An open letter to Mr. Bush
though Sean Penn always insists, that he is unpolitical and points out that
he does no belong to any political party - the political activism has a
tradition in the Penn family. Leo Penn, Seans father, refused, calling
before McCarthys American Activities Committee, to name alleged communists
in Hollywood and thereupon was set on the 'black list'. Without a doubt Sean
Penns character was stamped by the influence of the father and so Sean build
up, although - as he says - not politically engaged, a political and social
feeling for justice.
It was October 2002, before other Hollywood Stars went on the street for
demonstration, that Sean Penn started to interfere into the international
debate about the Iraq - and this with a sensational bang! He wrote an open
letter ' to Mr. Bush', placed as a full-page ad, for which he paid the proud
amount of $ 56,000, in the daily newspaper 'Washington Post'. Therein he
requested the president of the United States - among other things - to let
the weapon inspectors do their work and to stop the cycle of 'bombing is
answered by bombing, mutilation by mutilation, killing by killing'.
photo of the original ad
an impertinent thing to do!
And surely it polarised people. Apart from much agreement for his courage
Sean Penn was also confronted with heaviest reproaches, in particular from
politicians and the press. On television he was scoffed and many people
regarded him as a traitor to his country.
Rupert Murdoch media impire - Sean
since his marriage to Madonna and owner of the New York Post und Fox News
Channel - quickly contacted Republican congressman Peter King who talked
tough: 'The guy's lucky he can act and should leave it at that. It gives
recognition to Hussein, that he doesn't deserve.'
Penns friend and actor-collegue Woody Harrelson put
it like this: '... when he did that deal with Iraq, my admiration for
him shot through the roof. I just thought that was one of the bravest moves
ever. Of course, he got nothing but shit for it.'
interview in the year 2005 Sean Penn reflected as follows over the hostility
he got after his Woshington Post publication: '... But the bigger issue
is that it's an absolutely stupid notion that you should take the title of
someone's profession and attach it to what they should not do. It has
nothing to do with citizenry. I think they should shove it with their
hypocritical Ronald Reagan standard right up their ass.'
Just go and look and listen
worse, because Sean Penn dared to travel in December 2002 to the Iraq! In
the eyes of many incomprehensible, unpatriotic and traitorous. Who the hell
does he think he is? He is no politician, no soldier, not even a journalist!
What is an actor looking for in Iraq?
Solomon, the director of the 'Institute for the Public Accuracy' (a
consortium of political scientists) had invited Sean Penn to the journey and
he had accepted the invitation, as 'a patriot and observer', because he
wanted to have a better understanding of the crisis between Iraq and the
decision, that deserves our respect, especially with regard of the
background of the reproaches and hostility regarding his person.
Kelly, a freedom activist who met Sean Penn in Iraq reflects on him as
'I'm sort of preternaturally out of it: my friends wrote to me and said:
'Sean Penn was married to Madonna, and we don't mean the mother of Jesus!
Try to get this straigth ... So we went to the Al-Rashid and Sean sat and
talked with us for about an hour. It seemed to me he was a very genuine
person - didn't have any airs, didn't seem interested in making an
impression ... And we admired him for saying he wasn't going to be anybody's
poster boy: he just wanted to go and look and listen.'
Sean Penn tried to keep the press out of his
journey. He only made a brief statement, when he arrived at the Al-Mansour
Childrens Hospital, that he was glad to be there. He refused to talk further
with reporters or allow them to join his tour of the hospital, saying he
needed privacy with the sick children.
december 15, 2002 Sean Penn held a press conference in the Al-Rashid in
Baghdad - it
was the only comment he made.
Norman Solomon & Sean Penn at the press
conference in Baghdad
Text of the press conference in Baghdad
In a statement issued later, Sean Penn said that
'as a father, an actor, a filmmaker and a patriot' his visit to Iraq 'is
for me a natural extension of my obligation ... to find my own voice on
matters of conscience.' He said that he was happy that he had a chance
'to pursue a deeper understanding of the conflict' and hoped
that 'all Americans will embrace information available to them outside
the Iraq used Sean Penns visit for their own propaganda. On 19. Dezember
2002 the official Iraqi News Agency reported: '... that Sean Penn had in
the course of his trip confirmed, that Iraq is completely clear of weapons
of mass destruction'. (!!)
much 'interference' in 'big politic'
not be without consequences. Like many other actors, Sean Penn got to feel
the effects of his open expression of opinion.
February 2003, just a month prior to the invasion of Iraq, Sean Penn sued
producer Steve Bing for $10 million for allegedly firing the actor from a
film. Sean Penn alleged he was sacked because of his Washington Post ad and
his visit to Baghdad. Bing then has alleged the actor threatened to
embarrass him by saying a political disagreement kept them from making a
However, meanwhile Bing has suffered the first blow in the legal wrangle
after a judge has dismissed some claims. The Los Angeles Superior Court
Judge ruled, that Bings claim for civil extortion did not exist in
Californian law ...
What ever happend since to Sean Penns sue is
not known ...
Sean Penn in Iraq
- 2003 ...
Sean Penn's Latest
Sean Penn - The Man Himself