Obama-Syria

Hollywood’s anti-war left is missing. It’s bad enough that celebrity faces ought to be showing up on the backs of milk cartons any time now.

Hypocritical double standards are common in politics, so it’s not just the progressive left that’s guilty. But there’s one aspect of this that goes beyond simple partisan hypocrisy. According to actor Ed Asner — who has a long track record as one of the leading voices of the left in Hollywood — many of his fellow progressives are afraid of being called racists if they dare to criticize a black president.

“A lot of people don’t want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama,” Asner told the Hollywood Reporter.

That attitude isn’t just hypocritical. It’s flat-out racist.

When a Republican president was preparing to attack Iraq, Hollywood’s political elite was out in force to oppose him. (And I agreed with them.) But that was acceptable, because he was white and an evil Republican. Obama is not only a fellow Democrat, but … well … you know.

This past weekend, the Hollywood Reporter tried to contact more than a dozen politically active celebrities, including Susan Sarandon, Penn Jillette, Josh Brolin and Tim Robbins. (Jillette is a libertarian, so I honestly doubt that he would have any problem criticizing any politician, black or white.) Oddly, not a single one of them was available for comment. The newspaper said that one Hollywood attendee at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend was ready to comment, but his film’s distributor warned him not to.

It’s bad enough to be a hypocrite, but it’s even worse to be scared to criticize a politician because he’s black.

With somewhere around 70 percent of the country opposed to attacking Syria, this is one of the few times when there’s actually a chance of stopping a war by applying political pressure. Other than inside-the-beltway types who have never met a war they didn’t like — such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham — it’s hard to figure out who really favors the attack other than the military contractors who build the weapons that would have to be replaced after the war. The progressive celebrities might actually make a difference for a change — if they were lobbying members of Congress and agitating the public, instead of running out of fear of attacking a black Democrat.

If you attack a person just because he’s black or just because he’s white, you’re a racist. You’re treating someone differently simply because of his race. But the same thing applies on the flip side. If you refuse to criticize a black man when you would have been willing to criticize a white man, you’re just as racist.

I think it’s clear that Obama has been given a pass by the media and by his own supporters because of his race. Among conservatives and libertarians, those who have dared to disagree with him have been called racist for doing so, even though the people I know who oppose him have done so because of policy differences, not because of his skin color.

This is what happens when you create a system full of racial double standards. For many decades, we had a government-enforced system of discriminating against blacks — treating them worse because of the color of their skin. It was wrong and evil.

What we have now is a system — supported by government and enforced by social attitudes — that says whites and blacks are held to different standards in an entirely different way. So called “affirmative action” has caused resentment because it created a system by which some blacks weren’t judged by their merit, but pushed forward because of their skin color. On the part of some blacks — especially opportunistic black politicians — it created a sense of entitlement.

This new form of racism is just as wrong as the old kind. People ought to be held to the same standards, regardless of their skin color. If I attack you because you’re black, it’s wrong. But if I refuse to attack you simply because you’re black, it’s just as wrong.

Hollywood’s progressive left needs to learn that the goal is to be principled and to treat people equally — not to defend someone with black skin even if he’s about to use our tax money to murder people on the other side of the world.