Oliver Stone has apologized for his anti-Semitic rant, but is the damage already done?
The Big Picture
It's such a quintessentially American thing to do that I'm surprised that someone hasn't already engraved it on our $20 bills: If you shoot off your mouth and hurl stupid insults at innocent people, the best thing to do is to apologize as quickly as possible. It's why Oliver Stone isn't going to become Mel Gibson, even though Stone's crackpot remarks about the "Jewish domination of the media" and the Holocaust sounded just as bad as anything Gibson said in his infamous drunken rant about the Jews after he was picked up by Malibu police for drunken driving.
Stone's offending interview with the Sunday Times of London promoting "South of the Border" doesn't appear to be online, but here is the summary from Haaretz of Israel:
Jewish control of the media is preventing an open discussion of the Holocaust, prominent Hollywood director Oliver Stone told the Sunday Times, adding that the U.S. Jewish lobby was controlling Washington's foreign policy for years.
In the Sunday interview, Stone reportedly said U.S. public opinion was focused on the Holocaust as a result of the "Jewish domination of the media," adding that an upcoming film of him aims to put Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin "in context."
"There's a major lobby in the United States," Stone said, adding that "they are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington."
The famed Hollywood director of such films as Platoon and JFK, also said that while "Hitler was a Frankenstein," there was also a "Dr Frankenstein."
"German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support," Stone told the Sunday Times, adding that "Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 [million killed]."
So, what Stone said appears to be just the standard line of leftists outside the U.S. We just don't hear it much here.
Something that makes Stone sound exotic to Americans is that his mother was French (his father was a Gordon Gekko-like Jewish-American Wall Streeter), so he's more in touch with Continental conventional wisdom, which chiefly differs from American conventional wisdom in that it's not as neo.
Goldstein goes on:
I know this is going to be portrayed as yet another example of the terrible double standard in Hollywood, where lefties can say whatever they want and get away with it while conservatives are pilloried and symbolically burned at the stake. Or as Big Hollywood's John Nolte so succinctly put it: "Don't expect Oliver Stone to get the Mel Gibson treatment. Gibson's sin against Hollywood was producing 'The Passion of the Christ,' not the vile things that came out of his mouth. After all, this is the same industry that honors, continues to work with, and defends fugitive child rapist Roman Polanski. As long as your politics are in order, no 'Jewish domination of the media' comments can hurt you."
So where does this leave Oliver Stone? First off, unlike Gibson, who took forever to issue a weak apology for his anti-Semitic rant -- and still hasn't apologized for more recent racist, misogynistic ravings reported to have been made to the mother of his young child -- Stone issued a quick, forceful apology. He said very clearly that "Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry..."
Of course, for a filmmaker to make dark insinuations about a Jewish media cabal is sort of like a Republican officeholder advocating tax increases -- it can get you into a whale of trouble, even if, as this wry Jewish Journal post points out, it's not considered out of bounds for Jewish filmmakers to josh among themselves about the decline in Jewish domination of the film industry. If Stone were a comedian, he'd be able to push the envelope oh, so much further, since comics can get away with all sorts of outlandish, politically incorrect remarks without provoking a hailstorm of criticism.
I guess if there is any lesson here, it's that Stone is a lot better off in American than in his beloved Venezuela, Cuba or Iran, where artists have languished in prison for years for making remarks far less rude than what Stone had to say about the Jews.
By the way, what's the deal with Chavez? Why is there so much Jewish animus toward him? I've read about a dozen articles accusing Chavez of anti-Semitism, but I can never find much meat in them. Is it just the dreaded Venezuela-Iran Axis of Doom? Or is it also that Chavez plays the role of the jester who calls attention to the fact of American domination of the world, and always seems on the verge of joking about Jewish domination of America?