This post originally appeared on AddictngInfo.org
While in Marrakech, Morroco at the Marrakech International Film Festival where his film Rock The Kasbah was being shown, Bill Murray took some time to speak with The Daily Beast as he hurried from event to event. As the legendary Ghostbusters star spoke about his film, but also about the rising Islamophobia that seems to be overtaking much of the United States. He spoke honestly about his consternation for how America is treating Muslims.
Murray actually spoke with an Egyptian film crew member that was there to cover his appearance, and the conversation, to say the least, was honest, yet truly enlightening. Murray said:
‘He said educated people in Egypt said, ‘People in our country think it is an economic decision for the Americans to fight wars.”
Those people aren’t necessarily wrong. The U.S. Military Industrial Complex has been waging wars of choice for over half a century now, and if there’s conflict, there’s money to be made. However, Murray got to the heart of what many overseas are feeling, andsaid:
“I think normal people hate all this fighting. People think we made this movie to brush up the American image. It might or might not need brushing up, but that image is very different from what it was when I was a child. Now there is brand confusion with Afghanistan and Iraq. I think many Americans do not know what is going on, but the fact that we are now seen as bullies and not do-gooders is of concern.”
Rock the Kasbah takes place in war-torn Afghanistan, and Murray’s character plays a music manager who takes his artist on a USO tour, but soon becomes separated from his crew. Sure, it’s a comedy, but some of the greatest art comes through the honesty of humor. The United States isn’t seen as lovely “do-gooders” as Murray said, but for the most part, as bullies. That fact is hard for a lot of “America is the greatest land on earth” Americans, but it’s the truth.
“I really wanted to see how this film would be received in the Muslim world. I’m awfully curious to see that. In America, as far as we know, the Muslims liked it.”
However, getting to a much deeper, and broader point about being American:
“It is not difficult to be proud to be American. Do I have self-respect as an American? Yes. Do I respect everything I do? No. Do I respect my country? Yes, I do. Do I respect my people? I do. Do I respect everything my country does? No. Not every country is perfect. We are an economic engine. There are people with money that just want to make more money. You have got them here. You have them there. The pursuit of money is complicated.”
Murray also spoke about the Islamophobia in America, and how, instead of taking broad actions of hate against a religion, we should really be looking at the individuals, because at the end of the day, we are all human.
“There is a phobia about what Muslims are like. I have known about two-dozen. I went to school in Paris with Muslims. Most were from Iran. I found them much to be like friends back home. I was raised as a Catholic. It was always Catholics against Jews. I’m in Hollywood. There are lots of nutty Jews and lots of nutty Catholics. Muslims are just as goofy, too. It is what makes the garden beautiful: Not every flower is the same.”
Speaking to fear, Murray says:
“In Ghostbusters, what comes to destroy New York is a giant marshmallow. If you face your fears, they are all giant marshmallows. There were people that were afraid to come here to come along for the ride. That thought came into my mind. A friend said we just made a film about a girl that couldn’t sing. Are we going to be afraid to go back? Fear is negative imagination. Do I think these events have been terrible? Are they horrible? Are they dreadful? Yes. But I can’t live a life of fear like that. If I’m going to go, I’m going to go living. Here we all are and we are okay, aren’t we? As soon as I saw the cars and walls, I was like, ‘I’m so glad I’m here. I’m glad I came.
Fear is human malfunction.”
More often than not, people are afraid of what they don’t understand. They see a religion that is very different from their own, traditions and practices that don’t match with theirs, and jump to conclusions by what they see in the news about the few who are doing outrageous acts.
When people are seen as “others” and not exactly cut from the same cloth, they assume they are not worthy of the same love and respect. We are all different, but we are all the same. We must get to know one another if we are truly to be a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. And broad generalizations about any group are not healthy for public discourse.
And while Republicans are seeking to capitalize of their base of voters who are predominantly surrounded by folks who only think and act like they do, and have a fear of the “other,” the rest of us should seek to unite instead of divide.
Thank you, Bill Murray, we are a beautiful garden of many different people, and no, “not every flower is the same.”
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