Bintel Blog

ADL ‘Accepts’ Will Smith’s Clarification, JDL Supports Writers’ Strike

By Daniel Treiman

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So the Anti-Defamation League has finally weighed in on L’Affaire Will Smith, and, I have to say, its statement is a little disappointing.

To recap: Will Smith, speaking off the cuff to a Scottish newspaper, suggested — quite reasonably — that Hitler was driven by a “twisted” notion of what he thought was “good.” The militant Jewish Defense League pounced, accusing the Hollywood star of saying that Hitler was a good person and having “spit on the memory of every person murdered by the Nazis.” Gossip sites joined in the frenzy, and Smith ended up issuing a clarification, attacking those who had distorted his words and calling Hitler “vile.”

Instead of calling out those who rush to defame celebrities over innocent mistakes, the ADL hailed Smith’s clarification and lectured that “celebrities bear a special responsibility to weigh their words carefully.” Everything in the ADL’s statement is true, but the emphasis seems off.

Decide for yourself whether the ADL struck the right note. Here’s the statement from ADL chief Abraham Foxman:

We welcome and accept Will Smith’s statement that Hitler was a ‘vicious killer’ and that he did not mean for his remarks about the Nazi leader to be mistaken as praise. Once Smith realized that his remarks may have been misunderstood, he took immediate steps to clarify his words and unequivocally condemn Hitler as an evil person. We would have expected no less from a celebrity of his standing in the strata of Hollywood stardom.

Unfortunately, in citing Hitler in what appears to be a positive context, Smith stirred up a hornet’s nest on the Internet, where hate groups and anti-Semites latched on to the remark and praised it. If anything, this episode serves as a reminder of the power of words, and how words can be twisted by those with hate and bigotry in their hearts to suit their own worldview. This is why all celebrities bear a special responsibility to weigh their words carefully, and an obligation to speak out against racism and bigotry whenever even a whiff of it appears, as Will Smith has done in this instance.

Incidentally, the JDL also welcomed and accepted Smith’s clarification — and used the occasion to weigh in on the Hollywood writers’ strike:

Will Smith’s apology is enough for us to call off JDL’s request for non-attendance of his motion picture, I Am Legend. We also have no problem with anyone who wishes to employ him.

In a related matter, the Jewish Defense League supports the Hollywood writers and hopes the strike is settled soon so that Smith, a very talented actor, can continue doing what he does so well.

Dallas Morning News religion blogger Jeffrey Weiss thinks that Smith actually raised “an interesting question” about Hitler. Alas, the message most celebrities will take away from this whole incident: Don’t raise interesting questions.



Comments
Chris Delzio Sat. Dec 29, 2007

I agree but will carry it further.. by by scanning all media outlets for anything Jewish; Foxman is trying to set himself up as the defended of the faith. By issuing a "clarification' Smith caved to the Israel Lobby.

Jennifer Sun. Dec 30, 2007

Alas, the ADL - which does so much good in many cases - has seen a stirred-up hornet's nest where there was none. They do some great work, but this was excessive sensitivity. It was pretty clear what Will Smith said was NOT intended to praise The Evil One, & I'm embarrassed for him, for myself, & for Jews that the ADL jumped all over him like that. Doesn't give a very good impression of us, in my opinion.

Don Tate Sat. Dec 29, 2007

Ditto, Bill C! And let's not forget the apparently most self-justified monster in the world today, Osama bin Laden. The expression in his eyes in some photos is truly angelic, so great is his faith in his cause (shudder.) I could cite other examples of excessive self-justification, that would be more pertinent in this publication, but why try? Well, I'm off to attempt introspection.... Wish me luck, readers - heart-think is ever so much harder than head-think!

Bill C Fri. Dec 28, 2007

So Will Smith made an "Apology"? Apology for what?...because people are so cranked up and ready to apply the "R" word (Racism) any time the name Hitler is mentioned? It's clear from the beginning Smith was NOT saying Hitler was a good person but pointing out that evil people (Pol Pot and Al Queda are others that comes to mind) can think that they are doing a good thing. This is related to the fact that many people can't say "Mexican" but rather "Hispanic" or "Latino" because mere mention of that word invokes such negative feelings that people assume it's all about racism. Political Correctness run amok.

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