WASHINGTON (Jul. 31)
Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole is being urged to repudiate remarks made by a top campaign aide likening the film “Independence Day” to “Schindler’s List.”
As Dole prepared to address Hollywood executives Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Nelson Warfield, Dole’s campaign spokesman, drew a comparison between the two movies while discussing the role of violence in film.
“`Schindler’s List’ is a movie that describes an evil but has a positive message,” Warfield was quoted as saying, adding that good movies can depict violence without gratuitousness if it is essential to the plot and promotes a greater good.
“In `Independence Day,’” Warfield told the Times, millions die, “but mankind comes together.”
The report caused an immediate reaction, sparking a flurry of faxes and condemnations.
But Jewish Republicans dismissed the reaction as election season politics.
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), a Holocaust survivor, called the comparison “an outrageous insult to the victims of the Holocaust,” and called on Dole to “repudiate the offensive comments of his spokesperson.”
But Warfield immediately jumped to his own defense. Reached by telephone in California, Warfield said, “I made no comparison at all, and there can be no comparison between the fictional events depicted in ‘Independence Day’ and the horrible historical events that are recounted in `Schindler’s List.’”
The point he was trying to make about the portrayal of violence in films, Warfield said, was that “violence that advances a storyline can be compelling.”
“You could not tell the story of Schindler in specific or the Holocaust in general without a depiction of violence and indeed ultimate evil,” he said. “But that depiction tells a story we all must remember.”
Warfield added that he resented any suggestion of insensitivity to the Holocaust.
Stanley Chesley, a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and a secretary of the United Jewish Appeal, who was one of those with an initial response to Warfield’s remarks, said he was not satisfied with Warfield’s response.
“I think a total repudiation should be made as opposed to trying to explain it away,” said Chesley, who said he was speaking on his own behalf, not his organizational affiliation.
Chesley, who also is a former board member of the National Jewish Democratic Council, added: “It’s certainly a bad example of comparison. One is science fiction and the other is one of the cruelest things that’s happened this century.”
Jewish Republicans, meanwhile, defended Warfield’s remarks.
“I don’t think that they were intended to in any way belittle the atrocities of the Holocaust,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the National Jewish Coalition, a Republican Jewish group.
“Obviously, there is a great deal of partisan politics that is motivating a lot of these people to write and to make a mountain out of a mole hill.”