Susan Sarandon and Death Threats
Susan Sarandon’s description of how alone and obviously afraid she felt as she received death threats and faced massive hostility from the public over her opposition in 2003 to the war is touching.
‘ In an interview to be shown on the Jonathan Dimbleby programme today, Sarandon recalled how she was labelled a “bin Laden lover” for raising concerns about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Oscar-winning actress, 59, said the way she and her family had been targeted for her moral stance by newspapers, radio phone-ins, teachers and people on the street was “horrifying” . . .
“I don’t think I ever thought someone would ever really kill me, although there were some people who said ‘I’d like someone to knock her off’ on the radio and stuff like that,” she said. “I don’t think I thought I’d really never work again, but when there is nobody else, when you look out on the field and everybody is quiet and they’re all looking away and nobody’s saying anything, it’s a really scary place to be.” ‘
It is a reminder that we can’t ever take our democracy, and the right to dissent, for granted. It has to be reasserted and reaffirmed in every generation.
Probably in this generation the practice of calling a signature a “John Hancock” has lapsed. It was a nice piece of folk wisdom. Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence was bold and prominent,and while he did not say the things about it often attributed to him, it is certainly the case that he was signing his own death warrant if he lost. It wasn’t his signing in large script that was significant, but that he was the first to sign. We all have at least once in our lives to sign a John Hancock– to take a principled stance that could get us, if not killed, at least in serious trouble. Otherwise, we’ll have led the life of a timid slave and betrayed our own ethical beings, and we won’t even have anything interesting to put on our tombstones.
Here is what John Hancock really did say about his defiance of King George:
‘ May that magnificence of spirit which scorns the low pursuits of malice, may that generous compassion which often preserves from ruin, even a guilty villain, forever actuate the noble bosoms of Americans! But let not the miscreant host vainly imagine that we feared their arms. No; them we despised; we dread nothing but slavery. Death is the creature of a poltroon’s brains; ’tis immortality to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of our country. We fear not death. ‘
John would have been mortified that over two centuries later some poltroons among our contrymen should have acted like the rowdy redcoats in trying to revoke an American’s liberty, and in making death threats against Susan Sarandon.
My hat is off to her and Tim.