(EDITOR'S NOTE: Correction appended. Seth Rogen did not send the tweet mentioned below.)
Lights, action - cue the Leftists! Or, what comes around, goes around.
Seth Rogen, a Hollywood favorite as star or a supporting player in such gems as Knocked Up, The Green Hornet,The 40 Year Old Virgin and more, is having what one might call a Martin Niemoller moment. Niemoller was the German Lutheran pastor who had the nerve to publicly oppose Hitler, being rewarded with seven years in a concentration camp. Niemoller famously wrote of the experience:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.
The Niemoller experience was, of course not a stand alone. Nor were the Nazis - aka the National Socialists - the first leftists to do what Niemoller described. (And yes, contrary to liberal myth, the Nazis were leftists, as Ludwig von Mises noted in his classic Socialism, saying “the philosophy of the Nazis…is the purest and most consistent manifestation of the anti-capitalistic and socialistic spirit of our age.”) The aptly-named “Night of the Long Knives” was a three-day purge involving nothing less than the outright murder of dozens of Nazi leaders whose loyalty to the Third Reich Hitler had reason to suspect.
Mr. Rogen is furious at being singled out - along with director Judd Apatow - by Washington Post liberal film critic Ann Hornaday for making movies that, according to Hornaday, encourage lonely single guys like Santa Barbara’s Elliot Rodger to commit mass murder. Wrote critic Hornaday in the style of the liberal media Night of the Long Knives:
For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny).
Rodger’s rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike.
How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like Neighbors and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of ‘sex and fun and pleasure’?
How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, ‘It’s not fair’?
If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger — thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections — no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large.
An enraged Rogen Tweeted his response saying: “@AnnHornaday I find your article horribly insulting and misinformed.” and, a minute later: “@AnnHornaday how dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage.”
What does Mr. Rogen’s anger have to do with Niemoller’s famous “First They Came” refrain? With the Night of the Long Knives?
Back there in the mists of time - aka the 2012 presidential campaign - Mr. Rogen himself was out there tweeting an Ann Hornaday-style message about: Mitt Romney. Specifically, it went like this: “that awkward moment you realize Mitt Romney’s Slogan “Keep America American” was the same slogan used by the KKK in 1922…”
Yes, that’s right, Seth Rogen, now stung by a leftist film critic’s rant that his films are racist, sexist and inspiring of a murderous rampage finds the charge “horribly insulting and misinformed.” Yet Rogen himself was out there in 2012 tweeting away a comparison of Mitt Romney to the racist, murderous Ku Klux Klan. The phrase cited, of course, was not Romney’s slogan, he never said it and MSNBC - which reported the lie as truth - had to apologize for “an appalling lack of judgment”, and sending Chris Matthews on-camera to make the apology for the network. So too did the Washington Post run with the lie, eventually adding this correction:
Editors’ note: This posting contains multiple, serious factual errors that undermine its premise. Mitt Romney is not using “Keep America American,” which was once a KKK slogan, as a catchphrase in stump speeches, as the posting and headline stated. In a YouTube video that the posting said showed Romney using the phrase, Romney actually used a different phrase, “Keep America America.” Further, the video that the blog posting labelled “Mitt Romney 2012 Campaign Ad” is not actually a Romney campaign ad. The video itself states “Mitt Romney does not actually support this ad.” The posting cited accounts of Romney saying “keep America American” at an appearance last week. Independent video from the event shows him saying “Keep America America.” The Post should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication. Finally, we apologize that the posting began by saying “[s]omeone didn’t do his research” when, in fact, we had not done ours.
Be that as it may, there was Seth Rogen happily tweeting this Big Lie about Romney that was making the rounds of liberal-land media, a lie which precisely meets the description that a now indignant Rogen calls - when applied to himself - as “horribly insulting and misinformed.”
Insulting enough as the lie about Romney was, (Romney was raised in a staunchly pro-civil rights family, father George, then the Republican Governor of Michigan, is seen here in a Michigan civil rights march and Mitt’s mother Lenore is pictured here with Martin Luther King.)
It is apparent from Rogen’s Romney tweet that the actor was clueless that the Ku Klux Klan was an integral part of the progressive movement in 1922, it’s members sitting as Democrats in various US Senate and House seats, governor’s mansions and state legislatures. Two years later, in 1924, the Klan would run the Democrats’ national convention in Madison Square Garden - known to history as “the Klan Bake”. Where the Klan would write the class warfare plus racism platform of the party to run against Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge had earned the Klan’s wrath by supporting a federal anti-lynching law, the GOP writing this plank in it’s platform: “We urge the congress to enact at the earliest possible date a federal anti-lynching law so that the full influence of the federal government may be wielded to exterminate this hideous crime.” Suffice to say, the Ku Klux Klan begged to differ.
So in other words, Rogen, who now finds Hornaday’s article “horribly insulting and misinformed” was himself out there in 2012 making a “horribly insulting and misinformed” charge against Mitt Romney.
This is what might be called an educational moment for Mr. Rogen and the Hollywood Left.As the realization dawns that all this virulent leftism will inevitably target not just conservatives but liberals like Rogen who are deemed ideologically impure. And it can happen in a relative heartbeat.
This is exactly what just transpired at Haverford College, when leftist students successfully blocked the distinctly liberal Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, from delivering the school’s commencement address. Like Seth Rogen, Birgeneau , who among other things was well out front in supporting gays in their fight against California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage-- failed the leftist purity test. In Birgeneau’s case, he was deemed insufficiently supportive of the leftist party line when he insisted during the Occupy Wall Street fever that "Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt with anyone's ability to conduct regular activities -- go to class, study, carry out their research, etc. -- will not be tolerated.” Birgeneau meant what he said - he would preserve order on the campus - and summoned the police. The outraged students - not a one following the non-violent precepts of Dr. King much less Gandhi - were arrested for resisting arrest. Eventually, the Left successfully demanded and got Birgeneau’s resignation. For this “crime”, Haverford’s leftists successfully blocked Birgeneau’s appearance as commencement speaker.
What happened to Seth Rogen is, in fact, the eternal dynamic of the Left. What happened in the Hornaday/Rogen/Apatow episode is exactly what occurred in the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Having successfully done in their royalist enemies Robespierre and his leftist henchman turned their sights - and the guillotine - on the Seth Rogens of the Revolution. Which is to say, those amongst themselves deemed insufficiently devoted to the cause. Eventually, Robespierre himself fell to the guillotine, his severed head held up for the crowd to cheer.
What Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow have just experienced is the flash of the leftist knife - at themselves. It is, in its own way, a warning to Hollywood liberals. This time the target is not the all-too-convenient Republican, someone that a famous Hollywood liberal star like Rogen can blithely accuse of being a racist channeling a Klan slogan - and suffer no consequences.
This time it is Rogen himself. Specifically accused, in what passes for a modern liberal media show trial via the columns of the Washington Post, of being a participant in “mass entertainment…overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny).” Translation? You, Seth Rogen, have been found guilty of being a racist and a misogynist sexist pig. Your films, and the Hollywood system of controlling, sexist, white men that spawned you, killed all those people in Santa Barbara. We’re watching you, we’re watching the white male sexists running Hollywood who are just like you - and don’t let it happen again.
So what does this mean for the world of Hollywood beyond one actor who has been tried and found ideologically wanting? What it means is that intimidation of Hollywood film makers - many of whom, like Rogen - doubtless consider themselves liberals in good standing - is only a mass shooting away. But it doesn’t have to be a mass shooting, of course. The offense has only to be something that some eager comrade out there like the Post’s Ann Hornaday considers to be insufficiently ideological true north.
This is, in fact, the fate of many out there other than those in Hollywood. Black conservatives are deemed insufficiently black by liberals, if you’re Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann you’re not really a woman, if you’re Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio you are considered a “LINO” - Latino in Name Only. And in the world of media? Fox News is considered by the Left to be “Faux News”, or, as Obama aide David Axelrod once put it “not really a news station” with programming that is “not really news”.
But inevitably there are only so many conservatives - be they black, white, Latino, female, in the media or some outpost of academia - to go after. Eventually, as with the French and Russian revolutions or in Germany the National Socialists, eventually they come round to those seen as suspect in their midsts.
This time? This time it was Seth Rogen.
Hollywood is as good a place as any other for the liberal version of the Night of the Long Knives to begin.
Get the popcorn.
CORRECTION: Seth Rogen has “parody” twitter accounts. And he’s upset with me because I mistakenly quoted one of them as real. He has called me an “idiot.” The source where I found this originally - and duly and deliberately linked - was the lefty MoveOn. MoveOn was apparently fooled by the “Real Seth” parody, which in turn fooled me, although in fact the parody was well out there. MoveOn having long ago become a parody I was quite happy to link it. So the notion that a Hollywood liberal would simply parrot this Romney/Klan story was all too easy to believe. But in fact, it was a parody. Our apologies for the error.
About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania.