During Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House, he retweeted a blatantly anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton’s head, framed in a Star of David, on a field of cash. And though he (or his staff) quickly deleted the tweet, the candidate soon chided the “dishonest media” and claimed that the original image — which previously appeared on a white supremacist website — actually depicted “Sheriff’s Star, or plain star!” Barney Fife must have been spinning in his grave. That was no sheriff’s star, Andy, and any explanation or staff apology appeared a bit too late, and way too insincere.
In a repeat of hate speak and anti-Semitism, actor John Cusack last week did pretty much the same thing — retweeting a blatantly anti-Semitic image and then offering a weak response follows exactly the Trump playbook on hate and intolerance.
I don’t think that Cusack is as insidious as Trump, but he came damned close. In what he characterizes as a “careless mistweet,” Cusack exposed himself as, at best, careless and ignorant — and at worst, a parrot for anti-Semitism that is inspiring hate and the systematic killing of Jews.
Where Trump’s anti-Semitism is overt, Cusack’s might be more subconscious. Both are reprehensible, and in order to assess the degree of hate, we have to first understand what Cusack tweeted:
The star of “Say Anything,” “Grosse Pointe Blank” and the new “Never Grow Old” retweeted an image of a hand in a sleeve bearing a Star of David crushing a group of people struggling beneath it. It includes the quote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” and incorrectly attributes it to the French philosopher Voltaire. Above that image, Cusack wrote: “Follow the money.”
Ah yes…the money. Lest we forget that to the ignorant and hateful, we Jews represent money-grubbing insects that would sell out their own grandmothers for a few shekels. At least they do to John Cusack.
Cusack at first said he thought he was retweeting a “pro-Palestinian justice” post and upon reflection after public outcry, finally agreed that the image was anti-Semitic, deleting it and his tweets initially justifying it.
His apologies did not come instantly or without some blowback by his community. Subconscious mistake? Not if the realization came because of peer pressure. As time went by between the post and the post-tweet regret, Cusack’s retreat did not happen quickly.
Were Cusack looking for a life-preserver, none was tossed from the deck of his sinking ship as he began to drown in his own hate-speak. I can’t help but think that Cusack reached out to a forensic publicist to help him pen the following admission:
“In reaction to Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation, an issue that concerns anyone fighting for justice, I (retweeted) and quickly deleted an image that’s harmful to both Jewish and Palestinian friends, and for that I’m sorry,” he wrote. “The image depicted a blue Star of David, which I associated with Israel as their flag uses the same color & shape. I know the star itself is deeply meaningful to Jews no matter where they stand on Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.” (A rep for Cusack had no comment beyond his initial apology.)
Was there any daylight between Trump’s overtly anti-Semitic, anti-Hillary Clinton tweet and Cusack’s “follow the money” metaphoric tweet? Nope, not much of a difference.
This is painful to write. I’m a fan of Cusack. As much as I try to separate the actor from his cause, it’s difficult when something like this hits so close to home. I haven’t watched a Mel Gibson movie for a long time, Roger Waters no longer represents Pink Floyd to me, and now the shadow of Cusack’s impropriety will relegate my “Runaway Jury” DVD to the dustbin.
I was never into Trump.