Actor Adrien Grenier of the TV series Entourage has been caught up in quite a storm over a tweet he sent out on the recent anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was an animation of the World Trade Center and below it read, “R.I.P. the 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. R.I.P. the 1,455,590 Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn’t do.” Even though Grenier has since deleted the tweet, people have continued to hound him for being “classless” and “disrespectful.” Many critics vow to “avoid watching anything he is in,” which they have every right not to.
Due to the corporate media and Hollywood‘s important role in the military industrial complex, it is not often we hear about someone in show business ruffling the American Empire’s feathers. As Grenier’s comments showcase, when it comes to talking about American military escapades, it’s better to toe the line than speak the truth. A similar controversy arose when actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz wrote a letter to the Spanish press a few years ago condemning Israel’s bombing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Bardem and Cruz received much pushback from both inside and outside Hollywood. Vocal conservative Jon Voight was one notable critic, responding with his own letter which repeated the same tired platitudes about Israel being pure in all its motives, with the rest of the Middle East waging a never-ending assault on poor old Israel. Like most Israeli hardliners, Voight’s history book begins in 1947 and ignores half the story ever since that time.
People sometimes claim that celebrities make these kinds of comments just to get attention. The comments certainly do receive attention, but to dismiss them out-of-hand simply based on the source is to remain willfully blind. Grenier’s simple remark about the Iraqi death toll resulting from the American invasion and occupation should be front and center in any discussion of American foreign policy. All Americans should be crystal clear on the havoc their government has wrought in that country. Grenier merely expressed sympathy for this tragedy, and for that he is condemned.
It’s high time people stop being offended by comments which expose the American war machine. The Right’s intolerance of anything remotely critical of the American military is the most insidious form of political correctness. Yes, the 9/11 attacks were terrible — they killed many innocent people. But the story does not have to stop there. Invading and bombing Iraq and Afghanistan was nothing more than terrorism in response to terrorism. Those wars killed so many more innocent people than died on 9/11. If Grenier’s critics have a problem with the acknowledgment of this fact, they should explain why.
The media is one of the main culprits in the soft cover-up of the Middle East casualty count. By choosing never to speak of it, the American media fosters a narrative that their government’s conduct in the Middle East is relatively harmless. Grenier pulled the lid right off this foul cover-up. He didn’t disrespect the victims of 9/11; he acknowledged his sympathy for them. Unfortunately for him, he did something else, too. Something Americans are not supposed to do. He acknowledged the staggering number of non-Americans who’ve also died in the senseless War on Terror. Doing so is sadly taboo in our hyper-militaristic society.