Alex Beam writes today: “Isn’t it the case that when celebrities plump for causes that we generally regard as praiseworthy, they receive pats on the back, rather than brickbats? A case in point: After being inducted into the Army in World War II, the boxer Joe Louis was asked why he had signed up to defend a country that had denied him so many basic rights. ”There may be a whole lot wrong with America, but there’s nothing that Hitler can fix,” he replied. Louis was a simple man, but no one mocked him for being unqualified to pronounce on racial politics and world affairs.”

He then goes on, implausibly, to wonder why so many people ridicule celebrities like Sean Penn—as if Sean Penn’s antics in Iraq are somehow equivalent to Joe Louis’. This is surprising for Alex Beam, who usually is more discerning. It does not seem to have occurred to him that public ridicule of Penn has something to do with Iraq being our enemy, and that if Sean Penn had pulled a Joe Louis, signed up for military service and said the exact same thing about Saddam that Louis said about Hitler, every blog would be cheering the guy.

Question to Alex: who thinks sucking up to Saddam is praiseworthy?

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