The only problem with the story, of course, is that it's completely false.
Never ones to let the truth get in the way of a good ratings bump, though, the media are all over it like a fat kid on a cupcake. After all, they can get away with saying it as long as they quote the source of the article - if you can be a journalist by interviewing journalists on your television show, then surely you can be a journalist AND avoid culpability by quoting other journalists and then asking someone for their reaction to the other journalists work.
(On an aside, that sounds a lot like what many bloggers do - but we're not "real journalists", as Big Media so often and derisively points out... and then they proceed to do the same thing.)
Immediately after the article was released, the Jewish Defence League, which proudly trumpets itself as "the most controversial... of all Jewish organizations (note to JDL: Calling yourself "controversial" and proudly trumpeting the fact that you get hate-mail from illiterates doesn't make you good at what you do, or important... ditto for Ezra Levant, Michael Coren, and Rick Bell) issued a release which said, in part:
... Smith's comments are ignorant, detestable and offensive. They spit on the memory of every person murdered by the Nazis. His disgusting words stick a knife in the backs of every veteran who fought so valiantly to save the world from those aspirations of Adolf Hitler. Smith's comments also cast the perpetrators of the Holocaust as misguided fellows rather than the repulsive villains of history they truly were.
If people do not understand how idiotic and insensitive it was to make such a comment, it is like a Jew saying that James Earl Ray, the assassin of Rev. Martin Luther King, was basically a good person who did a "bad thing."
The Jewish Defense League is calling on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to repudiate the comments made by Smith, his friend and supporter.
The Jewish Defense League also is calling for movie theaters to stop showing Smith's movie I Am Legend, a science fiction story about a man-made virus that has killed off most of the world's population. The JDL also is asking the movie-going public to avoid going to see the movie, which received mixed reviews, and is asking executives in the entertainment industry to cancel future projects planned for Smith.
The Jewish Defense League also vows to confront Smith if ever the chance occurs.
Okay, so let's review...
Smith's comments were "ignorant, detestable, and offensive". They "spit on the memory" of 6 million murdered Jews and every Allied soldier who died fighting the Nazis. Smith was "idiotic and insensitive" to make the comments. They played the race card, heavily, and even went so far as to request a repudiation from "the black guy running for president, who must be one of Will's friends". They then called for a boycott of his movie, which they insinuated wasn't all that good (nice of them to throw in a thinly-veiled movie review in the midst of a statement of outrage). They ask that Will never be allowed to work in Hollywood again, and they say they'll "confront him" when the chance occurs.
Of course, things got a little more clouded when Smith fired back at the allegations, which was immediately after he heard of them, stating:
"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."
All right... it looks like the Fresh Prince isn't that into Hitler after all. Now, we wait for the JDL's retraction. Oh, look, here it comes now, in its entirety...
The following statement was issued by Will Smith through his publicist after JDL publicly condemned the words he used in his interview with The Daily Record: “Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous, vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet.”
To Smith, JDL says: This is what you should have said in the first place.
While we do not believe Will Smith is a Jew-hater by any stretch of the imagination, we stand by our original assessment that his original comments were offensive. He thinks there is goodness in everyone but, sadly, that is far from true. Smith's articulation of such a naive view is not only worthy of derision, it is worthy of condemnation since it is always dangerous to whitewash evil.
Will Smith’s apology is enough for us to call off JDL’s request for non-attendance of his motion picture, I Am Legend. We also have no problem with anyone who wishes to employ him.
In a related matter, the Jewish Defense League supports the Hollywood writers and hopes the strike is settled soon so that Smith, a very talented actor, can continue doing what he does so well.
Umm... what about THIS part of Will's statement, JDL?
"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."
Don't so much want to deal with the implication that maybe Will DIDN'T say what you attacked him for saying?
Okay... so, on second thought, Will is not a Jew-Hater (very big of you to admit that), but he IS naive... you don't want people to boycott the movie... something about the writer's strike... Will has talent... I guess you're not going to "confront him" anymore... umm... what about THESE points?
Smith's comments were "ignorant, detestable, and offensive". They "spit on the memory" of 6 million murdered Jews and every Allied soldier who died fighting the Nazis. Smith was "idiotic and insensitive" to make the comments. They played the race card, heavily, and even went so far as to request a repudiation from "the black guy running for president, who must be one of Will's friends". They then called for a boycott of his movie (later rescinded), which they insinuated wasn't all that good. They ask that Will never be allowed to work in Hollywood again, and they say they'll "confront him" when the chance occurs. (both rescinded).
The problem, JDL, is this: By originally painting Will Smith with the anti-Semitic brush, screaming it to the high heavens, and then issuing a watered-down half-hearted clarification, you have, in essence, DEFAMED him. You attacked him without confirming your facts. You were prejudicial. You attacked the man's character, reputation, work, and intelligence, without a shred of proof beyond an unconfirmed quote in a newspaper article.
So, as we do in cases of defamation, we consult the Anti-Defamation League. After all, they clearly state their principles right at the top of their website:
... to stop the defamation of the Jewish people... to secure justice and fair treatment to all...
Will's part of "all", right?
From the Anti-Defamation League:
New York, NY, December 26, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed and accepted actor Will Smith's clarifying statement that Adolf Hitler was "a vile, heinous, vicious killer" and not someone to be held up as a good person.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We welcome and accept Will Smith's statement that Hitler was a 'vicious killer' and that he did not mean for his remarks about the Nazi leader to be mistaken as praise. Once Smith realized that his remarks may have been misunderstood, he took immediate steps to clarify his words and unequivocally condemn Hitler as an evil person. We would have expected no less from a celebrity of his standing in the strata of Hollywood stardom.
Unfortunately, in citing Hitler in what appears to be a positive context, Smith stirred up a hornet's nest on the Internet, where hate groups and anti-Semites latched on to the remark and praised it. If anything, this episode serves as a reminder of the power of words, and how words can be twisted by those with hate and bigotry in their hearts to suit their own worldview. This is why all celebrities bear a special responsibility to weigh their words carefully, and an obligation to speak out against racism and bigotry whenever even a whiff of it appears, as Will Smith has done in this instance.
Okay... good stuff. I'll keep reading, and I'm sure there will be a reference made to the need for the JDL to apologize and retract their statements about Will's character, intellect, work, et al...
Sorry, come again?
There IS no more?
Nation, herein lies the problem with "social justice" organizations... they're very into "justice for all" in public, but in reality, they're about pushing their own agendas.
Now, there's nothing wrong with pushing your own agenda. It's your time and your money, and you have every right to do so. I support, with my voice AND my money, several pro-Israel and Jewish groups and charities. I agree whole-heartedly with the cause and calling of the ADL. But these groups, ESPECIALLY groups with the influential voice of the Anti-Defamation League, have an obligation to choose their words as carefully as (as they kindly point out in their own release) high profile actors and celebrities must. It's the same obligation.
By not coming out strongly in their release against ANY assertion, by ANY group that Will Smith is an anti-Semite (which was what the 24-hour news networks were telling all of Western civilization for the better part of a day and a half), the ADL has left it open to the interpretation of the listener as to whether or not Will pulled a "Gibson". "He clarified, and we accept that". Hey, great. I wonder if he accepts the JDL's retraction which, through omission, re-affirms their assertions that:
Smith's comments were "ignorant, detestable, and offensive". They "spit on the memory" of 6 million murdered Jews and every Allied soldier who died fighting the Nazis. Smith was "idiotic and insensitive" to make the comments. "The black guy running for president, who must be one of Will's friends, should respond to his views". His movie isn't all that good.
Actors and celebrities aren't the only people who need to clarify and apologize for insensitive and prejudicial attacks, Nation. The JDL attacked without clarifying their information, and damaged Will Smith's reputation in the process. Where is the accountability from this group that they demand from others?
Words DO have power. All of us should remember that - including the Jewish Defence League. And shame on their ideological cousins, the Anti-Defamation League, for not using their superior reputation and media presence to remind them of such.
So much for "justice and fair treatment for all".