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Will Smith is no Mel Gibson!

Recently, Will Smith caused great controversy when he stated that all human beings, including the likes of Hitler, seek to do good in the world. In an interview for the Scottish paper The Daily Record, Smith said: "Even Hitler didn't … Read More

By / December 26, 2007

Recently, Will Smith caused great controversy when he stated that all human beings, including the likes of Hitler, seek to do good in the world.

In an interview for the Scottish paper The Daily Record, Smith said:

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'. I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.”

Not surprisingly, these comments have enraged many people who believe that Smith had trivialized the actions of Hitler and the Nazis. The Jewish Defense League, to take an extreme example, issued the following statement in response: "Smith's comments are ignorant, detestable and offensive. They spit on the memory of every person murdered by the Nazis. His disgusting words stick a knife in the backs of every veteran who fought so valiantly to save the world from those aspirations of Adolph Hitler. Smith's comments also cast the perpetrators of the Holocaust as misguided fellows rather than the repulsive villains of history they truly were." The JDL ended their statement by calling on movie theaters and their patrons to boycott Smith's new movie I Am Legend; challenging Barack Obama (a friend of Smith's) to repudiate the comments made by the actor; and threatening to confront Smith if ever the chance occurs. In response to such outrage, Smith issued a perfunctory statement explaining that he was misquoted and that he really believes that Hitler was “a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet.” It seems to me that the controversy surrounding Smith’s original comments revolves around a basic misunderstanding of the actor’s words. Smith did not say that Hitler was good, or that his actions were good, rather he said that Hitler thought he was doing good. As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Don’t believe Smith, then take Hitler’s own words for it: In a speech to the Reichstag given 1936 Hitler said, “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work.” A person who believes that he is fulfilling God’s will is indeed a person who believes that his actions are ultimately good. Note to the JDL – Will Smith is no Mel Gibson. The man was simply making a correct if mundane statement about the man who led his country to infamy. There was nothing anti-Semitic about the actor’s observation: I am sure that Smith would have said the same of Bin-Laden, Stalin, Pol Pot, or Ganges Kahn. As far as I am concerned, the only off component to Smith’s comment is his assertion that Hitler just needed “reprogramming”. Unlike computer programs, people’s values and believes are not something that can be easily changed. Furthermore, there something very cult-like (Scientology anyone?) about the notion that people can and ought to be programmed in the first place. Perhaps Smith has acted in one too many sci-fi movies. Other than that, I have no qualms with the man.

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