Wednesday , January 11, 2017 - 5:15 AM34 comments
Shut up and act.
This is the political right’s response to Meryl Streep’s artful takedown of President-elect Donald Trump during Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards telecast.
The immediate response by one of my right-wing friends on Facebook was typical: “Ms. Streep is an actress.” Which is his way of arguing that whatever she has to say is less valuable, less relevant because she’s an entertainer.
I find such reasoning beautifully ironic, since in denigrating her opinion he’s defending a reality TV show host who also got all political on the national stage: Remember Trump’s years of “birther” allegations?
It’s a bizarro world we live in, isn’t it?
I’m sure the rightists would love to “Dixie Chick” Streep. I refer to the once-hot country music act, The Dixie Chicks, whose lead singer, during a concert overseas in 2003, said she was “ashamed” George W. Bush was a Texan; country music radio blacklisted The Dixie Chicks and torpedoed the band’s career.
Fortunately for Streep, she doesn’t depend on the political orthodoxy of country radio for her livelihood. She is the most celebrated actor since Katharine Hepburn, and arguably even more gifted than that Golden Age movie star.
Streep used — some might say “abused,” and perhaps they are correct — her acceptance speech for the Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement to offer an unfavorable opinion of Trump. Specifically, she referred to candidate Trump “imitating” reporter Serge F. Kovaleski, a disabled newsman who said he had never been able to confirm Trump’s infamous and inflammatory claim that “thousands and thousands of people were cheering” atop New Jersey buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, as the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
Streep explained, “And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
Apparently, that’s just too much for Trump supporters. It’s not too much for them that he fabricated the “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrating on rooftops, or that he bragged of sexually assaulting women, or that he urged supporters to inflict violence on protesters at his rallies, or that … well, you get where I’m going with this.
Here are two things I believe sum up this Streep-versus-Trump contretemps: 1) In Streep’s remarks, she never called Trump names. 2) But Trump’s tweet-rant in response had the president-elect calling her “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and “a Hillary flunky who lost big” in another award category.
On Jan. 20, Trump will become the most powerful political leader on planet earth. Nevertheless, criticism from Meryl Streep sends him into a frothing tirade.
Another thing: Streep’s support of a “principled press to hold power to account” ought to be getting more attention than it has. “(J)oin me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists,” she said during her comments. “Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
Imagine that — a mere entertainer having the nerve to criticize a bully and to encourage support of “principled” journalism.
Streep stands on the high moral ground in this particular culture-war clash. And my suspicion is that’s precisely what’s irritating people who are offended that their man Trump has been the victim of an actor’s slings and arrows. She’s so obviously correct. And his response was so unmistakably, predictably childish and ill-mannered.
Email Don at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DonPondorter.
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