Monday, January 13, 2014

Emma Thompson, Feminist Heroine

To honor British actress Emma Thompson at something called the National Board of Review gala, Meryl Streep offered the following encomium:

Ezra Pound said, “I have not met anyone worth a damn who was not irascible.” Well, I have: Emma Thompson. Not only is she not irascible, she’s practically a saint. There’s something so consoling about that old trope, but Emma makes you want to kill yourself, because she’s a beautiful artist, she’s a writer, she’s a thinker, she’s a living, acting conscience.

Certainly, it’s strange that Streep opens with a quote by a famed supporter of Mussolini and Hitler. That would be Ezra Pound, as everyone but Streep knows.

Then, Streep, the self-styled conscience of Hollywood feminism, lit into Walt Disney:

[She] described Walt Disney (played in “Saving Mr. Banks” by an avuncular Tom Hanks) as a “gender bigot,” who, according to one of his chief animators, “didn’t trust women or cats.” She read a 1938 letter to a young woman from Arkansas named Mary Ford, who applied to the cartooning training program and was told by Disney that “girls are not considered for the training school.” For good measure, Streep called out Disney’s “racist proclivities,” noting that he had “formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobby,” the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals.

True enough, the Alliance was considered to be anti-Semitic.

That was yesterday. Today’s anti-Semites are organized around the movement to boycott Israeli artists and scholars. Among those who recently signed a petition calling for an Israeli theatre company to be banned from England was… you guessed it… Emma Thompson.

As reported by the Algemeiner:

 Recently, the Oscar-winning actress [Emma Thompson] joined with other darlings of stage and screen to protest the participation of Tel Aviv’s venerable Habimah Theater in a London festival that is performing the plays of William Shakespeare in 37 different languages.

In a letter published by The Guardian—a liberal newspaper with a long track record of publishing anti-Semitic material—Thompson and her cohorts slammed “Habima” [sic] for its “shameful record of involvement with illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory.” They ended with a demand to exclude the theater from the festival. No such objections were voiced concerning the participation of a Palestinian theater troupe, nor the involvement of the National Theater of China, which is directly funded by one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Defining anti-Semitism in the context of the recent vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli universities, Charles Krauthammer wrote:

And don’t tell me this is merely about Zionism. The ruse is transparent. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation — is to engage in a gross act of discrimination.

And discrimination against Jews has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism.

Does anyone care that Emma Thompson has allied herself with an anti-Semitic movement? Not at all. She’s a feminist heroine… and that forgives all sins.


Sam L. said...

I was not aware of that, but I do not regard Meryl Streep as an exemplar of morality and probity.

Kath said...

Streep is an actress. She is just playing the role of a deep thinker with superior morals.
The problem is that she does not know anything.

Also, many people are only interested in past anti-Semitism and ignore the old evil that is making a come back right now.

K Herman said...

When I first heard about Streep's speech, I was appalled that she had gone on that rant when she was supposed to be honoring Thompson. Now, knowing this about Thompson, I couldn't care less.