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October 13, 2003
Ed Asner: Historical Idiot

I don't know what's more disturbing about this story on Ed Asner: his predilection for mass-murdering tyrants, or his swollen ego regarding Rush Limbaugh, or just his entire, pathetic schtick ever since he started taking himself seriously after Lou Grant was canceled.

I first read this story at Andrew Sullivan's site this morning, and it's been picked up by Instapundit (who discussed it in his MS-NBC column, too), but here's the original story, from Kevin McCullough at WorldNetDaily:

"Mr. Asner, I do have a question ... if you had the chance to play the biographical story of a historical figure you respected most [emphasis mine] over your lifetime, who would it be?"

"I think Joe Stalin was a guy that was hugely misunderstood," said Asner. "And to this day, I don't think I have ever seen an adequate job done of telling the story of Joe Stalin, so I guess my answer would have to be Joe Stalin."

Andrew Sullivan just takes enough time to note this ridiculous statement, but Glenn Reynolds really takes him and his ilk to task:

Andrew Sullivan notes that actor Ed Asner recently defended Stalin as “hugely misunderstood.” Stalin? Who murdered tens of millions in pursuit - and defense - of absolute power? If Stalin is misunderstood, it’s because too many people like Ed Asner think that there’s something good to say about him.

Reynolds talks of the willingness of academia to gloss over Communist atrocities, quoting John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr from their new book, In Denial: Historians, Communism & Espionage:

“Defense of Nazi mass murder is not acceptable in the scholarly world, and shouldn’t be. But another species of historical revisionism, one that is equally repugnant, is practiced with impunity in the academy. The number of apologists for the former Soviet Union and its mass murders dwarfs the handful of aberrant pro-Nazi academics in America. Sympathy for the Communist project and distaste for attacking it are today fully accepted in American higher education.”

Read all of Glenn's article, and especially read the linked articles to Reason and The New Republic. But that's not all the weirdness that occurs in McCullough's story:

Mike Gallagher approached Asner at a recent cocktail party promoting the new film "Elf" in which Asner stars as Santa Claus. As Gallagher introduced himself, Asner asked his profession. When Gallagher replied "radio talk-show host," Asner replied, "I love going toe-to-toe with you guys.''

''I know,'' Gallagher replied. ''I've heard you on Sean Hannity's show.''

''Hannity's next, you know,'' Asner responded.

''Huh?'' said Gallagher.

''Hannity's next,'' said Asner. ''We're going after him just like we went after Limbaugh. And you saw what happened to Rush this week, right?''

I can attest to these news reports because I was there. Standing not more than 10 feet from where the conversation was happening.

So is Asner admitting to some sort of conspiracy to Limbaugh's character assassination? Or is he just so full of himself that he has to make everyone feel like he's all-powerful, despite his not being associated with anything remotely successful in about two decades? Whatever the answer, you can bet that I will not be taking my granddaughter to see "Elf", his new movie, nor will I ever watch anything with Ed Asner in it again. If anyone thinks this is too strong, let me ask you this: would you go see a Schwarzenegger movie if it turned out that he really was a big fan of Hitler? Because I sure as hell would not.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 13, 2003 7:26 PM

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