Here's a war protest that's hard to stomach
July 9, 2006
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Very old Hollywood joke: Starving beggar with tin cup: ''I haven't eaten for three days.''
Zsa Zsa Gabor: ''Dahlink, I wish I had your will power.''
Up-to-the-minute Hollywood joke, from Agence-France Presse:
''U.S. Stars Align In Anti-Iraq War Hunger Strike.
''Star Hollywood actor-activists including Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon and anti-war campaigners led by bereaved mother Cindy Sheehan plan to launch a hunger strike, demanding the immediate return of U.S. troops from Iraq.
''As Americans get set to fire up barbecues in patriotic celebration of U.S. Independence Day on July 4, anti-war protesters planned to savor a last meal outside the White House, before embarking on a 'Troops Home Fast' at midnight . . .
''Penn, Sarandon, novelist Alice Walker and actor Danny Glover will join a 'rolling' fast, a relay in which 2,700 activists pledge to refuse food for at least 24 hours, and then hand over to a comrade.''
So Sean Penn is starving himself to death, but just for a day? Brilliant! If Gandhi had been that smart, he'd still have a movie career. Willie Nelson and Michael Moore are also among those participating in the ''rolling fast,'' which in Michael's case will involve going without the roll. Greater love hath no man than to lay down his lunch for his friends.
"We have been continually sheltered from the actual cost of war from the beginning," says human rights activist Meredith Dearborn. "Now it is time to bring the pain and suffering of war home. We are putting our bodies on the line for peace." And nothing brings home the pain and suffering of war like a Hollywood celebrity forgoing the soup du jour. All over the country, horrified Americans will be staring at Susan Sarandon and going, "Darling, you look fabulous! Did you lose five pounds?" Already, fans are said to be shocked at discovering Billy Crystal lunching at Spago with a whimpering, moaning Meg Ryan: "Aaaaooouuueurrrrggh, no, oh, no, oh, aaaeauugheepheuneugaaaoooo, no, no!"
''When Harry Met Sally 2?''
''No, she skipped the second endive.''
Personally, if celebrities have to ''put their bodies on the line for peace,'' I'd much rather see them bulk up. How about if Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow promise to put on 20 pounds for every month Bush refuses to end his illegal war? Absent that, it's hard to see what a ''rolling fast'' does except confirm the vague suspicion one or two Americans may harbor that politically active celebrities are a lot of vain dilettantes unwilling to discombobulate their pampered lifestyles. It's unclear whether any of these celebrities will be ''starving'' long enough even to feel hungry. Bobby Sands and the IRA hunger strikers of the 1980s were never going to force Mrs. Thatcher to back down, but at least they did actually starve themselves to death.
How about if the celebs did that? Wouldn't that, after all, get right to the heart of the matter? Wouldn't that bring piercing clarity to the issue by forcing the American people to choose between tedious geopolitical responsibilities and Jennifer Aniston? Imagine if the flailing neocon warmongers had to explain to the American people why we were now down to one Dixie Chick. Bush would be cowering in the Oval Office while his spinmeisters attempted futile damage control on one horror story after another.
The problem for the ''activists'' is that the entire anti-war movement is undernourished. Indeed, in all their contempt for America as an effete narcissistic ninny too soft and self-absorbed to stand any pain, even al-Qaida couldn't have come up with as withering a parody of the Great Satan's decadence as a celebrity pseudo-fast. As the great Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean said on his deathbed: ''Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.'' Not for Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.
©Mark Steyn, 2006
ARC: St Wendeler