I’ve never been very good with Hollywood. Flying from Honolulu to Los Angeles yesterday, Courtney Cox was sitting two rows in front of me. Even after an episode of Friends came on the in-flight entertainment, my seatmate had to point her out to me. After I got off the plane, one of the other passengers commented on how lucky I was to sit next to a rather well-known model; I hadn’t recognized her either.
I did recognize one face recently, though. Catching a commercial for Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, I was surprised to see Gary Busey featured as a key draw. The highlight of Mr. Busey’s career was a starring role in the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story, after which he accepted a number of smaller parts.
In 2006,Busey signed on to Valley of the Wolves: Iraq. Financed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political allies, the film was a virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic polemic. It was too over the top even for Sean Penn. The film was not subtle: it legitimized blood libel and endorsed the idea that Americans were genocidal maniacs. Busey threw himself into the role of a Jewish U.S. Army doctor who orchestrates massacres of Iraqis in order to sell their organs to Israel.
Certain choices are irredeemable. Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism has ruined his career. Michael Richards’s racist rant permanently stained the Seinfeld actor’s career. Hollywood can’t run away from Hitler-loving fashion designer John Galliano fast enough. All of which raises the question, why is Donald Trump working to resurrect the career of an actor who endorsed the most vile anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories and libel at a time when Americans were making the ultimate sacrifice?