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March 8, 2011 7:51 pm

Portman’s Bold Attack on an Anti-Semite and Huckabee’s Untimely Critique

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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Actress Natalie Portman. Photo: Erik Vanden.

Just as I was about to write a column praising Natalie Portman for attacking racist John Galliano, along comes Mike Huckabee to attack her as a unmarried-and-pregnant-negative-role-model. There’s a time for everything, Mike. And this was the wrong time. But before I respond to Mr. Huckabee – man for whom I have much respect – let me first tell you why Ms. Portman elicited my praise.

Our world constantly excuses evil. The Hitlers and Stalins of this world are spoken of as ‘sick,’ as if they committed their evil out of delusion and mental illness. That’s how you now hear people speaking about Gaddafi – he’s a weirdo, he’s high as a kite – instead of calling him what he really is, evil and cruel to the core.

Over the past two weeks Hilary Clinton and President Obama have been saying that Muammar Gaddafi has ‘lost the legitimacy to rule,’ surely, the most painfully laughable phrase uttered by a Secretary of State and President of the United States in recent memory. Er.. he only now lost the legitimacy to rule?  And while he tortured and imprisoned political opponents for forty years and blew up airliners and discotheques he had legitimacy to rule? President Obama, who shook Gaddafi’s hand in Italy, has this Messianic hang-up where he believes that he can somehow transform brutal killers like Gaddafi into upstanding citizens instead of boldly declaring them to be the evil killers they are.

About five years ago I wrote a column that said that although most of my close friends are staunch liberals, I myself could never embrace liberalism because it refuses to hate evil. And the inability of the two most powerful people in the United States to get up and say ‘Gaddafi is, was, and always will be a despot’ is sad proof of my earlier conviction.

So it was with glee that I read Ms. Portman’s courageous statement in the wake of John Galliano exposing himself as a Jew-hater. When Mel Gibson made a film depicting Jews as Christ-killers, Hollywood, and the Jews of Hollywood – with the notable exception of my former agent Ari Emanuel – excused him and continued to work with him. Even after he got drunk and called us ‘F-ing Jews’ who incite all the world’s wars, Hollywood still cast him in films. It wasn’t until we discovered that he also hates women, African-Americans, and Lord knows who else that he was finally shunned.

But this time when a famed designer, an ‘artist,’ made his admiration for Hitler known (was it all those stylish SS uniforms that caught your eye, John?) a leading actress who had just won an Academy award told him to go to hell. Saying she was ‘shocked and disgusted,’ she declared herself proud to be Jewish. Party on Natalie!

So perhaps Mr. Huckabee should have thought twice before choosing this particular moment to attack a Hollywood hero who stood up to evil.

Not that Huckabee doesn’t have an important overall point. It is disconcerting that few in Hollywood seem to believe that children should be brought into the world amid the security of marriage and surely our stars of the big screen would agree that most children love to see Mom and Dad as husband and wife.

But having said this, Ms. Portman is quite simply the wrong target. Mr. Huckabee’s ire ought to be directed toward the men who are the real problem.

Once there was a code of honor among men to treat women with commitment and respect. If you lived with a woman and wanted to have a child with her you granted her the ultimate compliment of publicly declaring your love and commitment to her by making her your wife. Marriage is a where a man selects one woman and simultaneously deselects every other woman on earth, thereby establishing the object of his love as the one and only.

Today, however, there is a broken code of male honor. Men treat women casually and hedge their bets. And why not? If you can have a woman commit to you without having to reciprocate the whole marriage thing seems a bit gratuitous.

This is a regular mistake made by social conservatives. Last week Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptists, published a column in the Wall Street Journal enjoining religious conservatives not to give up the fight on abortion, the most divisive of all social issues in America. But why can’t we find language that is actually unifying? Both the left and the right agree that respect for women is a paramount virtue. Yet, most abortions are the product of men having relations with women whom they don’t love, impregnating them, and abandoning them. Abortion thrives in a society that has witnessed the end of love and the rise of the uncommitted relationships. Yes, women have to learn to respect themselves but more importantly parents and schools must inculcate within men a desire to be gentlemen again.

So instead of beating an endless drum on abortion, why not focus on the real problem. Is there anyone of any political persuasion who would condone men using women and disappearing from their lives?

Granted, men who have a child with a woman in a serious relationship, like Portmans’ beau, Benjamin Millepied, are not in this category and indeed he is her fiancé. Still, there are way too many men who leave the picture as soon as the woman is pregnant.

In his comments Huckabee himself acknowledged that it’s the men who are the problem, which makes his attack on Portman even more curious. “You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock,” he said. “61 percent of Hispanic kids — across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out of wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering.” But it’s not the women who are abandoning these kids, Mike, but the men.

And the same applies to so many of these recent racist tirades, nearly all of which are being committed by broken and messed up men.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 25 books and has recently published “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life,” and “Honoring the Child Spirit: Inspiration and Learning from Our Children.” Follow him Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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  • Me, and my partner watched a movie connected with this niche in years past. Right now i accidentally discovered your article, and it absolutely help remind me ever again. Do you have an idea exactly how has been that called? With Sophie Lareun i guess. For certain i will try and google it today, however anyways, very good post, i love that point of view of you actually. I’m going to bookmark your site, and perhaps take a look at this seriously later on, has to head over to work at this moment.

  • Gabriel Martindale

    “So perhaps Mr. Huckabee should have thought twice before choosing this particular moment to attack a Hollywood hero who stood up to evil.”

    She “stood up” to a guy who got drunk and made barely coherent and moronic comments in a bar. The mass furore about this vacuous man is not indicative of a new found moral courage on anyone’s part, but the total crassness of contemporary culture: it’s obessesion with celebrities and single minded emphasis on racism (and homophobia) to the exclusion of almost literally every other sin or social evil … like, e.g. promiscuity and mass fatherlessness respectively.

  • Shel Bassel

    I realize this is kind of side point in your essay but I am not sure why all of a sudden you find the president and secretary of state to somehow be out of line when it was under the Bush administration that US-Libyan relations were re-established with the evil Libyan dictator. It didn’t seem to bother a dyed in the wool conservative to renew those relations even though his abuse of human rights was well known.

    Come to think of it, wasn’t it under the Reagen administration that arms were traded with Iran to support those freedom loving and blatant human rights abusers the Sandanistas? Am I dreaming or was he maybe one of those liberals who couldn’t seem to hate evil.

    Really, US foreign policy under a long list of Dems and Reps have supported and even embraced some of the most evil dictators in the world. You don’t need to be liberal to wear that tag.

    Remember, Saddam was a friend before he was evil!

  • Even after making my wife the center of my attention didn’t stop her from having a child by a columbian national working his way to citizenship through the usaf. My forgiveness for this only planted the seeds for her to leave me six years later for her ex-boyfriend, since she thought she was so unlovable by me. American women have it easy, they can do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to, and will always think they are perfect. Portman may think she is perfect too, give it ten to twenty years, and I’ll bet she’ll be the one need to apologize to huckabee. He has experience behind him, she has everything to prove.

  • Mike Huckabee did not choose that particular moment to attack Natalie Portman. Did you listen to the whole radio interview with Michael Medved? Huckabee was discussing the first chapter of his book when Medved interjected with the Portman reference.

    Mike Huckabee hits a Double and the Leftist Media Cries Foul

    Mike Huckabee went on the Michael Medved radio show to promote his book, A Simple Government. In the second segment Huckabee explains why we have to change the way we spend money, why it is important to have more local government and less federal government, and why the family matters. He says,

    “The most important form of government is a mother and father raising kids.”

    “In the very first chapter of the book I quantify the costs of broken families. In this country, we have a 300 billion dollar a year Dad deficit. That is the amount of money taxpayers pay because fathers have disappeared from raising their kids and allowed some other taxpayer to pick up the financial costs.”

    “When people make the argument that the family thing does not matter and we need to focus on the economy, you can’t focus on the economy if you don’t focus on the stability of families where mothers and fathers raise their own kids.”

    Then Medved jumps in with the whole Oscar night Natalie Portman question. Four minutes into the second segment of the show Medved says, “She is very visibly pregnant. It’s a problem-they are not married, before 2 billion people, says she wants to thank her love, he has given me the most wonderful gift. The best kind of gift would be a wedding ring. It just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.”

    Well there you go, Medved is clearly upset about Portman. But Huckabee is not upset. In fact, he never brought up the topic. He did answer the question stating that it was unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of wedlock children. Huckabee quantifies with statistics: “75% of African American kids are born out of wedlock. 61% of Hispanic kids. 41% across the board live births are out of wedlock births and the costs are staggering.”