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Tim Robbins Knows Nothing of Persecution

© 2003 by Doug Patton

I must confess I was fascinated watching actor Tim Robbins on C-Span, speaking to the National Press Club. He was passionate. I like that in a person. I actually found myself starting to respect the man.

Now before you sit down in a huff and begin writing that nasty letter telling me that I’ve gone over to the dark side, let me explain. I don’t agree with a single thing this man believes about the great issues of our time. He is completely deluded, in my opinion. But Robbins has passion, and a man without passion is a man without a soul. A man without passion is someone who will pretend to believe in anything in order to gain power, wealth, prestige. A man without passion will change his opinion based on the popular winds of doctrine. Bill Clinton is such a man.

But Tim Robbins isn’t faking it. I think he believes most of what he was spouting in that speech last week. He honestly thinks that he and his gilded cronies out there in La-La Land are being persecuted, censured – and even censored – for their views against the war in Iraq.

These people have some truly amazing beliefs in their treasure trove of fantasies, but that one causes the mind to reel. He and his “life partner,” Susan Sarandan, (marriage would be too conventional for these two) starred together in the eighties baseball movie “Bull Durham.” Apparently, because of their strident attitude against the war, the pair was uninvited to an event connected to that film, to be held at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Now that might be construed as a mild slap in the face, but no worse than the insults these two have been hurling at George W. Bush and his advisors – and by extension, at the brave troops who have so skillfully and so carefully liberated the Iraqi people over the last month. And it’s certainly not as though someone is telling this Hollywood power couple they can’t work at their craft, making ridiculous amounts of money playing make-believe on the big screen.

But to hear Tim Robbins talk, you would think that the House Un-American Activities Committee has been revived, and that he and Susan have been subpoenaed to appear and show cause why they should not be blacklisted from making further films. Or worse, that the Gestapo is at their door to take them away in the middle of the night for “unspecified crimes against the regime.”

Tim Robbins has no concept of real persecution. He should try living in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Fidel Castro’s Cuba or Kim Jung-il’s North Korea for a while. Does he imagine that he would be allowed to amass great wealth making movies – or doing anything else, for that matter – in one of these countries? Does he think that the regimes he seems so intent on preserving would tolerate one of his tirades for five minutes?

Robbins and Sarandan belong to that clique in Hollywood that imagines itself untouchable. They put their careers at risk by exercising their First Amendment right to shoot their mouths off against their own country, then try to peddle the lie that unfair persecution and government censorship are at work when average Americans don’t like what they stand for and decide not to buy tickets to their movies.

Which begs the question: If they truly believed that there was the slightest chance that they might be arrested or denied work, do you think they would be espousing such vitriol against the dreaded regime? I don’t know. They’re passionate people. They just might.

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country. He also writes for Talon News Service. Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonramp.com.

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