The Magazine

Opus and Tim Robbins

Hollywood hates the troops.

Sep 10, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 48
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BANNED IN WASHINGTON

THE SCRAPBOOK seldom takes notice one way or the other of "Opus," the strikingly unfunny comic strip written and drawn by Berkeley Breathed, of "Bloom County" fame. But the August 26 installment was missing from the pages of our Washington Post. And while this was not necessarily a calamity, we admit to curiosity about why "Opus" failed to appear in our Sunday paper.

As we soon discovered, both the August 26 and September 2 episodes of "Opus" poke fun--exceedingly mild fun, in our view--at Islamic fundamentalists. (The August 26 can be viewed here.)

Well, here's a chance for readers to pretend they're editors at the Washington Post. Bearing in mind that "Opus" featured a strip, two weeks ago, which wondered whether the late Rev. Jerry Falwell is in heaven (he is, but God is "annoyed eternally" about it), imagine you now find yourself staring at the new installment, wherein the spiritual quester Lola Granola (a recurring "Opus" character) tries to persuade her boyfriend of the advantages of her embrace of radical Islamism: "You're not getting a girlfriend blathering about 'American Idol.' And you're not getting a girlfriend who resists a man's rightful place." And so on.

What to do? Well, according to Catherine Donaldson-Evans of Fox News, Post editors showed the strip to Muslim staffers at the paper, who reacted "emotionally" to the spectacle of Lola Granola, now styling herself "Fatima Struggle" and "dressed in traditional Muslim garb and espousing conservative Islamic views." And this strip and the one scheduled for September 2 were pulled from the Washington Post.

In THE SCRAPBOOK's considered opinion, the insult to Islam in this strip is pretty benign, and in its fear of giving offense, the Post overreacted. But that's not the point. The point is, why would editors have felt constrained to solicit the views of Muslim staffers?

Were all the Baptists in the Post newsroom consulted about the Jerry Falwell joke? Is "Doonesbury" shown in advance to all the Republicans in the Post newsroom? Oh, wait a minute...

HOLLYWOOD HATES THE TROOPS

"We've killed over 400,000 of their citizens." That's what actor Tim Robbins thinks U.S. troops have been doing in Iraq. He made the claim last week in an appearance on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

He's wrong, of course. American soldiers have not been slaughtering 300 Iraqis a day for the last four years. Even for one of Hollywood's most feculent personalities, this is an appalling slander of U.S. troops.

The Iraq Body Count is an antiwar website that tallies all civilian deaths in Iraq as reported in the news media. Theirs is a comprehensive count that seeks to hold the United States and Britain accountable for a wide range of civilian deaths. As explained at iraqbodycount.org: "The count includes civilian deaths caused by coalition military action and by military or paramilitary responses to the coalition presence (e.g. insurgent and terrorist attacks). It also includes excess civilian deaths caused by criminal action resulting from the breakdown in law and order which followed the coalition invasion."

The antiwar group's "maximum count"? At the moment, 77,555. That's one-fifth the number concocted by Robbins's overactive imagination.

Just as we were inclined to dismiss Robbins as a lonely voice of idiocy, news came of director Brian De Palma's Redacted, one of eight new movies about the Iraq war due out in the coming months, according to Reuters. "Inspired by one of the most serious crimes committed by American soldiers in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, it is a harrowing indictment of the conflict and spares the audience no brutality to get its message across."

The film is based on the story of a brutal rape and murder of a young Iraqi girl and the killing of her family at the hands of four American soldiers. Sgt. Paul Cortez, who has admitted his role in the attack, was sentenced earlier this year to 100 years in prison. Most Americans who read about this brutal crime probably understood that most soldiers don't behave this way. De Palma does not. "The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people," he said last week.

How about the reality of what's happening in Hollywood? Says Pete Hegseth of Vets for Freedom: "These statements reflect the utter ignorance of Robbins and De Palma about what American soldiers are actually doing in Iraq. At every opportunity, they use their celebrity status to bash the very soldiers and Marines who are fighting for them. They reflexively side with radical Islamic terrorists rather than take an honest look at the situation in Iraq."