|Charlie Sheen, young, dumb,|
and strung out.
In short, there has been an enormous of amount of soul-searching amongst the oppressed of the Muslim world, the result being an acceptance of past problems and a desire to change in the future. Sure, there are many remaining questions about what happens once the shackles are left behind and the hard, painful road to democracy has been embarked upon. Specifically, questions about how these nations will deal with the Western world and their allies (i.e. Israel) now that the dictators who capitulated to U.S. demands have been deposed. I for one am inspired and, for the first time of my adult life, highly enthusiastic for the future of the geopolitical chess game.
So why can't Charlie Sheen, Julian Assange, and John Galliano see the world through a similar sense of accountability for one's own actions? Moreover, why, when the going gets tough, things get a little hectic, and, in two of the three aforementioned cases, blow and booze are a tad too accessible, do
depraved and desperate media personalities turn to that age old whipping boy: the Jew?
I'll admit, it's a stretch to equate the recent enlightenment of the Egyptian populace to those of a spoiled, moderately talented comedian, a rabble rousing libertarian activist, and a fashion designer. But, if the Muslim world can defy conventional wisdom and accept their past indiscretions and attempt to make their world a better place, why can't a guy who makes $1.8 million per episode of his sitcom or the chief creative officer of one of the world's most storied fashion labels? The Egyptians have nothing. Sheen, Galliano, and Assange have everything. If the Egyptians can put aside their paranoia about their Jewish neighbors to the north, why can't Galliano or Sheen?
The answer is probably simpler than I realize in Galliano's case-- and quite possibly in that of Assange too-- anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe and, even when not captured in HD resolution for the YouTube universe to witness, private bouts of anti-Jewish sentiment are largely tolerated in political and commercial discource. Combine the eccentric talents of a stressed out fashion house executive with some booze and other substances and voila, the guy is bound to unleash some sort of ferociously intolerant sentiment at some point, right? Well, that's what Giorgio Armani and Donatella Versace would have you believe. This is, of course, ludicrous and I hope that most intelligent, humanitarian souls see this incident as pure racism rather than simply an artist having a rough day at the office.
|Julian Assange: His Problems are not|
really his problems.
|John Galliano: Was he drunk |
when he took this photo?
So, what do these incidents have in common besides creative eccentrics lashing out at Jews-- as if being a creative personality is a legitimate excuse for hatred-- when they feel backed into a corner? I see two real themes:
- Unlike the poor and oppressed in the Arab world who are currently militarizing to throw off the bonds of punishment and reclaim lost national dignity, individuals who see themselves as exceptional for being creative and famous are simply unable to accept their own challenges and try to find rationale, reasonable, private solutions. For 40 years the people of Libya were oppressed and another 30 for Egypt, but at some point they accepted that they got themselves in that mess and only they could get themselves out. Nowhere in the struggle is the omni-present spite towards Israel or the American Jewish lobby even mentioned. Sadly, Sheen has looked to Mel Gibson of all people to validate his current behavior-- which includes anti-Semitic implications-- rather than accept that, yes, he got himself in this mess and only he can free himself from the shackles of oppression. It's one thing to claim, as Galliano has, that he has a substance abuse problem and therefore needs to check out of society and into rehab. It's another thing entirely for him to accept that his problems have nothing to do with Jews, admit and repent for his mistakes-- "necessary mia culpas" as Mel Gibson has called them-- and then try to start afresh, sober and humbled. Unfortunately, no such thing has happened and the fashion community has only mourned the fact that Galliano is an alcoholic whose major crime was being caught on video. Racism is excused.
- It is only when Jewish luminaries, possessing slightly more leverage than their co-workers (Sheen with Lorre and Natalie Portman as the spokesmodel for Dior), threaten their corporate employers with smear campaigns or the prospect of lost shareholder value, that anti-semitism is dealt with by a firm hand. As Julian Assange has indicated, that hand is swift, organized, and unfortunately for Sheen and Galliano, both rational and much more creative than them. Thus, Natalie Portman and Chuck Lorre-- the real cash cows for the House of Dior and CBS/Time Warner-- are able to oust two of their biggest stars in their respective media.
We can wish and pray and strive for a society in which Jews are not the de facto whipping boys for those who we hope would act as role models. But that day is not near, I'm afraid. What is more realistic, and I think it's slightly amazing that I'm even writing this, is that the various embattled factions of the world realize that no matter how they feel about the Israelis or a supposed underground Jewish conspiracy, the only way they are going to make their own world a better place is by acceptance, understanding, and then action. We can hope the creative eccentrics of the world follow suit.
Until then, all three should hire good publicists to help them manage their outbound communications. I suspect there are some excellent Jewish-run PR companies in New York or Los Angeles that would love to help.