Susan Sarandon Blasted for Harmless 'Nazi' Pope Comment

susan sarandonSusan Sarandon has NEVER been known for holding back. She's always seemed unapologetic about everything from her politics to her personal life. Now, she's at it again -- getting herself in hot water with words. At the Hamptons Film Festival this past weekend, the veteran actress called the current Pope Benedict XVI a "Nazi" ... twice. 

She was discussing having sent the pontiff a copy of Sister Helen Prejean's book, Dead Man Walking. And she clarified who exactly the recipient of the book was: "The last one [Pope John Paul II], not this Nazi one we have now." Apparently, when the interviewer expressed dismay at her description of the current pontiff, she repeated herself, and the audience chuckled (awkwardly?). Now, as you can imagine, the Catholic League is all up in arms about how "despicable" Sarandon is. But I think everyone needs to just simmah down for a minute.

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Growing up as an American Jew, I learned how to make hamantaschen from a woman at my synagogue who was a Holocaust survivor, with a number tattooed on her arm. I read books like The Diary of Anne Frank and The Devil's Arithmetic and Night, feeling like if I had only been born a few decades earlier, I could have been one of the characters in those books. In short, I don't take the concept of what a "Nazi" is lightly at ALL. But, at the same time, I also understand that people now use the expression to label someone whose behavior they see as dictator-like, fascist. I usually cringe when the word is thrown around so lightly, but to me, it's not exactly on par with, say, a racial slur.

What's more, Susan was probably referring to the fact that the current Pope was a member of the Hitler Youth as a boy! It's something that's been confirmed and that most people are aware of. It wasn't as if he chose that fate -- it was required of all German boys his age at the time. Even though he deserted, he was affiliated with the Nazi regime as a child. That's a fact, and if Susan was simply repeating that fact, then oh well. It isn't exactly something that can be considered inflammatory. Overall, it's really no big deal -- something the Catholic Church should just let go in one ear and out the other. After all, I'm sure the Pope has bigger fish to fry.

How do you feel about Susan Sarandon's remark?

 

Image via David Shankbone/Flickr

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