- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Matt Damon is scared. Last week his e-mail runneth over with nasty Sarah Palin rumors. And before he could get his facts straight, the “Bourne” film series star and Barack Obama supporter spread false fears in a hysterical video that immediately went viral on the Internet.

“I want to know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago or if she banned books or tried to ban books,” Mr. Damon raged to the Associated Press. “I mean - you know, we can’t - we can’t have that.”

Mrs. Palin has neither pushed for creationism in Alaska schools nor moved to ban a single book in Wasilla. Yet the “Ocean’s 14” ensemble is currently unable to get through another smarmy scene for fear that a John McCain presidency will lead to an evangelical Christian theocracy and catastrophic artistic oppression.


The sad fact is that actual artistic oppression - book banning in its many modern forms - is a matter of course in the entertainment industry, especially when the underlying product is declared politically incorrect or runs contrary to the interests of Hollywood’s political altar, the Democratic Party.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations runs rings around Hollywood’s pious First Amendment absolutists.

“I hope you will be reassured that I have no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs,” director Phil Alden Robinson wrote after changing the script from Muslim terrorists to Austrian neo-Nazis in the Tom Clancy thriller, “The Sum of all Fears.” “And I wish you the best in your continuing efforts to combat discrimination.”

While Mr. Clancy put up an admirable fight, actor Ben Affleck acquiesced, cashed his multimillion-dollar check and fought the dreaded Austrians, whose flagging Teutonic self-confidence again took a hit. Thanks to Hollywood artistic appeasement, Arab youth in totalitarian Muslim countries indoctrinated in anti-Western thought dodged another esteem bullet.

Perhaps Mr. Affleck would still have a career as a leading man if the highly anticipated “The Sum of All Fears” added up to the realistic “war on terror” headlines that dominated news cycles as it came out in 2002 - or, God forbid, matched up to its authors’ chosen words, characters and ideas. Now Mr. Affleck sits near the craft service table watching his wife, Jennifer Garner, fight the bad guys.

The silence of the celebrity political class was heartbreaking when Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic radical in retaliation for making “Submission,” a critically acclaimed film that portrayed horrific female oppression within the practice of Islam.

Yet Hollywood - quick to find martyrs near to its heart (Valerie Plame, et al) - ignored its fallen Dutch comrade and refused to celebrate the film and its maker, fulfilling his murderer’s greatest desire.

“It’s like a really bad Disney movie,” Mr. Damon said of Mrs. Palin’s political rise.

Yet it was a really good Disney movie that stands as a lasting symbol that censorship is alive and well in liberal Hollywood. In 2006, ABC and its parent company poured $40 million into a five-hour, commercial-free miniseries called “The Path to 9/11.” Built to play every year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the docu-drama chronicles how the al Qaeda menace grew under the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Night 1 focused on the Clinton years; Night 2 looked into the eight months leading up to the attacks under President Bush. ABC considered the two-day movie experience a gift to the country, and over the two-night airing an astounding 28 million viewers tuned in.

Less about politics, “The Path to 9/11” focused on the emergence of radical Islamic terror as a clear and present American threat. Neither administration was cast as the villain; the Islamic terrorists were. Both administrations were rightfully portrayed as underestimating the threat.

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