Minnesota-born actor and liberal activist Mike Farrell and fellow actor-activist Ed Asner say they're pretty much alone in the Hollywood establishment when it comes to voicing opposition to President Barack Obama's call for military action in the Syrian conflict, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
"What he is talking about in Syria is a potential war crime," says Farrell in response to Obama's plan for a missile strike in the country in response to President Bashar al-Assad's purported use of poison gas against civilians and rebels. "It will be illegal, and if citizens are killed it certainly could be considered a war crime."
The former "M*A*S*H" and "Mary Tyler Moore" stars talked with THR about their inability to organize an antiwar movement in Hollywood in the wake of Obama's plea to Congress and the American people.
THR says the lack of organization is a far cry from 2003 ahead of the U.S. military action in Iraq, when the likes of Hollywood activists like Sean Penn and Martin Sheen visited Baghdad and shot a TV commercial; and actors like Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Barbara Streisand and Alec Baldwin sent letters to then-President George W. Bush calling for peace.
But St. Paul native Farrell, 74, and Asner, 83 -- who were also part of the antiwar movement when U.S. troops went to Iraq -- tell THR that there is no organized opposition to it in Hollywood circles this time around: circles, the publication adds, that have donated millions to the president's campaigns.
Asner, who played Mary Tyler Moore's fictional boss in the classic Minneapolis-set sitcom in the 1970s, tells THR that he's afraid nothing will be organized before action is taken. He does admit that organizers had more time to rally against the war in Iraq because Bush pleaded his case for months. Obama's stance, on the other hand, has been more sudden.
"It will be a done deal before Hollywood is mobilized," Asner said. "This country will either bomb the hell out of Syria or not before Hollywood gets off its a--."
In a defiant claim, Asner tells THR that there is a reluctance among Hollywood progressives to protest Obama's Syria plans because of fears of being called racist.
"A lot of people don't want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama," Asner told the publication.
Asner added that rising up against decisions shouldn't come down to partisan politics.
"Whether it's a Republican or Democrat president, or Republican or Democrat Congress -- and it doesn't make a (expletive) difference -- it behooves us to get off our a-- and ask these questions," he says.
In further words of defiance, Farrell and Asner both tell THR that this isn't the first mistake the president has made.
Farrell says Obama's a "disappointment to me and other people I know."
"I'm frankly deeply disappointed in the president's foreign policy, war-making, his reliance on military rather than diplomatic responses, his use of drones, continued allowance of the Guantanamo prison," Farrell says.
Asner was even more harsh in criticism of the president, whom he has supported in the past.
"I voted for him, but I'm not proud. He hasn't thrown himself on the funeral pyre. I wanted him to sacrifice himself," Asner tells THR. "Instead, he has proved himself to be a corporatist, and as long as he's a corporatist, he's not my president."
As for any potential retaliation in the industry because of his comments, Asner replied, "If they try to punish me, what are they gonna do? Take away my pension?"
Meanwhile, protesters in Minneapolis are still trying to organize rallies against any potential Syrian action. Another protest was planned in the Twin Cities over the weekend.
Minnesota's delegation is split on potential military involvement in Syria.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, Sen. Al Franken (D) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D) are for action, and Rep. Keith Ellison (D) and Rep. John Kline (R) are undecided but leaning toward action.
Those flatly against military action in Syria, MPR says, included Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), Rep. Rick Nolan (D) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D). Undecided and leaning against action is Rep. Erik Paulsen (R).
Undecided members of Congress with no apparent leanings at this point are Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) and Rep. Tim Walz (D).