FLASHBACK: The Price Hank Williams Jr. Paid for Playing the Same Hitler Card Hollywood Loves to Play
Today’s stars face zero consequence for comparing Trump to one of history’s greatest monsters
Comparing a sitting president to Hitler is the new normal.
Sarah Silverman unofficially kicked things off by dressing as Der Fuhrer on Conan O’Brien’s TBS couch two years ago to hammer home that ugly message. Since then, President Donald Trump has been called Hitler countless times by newspapers, pundits and especially celebrities.
That’s when stars aren’t comparing Trump to a murderer.
Comedy director Judd Apatow pushed further, saying we must end the debate because “Trump is a Nazi.”
Trump is a Nazi. We don’t need to dance around that any longer. He has decided to be open about it. https://t.co/C1lw8nWz5L
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) July 13, 2018
It wasn’t always this way.
In 2011, honkytonk crooner Hank Williams, Jr. learned the hard way that comparing a president to Hitler could cost you a plum gig.
The singer said President Barack Obama’s golf meeting with House Speaker John Boehner was like Hitler hitting the links with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a “Fox & Friends” appearance.
The comparison was vile by sane standards. That single comment reverberated around the sports and entertainment world in short order. ESPN summarily canned Williams from his signature gig, warbling the theme song to “Monday Night Football.”
“While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast,” ESPN said at the time.
Guess what happened next? Well, nothing.
Social media wasn’t as robust in 2011 as it is today. Still, the silence heard from the entertainment community was deafening. Williams’ comments were crude to the core. Did he really deserve to lose his job over them, even if the Hitler comparison was the lowest of blows?
It didn’t matter. He was gone. And his fellow entertainers didn’t lift a finger to get him the gig back.
Last year, ESPN had a change of heart. Six years after his abrupt firing Williams rejoined the “MNF” fold. That news brought little reflection to the entertainment community. Outrage, if any, proved modest.
Even Social Justice Warriors realized a six-year ban was enough.
Looking back at Williams’ punishment isn’t just a nostalgia trip. It’s a reminder of how fickle the Hollywood community can be about free speech.
The “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast may be rallying to save director James Gunn’s MCU career after rancid jokes he told on Twitter years ago resurfaced.
Yet the same stars stood down when Roseanne Barr lost her signature job for one flat-out awful Tweet. “Guardians” star Zoe Saldana actually joined the Twitter mob to make sure Barr’s gig got away.
Oh and make sure to let America know that emotional retribution is no longer main stream. We know where it hurts. Economic retribution is what we seek for justice. #BoycottRoseanne and its affiliates.
— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) May 29, 2018
The Williams affair also reminds us today’s stars face zero consequence for comparing Trump to one of history’s greatest monsters. Silverman can get any job she pleases without worrying her Hitler shtick could get in the way. Louis CK may have started the “Trump is Hitler” ball rolling, but it took serial sexual harassment charges to kick him out of Hollywood.
The good news? Comparing the president to Hitler will bring maximum punishment again, assuming Trump can’t hold the White House in 2020.
Christian Toto is editor of the conservative entertainment site HollywoodInToto.comDONATE
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