General Question

Caravanfan's avatar

What is your opinion on John Cusack's tweet?

Asked by Caravanfan (5445points) 2 months ago

John Cusack was heavily criticized for a retweet and later apologized. How do you feel about the sentiment behind the tweet? How do you feel about Cusack’s response?

I’m especially interested in the Bernie-leaning left’s opinion on this.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/john-cusack-tweet-actor-apologizes-for-retweeting-apparent-anti-semitic-cartoon-today-2019-06-18/

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27 Answers

Demosthenes's avatar

It isn’t anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. But I understand that these kinds of criticisms are reminiscent of the “Jewish cabal secretly rules the world” conspiracy theory, which is an old anti-Semitic trope. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Criticizing Israel is not the same as criticizing all Jews.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m not a Bernie-leaning leftie, but I think it’s way out of line, as a human being.

Follow the money, with the star of David and a hand oppressing people?
Straight out of an Aryan play book. Not okay.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

First thought was he mis-interpreted an anti-semitic meme as a pro-palestine one. So IMO it’s all kinds of bad. He was truthful and sincere about the apology but it won’t matter.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Cusack claims the retweet to be a mistake. From the information given in the article, I can form no opinion on the probability of his claim. I can’t recall any instances of Cusack expressing antisemitic sentiments. Does anyone else have examples of such criticisms from the actor?

SaganRitual's avatar

All I know about it is what I’ve just now read in the article you linked. The first thing I notice is that although Mr Cusack’s tweet could indeed spring from anti-semitism, that wouldn’t be the first thing I would think of. It looks to me like a political statement. On first glance, I thought it was a commentary on Israeli oppression of Palestine. But the quote doesn’t fit. Palestinians aren’t allowed to criticize Israel? That’s the least of their worries; they’re not even getting enough to eat.

So, on inspection, it seems to be a complaint about the Israeli government suppressing criticism among Israeli citizens. I don’t know whether the Israeli government does that or not, but that’s how I interpret the cartoon. It’s a big stretch to anti-semitism.

And in fact, a big stretch is what that article does. It mentions that the quote is often misattributed to Voltaire, but then connects the quote with one Kevin Alfred Strom, a known Neo-Nazi and generally bad guy. I find no reason whatsoever to associate Mr Cusack with that guy, especially considering that—as the article says—the quote is often misattributed to Voltaire.

As far as his response to the criticism, I find it unfair to expect people to respond from their “best self” when the weight of the internet is on their shoulders. I get upset when a few people downvote me; if I got all the criticism Mr Cusack received, I’d probably fling myself off a cliff. It’s got to be scary, having so many people come at you with their teeth bared.

As for the answers from the Bernie crowd, I’m sad to say that your question has a slight odor of disingenuity about it. It seems like a gotcha, an attempt to expose their hypocrisy, or to cast aspersions about their courage if they refuse to answer to your satisfaction. It’s none of my business, but I’ll just point out that this is not a particularly useful way to make progress in a conversation. (Or I could be completely wrong. In which case, I ask your forgiveness for assuming too much.)

Peace and luck

Caravanfan's avatar

To be clear, the only reason why I want to know from Bernie supporters is that he tagged @gottabernnow and he’s a vocal pro-Bernie supporter a la Susan Sarandon.

Caravanfan's avatar

Oh, one more thing, the quote that is attributed by Voltaire was really written by this guy
http://www.kevinalfredstrom.com/

SaganRitual's avatar

I also feel compelled to point out that the retweet in the article, from Adon Hen Mazzig, seems to assume far too much, insinuating that Mr Cusack’s tweet is anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. That might be what I smelled a minute ago. There is no basis for such comments, and they’re disrespectful not only to Mr Cusack, but also to Adon Mazzig’s audience. Very few of them will take any time to check into the issue for themselves, and many of them now think very ill of Mr Cusack.

Not only is his reputation damaged, he might even be harassed with rude or threatening messages. I feel really bad for him, as I would for anyone who was so grossly maligned by a trusted source in a large public forum.

Peace and luck to you, Mr Cusack

gorillapaws's avatar

The notion of Bernie supporters being anti-Semitic is about as absurd a claim as you can make.

One can have the position of not hating Jews (and even try to get one elected President) and also be critical of the state of Israel, its policies, its administration, and it’s lobbying organization (see AIPAC) that does spend tens of millions of dollars to influence American policy to support Israel.

Caravanfan's avatar

@gorillapaws I never said that all Bernie supporters were antisemitic, of course that’s absurd. I also don’t think that Cusack is antisemitic. He made a mistake and I, for one, forgive him.

I asked what the opinion was on substance John Cusack’s tweet was and the only reason I mentioned Bernie was that Cusack mentioned it in his tweet. Do you understand why that retweet is antisemitic?

Zaku's avatar

What could that supposedly have to do with supporting Bernie Sanders???

I take it as what Cusack wrote – he thought he was retweeting something something about pro-Palestinian justice but it was a hasty click and he hadn’t considered it fully.

The Middle East situation is very complex and it’s hard to make many statements without potentially upsetting one or more groups of people involved in it. I too sympathize with such ideas as:

* The Palestinian people have been in a terrible and for many of them, very unfair situation for a very long time.
* It can seem difficult to criticize Israel on any issue without being met with suspicion and/or anger by some groups, as Israel is also in a difficult and threatened situation.

I don’t know what the full possible sentiment behind the original tweet were, but clearly it’s very easy to go too far, and clearly there are also some extreme anti-Semitic positions that would also approve of the tweet.

Since Cusack apologized, I don’t see this as anything but a mistaken tweet and recant, and it seems to have already received more attention than it deserved.

I tend to think further attention on it would seem like attempted bashing on Cusack, which I see little point in doing unless someone’s afraid of his influence as a celebrity and wants to vilify celebs who say things they disagree with.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Caravanfan “I never said that all Bernie supporters were antisemitic, of course that’s absurd.”

I wasn’t clear. I should have said ”...is about as absurd a claim as one can make.” The “you” was meant in a generalized, abstract sense and wasn’t directed at you personally. It doesn’t read how I intended it to. Sorry for not being more clear.

I would argue that if you sampled all of Bernie’s supporters the percentage of actual antisemites would be vastly lower than the general population… they are supporting a Jew for president after all. Bernie supporters and progressives in general do tend to be very critical of Israel however. I think the “antisemitic” label is being used inappropriately to apply to critics of the Netanyahu administration’s policies.

The cartoon mentioned can clearly be interpreted as being antisemitic. But here’s a thought experiment: if the Israeli flag was say a purple diamond (or something arbitrary, unrelated to Judaism) and the cartoon had the Star of David replaced with a purple diamond instead, I don’t think the cartoon would have been antisemitic. In other words, there’s a subjective component to the interpretation of the cartoon. Yes it’s offensive and I certainly would never post it. That said, there needs to be a way for people to criticize Israel’s policies in a rational manner without being called Nazis. For example, I don’t think Ilhan Omar’s criticisms of AIPAC are antisemitic.

I do appreciate that there is a completely rational sensitivity to the topic due to the existence of actual antisemites in the world and the historical realities surrounding the horrors that resulted (and continue to occur).

Caravanfan's avatar

@Zaku “What could that supposedly have to do with supporting Bernie Sanders???”
It doesn’t except in his tweet he tagged @gottabernnow which is the twitter name for some Bernie supporter in LA.

@gorillapaws (with the risk of dipping into Godwin’s law) His note “follow the money” with a Jewish star goes back to a trope from the Protocol of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic hoax that fanned the fuels of Nazism. The graphic was designed by a Neonazi and the quote was by a neonazi. It’s clearly antisemitic. There is literally nothing not antisemitic about the graphic. The fact he RTed it bothered me, but the fact that he tagged a Bernie supporter bothered me more—hence why I asked the question as I did.

LostInParadise's avatar

You can criticize Israel without being anti=Semitic, but there is no direct mention of Israel. The star of David is a symbol of both Israel and Judaism. It is regularly used by anti-Semites to refer to Jews. Adding “Follow the money” does not help Cusack’s case. I am willing to give Cusack the benefit of the doubt, since his apology seems sincere. That the recipient of the re-Tweet is a Sanders supporter does not seem to be particularly relevant.

gorillapaws's avatar

Regarding “follow the money,” I appreciate the context that makes such a comment offensive. I just want to point out that progressives use this exact phrasing when criticizing the influence of money on US politics such as lobbyists from big pharma, health insurance, the fossil fuel industry, the NRA, military contractors, big banks, payday lenders, private prisons and yes, AIPAC. AIPAC has dumped tens of millions of dollars into both parties and has persuaded politicians to support undemocratic anti-BDS legislation.

When Cory Booker opposed the importation of drugs from Canada to lower drug prices, progressives were saying “follow the money” because he was being paid a lot by big pharma. That’s just a quick example of many. I think when referencing AIPAC, people should be more clear and explicit in their critiques to avoid coming across as promoting antisemitic tropes. But I would argue that opposing policies from AIPAC is not antisemitic in-and-of-itself.

Caravanfan's avatar

@gorillapaws It might be difficult for you to understand why it’s such a trigger for us Jews. It is not the same as following the money for, say, drugs and giving money to drug companies or whatever. This idea that Jews control the money of the world is a very old myth and has led to deaths of millions. Any reference to something like that is automatically going to make us stand up and take notice.

stanleybmanly's avatar

How about the aphorism itself? That naked star of David on the “oppressor’s” sleeve might be a representation of the Israeli flag. If so, wouldn’t the uproar validate the aphorism?

Caravanfan's avatar

What everybody needs to understand is that the graphic is exactly as offensive as, say, as a graphic of hanging a black person from a tree by their neck.

The question of the graphic isn’t even a question. My point was that I was concerned that the actor while tagging particular political figure. That’s why I asked the question.

Trump has retweeted a similar graphic during the political campaign and was immediately called out.

SaganRitual's avatar

@Caravanfan A lynched black person, seriously? You’re going to have to walk me through that one. I guess you saw my answer; I can’t even to get to anti-Semitism. Lynched black person? Help me understand.

Also, as far as I can tell, Mr Cusack was “called out” by one man, who used some rather inflammatory language, in much the way that people often do when they are on the lookout for something to be offended by.

And how the heck could John Cusack be expected to know anything about some “trope from the Protocol of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic hoax that fanned the fuels of Nazism”? This whole issue smells really bad to me. It seems incredibly unfair to Mr Cusack.

Caravanfan's avatar

@SaganRitual Yes. It’s exactly the same level of racism. It’s no different than any of these
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_badge

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YYMeAu4i7gA/THZT7MUTZkI/AAAAAAAAIuk/MEW1312eMPs/s640/nazi-propaganda-posters-ww2-second-world-war-002.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/43/34/cd/4334cd9624048de877f121c67ef546a7--anti-semitic-nazi-propaganda.jpg

Do you understand now?

I agree it’s unfair to Cusack. I don’t think he is an antisemite, but the clear thing is that he retweeted a clearly antisemitic tweet that was made by a neonazi. He apologized, and that’s fine. Move on, that’s fine. But the fact that left-wing supporters were coming to his defense really bothers me.

SaganRitual's avatar

@Caravanfan No, I don’t understand. You haven’t explained. You’ve simply provided more examples that need more explaining. As I’ve said, I don’t see how that cartoon is in any way anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist, and you haven’t explained why.

I’m defending him, and left or right is irrelevant. I’m sad to hear that it bothers you. But I find it not only wildly unfair, but totally random. As the article you linked says, the quote is often misattributed to Voltaire. There’s no reason for this Nazi guy to be mentioned. And especially not the crap about child porn charges. Jeez.

It might be fine to you, if some poor schmuck tweets out something in support of the oppressed and then gets beat up by the internet to the point of actually apologizing as though he has done something wrong. It’s not fine to me, and I’ll continue to come to his defense—I’d come to your defense too, if it were you getting this treatment. Peace

Caravanfan's avatar

Okay then I can’t help you. I’ve already explained why it’s antisemitic in several different ways. Peace.

Response moderated (Spam)
Zaku's avatar

@Caravanfan I think @SaganRitual ‘s difficulty following your logic (to which I would add my own confusion, or at least my opinion that I think you’re making great unfounded assumptions that many people would make the same associations you have, even if there is an accurate connection for someone familiar with the same things you are) – could hopefully clarify for you that “the left-wing supporters were coming to his defense” are almost certainly in the same category as Cusack’s mistake – they don’t have your perspective, and aren’t willing to do much/any research to get on your same page so they can all make a politically correct statement about it.

Instead, they’ve been drawn into yet another of the endless “one side versus the other” Internet arguments out there, and like most people doing that, only engage based on their first impression and move on to the next.

If you’re going to let something “really bother” you about it, I suggest it mainly be this collapse of our society’s ability to have civil non-binary discussions, or to discuss actual issues rather than trivial nonsense from incompatible unexplained (yet assumed to be true) perspectives.

gorillapaws's avatar

I just want to understand what the appropriate method for criticizing AIPAC and the millions of dollars that flow into our government via lobbyists to convince US politicians to support the Netanyahu administration’s policies that are gross violations of human rights and international law without being called a Nazi. Because there are people (including the mainstream media) who are weaponizing the antisemitic label against the left in an effort to silence criticism of Israel’s actions. I should also mention there are billions of dollars to be made selling Israel weapons (and even more to be made if we get drawn into an endless war with Iran).

To be clear, I do realize that posting images like the one is not acceptable. What would an “acceptable” political cartoon criticizing the influence of big money from the pro-Israel lobby on the US government look like, out of curiosity?

Zaku's avatar

@gorillapaws Great question (probably good to post as its own question), especially now that the mainstream media is being used to steer us into war with Iran.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The bitter irony that is the fate of the Palestinians does not pass unnoticed by many Jews. In view of their own history, the spectacle of Israel in the role of Pharaoh must be discomfiting to say the least. The accusation of resistance to the swindling of the Palestinians as antisemitic must be recognized for what it is.

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