested Jew, Israeli or otherwise, would ask for a Rabbi.
Therefore; why the inference to tie the Jewish religion to MADE UP Jewish extremism? ISRAEL IS A SECULAR COUNTRY NOT RULED BY RELIGION.
This was extraordinarily disconcerting to me, since it portrayed the Israelis as more than equivalent to the Palestinian thugs, Arabs and Islamists who do murder and extol others to murder.
It is true that there are religious Israeli fundamentalists. But it is equally true that they are in the vast minority of mainstream secular Israel. And while it is also true that a very minute number of them have resorted to violence against Palestinians, the acts of violence were not elaborate conspiracies. They have virtually always been acts of retribution.
And it is unequivocally true that neither the Israeli government, nor the Israeli people promote or condone acts of violence against the Arab population. To the contrary, Israel’s only hate party, “Koch” – created by the murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane is banned. There is no room in Israel for this kind of philosophy.
And for every Israeli I interviewed when I recently traveled throughout Israel, I fount NOT ONE Israeli who wanted anything else but peace and security.
During one scene, the belligerent Mossad officer with the very bad accent, and two CIA agents are interviewing a very frightened young Palestinian boy who had some information about the attack on the limousine, but he wouldn’t talk. The Mossad officer asked the two CIA agents to leave the room, with the very clear understanding that this 12 year old boy was going to be tortured. He quickly spoke out.
This goes beyond an artistic willing suspension of disbelief. This is hate mongering.
Hollywood and the Liberal driven television industry are engaged in a war of disinformation played out at the highest levels. Unfortunately for the viewers, the line between make-believe and truth are far too often blurred.
I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But I do not believe in freedom of misinformation. And that is what so many of the actor and singer types are disseminating.
We shouldn’t care what singers, actors, comedians, jugglers and other entertainers have to say about serious issues, especially global issues, any more than we should care what the guy down the street thinks, since their expertise does not necessarily extend beyond their entertaining abilities.
But we do care. We care when performers like Barbara Streisand make political statements. We care when very high profile and prominent members within our society come forward to make statements on policy, or support their favorite candidate.
Regrettably, these performers carry an enormous and undeserved influence, and with it, no responsibility for their actions. I am always angered and saddened to watch biased and inaccurate news coverage. But watching entertainers move public opinion in this fashion goes beyond sadness, it is indeed frightening.
Congratulations to you and Anne on your 41st wedding anniversary! Also thanks for another astute commentary.
Valanne Mascotto, London Ontario.
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