BEN FEST, WEEK TWO
Re: Ben Stein’s Missed Tributes:
I read with quiet satisfaction your recent article “Missed Tributes.” It was spot on.
It’s sad that your views don’t seem to be shared by the majority of those who trundle about Hollywood. I can say with certainty, however, that your views are largely shared by those I see every day. Let me tell you why I know that.
I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces, stationed at Fort Bragg. Last Thursday night, we had our annual Formal Ball. This one was a really good time, with the ladies dressed as elegantly as a soldier’s paycheck will permit, and of course the men were smartly dressed in either class A uniform or Dress / Mess Blues. We even had our own version of the “Oscars,” with a slide show running on large screens depicting our latest combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, the fourth tour to Afghanistan and Iraq for our Group since this war began. In case you’re counting, that’s eight — and I might be shy…
As I sat at the head table with our Group Commander and our distinguished guests and guest speaker, my wife and I enjoyed an elevated view of the grand ballroom where over 800 great Americans were seated. The tables were nicely appointed, complete with wine and floral arrangements. Quite a sight, especially given the men and the lovely ladies gathered before us. Among those present were many men who have literally been shot at, shot up and blown up, some more than once — and some more than twice. Many were veterans of not only this war, but others as well dating back the last 30 years.
Many present last Thursday, by all rights, simply should not have been. Rather, they should have perished on that dusty distant field we know all too well by now. But they were present. For those who were not, meaning those we have lost not only in this present war, but all others as well — we also had a table set for them. It was a table set for only one, and it remained pristine until the very end of the evening.
Among those attending, some bore the visible signs of their combat duty, and some were still on crutches. But they were there just the same. We toasted this great country, our leadership, the beautiful ladies present, and of course our fallen comrades. Then we all ate, danced and drank until the early morning hours…
Why is this important? Because Hollywood is not the only ones who can throw a good party. In fact, from my view — there is not much any of them can do at all that’s really worth a crap besides throw a party — and at the end of the day that’s not much to hang your hat on. And while we were having fun that night, there is one more group we also toasted – those who replaced us and were at that very moment on that same distant dusty field, manning a remote firebase, or on patrol, or perhaps even in a firefight — or better yet looking for one.
So be encouraged by the knowledge that some of those who most deserve a good party had a damn good one recently. And Hollywood was not mentioned, honored, or invited.
The funny thing about actors these days is that many of them seem to have forgotten what they actually do. They act, meaning of course they pretend to be something they are not. George Clooney is a prime example. He often plays a tough guy, and some folks actually seem to think he is. He would not last five minutes with the men I am honored to serve with every day. And I can tell you from experience that when someone is hurt or worse yet killed, they don’t jump up when the director yells cut.
There is an old saying you are likely familiar with. It roughly goes like this.
There are some basic types of people in this world. There are those who read history, those who write history, and those who make history. I spend my time with the latter. My slight variation on that old theme is simple and timely given your article. There are those who watch movies and those who make movies. Then there are those that movies are made about, or at least should be made about. My men are again, the latter — and so are many thousands of everyday Joes and Janes that keep this nation moving forward. As for Clooney and his crowd of self righteous friends — I respect and value, even protect their right to say what they will. And of course you understand that respecting a right is not to be mistaken for respecting a view put forward, in fact resulting from that same right.
I also have something else to say about the entire Hollywood bunch, namely that they are not deserving of the privilege of shining our boots. But since we are now mostly wearing rough out leather than does not require shining, perhaps we could find them a spot on latrine duty. Seems to me it might do them some good. It might surprise them to know we don’t spend even a spare second wondering if they like us, care about us or think whether or not we are on track. It would be nice if they did, but it’s simply not a requirement for success. Feel free to pass my thoughts to any and all of them the next time you have a chance contact at the local Starbucks out your way.
Finally, I have heard about your support of the troops and military families. I know about your visits with the families who have lost their loved ones, and your visits with the wounded. I know that you do more than talk, you participate, and I thank you for doing so.
Keep up the good work, and keep telling the truth.
— T.S. Slemp, Lieutenant Colonel
Deputy Commander, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
I don’t know who you are, or even what paper the Spectator is or where it is located. A friend sent me a copy of your column about the Oscars in an e-mail. My husband and I live in Japan teaching the children of military members who are on rotating deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq.
I appreciate your column. It’s too bad so few in America will see it. Because the problem isn’t just in Hollywood. The problem is the complacency of almost all Americans, including those who claim to support our troops. Tell me, Mr. Stein, when was the last time you chose not to go to a movie because the star/director/producer/theme had anti-American values? When did you turn off your television set for the same reason? When did you stop buying products from the sponsors of them? And, more importantly, when did you tell them what you did?
You see, in America the only voice that everyone listens to is money. And until America speaks with money, no one is going to listen. Congressmen respond to an outpouring of phone calls and letters because they represent contributions for future campaigns. Companies respond to complaints in order to keep their profits. Hollywood will do whatever is politically correct (no matter what they really think) to get publicity which translates into money.
And the media, all of it, does react to an outpouring of sentiment by the people in order to make sales.
So my original question, Mr. Stein, when was the last time you as an individual did something to send a message, is the important one. Because, until the majority of people in America are willing to sacrifice a movie, a brand name, a TV show, a favorite newspaper or magazine, then the sacrifices the real heroes are making will continue to be belittled.
— Susan Bryan, Teacher
Misawa AB, Japan
I respect Ben Stein’s sincerity and his appreciation of the personal sacrifices that people have made to bring about current living conditions in the United States. However, his emphasis on the fact that Hollywood celebrities are generally self-serving narcissists and lightweights misses the point. The proper emphasis, I think, is that we have elected an incompetent President, the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake, and patriotism is not warranted in this instance. Saddam Hussein never came close to being a threat of the same magnitude as Adolph Hitler, and, unfortunately, American lives are being unnecessarily lost.
— Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois
Thank you for making points on Neil Cavuto’s show this morning about the missed tributes to our military during the Oscars.
I have told you before that I love you even more when you speak about these things on national television.
It isn’t just the Oscars, other awards shows — several music awards shows come to mind — have also recently failed to acknowledge our military.
Surprised if I told you that our troops were honored on the February 2006 NAACP Black Image Awards TV show? It was memorable because there was a tribute.
There ought to be a national PSA for broadcast media about the sacrifices and support needed for our troops. America Supports You, through DOD, airs them on radio. Too much to hope the major media would make a habit of running a spot at the end of the major nightly news broadcasts. Perhaps you can find one and get Cavuto (Fox) to run it at the end of his show?
Bless all who serve.
— Carolyn Bradshaw
We loved the article that Ben Stein wrote regarding his thoughts about the Oscars!!! We think he is “right on.”
— Audrey and Bob Lauscher
I did not watch the Oscars because the Hollywood crowd makes me sick. From Hanoi Jane to Whoopi Goldberg they are all a bunch of leftist sympathizers who don’t care anything about defending our beautiful America. I am a white Cuban American, and the only good actor (that I know) that have visited the VA Hospitals and donating to our vets is Denzel Washington. Do you know of any other so I could watch also their movies?
— Lilia Espinosa-Perez
Well Said! And Thank You.
— John Henson
Thank God someone has the fortitude to say it like it is! God Bless Ben Stein…
Thank you for your article in The American Spectator about the Oscars. I didn’t watch the show — I probably haven’t since I became an adult and no longer had to watch whatever it was my mother watched — but I am saddened and yet not surprised at the lack of thanks for our people at war, while whining for “peace,” is the de rigeur for our famous friends in Hollywood. As a veteran I have always been grateful for the public support that you have written about so eloquently so many times over the years. Would that there were more in the entertainment world like you.
— Billy Harvey
You couldn’t have been more correct on the “Evening at the Oscars.” I, for one, love to be entertained by Hollywood with the movies, special effects, and stars. However, I too was very disappointed in the non recognition of our military forces and their families. Your article definitely got me to re-think on how I look at Hollywood. They will make movies of War to get a profit. But Thank or mention those who serve…forget about it.
I dedicated ten years of my life to our great country by serving in the USMC. I never once expected to be honored by our friends in Hollywood or anyone else. I know our troops are too generous to expect any recognition. But during a time like the present, we need to “Thank” ALL of those who serve and give their lives for freedom and democracy.
— Clark Meyer
Laguna Niguel, California
P.S. Nice story on Nixon! The city of San Clemente, California (Nixon’s old turf), just dedicated a city park to all of the Marines who served…now that is recognition!
Kudos to you! Unfortunately with Hollywood P.R. machine (The Washington Post, New York Times, etc., etc.) many good citizens of this great republic believe the dribble that is produced from the mouths of the un-educated far left. If they only knew what a socialist government would do for their freedom of speech!
Keep up the excellent work.
— Stu Carlin
I am a 2003 veteran of Afghanistan and have many friends still there and in Iraq. I have sent a link to Ben’s article to every one of them I can think of. I could go on, but let me just say that it is heartening to know that there are still courageous Americans unafraid to say the things Ben has said. While I haven’t ever had doubts that my efforts and those of my friends were and are worthwhile, it is nice to hear from someone not from our ranks.
— Bill Andersen
Oorah Ben Stein. We love you. Thanks. (Your letter is making the rounds of the entire Marine Corps family.)
— Gail A. Walters
Director, Operations and Development
Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas
Jacksonville, North Carolina
As a veteran and current member of the Army National Guard, I have often had moments of confusion, anger, and even feelings of betrayal by the lack of respect paid to my fellow veterans, current servicemen and servicewomen, their families, and our government from the likes of Hollywood so-called “stars.” But it passes. It passes because I take great pride and quiet consolation in the knowledge that my sacrifices, those of my family, and those of my fellow veterans is what makes it possible for anyone in this country the freedom to do and say whatever they choose. As I watch these “stars” spout their uninformed misguided rhetoric, I take a deep breath, sigh, and smile in the comfort of knowing I am a member of an exclusive club of noble people who guard the freedoms many take for granted.
— Mike Morris
I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Stein’s article. Nevertheless, I wonder if it might be appropriate and effective to follow up with an article about those Hollywood celebrities who have placed themselves in danger by visiting and/or entertaining our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is my belief that a fair amount of this goes on while the media gives them little attention.
— Bill Marquardt
Sir, thanks for those words of acknowledgement!
Your opinion was reprinted this Sunday in The Arizona Republic. I’ve watched you on Charles Osgood’s CBS Sunday Morning and have never known which side of the fence you’re on: now I know. You’re shocked at the “stars'” lack of empathy for the troops in Iraq?
What have you been drinking or smoking? For 50 percent of us (and you may include Hollywood, and you must know since you live with the stars), GW is not our President, the crumby war is his, and lastly the troops are his since they are entirely volunteered! Mr. Stein, you should remember that my generation gave up nearly 60,000 men and women for Mr. Johnson’s war largely because we HAD to be there. It was the law! And because of that fact, we drove that Texan from the White House through our protests and the media. Be assured sir, it would be the same for GW if the aforementioned recipe were the same. Like Bill Maher has said: “If you want to ‘support our troops,’ well then go over there and support them!” Hollywood is pure American culture and nothing more. Your serious labels for them won’t work. The only thing lacking is the star quality acting that we had in the classic era. As I have read your rants, thanks for listening to mine.
— Tom Portel
I very seldom am driven to give an opinion on an article that I read but I felt strongly compelled to give one on the article that Ben Stein did on the Oscars. HOW DARE HE? I have to say that no one has infuriated me quite as much since Bush allowed all the people in New Orleans and Mississippi to wait for eight days for rescue! I can not believe that this man can only comment on the lack of Troup praising! Where was he with all the other award shows when almost each actor gave praise and blessing to the troops!? This night was to give awards to all the film artists and actors. There was hardly time to get everyone presented as it was. Why didn’t this clown speak to the character of the films and the content that make people think and reflect on all the world events and issues? I just watched Crash last night for the first time and no wonder it won!! What a thought provoking and inspiring film that was!! I came away with a full range of emotions and thoughts on my own prejudices and beliefs!
Mr. Stein is obviously a narrow minded man and I certainly feel sorry for him to be in this world. Also, they are not celebrating being gay but trying to get to a “live and let live” attitude after seeing the world almost reverse itself to the KKK thinking! I tell you I have thanked God that I didn’t put children on this earth due to the way things have declined!
I would like to think that Hollywood is using the best talent and voice that they have to make people think and to show a different perspective to the world!! Stein ought to understand that as the Bush party has been trying to put their perspective (spin!) on the world since they got in office! I pray for the world! I honor and pray for the troops that misguided people put in harms way! I DO NOT hold actors and actresses responsible for what man (in office) has created! Their job and they do it VERY well is to instill thought and creativity on the subject of their film. They have been given the license to do their job, I suggest that Stein worry about those people who are in power that can truly damage the world! Thank you for allowing me to vent and for your time.
Without question, one of the most cogent and well thought out observations on our Menchausen weaknesses…
— William Elliott
I believe this is the same person on “Sunday Morning.” If so, I really appreciate all the words you say. I wrote to “Sunday Morning” on one occasion regarding one of your opinions. You speak what I really feel and I truly appreciate it. I wish there were more of you that speak out that have access to the nation as you do.
— Janet Reynolds
Ben Stein for president!
Thank you Mr. Stein. We couldn’t care less about the Oscars and who wore what. Our son is a Marine.
— Greg & Pam Harrison
Thanks for saying what should be obvious to all Americans — except, of course, the Hollywood elite you define so well. I am a retired Navy Captain and am sickened by their continuous assault on America and what she stands for. I could wax emotional and philosophical on the issue myself, but will just forward your eloquent words to others — it’s well said.
Thanks for your care and concern for our service men and women; they truly are the heroes of the nation.
— Roy Cash, CAPT USN (Ret)
Many thanks for writing the above article, which was right on the button. The Arizona Republic newspaper actually printed that article in their March 13 edition, and they are not known for publishing the conservative way. Thank you again, and I look forward to reading your books and future articles.
— Bill Kummer
I just want to say I agree 110 percent with your article. I am a Vietnam veteran from 1967-69. I served proudly and would do it again in a heart beat.
I support George Bush fully and I’m very glad he is my commander.
— Clarence Armstrong
Northvale, New Jersey
God bless you for your wisdom, courage and incredible insight. Please write some screenplays so we of the silent majority can spend our money supporting the truth for a change! (“anyone?…anyone?…anyone?”)
— Monique Fonte
Good for Ben Stein!! And Thank God for our military…
— J. Viscardi
Albertson, New York
I noticed that there was nothing said about our troops during the Super Bowl. I found that appalling.
— Michael Grigsby
King County Executive Office
Congratulations and thank you for your articulate expression of most of the current Hollywood glamour guy and gals ideas about the war on terror. How anyone cannot see these truths is beyond my comprehension. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ben.
— George Haberman
Just thought I’d let you know I thought this was a fantastically and well thought out article by Mr. Stein. Again, thank you for the continued great work.
— Daniel Emma