In October, it was Halle Berry. She found herself in the celebrity hot seat, apologizing profusely following an innocent, if clumsy, remark that only the most hysterical among us would view as evidence of antisemitism.
This month, apparently, it’s Will Smith’s turn.
In a rambling interview published in Scotland’s Daily Record, Smith was quoted as saying:
Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’ I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.
Now, did Smith choose his words as precisely as he might have? Maybe not. But was he basically correct? Of course. Hitler clearly had a vision of what he thought would be a “good” society. Sure, it was a sick and twisted vision, but that’s precisely what Smith was saying.
Regrettably, and utterly predictably, the fringe Jewish Defense League pounced on Smith, accusing him of having “spit on the memory of every person murdered by the Nazis” (and, weirdly, calling on Barack Obama to repudiate the “I Am Legend” star’s words). Equally predictably, gossip sites have shamelessly milked this non-story for all it’s worth.
Hollywood gossip powerhouse TMZ.com ran a particularly ridiculous item, under the ever-so-tasteful headline “Will Smith – Hitler, Schmitler; He Wasn’t That Bad.” TMZ — which clearly isn’t too up on the Jewish organizational landscape — referred in its post to the JDL as “a leading Jewish group.” Of course, if the folks at TMZ read the Forward, they’d know that the JDL is in no way “a leading Jewish group,” although it does rhyme with one. (Alas, TMZ isn’t the only news outlet taking the JDL statement seriously.)
Now poor Will Smith has had to issue an indignant clarification, reiterating that Hitler is, in fact, bad:
It is an awful and disgusting lie. It speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen. I am incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such ludicrous misinterpretation. Adolph Hitler was a vile, heinous, vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet.
This story "Will Smith Is No Hitler-Lover (and Will Someone Please Get TMZ.com a Subscription to the Forward)" was written by Daniel Treiman.