I was speaking today to a lovely couple in their 50’s that I spent some time with at my hotel’s pool for a bit. At some point in our conversation, they shared that they supported Trump and I listened as they explained their reasons why. I challenged them on a few things but I was not trying to convert them. They were unaware of certain facts like the EPA being disbanded in December 2018 and Bannon’s stated agenda at CPAC that the plan was to undermine critical agencies with key Cabinet appointments to eliminate them altogether. They dismissed “all of that.”
But I wanted to understand them better so I did listen to what they had to say. One of the things they complained about was how they are so disenchanted with people like Springsteen and DeNiro because “celebrities who talk politics are stupid.” When I asked why, they said, “Because they are going to lose people like us, people with money.”
This couple came from wealth, the indicators of which had not been lost on me. It seems arrogant to assume that the reasons that these celebrities are speaking out is to create more income for themselves. Perhaps the celebrities know that in speaking out, they may very well alienate a fan base like this couple, and it’s collateral damage they are willing to take on for the cause?
Taking a stance and having a voice is not a comfortable thing to do. It takes guts. These celebrities aren’t immune to the criticisms. This is not stupidity or hubris. It’s patriotism. It’s humanity.
I think there is this sense in society that when a public figure like Springsteen, Meryl Streep or DeNiro does something, they are “owned” by people. We watch them from our screens at home and we can buy their albums or their movies or change the channel. So somehow, we control their voices?
In a way, we do have some influence. We can choose not to buy their music or watch their movies, respectively. We can choose not to appreciate their art.
That is our prerogative as citizens in a free market economy. A democracy.
But to say that these individuals owe you or me any of their rights to not speak out if they see injustice is wrong.
There’s something inherently un-American about this continual desire to want to silence or shame those with a platform who are speaking out against this administration.
Something un-American about silencing anyone who challenges his authoritarian actions.
Something un-American about wanting to dismiss those who bring attention to the questionable and divisive actions being taken.
So go ahead. Boycott them. Hate on Meryl. Don’t “Dance in the Dark.”
It’s your loss.
But don’t think they owe you their silence.