Actor Richard Dreyfuss unfurled his artistic and political agenda on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on Friday night, an unsteady amalgam of American exceptionalism and ultraliberalism. You wanted to look twice when Dreyfuss insisted reporters and citizens ought to be yelling at the president (this one?) to answer the hard questions:
There are two things that’ll make me lose my sense of humor. When someone says, “You have no right to that flag” or when they say, “If you’re against the troops, you’re against the policy” or “If you’re against the policy, you’re against the troops.” Those things get me really angry because I’m an American and I love America more than I can possibly tell you.
I think that America is the finest answer to a question that has been asked for 13,000 years and that is how can people life together with some sense of decency and mobility and freedom and a chance at opportunity? So far, we are the best answer. We have forgotten that there’s a substance to patriotism and we shouldn’t love our country just because we’re south of Canada.
That’s what I want to teach because I want it to bleed back into the culture so the parents know what to say to their kids and ministers know what to say and journalists know what to say. Journalists have rolled over. They don’t ask impolite questions because they lose their privileges.
Nobody says to the president or anyone else, “I don’t work for you; you work for me. Answer the Goddamned question.” Until they do, they’ve lost what is fun about being American. That’s what’s the fun part.