Celebrities are prone to forget that their talents involve singing, dancing, playing sports, or pretending to be other people. With a little prompting, they’re often ready to drop their deep political and cultural wisdom on unsuspecting audiences. The best celebrity foot-shootings come when the star in question seems honestly puzzled by public revulsion to his comments. Those who feed on adoration don’t handle sudden hunger pangs very well.
Let’s take the case of legendary singer Tony Bennett, but we’ll do it in reverse. Here’s the apology, which he delivered in a statement Tuesday night:
There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country. My life experiences — ranging from the Battle of the Bulge to marching with Martin Luther King — made me a lifelong humanist and pacifist, and reinforced my belief that violence begets violence and that war is the lowest form of human behavior.
I am sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of my love for my country, my hope for humanity and my desire for peace throughout the world.
In the interests of showing due respect for Mr. Bennett’s outstanding military service, here’s a summary of his World War II exploits from MilitaryHub.com:
Tony Bennett, then Anthony Benedetto, was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944 during the final stages of World War II. After basic training at Fort Dix and Fort Robinson, Benedetto became an infantry rifleman. In January 1945 he was assigned as a replacement infantryman to 255th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Infantry Division, a unit filling in after the Battle of the Bulge. He moved across France and into Germany, and in March 1945, he joined the front line.
As the German Army was pushed back into their homeland, Benedetto and his company experienced bitter winter fighting. At the end of March they crossed the Rhine and engaged with German soldiers; during the first week of April they crossed the Kocher and by the end of the month reached the Danube. Benedetto narrowly escaped death several times. His combat experience made him a patriot and a pacifist. Benedetto took part in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp, where American prisoners of war from the 63rd Division were also freed.
This is what Bennett is apologizing for, as reported by the New York Daily News:
In a bizarre interview with shock jock Stern, legendary singer Tony Bennett proclaimed “we caused” the 9/11 attacks and said former President George W. Bush admitted to him the Iraq war was a mistake.
“They flew the plane in, but we caused it,” the 85-year-old crooner told Stern on his Sirius Radio show Monday night. “We were bombing them, and they told us to stop.”
Bennett’s controversial answer came after Stern asked the World War II vet how the U.S. should deal with the terrorists responsible for toppling the twin towers.
“Who are the terrorists?” Bennett said, according to ABC News. “Are we the terrorists, or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
(Emphasis mine.) It’s hard to believe anyone who has paid the slightest attention to the words or deeds of al-Qaeda could possibly think passive capitulation to their demands would have prevented them from attacking us, but that’s Bennett’s opinion. Fair enough.
What I find difficult to reconcile is his blanket decoration of love for the country that “caused” the 9/11 terror attacks. He expressly stated that he thinks we’re the terrorists, and according to his chronology, our terrorism came first. But then, after hit with a blizzard of condemnation for his remarks, he hastens to assure potential buyers of his new record album that he really loves them all to pieces?
Pacifism requires an appalling degree of moral equivalence. You’ve got to dwell on the failures of the country you ostensibly “love,” while completely ignoring the deeds of her brutal enemies – essentially reducing them to the status of confused children by stripping them of moral responsibility. The victims of terrorism blow themselves up, because only they have true moral agency. The dirty animals with the box cutters are merely responding to inescapable pressures when they slit the throats of flight-attendant hostages and fly airplanes into buildings packed with thousands of innocent people.
There’s a lot of this thinking on the Left, because it empowers them to display ferocious contempt for their domestic enemies – the foes they’re really concerned with defeating. If only America is truly responsible for its actions, then all criticism is directed at America. The international Left applies the same moral calculus to the West in general. We had another good stiff dose of it from President Obama at the United Nations today.
As for Bennett’s claim that President Bush “admitted” the Iraq war was a mistake:
“He told me personally that night that, he said, ‘I think I made a mistake,’ ” said Bennett, who was appearing on the Stern show to promote his new album, “Duets II.”
Bennett said he believed that the President made this revelation because “he had a special liking to me.”
Bennett said he agreed with that assessment.
“To start a war in Iraq was a tremendous, tremendous mistake internationally,” he said.
A Bush spokesman slammed Bennett’s account as “flatly wrong.”
“President Bush has always felt, and consistently expressed, that America is safer without Saddam Hussein in power,” spokesman Freddy Ford said.
“He has never said the decision to liberate Iraq was a mistake to Mr. Bennett or to anyone.”
Guess we’ll have to decide which side of that dispute to believe. Tony Bennett’s weird and offensive behavior makes it an easy call.