Actor, director, entrepreneur, and liberal activist Robert Redford has weighed in on the horrific events of last September 11. The good news is that his remarks clearly weren't as aggressively obnoxious as those of, say, Bill Maher, Susan Sontag, Aaron Sorkin, or Michael Moore. On the other hand, it's proof positive that the mushy-headed maybe-we-brought-it-on-ourselves crowd is alive and well with their heads clearly set ... in the clouds.
Redford didn't choose the "Tonight Show," or GQ, or even the New York Times for his discourse. Oddly enough, he penned his message in his Sundance company's spring catalog, meaning it probably went into the trash the way most catalogs do.
Which is too bad, because "events of this past year seized us from behind like a mugging in a dark alley," wrote Redford. "Perhaps we were too closed, too preoccupied to see it coming. Were we too closed in our own self-absorption and self-interest? Not open or interested in others - other cultures, other views, other voices? We seemed closed in our own success and greed."
Don't you just love it when a multi-millionaire Hollywood heartthrob gives America lectures about being too closed in self-absorption and greed? But wait; it gets better. Professor Redford thinks it's time for America to shape up and start caring about the world around her:
"Maybe we can open our minds now to new opportunities, to new realities, to change...An open mind to other people's needs or suffering, other people's beliefs and cultural traditions rather than just our own...Perhaps in this season we can celebrate the importance of this openness. I believe we are ready. I believe we can be the better for it."
Let's see ... In 1914 the world was thrown into war and civilization was saved by ... the United States of America. The fascists tried it again a couple of decades later - and the United States delivered the world from evil again. The Soviet Empire was defeated by a resolute West led by the United States. In 1991 it was the United States again at the head of an international effort to stop Iraq's warmongering. And now for the fifth time in the past century we're leading the free world in the struggle to rid the world of evil.
Yet according to Mr. Redford, it's high time the United States showed "an open mind to other people's needs or suffering."
Eerily - or, perhaps, predictably - the Sundance catalog mailed at roughly the same time that Redford's partner in environmental extremism, Ted Turner, told a Brown University gathering that the 9/11 mass murderers were "brave" and had been motivated by "abject poverty" in the Muslim world.
This isn't the first time Redford's shown sympathy for America's enemies. A decade ago, he produced and narrated the propagandistic documentary "Incident at Oglala," his contribution to the effort to free Leonard Peltier, then as now a leftist cause celebre. Peltier, an American Indian, was convicted of the 1975 terrorist killing of two FBI agents and is serving a life sentence in federal prison.
One expert on Indian issues, interviewed around the time that "Incident" was released, said it sounded "like the 'JFK' of Indian films." Redford, for his part, said at a congressional hearing that while he couldn't prove Peltier's innocence, "no one...has proven him guilty." (Memo to Redford: Oh, yes, they did, which is why Peltier will rot in prison for the rest of his life.)
It's fascinating to follow the logic of left-wingers like Redford because you find yourself wondering if they really, truly believe a word they're saying. He told USA Today in 1992 that both the Peltier case and the Rodney King case "have to be laid square at the feet of two [Republican] administrations that have had neglectful and abusive attitudes about human rights."
And, of course, there just has to be an environmental angle to this, which he managed to weave into the catalog mini-essay: "Open lands; lands free...of man's intrusions and arrogance of corporate machine use." Somehow Redford always feels free to play with accusations against Republicans in the White House, as when he charged in 1990, during Bush 41's term, "Never can I remember a time of such naked greed and profit at the expense of the environment as the last decade."
If there were a Hall of Shame for embarrassingly stupid analysis pertaining to 9/11, I'm not sure whether or not Redford would be elected. On the other hand, I'm confident that loudmouthed actress Sandra Bernhard would be voted in unanimously. In a February 25 chat on the Washington Post's web site, someone asked Bernhard, "Who are the real terrorist threats?" She responded, "George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs."
Next to Bernhard, Redford is Alexis de Tocqueville.