Yes, actors are entitled to their uninformed views

Friday, April 4, 2003 at 1:00am

Although it was the least-watched Oscar telecast of all time, there was a great irony in Roman Polanski winning the Best Director Award for The Pianist. Polanski could not have won this award without the dastardly deeds of Adolph Hitler, and one wonders whether 'ol Roman would have thanked the Evil One had a long-standing child rape charge not prevented his Oscar appearance.

The Pianist is the heartbreaking story of a musician who survived the Holocaust, which of course was brought on by a psychopathic dictator and his fanatical followers, who imposed a reign of homicidal terror that ultimately resulted in the deaths of 55 million people. That dictator, Hitler, could have been stopped if the world had united against him in the 1930s. But as this column has pointed out, the world did not unite. It appeased. And look what happened.

Since Hollywood liked The Pianist so much, and since many actors are so outspoken about current historical events, I would like to give Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore, Martin Sheen and all the other antiwar stars a short historical quiz. I want to ask them what they know about the Treaty of Versailles, the appeasement conference at Munich, and the structure of the German police state as it compares to Saddam Hussein's organizational capacity.

Also, I want to discuss Saddam's human rights record with Richard Gere, who for years has been chanting with the Dalai Lama about freeing Tibet. Gere is right about Tibet; the people there are being spiritually crushed by the totalitarian Chinese. However, chanting may not be the most effective way to change that. But then again, Gere lives in Los Angeles.

If the Hollywood crowd could pass my quiz and answer my rather boorish questions, I would apologize to them and listen intently as they told me that Hans Blix should have had more time to find anthrax in an uncooperative country the size of California. I would sit enraptured as Sean Penn explained the benefits of living under Saddam, Uday and Qusay Hussein. I would gladly pin the dove on Meryl Streep's lavish gown as she regaled me with her vision of peace and understanding in the age of al Qaeda.

But most antiwar stars are not real big on confronting complicated historical questions. It is much easier to flash peace signs to like-minded compatriots at award programs and then retire to eat lavish dinners paid for by fawning sycophants.

In the midst of the verbal insanity streaming out of Hollywood came one very cogent comment that passed virtually unnoticed. Renee Zellweger, an excellent actress, admitted that the war unsettled her but told one reporter that she wasn't going to speak out because she didn't know enough about the big picture.

Renee, thank you. You are exempt from the quiz, and I will tutor you free of charge.

All I am asking is that all Americans study up before bloviating about the Iraqi situation and the war on terror. Is that too much to wish for? Hey, Adrien Brody, glad you won the Best Actor statuette, but do you really understand the true nature of evil, the force that enveloped your character in The Pianist? If you do, I'm glad. If you don't, you might want to rethink that dove on your lapel.

I wonder if any pianists in Iraq are wearing dove pins? I suspect that there isn't too much dissent against the Saddam government by musicians and actors in Baghdad. Hey, Hollywood, those artists are people, too. And soon, they'll be free. Unfortunately, chanting and dove pins will have nothing to do with it.

TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor.

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