Norman Lear Vows to Fight Donald Trump's Anti-Muslim Rhetoric
Hollywood's elder statesman says his group People For the American Way will launch a major initiative aimed at combating 'hate speech' from Trump and other GOP presidential candidates.
In an announcement that expresses Hollywood’s deepening apprehension over Donald Trump and the state of national politics, Democratic elder statesman Norman Lear told the sold-out crowd at People for the American Way’s annual Spirit of Liberty dinner Saturday night that the organization will launch a major issues-oriented effort tied to the 2016 election cycle.
“I’ll let you in on a little secret,” the organization’s 93-year-old founder told the Beverly Wilshire audience. “At a board meeting this very morning, People for the American Way decided to devote a major effort to the issue of hate speech and anti-Muslim rhetoric,” both of which have become staples of the current Republican presidential race.
“I’ve never seen our country so confused, so removed from anything resembling an American dream, heading in a direction that scares the hell out of me,” Lear said. “Trust me in 93 years, one sees a lot.”
Long one of the entertainment industry’s leading liberal activists, Lear recalled that he started People for the American Way because he was troubled in 1980 “by what an ever-increasing group of evangelicals were spouting on television.”
“To earn their approval, you had to be the right kind of Christian and share their right-wing concerns,” Lear said. “Thirty-five years later, there are those who want to lead this country by openly calling for religious discrimination — for shutting down mosques, for closing our borders to desperate refugee families unless they are Christians."
“I haven’t believed — and don’t believe now — that the American people would elect Donald Trump president," added Lear. "I see Donald Trump only as the middle finger of the American right hand.”
The GOP’s national frontrunner also was on the minds of the evening's two Spirit of Liberty Award winners — Golden Globe nominee Judd Apatow and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading economic populist who enjoys a strong following in liberal Hollywood.
“The racist, sexist hatred that Donald Trump spews is ugly,” Warren said during her acceptance speech, “but make no mistake, this is quickly becoming the Republican Party brand. When he called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers and when he called women pigs, the other presidential candidates didn’t call him out.”
She said that Trump is taking the GOP “from the party of the rich and powerful to the party of fear and hatred.”
True to his comedic roots, Apatow turned a riff on the real estate magnate’s rhetoric into a sort of dark stand-up routine.
“Doesn’t Trump seem like the psycho girl on The Bachelor who you don’t want to get kicked off too early?” Apatow mused. “You want to see what she might do? And later in the season, you’re like ‘enough of her let’s get to the real contestants.’ I feel like we’re at that moment right now. It’s been fun for a while, but now we want to move on."
The writer/director said he’s been going through Trump’s book, Think Big and read aloud a passage from a chapter titled, “Revenge.”
Attempting Trump’s accent, Apatow read: “When other people see you don’t take crap, that you’re really going after someone for wronging you, they will respect you. Always have a good reason to go after someone. Do not do it without a good reason. When you are wronged, go after those people because it’s a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. When you are in business, you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder. You do it not only to get the person who messes with you, but also to show the others who are watching what will happen to them if they mess with you. If someone attacks you, do not hesitate. Go for the jugular. Attack them back in spades.”
“It’s pretty bad,” Apatow said. “There’s like 500 more pages like this…”
“I urge you to pick it up so you can get the energy you need to fight this,” he said.